It had been a couple years since I went to the New York Fancy Food show, so it was great that I got a chance to check it out this summer. I also was able to check out the Good Food Mercantile in Brooklyn as well.
The Fancy Food Show is a large specialty food industry show that draws thousands of food producers wanting to sell their products to food buyers from around the country and the world. The Good Food Mercantile is the same idea on a smaller scale and it is geared toward small producers with a sustainability bent.
Out of all of the products I tried, I picked a few that really stood out to highlight for Chow Town readers. So seek out these products if any sound appealing to you. We will surely bring some of the products into The Better Cheddar, so come see us..
Cheese! Since you all know I am a cheese guy I will start with a few that I had never tasted. I got to try some very nice sheep’s milk cheeses from Corsica — Tomme U Pecurinu and Tommette Pietra Beer. Both are simple and approachable natural rind cheeses. The Pietra is washed in a lager beer, giving it undertones of hops and chestnuts.
Vermont’s Grafton Village, best known for its Vermont cheddars, has gotten into making a few specialty cheeses. Bear Hill is a mountain-style sheep’s milk cheese with fruity and nutty flavors. The small production means this cheese is not widely available.
The Italian affineur Guffanti has a cow’s milk blue from the northern town of San Carlone rubbed in coffee. It’s visually stunning and also very tasty. It kind of reminded me of a more flavorful Gorgonzola with notes of … wait for it … coffee. They call the cheese Erborinato Sancarlone al caffe.
Crown Finnish Caves has a great alpine-style cheese called Tubby. This aging outfit in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn gets these cheeses from Vermont’s Springbrook Farm and ages them for a year. It is savory, nutty and to me parallels French Comte flavors.
Last but not least is Condor’s Ruin (and winner of the coolest name category) is a great soft ripened, ash dusted sheep’s milk pyramid made by Many Fold Farm in Chattahoochee Hills, Ga. Many Fold has been an up-and-comer in the cheese industry for several years. Their small-batch seasonal sheep’s milk cheeses are beginning to make their way across the country.
There are several other great products I wanted to mention. In the First Time For Everything category, Desert Farms Camel Milk wins the day. This is popular in the Middle East, and it’s really not as weird as you think. Interestingly much of the milk comes from an Amish farmer near Springfield, Mo.
In the Who Doesn’t Want Candied Bacon? category, Little Red Dot Bak kwais spicy candied bacon in a pouch. It’s ready to eat right out of the bag just like a jerky. This tender and chewy and delectably fatty snack is addictive.
The Matzo Project crackers win the Would It Kill You To Try Something New? category. These Matzo crackers come in three flavors and they taste great. Plus the box has a Jewish grandmother on the front giving you advice: “Call your Mother.”
The Something Fishy category goes to Groix & Nature Seafood Rillettes. Several different types capture the seafood’s essence in a jar. The standouts are trout and scallop. All you need is a cracker or some crusty bread, and you are set.
And last but not least is the Meat category. Red Table Meats from Minnesota makes some really good salami. Their fennel and garlic salami is everything you want in a salami. Sweet pork from local farms combined with great flavors. The Coppa (dry cured pork shoulder) just melts in your mouth.
There are always new and interesting products to try out there, so be on the lookout for these standouts in Kansas City soon!
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 find him on Twitter @LincolnBbooks and on Instagram @lincycheese.