Tasty food, dance and fun characterize Collier County ethnic festivals

Clarissa Choi, 13, center, and others from the Korean Community Church of Venice, perform a fan dance during Asia Fest in honor of the Chinese New Year at Mercato on Saturday in Naples. The festival featured Asian food and vendors, and cultural performances including Japanese taiko drummers, Korean dancers, Chinese lion dancers and martial arts students, as well as a fashion show. Organizers counted at least 3,000 people in attendance through the five hour event. Lexey Swall/Staff

Photo by LEXEY SWALL // Buy this photo

Clarissa Choi, 13, center, and others from the Korean Community Church of Venice, perform a fan dance during Asia Fest in honor of the Chinese New Year at Mercato on Saturday in Naples. The festival featured Asian food and vendors, and cultural performances including Japanese taiko drummers, Korean dancers, Chinese lion dancers and martial arts students, as well as a fashion show. Organizers counted at least 3,000 people in attendance through the five hour event. Lexey Swall/Staff

Attending food festivals is one of the best ways — not to mention tastiest — to experiment with diverse cuisines without having to get on a plane. Naples has at least four food festivals coming up in February, including German Fest, Asia Fest, the St. Demetrious Ethnic Food Fest and Greek Fest.

All have live music and entertainment, but the biggest draw will be the assortment of vittles. Foodies will be able to get their fill of global flavors from kim chi, dumplings and Massaman curry to savory bratwurst, potato salad, stuffed cabbage and pierogi.

On Saturday, Feb. 2, the Naples Asian Professionals Association will present Asia Fest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Mercato. This is the ninth year of the association cooking up a taste of Asia in honor of the Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival.

“This is a time when everyone returns home to be with family,” said Asia Fest Organizer Judy Wright. “Since Southwest Florida is home for many of us, we decided to bring the festival here for everyone to enjoy.”

Asian cuisine at the festival will include many varieties of Chinese, Japanese (including sushi), Indian, Korean, Filipino, Indonesian and “fusion” cooking. Dishes include bool go ki, kim chi, fried rice, Korean seafood pancakes, dumplings, Kung Pao shrimp, pad thai, Massaman curry and sushi, provided by the Korean Society and Korean church, Siam Thai Restaurant, AZN, China Chen and Sushi Thai.

The Wine Loft at Mercato, with an executive chef that is Vietnamese, also will contribute Vietnamese appetizers. “Bring the Chef Home” local catering chef Fabio Bermudez will prepare Chinese roast pork sliders with Asian slaw and grilled kebab trios. Asian Depot will feature a variety of boba teas.

German Fest, which also takes place Saturday, Feb. 2, will be at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Naples. It will feature a veritable alphabet of German favorites — bratwurst, knackwurst, beef rouladen, kassler rippchen, sauerkraut, potato salads, and renowned German pastries, along with German beer and wine.

Both the Greek Festival and the St. Demetrius Orthodox Ethnic Food Festival will occur the last weekend in February. The Greek Festival at St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church is always good for a delicious helping of moussaka.

The St. Demetrius Orthodox Ethnic Food Festival will offer some of the area’s most divine flavors. The menu will include stuffed cabbage, pierogi, kielbasa and sauerkraut and traditional mici — Romanian grilled minced meat medallions made from lamb, among other savory dishes.

There is no entrance fee to attend the ethnic food festival. It’s a pay-per-dish system, but the prices are reasonable for the caliber of cuisine presented.

“We also have several items from homemade bakeries; from East European bakers that parishioners make themselves, including such goodies as Russian tea cakes, balaclava and strudel,” said Father Gleb McFatter of St. Demetrius Orthodox Church.

He added a tip: “Come early because we can run short on food later in the day.”

All of the food festivals will benefit charities and offer additional activities besides eating and drinking. Asia Fest will feature ethnic dance and music from Korea, the Philippines, Japan, and China and will include an opening ceremony of nations and cultural arts and crafts. The St. Demetrius Orthodox Ethnic Food Festival will feature a drawing for a raffle Sunday with prizes that include cash, and it will have a white-elephant sale on both days. Proceeds will benefit the St. Demetrious Orthodox Church.

Asia Fest will benefit Champions for Learning, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Bee Gaia and SWFL Chinese School.

German Fest will feature lively entertainment and benefit Avow Hospice.

IF YOU GO

Asia Fest

When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2

Where: Mercato, 9118 Strada Place, Naples

Admission: $5, kids younger than 12 free

Information: www.facebook.com/asiafestnaples

German Fest

When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2

Where: Our Savior Lutheran Church, 1955 Curling Ave., Naples (south of Sam’s Club on Airport-Pulling Road)

Admission: $7 per person; $3, children younger than 12; free, children younger than 2

Information: 239-597-4091; www.naplesgermanfest.com

Greek Fest

When: Feb. 22-24; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 7 p.m. Sunday

Where: St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church, 7100 Airport-Pulling Road, Naples

Admission: $4 (kids younger than 2 free and free admission Friday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.); free parking and shuttle bus

Information: 239-591-3430; www.StKatherine.net

St. Demetrius Orthodox Ethnic Food Festival

When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 23-24

Women at St. Demetrius Orthodox Church serve up tasty dishes such as stuffed cabbage at its festival, which this year is Feb. 23 and 24.

Women at St. Demetrius Orthodox Church serve up tasty dishes such as stuffed cabbage at its festival, which this year is Feb. 23 and 24.

Where: St. Demetrius Orthodox Church, 140 Price St., Naples

Admission: No entrance fee; food for sale

Information: 239-775-8998; www.StDemetriusNaples.org

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