Philly Farm & Food Fest 2014: Livin’ la Vida Local

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This past Sunday, the third annual Philly Farm and Food Fest was held at the Philadelphia Convention Center. A collaboration between Fair Food Philly, PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture), and their many constituents, this annual marketplace creates a forum for local producers and consumers.

The event featured an array of farmers, food artisans, farm-to-table restaurants, local beer and spirit producers, and sustainable businesses. The event was packed with hungry, eager visitors looking to sample a diversity of delicious foods; in fact, 2014 marked a doubling in size from Fair Food’s first show.

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Honestly, who doesn’t love bacon!? Thanks to Bacon Jams, your bacon arsenal just grew exponentially with bacon jam. The black pepper honey jam was phenomenal with the savory aroma alone making one’s mouth water. The sweetness of the syrupy honey balanced remarkably well with the pulverized salty bacon pure. A spicy pepper finish wallops the back of the throat after a few seconds of heavenly bacon fusion. This jam would work well slathered on a toasted roll for a roast pork, brisket sandwich.

Philly Farm and Food Fest 2014 (Naturela's)

Naturela Foods had an assortment of gourmet sauces and spreads to try. Their dark crimson, smooth tomato spread was mildly sweet, making it a perfect companion for salty homemade fries. The hummus dip was exceedingly fresh and crisp. Packed with flavor, it’s an excellent spread atop crackers or for dipping with vegetables.

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If you aren’t a fan of beef jerky, you may find yourself changing your perspective when you taste the all-natural beef jerky from Righteous Felon Jerky Cartel. Chewable, tender and bite-sized, these gourmet jerky treats are flavor-packed with either subtle chipotle or hickory smokiness or a potent habanero burn for the bold.

Philly Farm and Food Fest 2014 (MAD Cookies)

MAD Cookie Company’s treats are more than just delectable cookies (the double down chocolate is particularly noteworthy). Every little bite helps fight childhood hunger in the Philadelphia area, as 10% of all sales (sales, not profits) are donated to the Philabundance KidsBites initiative.

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Russet Restaurant served up petite portions of duck pâté on lightly toasted, garlic-infused bread with gentle seasoning. Rich and creamy, this pâté will satisfy any hesitant notions.

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Weckerly’s Creamery was the beginning of many sweet indulgences–and more specifically, ice cream–of the day. (Stay tuned for a feature with owners Andy and Jen Satinsky in our upcoming Spring 2014 magazine issue!)

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Weckerly’s was handing out both scoops of their French-style ice cream and bite-sized versions of their ice cream sandwiches. The “Honest Tom”, a frozen cube of spicy chocolate served with cajeta between two honey graham crackers, and the Honey Lavender, the fragrant ice cream embraced by thin squares of chocolate brownie, are sure to be the perfect remedy for those sweltering days to come!

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A rep from Frecon Farms shared his insights on why YOU should drink apples… in hard cider form, that is!

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Continuing the ice cream trend, UDairy Creamery–using the farm-fresh milk produced by cows at the University of Delaware–scooped up concoctions of sweet delights. Their three flavors made us clamoring for more: Nanner Nutter, a blend of smooth banana-flavored ice cream, nutty peanut butter swirl and chunks of bitter dark chocolate; Tiramisu, mascarpone ice cream with coffee-soaked cake pieces and a mocha swirl; and Delaware River Mud Pie, vanilla and chocolate cookie ice cream with fudge swirls.

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Always crowded with long lines, Owowcow Creamery was a festival favorite with its assortment of uniquely fused ice cream.  One flavor frequently picked was the bourbon blueberry chocolate. The savory-sweet chocolate paired well with the bold, smoky body of Kentucky bourbon. Rich and surprisingly delicious, tiny pieces of blueberry helped accentuate such an unconventional flavor. At the other end of the spectrum, the Madagascar vanilla was clean and pure, yet no less scrumptious.

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One spoon of Tait Farm Foods’ preserves/jams/conserves and you’ll feel like you’re eating fresh fruit. Many jars are low-sugar options, favoring the true flavors of the fruits they contain. The blueberry preserves, made with over a half pound of whole blueberries per jar, is a personal favorite with its chunky texture and fragrant aroma.

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In need of bread for those preserves? Vendors didn’t fail to deliver, featuring rustic loaves from the likes of Metropolitan Bakery and Philly Bread.

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Feast Your Eyes Catering had bees on the mind, with honeycomb and beehive-inspired cakes and adorably-decorated bumblebee honey French macarons.

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Small, micro-roaster Reanimator Coffee poured freshly brewed single origin coffee.  Their light roasted Peru and Papa New Guinea blends emitted an airy scent with their body accenting the aroma.  Not bitter, these two particular coffees are perfect to sip without the need of any additional supplements.

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Gilda’s Biscotti didn’t only have its namesake twice-baked cookies on hand. The lighter-than-air chocolate chip meringue kisses were also a popular choice quickly gobbled up.

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Local Roots Granola produces–as its name suggests–locally sourced, handmade granola. They are themed to the seasons; for example, the Winter variety contains raisins, pecans, and other seasonal goodies. LRG is actually part of a larger initiative known as Local Roots, a community of businesses located in Cranford, NJ, that are focused on building better community through food.

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Lil’ Pop Shop distributed hand-crafted popsicles in some of the most unlikely yet tantalizing flavors, making it one of the most alluring vendors in the event. The honey sweetened beets with crème fraiche had an icy, mild effect on the tongue, while the pureed mango with spicy habanero salsa was the only popsicle that ever made us sweat! The lemon blueberry buttermilk was fruity and creamy, a refreshing palate cleanser during our festival adventure.

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John & Kira’s distributed bite-sized gourmet chocolate treats.  Their chocolate bees (little caramel-filled chocolate morsels colored like bees) made it hard to only have one.

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Wild for Salmon? So are we! The company based out of Bloomsburg, PA, makes wild Alaskan sockeye salmon readily available to the mass public at a common good price. Whether you’re seeking a slab of gravlax or a whipped batch of smoked salmon spread, these fishermen aim to please.

Philly Farm and Food Fest 2014 (Shellbark Hollow)

Known for their distinctive cheeses made from purebred Nubian goats, West Chester-based Shellbark Hollow Farm handed out an extraordinary selection of artisan cheeses and cheese spreads to inquisitive foodies.  Who would have thought goats made such delectable cheese!?

Philly Farm and Food Fest 2014 (Long Cove Foods)

To the delight of vegans, Long Cove Foods fried up golden, sizzling organic vegan scrapple, now making a Philly-breakfast staple 100% healthy and enjoyable for everyone.

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Outside the main showroom, the festival featured two separate talks/tastings: Shellfish Salon and Libations Lounge.

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At the Shellfish Salon, seafood tastings–primarily oysters on the half shell–were led by Sam Mink, owner of the Oyster House.

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What drew our attention, though, was the scent of clams steaming in a bubbling broth of chardonnay and garlic.

Philly Farm and Food Fest 2014 (Libations Tasting)

As a final treat, the event held a libations’ tasting showcasing some of the more exotic tasting drinks made from local distilleries and breweries including Dad’s Hat Rye Whiskey, Frecon Farm’s Cidery, Sly Fox Brewing Company, Stonekeep Meadery, and Weyerbacher Brewing Company.

Each year, the Philly Farm & Food Fest gets bigger and better. We can only eagerly await the fourth annual event in 2015.

— Nicole Woon & Kevin Thurwanger