Thursday, July 9, 2009

National Chains Dipping Into Buy Local Movement

Corner Bakery has announced that the tomatoes used in this summer's feature item, the BBLT, will be sourced from local purveyors. Additionally, a portion of the proceeds from sales of the double bacon sandwich with cracked pepper balsamic mayo dressing will go toward Corner Bakery Cafe's Community Garden Grant. It would be nice to know just how large a portion.

Chipotle announced that it will expand it's purchase of local produce this year, with "at least 35 percent of at least one bulk produce item in all of its restaurants from local farmers when it is seasonally available." Doesn't seem like much, does it?

What do you think - blatant marketing ploys or a step in the right direction?


Corner Bakery

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

55th Summer Fancy Food Show

I returned from the 55th Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City last night, my belly full of around 50 different cheeses and my head even more full of ideas. As always, there was no shortage of cheese, olive oil, and specialty meats to try. There was also an abundance of honey, tea, and fig items at this year's show. I would predict to see variations of these flavors continuing to pop up in new products to come. Blood Orange is becoming more approachable; as the name becomes commonly seen it is drawing appeal rather than fright.

Things that stood out to me at the show:

Chocolate with Panko bread crumbs - Chuao Chocolatier, led by the culinary talents of Chef Michael Antonorsi, introduced their dark chocolate bar with Panko bread crumbs. The Panko provided mainly a different texture experience, not far from a rice crisp bar, but with a more upscale feel. My favorite in their chocolate line, however, is the Modena Chocopod - dark chocolate with a strawberry & balsamic caramel center.

Black Garlic - Huh? It's black. It's fermented. It's sticky. Black Garlic (this is also the company name) is fermented garlic that is sweet and reminiscent of soy sauce in flavor.

Wine Cellar Sorbet - This sorbet made from wine extracts has actually been available in this area for awhile at retailers like Whole Foods and Central Market, but this was my first time to give it a try. I chose the Cabernet Sauvignon, thinking it would taste a bit like watered down wine. Wrong! This stuff was full of intense wine flavor. It was sweet, however, so if you're into dry you might skip this one.

Pancakes with Chocolate Bacon - Vosges Haut Chocolate was cooking up pancakes using their Mo's Bacon Bar. The Mo bar is milk chocolate with applewood smoked bacon and alder wood smoked sea salt. Think chocolate chip pancakes with a side of bacon - pretty tasty!

Cottage Cheese - of course because it was from our own Paula Lambert! I stopped by the Mozzarella Company's booth where Paula was displaying, among her other cheeses, the cottage cheese she developed for Kent Rathbun. I've judged a lot of cottage cheese in my day, and I have to say that Paula knows her stuff. Her version has a nice balance of acid and diacetyl with an extremely clean finish.

Passion Fruit Cocoa Butter Caramel - from Amella. I love that this company uses real fruit to flavor their mouth watering caramels. The passion fruit flavor was intense and married nicely with the creamy caramel. Using cocoa butter instead of butter allows for a lighter, fluffier caramel, with cocoa butter melting beautifully at mouth temperature.

Farm Tour Features Three Local Farms (and Lunch)

If you’re interested in getting better connected with local farmers, you might be interested ins a day-tour of three local farms on Saturday July 11, sponsored by and Food Roots both owned by Slow Food members. The culinary bus tour will take you (in air conditioned splendor) to JuHaRanch, Oak Grove Farms and Garden Harvests where you'll discover how three farmers bring sustainably grown produce, meat and dairy products to our community using organic and natural methods. And bring the kids. It’s a great way for them to learn where their food comes from.

The trip, which includes lunch at the Brown Street Cafe and Kolache Depot in Ennis, is $89 but there's a discount for Slow Food members. Just drop a line to brian@eatgreendfw and I'll send you the coupon code that's good for 10% off.

Mary Kimbrough of Food Roots has lined up three great places to visit and learn about local agriculture. And it even looks like there will be a wine tasting with wines from Calais Winery during our stop at Oak Grove Farms. You can find out more and sign up here.

You don't want to miss it. You will have an opportunity to buy pick of the season at all of our stops.