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2010 Taste Test Awards: Artisanal Category Winners

2010 Taste Test Awards: Artisanal Category Winners


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We tasted products from around the country to find the best of the best from small-production food artisans. By Cindy Hatcher

The Artisanal Winners

With great joy we tasted the handiwork of food artisans from every corner of the country. Most of these products can be ordered online; a few require a trip to the producer but are so good we had to include them. Note: We tasted by region, not by category, looking for examples of local excellence. A winning Vermont cheddar was not compared to a Michigan raclette; both are equally excellent. We focused on five main categories: cheese, spirits and beer, meat, condiments, and sweets, with a few miscellaneous (and irresistible) picks.

Best in Cheese: Michigan

Leelanau Cheese Company Raclette ($12.50/lb.) Ideal for melting in a sandwich or fondue, this mildly nutty Swiss-style cheese from Michigan’s “agricultural destination” farm, inn, and winery has just the right level of fresh-from-the-farm cheesy funk.

Best in Cheese: Vermont

Cellars at Jasper Hill Cabot Clothbound Cheddar (from $20/lb.) From a partnership between artisan cheesemakers and Vermont’s giant Cabot, this cheddar is sharp and rich in the English style, nicely crumbly, with bits of those crunchy crystals also found in great cheeses like Parmesan.

Best in Cheese: Washington

Beecher’s 4-Year Aged Flagship Cheddar ($22/lb). Just as Oregon proved that fantastic French-style pinot noir could be made on the West Coast, Beecher’s produces amazing cheddar character far from (but near the same latitude as) the English source. Rich, deep, dense, and grassy.

Best in Cheese: Virginia

Meadow Creek Dairy Appalachian Semi-Soft Raw Cow’s Milk (from $18/lb.) Don’t be fooled by its benign, butterlike appearance and aroma: This is a very milky cheese with a gently pungent, sharp, lemony kick. Its smooth, creamy texture coats your mouth in the best way. Available June through March.

Best in Cheese: New Mexico

Sweetwoods Aged Goat Cheese (from $16/lb., 505-465-2608). Aging at least 3 months gives it a gouda-like texture, plus a clear, grassy goat flavor and a hint of sweetness. From a small raw-goat’s-milk creamery that’s been around since the early 1990s. Available only at certain farmers’ markets, restaurants, and Whole Foods in New Mexico.

Best in Spirits & Wine: Tennessee

Corsair Artisan Gin (from $22). From corn-whiskey country comes a dry, fragrant, peppery gin flavored with an unusual mix of traditional botanicals, sustainably harvested. Sold and served in the South and the West Coast.

Best in Spirits & Wine: New Mexico

Blue Corn Brewery Transcendental Tripel (from $10.50). The addition of a small amount of locally grown lavender—unusual for Belgian Tripels—lends perfume to this rich, 8.5% alcohol beer, good for sipping with food. Available in winter months only at the brewery’s two Santa Fe locations.

Best in Spirits & Wine: Colorado

Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey (from $50). Small-batch distilling is undergoing a boom, and this is a leading example: Barley-based (like scotch) and new-oak-aged (like bourbon), this Denver-distilled whiskey has a lemony, almost sherrylike nose and a vibrant flavor. Sold online and in 30 states.

Best in Spirits & Wine: Wisconsin

Death’s Door Gin ($32). Only three herbs spice this gin: fennel, coriander, and wild juniper harvested from Lake Michigan’s Washington Island. This is like a good vodka with a subtle spicy kick—sweet and velvety. Perfect for slow sipping on the rocks.

Best in Meat: Virginia

Turner Ham House Country Ham (from $3/lb). You can order beautiful sugar-cured hams from this Shenandoah Valley company, which is more than 35 years old. When thinly sliced, the ham has a deliciously prosciutto-like texture and flavor—sweet, caramel notes balanced by just the right amount of salt.

Best in Meat: South Dakota

Tall Grass Buffalo Jerky ($10). Most jerkies we tasted resembled salty leather. Not this one. It has a surprisingly supple yet gratifyingly substantial texture; the meaty flavor mingles with spices and smoke, leaning more to pepper than salt. From buffalo that roam an 18,000-acre ranch.

Best in Meat: Arizona

Pork on a Fork Cottage Shoulder Cut Bacon ($12/lb). Bacon from shoulder rather than belly is leaner and has just the right amount of marbling without being supergreasy. This is what turkey bacon aspires to be, but isn’t. The pork comes from a boutique farm that raises only 60 hogs at a time.

Best in Meat: California

Boccalone Nduja ($24 for two). Remarkable salami paste from a San Fran venture that’s less than 10 years old. Nduja (pronounced en-doo-ya) is a true find: a spreadable chorizo-like ambassador of intense, cured porky flavor. Bitter orange underlines spicy smokiness and fermented tang. A little adds a punch to soups and sauces.

Best in Meat: New York

Salumeria Biellese Wild Boar Sopressata ($130 [includes shipping] for five 1-lb. pieces). Old-school artisanal Manhattan sausage maker, around since 1925, combines wild boar with wine, spices, and juniper to produce a beautifully rounded, balanced flavor in a dry-cured salami.

Best in Condiments: Nevada

Lattin Farms Cantaloupe Jam (from $4). We were initially dubious about a melon jam, then completely won over by this preserve, which tastes so honestly of sweet, locally grown Hearts of Gold cantaloupes. From a farm owned for generations by the Lattin family in Fallon, Nevada. Available at the family’s farm stand and at northern Nevada farmers’ markets.

Best in Condiments: Washington

Sticky Fingers Bakeries Orange Curd ($6). Less sour than old-fashioned lemon curd, with an incredibly fresh, bright orange-peel flavor. Simply slather on a biscuit or toast or elevate to sublime heights by spreading on, say, a creamy goat cheese tart. From a 23-year-old Spokane company.

