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.