Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Chambersburg Icefest 2018

Chambersburg Icefest 2018 couldn't ask for a more gorgeous Saturday, with a near flawless sky (maybe a wisp or two of cloud here there).

The ice sculptures were bigger than ever but my favorite was a rocket only three feet high with the odd hole in the middle--something about the rocket's torpedo shape just appealed to me:

The day wasn't perfect tho; the temperature was an uncharacteristic fifty degrees Fahrenheit, too warm for some of the sculptures (global warming much?), and you can see the consequence: 

Still--fifty degrees in January! Most folks took advantage of the warm weather break; quite a few took part in the Chili Cookoff, and at five dollars a pop for all the chili you can eat (plus sour cream nacho chips and shredded cheese) it's easily the best bargain in the festival.

Some of the more interesting contenders: Healthy Eating offered a vegetarian chili--which I'd call a tasty ratatouille more than a chili if you ask me:

One of the Healthy Living volunteers knew how to use the photo op to her advantage, flashed a million-watt smile

Orrstown Bank bucked the winter trend and went full tropical, complete with little palm trees, flowers, and a chicken-and-pineapple chili. 

Sweet and tangy pineapple, savory chicken, just a hint of spice. It even came decorated with an orchid--which didn't taste much of anything but smelled nice and looked lovely (yes I took a nibble):

My personal favorite came from the Knights of the Round Pot--goodness knows what kind of group they are, but they were in the amateur division (Orrstown was professional) and their chili was classic ground beef, balanced with the proper seasoning and salt, and their table was decorated in a kind of medieval style:

Ye Olde Meat Stew, Steepd in Tradition and Righteous Juices.

Right across from the cookoff what should we see but a pizza truck marked Artisan Pizza and not just any pizza truck but a brick oven on wheels:

The man threw a ball on the counter ("Italian flour and water" he said when I asked what it was made off. "That's all."), flattened it, sprinkled cherry tomatoes, shredded mozzarella, and basil, used a long handled metal peel to shove the pie in the oven where it almost immediately started to puff up:

Didn't take more than a few minutes. Once in a while the peelmaster reached in to turn the pie with his intimidatingly long Venetian gondola paddle, and if you look carefully you can see the dough visibly browning:

The result was a bubbling hot (from the fresh mozzarella) tangy sweet (from the cherry tomatoes) fragrant (from the fresh basil) pie:

What made it special was the crust, scorched dark by the intense heat, faintly smokey, chewy inside, incinerated crisp on the outside:

It wasn't all savory fare. This stand offered insanely decadent desserts (I looked up the calories for deep-fried Snickers bar--the crunchy batter the gooey warm inside the contrasting crunch of nuts, sprinkled with confectionery sugar drizzled with chocolate syrup--you don't want to know):

At the Capitol Theater they held the Icing on the Cake baking contest, this year with a carnival theme. My favorite:

And if the pic's blurry that's because the cake was spinning. 

The example above was professional; my favorite amateur effort was simple yet intriguingly colored, with a Harlequin at Halloween vibe:


Which is it for this year. Next year hopefully Artisan Pizza will be back, along with the deep-fried candy bar. The takeaway being: if you're going to clog your arteries once a year, the Icefest is as good an occasion as any. 

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