I spent a few hours yesterday at the Philly Farm and Food Fest. I considered bailing before I went. I was in a mood, and there was so much around the house that needed to be done. I forced myself to be a professional and not let my mood affect my work, so I hopped in the car and zipped across the bridge. I’m so glad I did. Besides discovering some new local producers and their great products, I ran into so many people I know who make me smile. The local food scene has the most interesting and caring people participating in it.
I tend to get a bit overwhelmed at these big expos where there is table after table of good food to sample. I took it a little easy this year, so I wouldn’t get overwhelmed and also so I wouldn’t consume too many calories. I still got my fill, though. Here are the top five Philly Farm and Food Fest experiences that stood out for me (with few photos because sometimes I just forget to take pictures when I’m enjoying myself.)
- Little Baby’s Ice Cream – I started the morning off with a small cone of Little Baby’s Bourbon Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream. It was mouthwateringly good. This Philadelphia style ice cream is made in the East Kensington section of the city. It’s hand-made, small-batch, premium ice cream with dairy sourced from Trickling Springs Creamery in Chambersburg, Franklin County, Pennsylvania. You can find Little Baby’s Ice Cream at their two scoop shops or at a retailer, or you may catch one of their multi-media Ice Cream tricycles at a festival or farmers market. They have unique flavors like Birch Beer Vanilla Bean, Sweet Potato Burnt Marshmallow and more.
- Snack N Shrooms – The lowly white mushroom doesn’t get much respect in culinary circles, but it makes an awesome chip. Snack N Shrooms sells dried mushrooms that you can snack on. They come in four varieties – original, original low salt, garlic and hot. I loved the Garlic Snack N Shrooms. They can be like a chip, or used as a topping for salads, pastas, risotto, eggs, or soups. You can purchase Snack N Shrooms, sourced of course from Kennet Square, on their ebay store.
- Edible Philly – Part of the Edible Community of regional food magazines, Edible Philly recently debuted and joins Edible Jersey in serving our region. I picked up the publication’s second issue, and I can’t wait to dive in. This season’s issue includes several recipes from Marisa McLellan’s recently published “Preserving by the Pint” for seasonal rhubarb (see my MNN interview with Marisa about the book), Edible Philly’s 2014 Local Heroes, a tour of Philadlephia’s Jewish delis, and even a little Jersey flair with a piece about springtime eating at the shore.
- Tait Farm Fruit Shrubs – A shrub is a concentrated syrup, usually made from fruit, sugar and vinegar. It can be used to mix non-alcoholic drinks or cocktails, and it can also be used as a recipe ingredient. I bought a bottle of the Ginger Shrub, and I can’t wait to mix up some gin cocktails with it, but I’m also looking forward to trying the non-alcoholic Ginger Pineapple Spritzer (1 oz Ginger Shrub, 3 oz Pineapple Juice, 4 oz. sparkling water over ice). I’m now regretting not also buying a bottle of the Lime Shrub – they sampled the lime mixed with seltzer and it was lovely – and one of the of the sweet fruit varieties (like Cherry or Strawberry, too). I wonder if I can create something out of the Ginger Shrub and limoncello that’s steeping in the dark recesses of my china cabinet right now. Hmmmmm… since a shrub is syrup, and limoncello gets finished with a simple syrup, maybe I can take small amount of the vodka that’s been steeping in lemon peels for months now and try adding the ginger shrub to it instead of the simple syrup.
- Philadelphia Distilling’s XXX Shine – I got my first taste of moonshine at the fest. XXX Shine is an un-aged whiskey. I expected it to be harsh and unpleasant. It wasn’t. It was smooth and sweet with a subtle flavor of corn. I had a taste of the XXX Shine at the Libations Lounge, a ticketed-only event that’s held at the fest. Along with the XXX Shine, we were treated to tastes of Philadelphia Distilling’s Bluecoat American gin (my favorite gin) and Penn 1681 Vodka. A little history lesson taught us that when the distillery opened in 20015, it was the first to open in Pennsylvania since prohibition.
There was so much goodness at the Farm and Food Fest – tons of fresh produce and cheese and sweets and jams and even a vegan scrapple (Yes, I’m skeptical, too. The line to sample was too long to wait in so I’m still skeptical and curious). There are a few things I’ll be following up, and you might hear more about the fest in the upcoming weeks.
Did you attend the Philly Farm and Food Fest yesterday? What caught your eye?