The 2014 Good Food Award winners were announced in San Francisco a couple weeks ago.
By LINCOLN BROADBOOKS
I got the chance to check out the winners at the Good Food Marketplace at the Ferry Building while I was there for the Winter Fancy Food Show.
The Good Food Awards celebrate tasty, authentic and responsibly produced American food and its producers. The awards are in their fourth year and are quickly becoming the recognition small-food producers want and foodies look for. All the entries were good but these were some of my favorites.
One of my go to cheeses won this year. Point Reyes Toma is a great California cheese that my wife and I enjoy but my three-year-old daughter is just as happy to nibble on.
Slice it thin for a grilled cheese with sliced tomatoes and you won't be disappointed. It has a creamy and buttery flavor that has a little tanginess on the finish.
I really liked Downer Brown from Blackberry Farm in Tennessee. I had never tried the cheese but I was pleasantly surprised. The batch I tried was a winter batch made with cows milk but they make it with sheep's milk in the Spring when there is a good supply of it.
This soft, washed-rind cheese is washed in Blackberry Farms own beer. It is then dusted in dehydrated spent grain from the beer-making process and allowed to ripen for three weeks. In that time it grows a fluffy coat of white mold. When I tried it the flavor was definitely stout with malty and yeasty flavor.
Underground Meats from Madison, Wisc., won for a great goat salami. Its not something you see often but I expect to find other producers rolling out the goat salami soon. It was not as gamey as I thought it was going to be. It seemed the flavor was almost a cross between lamb and beef and it was really good.
Blake Hill Preserves from Grafton, Vt., won for their Plum and Fennel Chutney. Its well-balanced flavors would have gone great with any of the products mentioned above.
It was a little sweet and sour with some under lying bitterness. Their other preserves hit the spot too. The Grapefruit Lemon Thyme Marmalade and Raspberry Hibiscus Flower Jam were finalists as well.
I also thought that Bathtub Gin Jam from Tennessee stood out with their Limoncello Strawberry. Just think of sweet ripe organic strawberries with the tangy pucker of lemons.
There is no bitterness, just the bright flavors of the berrys and citrus. They also have a cool Prohibition era, 20s and 30s style going for them. Really cool!
The food people behind Lick My Spoon Caramel Sauce are actually Italian importers but they make their Caramel sauces stateside in Sarasota, Fla.
A lot of caramel sauces are just too sweet but Lick My Spoon has found a way to make a rich caramel sauce that gives you what you want in a caramel sauce while not imparting instant cavities.
Last but not least Patric Chocolate out of Columbia won for three of their bars. If you are not familiar with Patric Chocolate you are missing out on very high quality chocolate bars made from the cocoa beans they import themselves.
The flavors that are coaxed out of the beans are not present in your everyday Hershey bar. My favorite winner is the Signature 70 percent Blend.
Many of these products are local and regional specialtys and they dont make it very far from home so seek them out on the internet if you can.
Some may make it to The Better Cheddar at some point so keep an eye out. Help support small American businesses by seeking out this great food.
Check out the complete list of 2014 Good Food Award winners here.
Lincoln Broadbooks loves cheese. He is one of the first cheesemongers in the United States and Canada to become an American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional. He is the manager and buyer for The Better Cheddar in Prairie Village. You can check out his monthly Cheese Wiz column in Tastebud Magazine and find him on Twitter @LincolnBbook and on Instagram @lincycheese.