As an avowed foodie, one thing that never disappoints is a gift from the heart aimed directly at my stomach! And if it’s local and made by someone I know, all the better.
With that in mind, I’ve compiled a short list of some of my favorite local artisanal producers and their incredible products. And if my wife or children happen to read this, well, maybe it’s a little self-serving, too!
Green Dirt Farm Cheese
I’ve known Sarah Hoffman, the co-founder of Green Dirt Farm, for several years. Over that time, her sheep’s milk cheeses have gone from one strength to another. At least one or two nights a month I make a meal out of one of Green Dirt’s fresh cheeses (I personally favor the Nettle, but you can’t go wrong with any of the flavors), a little bread and some ham or salami. Green Dirt’s aged cheese, including the Prairie Tomme and Woolly Rind, are fantastic too.
Shop at greendirtfarm.com, where you will find a nice selection of holiday gift ideas. You can also visit their creamery in Weston and pick something out in person. Be sure to check the hours of operation.
Featuring fresh goat milk, yogurt, ice cream, goat’s milk cheeses, cheesecakes and a stunning caramel sauce, Borgman’s is a true local treasure. You can find Janet Smith’s terrific products, and often Smith herself sampling them, at the two Hen House locations in Johnson County, the Sun Fresh on South 18th Street in Kansas City, Kansas, the Lee’s Summit and Barry Road Price Choppers, and at Whole Foods. More information about the products can be found at www.borgmansdairyfarm.com.
Jude’s Rum Cake
Craig Adcock, the man behind Jude’s Rum Cake, started making his mother-in-law’s rum cake recipe about 10 years ago. Adcock told me recently that the first year, he made about 400 cakes. This year, Adcock shared, the production was going to be closer to 40,000. That’s impressive, but not as impressive as the cake itself. It is the best rum cake on the planet hands-down. The fact that Adcock is also a cool dude, foodie and wine lover makes the rum cake experience even sweeter. Stop by the shop on Santa Fe in Lenexa through the holidays or shop online at www.tableocho.com/judes.
Paradise Locker Meats
Started by the Fantasma family in Paradise and relocated following a fire to nearby Trimble, Paradise Locker Meats is both a throwback to how butcher shops used to be run and a glimpse at how they should operate now and in the future. Their mission reads as follows: “Paradise Locker Meats exists to support and serve patrons and families in a sustainable manner by processing meats from small family farms; building awareness of local, natural food; and providing quality, wholesome products with dedication, integrity and honesty.”
They had me at Paradise Locker Meats. Among other items, Paradise is offering three different hams and a smoked turkey for the holidays. Visit the store in Trimble, about 5 miles north of Smithville, or head to www.paradisemeats.com.
I met Stephanie Wilson and Kyle Laval, the driving forces behind The Slabs barbecue team, many years ago at a local competition. I fell in love with their barbecue and with Stephanie’s infectious personality. I also thought their dry rub was one of the best I’ve ever tasted. You have no lack of choices when it comes to locally made barbecue sauces and rubs, but you can do no better, in my opinion, than picking up a jar or two from The Slabs. Find more information online at www.theslabs.com.
Marisa Wiruhayarn, the co-founder of Tasty Thai and Big Bowl Pho restaurants, is a tireless promoter and rock-solid supporter of her local community. While running three restaurants and raising two children, Wiruhayarn decided to commercially release two sauces because, I guess, she didn’t have enough on her plate. Well I, for one, am glad she did.
Wiruhayarn’s Primal Cry Hot Sauce and Primal Cry Peanut Sauce are staples in the Eckert household pantry. Try the hot sauce as a substitute for traditional Louisiana hot sauce for chicken wings and you will never go back! You can find Primal Cry sauces in a number of local markets, and you can learn more about Marisa’s story and buy her sauces and a fantastic beef jerky online at www.kctastythai.com.
Common Descent Provisions Sauces
Data analyst by day and mad scientist sauce-maker by night, Chris Bengston is a newcomer to the Kansas City sauce scene. But this Waterloo, Iowa, native is taking that scene by storm. With amazing flavor combinations, colorful and creative packaging, and, um, “intriguing” names (Blood of My Enemy, Snake Wine and Rat Bastard to list a few), Bengston’s small batch sauces are not to be missed. The sauces range from mild to eye-popping hot, so there’s a heat level for every palate. Stop and shop at www.commondescentprovisions.com.
Powell Gardens CSA
Located just a short drive southeast of the city, Powell Gardens remains for many an undiscovered gem. I highly recommend making the trip, perhaps for one of their chef-themed dinners or just to tour the spectacular property. And if you can’t go to Powell Gardens, why not let them come to you?
Powell Gardens’ 2019 Community Supported Agriculture Program signup list is currently open. Those who commit receive six to eight items per week from the gardens for 30 weeks (April through November). You can pick the produce up in person or at one of several drop off spots throughout the metro. To learn more or to sign up, go to powellgardens.org/join-give/community-supported-agriculture.
Louie’s Wine Dive club
Finally, the gift that keeps on giving: a Wine Club membership from Louie’s Wine Dive and Kitchen!
Recently launched, Louie’s Wine Club offers members three levels of participation: gold, platinum and diamond. The levels vary in price and the value and availability of the wines being provided. The Gold Club level is a delicious introduction to the world of wine. The Platinum Club provides members a deeper exploration of that world. And the Diamond Club allows members access to rare and exclusive bottlings. Pick your level at club.louieswinedive.com.