This stunner of a carrot anise soup comes from Kitchen Gypsy, the new cookbook from Joanne Weir.Read More
My favorite coffee winner was Ashland, OR-based Case Coffee Roasters' Kenya Muthonjo AA, a light brew that was complex and bright but not too aggressive in acidity.
Write off blueberry preserves as you know them, because American Spoon Wild Blueberry Compote is nothing like any of them. At $10 for a 9-ounce jar, it's pricey, but the Petoskey, MI food company's compote is just teeny-tiny, whole wild blueberries, waiting for you to bite into them so the concentrated nectar can reveal itself. I wish I'd taken a picture of the spoonful I ate.
The guys at Olympic Provisions, a charcuterie company based in Portland, OR, could do no wrong. Everything I tried on offer was drop dead delicious.
...like the loukanika, a Greek sausage of cured pork flavored heavily with cumin, and a little orange peel to balance out the earthiness...
...and the pork liver mousse, a robust, irony, creamy treat that reminded me of the liverwurst I used to enjoy as a kid.
The Willamette Valley-based Republic of Jam makes a Spiced Peach Shrub that's so good, it might have been my favorite item I tried all morning. I bought some of the fragrant, sweet, and tart syrup and poured it on a giant ice cube with bourbon that night. And smiled.
Vinegar is vinegar, right? Not so. Of all the vinegars I tried at the marketplace, I was most impressed by the Late Harvest Viognier Honey Vinegar from Katz, a company located not too far away in the Suisun Valley. One sip woke me up on the inside, it was so saturated in flavor. I"ll be on the lookout for this one in stores.
Having just returned from Turkey a few years ago, I have a special spot in my heart for the food and drink there. So of course I loved Kakao Chocolate's Turkish Coffee Truffles. The St. Louis, MO confectioner has paired up with another outfit in town, Stringbean Coffee Company, to produce the ultrarich truffle, which is also laced with cardamom to make its flavor profile reminiscent of Turkish-style coffee.
Lick My Spoon caramel sauce is such a fantastic product, it's won a Good Food Award two years in a row (2014 and 2015). Owner Kristine attributes the sauce's incomparably creamy texture to Dakin, the dairy farmer she works with not far from her Sarasota, FL headquarters.
The well-respected San Francisco brand Guittard won for its Collection Etienne 45% Cacao Milk Chocolate, which is what's known as a dark milk chocolate. Unlike a traditional milk chocolate, which might contain 15 percent cacao, a dark milk contains a higher percentage, around 35 or 45 percent, without getting into true dark chocolate territory (usually 60 percent and up). But it still retains that sweet creaminess that comes from the addition of milk as an ingredient.
I'm not going to lie — after dozens of truffles, chocolate bars, jams, and jellies, I wasn't that thrilled about sampling spoonfuls of honey. But I was pleasantly surprised by the product from Pittsburgh's Apoidea Apiary and its winning Rosemary-Infused Knotwood Honey. The bees harvest pollen from knotwood, a relative of buckwheat, and this dark, molasses-like honey's infused with rosemary before bottling. Delicious.
And last but certainly not least was Sunnyside Local's Salted Orange Wheat Beer Caramels. Sunnyside Local is actually a farm, and its founders, Mindy Kuhn and Jane Crawford, have an extraordinary backstory. They transitioned from being nurses to farmers, and started making candy as a gift to their clients three years ago. They haven't stopped since!
Has this post suddenly made you hungry? If so, you can buy a ton of the Good Food Award-winning products here.
Regardless of where or how you plan to spend this New Year's Eve, chances are, it's going to involve a toast at midnight. So might I suggest you make it count? Whether your budget's $14 or $140, I urge you to put away the overpriced and overplayed White Star, and make room for one of these bottles of bubbly. Each of these bottles made an indelible mark on my mind (and palate) in 2014; they deserve a spot at the New Year's Eve table.
Never heard of Crémant de Borgogne? Although it's a growing category, neither have most people — and that's why it's still a spectacular value. Veuve Ambal's entry-level cuvée, a blend of 50 percent Ugni Blanc and 50 percent Chardonnay, is masterful example of the Burgundian bubbly; light-bodied, with sprightly bubbles and fruity, mouthwatering aromas, it's the kind of easy-to-drink sensation that one could enjoy for hours.
Self-proclaimed "Cava missionary" Pere Ventura Vendrell exudes playfulness; the quirky proprietor of Pere Ventura hands out cards with the words "I AM" emblazoned on them. The winery's brut rosé has the same playful quality, its intense pink color hinting at a fresh strawberry bouquet and a fruity, dry finish.
Crémant de Limoux is another French value outside of the Champagne category. Along with its lemony bouquet and limestone minerality, this Chardonnay-based bottle, from Toques et Clochers, offers a creamy, fine mousse and a sweet finish. A fun bonus story to share with friends: winemaker Laurent Mingaud makes sure a percentage of profits each year go to renovating one building in a Limoux village; In 2014, proceeds went to the renovation of an old church.
It's said that Queen Victoria loved Joseph Perrier (hence the name Cuvée Royale). And who could blame her? The blend of 35 percent Chardonnay, 35 percent Pinot Noir, and 30 percent Pinot Meunier invites with rich, lemon-lime aromas, refined bubbles, and a nice, long finish.
This special cuvée, a blend of Joseph Perrier's four best Pinot Noir and four best Chardonnay crus blended together, has layers of flavor: fresh pear, soft apple spice, an extremely delicate mousse, and a lingering finish that seemingly lasts forever.