Best in Condiments: New York

Breezie Maples Farm Maple Syrup (from $4). This certified-organic family farm produces four grades of good syrup, plus a creamy maple spread. We sampled all four grades—from light, mild Grade A to molasses-like Extra Dark—and each offers great color, flavor, and an almost buttery mouthfeel. The Extra Dark is dazzling.

Best in Condiments: North Carolina

Farmer’s Daughter Hyderabadi Tomato Chutney ($8). This is one of the most luscious and perfectly spiced chutneys we’ve ever tasted. Superb on fish, potatoes, even a salmon burger. Available at the year-round Carrboro Farmers’ Market from a Slow Food–style artisanal producer of preserves, pickles, and pastries.

Best in Sweets: North Carolina

Salem Baking Co’s Ginger Spice Moravian Cookies (from $2). It’s hard to believe something this whisper-thin can pack so much flavor. Salem has 11 varieties, but the original is our favorite. Twelve of these deliver the same calories as one ordinary chocolate-chip cookie. The company has been operating since 1930.

Best in Sweets: Massachusetts

Effie’s Homemade Corncakes ($36 for 6 bags). One of the finest biscuits in the world, we say: slightly sweet and seductively salty, with a masa-flour corn flavor and cornmeal crunch, and a hint of anise. A one-year-old product with timeless character. Effie’s also offers oatcakes and pecan nutcakes.

Best in Sweets: Illinois

Sweet Margy Tofikomin ($12 for an 8-oz. sheet). Hey, who hid the afikomen in a rich toffee-and-chocolate coating? Margy Kaye did, after turning her candy-making hobby to business in 2006. Although we love the crunch of matzo any time, the marriage with buttery toffee is inspired.

Best in Sweets: Oregon

Alma Chocolate Icons (from $15). Spectacular little gifts for lovers of chocolate: Portland confectioners pour single-origin chocolates into beautiful molds (of hearts, birds, devils, laughing Buddhas, Celtic crosses, and more), then brush on 23-karat edible gold. The results look ancient, and taste divine.

Best in Sweets: Utah

Chocolot Handmade Chocolates (from $12). We hadn’t heard of “Utah’s premier artisan chocolatier” (it’s only two years old) until we tasted these beauties, which deliver intense, smooth fillings and appealing flavors (Beehive Honey, Australian Ginger) in handsomely finished chocolates that are not exquisitely overpriced.

Best of the Rest: New York

Brooklyn Brine Co. Fennel Beets ($20 for 2 [16-oz.] jars). Beets brined until sublime by a new-generation Big Apple pickling partnership. Firm-textured and complex, with flavors of garlic and mustard seed, along with licorice-like notes of tarragon and fennel seeds. And then a little unexpected kick courtesy of black peppercorns and chile flakes. Lord, they’re good.

Best of the Rest: Michigan

McClure's Spicy Bloody Mary Mix (Online by the case only; $120 including shipping for 12 jars). This briny, spicy, pickle-flavored tomato juice simply makes the best Bloody Mary we've ever tasted—it will satisfy teetotalers, too. (Tip: As the jar wanes, top off with Clamato to extend its range.) Also available individually at select gourmet markets.

Best of the Rest: Oregon

Freddy Guys Dry Roasted Hazelnuts (from $6). Twelve years ago, a family new to the nut-farm business bought a filbert orchard in Oregon; they now produce a superb example of the archetypal Pacific Northwest nut, perfectly roasted and unsalted, with deep, rich hazelnut flavor and glorious crunch.

Best of the Rest: New York

Early Bird Aloha Recipe Granola ($8). Small-production granola is as common as birdseed and often not much more interesting—until you taste Early Bird’s perfection. It’s all about crunch, coco-nuttiness, sweetness, and a perky bit of salt. The Aloha blend features oats, sunflower seeds, brown sugar, maple syrup, coconut flakes, sweet cubes of dried mango, and buttery macadamia nuts.

Best of the Rest: Wisconsin

Hay River Pumpkin Seed Oil ($22). This vibrant oil from the seeds of organically raised pumpkins offers a lovely alternative to fine olive oil as a flavor finisher. Imagine this stirred into butternut squash soup or simply drizzled over toasted bread.

Best of the Rest: California

La Nogalera Walnut Oil (from $17). Essence of roasted walnuts in silky oil form, cold-pressed, with a pleasantly astringent quality that speaks of both skin and nutmeat. From a trio of nut growers in Santa Barbara County. Begs to be poured over a salad or hot pasta.

Best of the Rest: New Mexico

Chimayo Red Chile Powder ($20 per 4-oz. package). Unbelievably complex mix of smoky, sweet, and earthy flavors with modest heat, from a 400-year-old Native American chile variety grown in New Mexico. It's sold through the Native Hispanic Institute, which is devoted to preserving the region's culture. Read the story at their Web site, then order and sprinkle the vibrant powder into a tomato-based soup, on scrambled eggs, or on any food that would benefit from rich, warm spice.

Best of the Rest: Alabama

Belle Chèvre Belle and The Bees Breakfast Cheese ($8.50). Almost all the flavored goat cheeses we tasted were less interesting than the plain option. Not Belle and The Bees. A wee tinge of Tupelo-honey sweetness mellows out the goaty tang. The light, fluffy texture is divine on toasted whole-grain bread or a bran muffin.

Best of the Rest: Ohio

Jeni's Cherry Lambic Sorbet ($48 for 4 pints). It starts with a delicate, almost creamy structure and true cherry flavor (no phony cough drop taste here), then adds interest with faint fermented undertones courtesy of the distinct Belgian beer. This Columbus-based company offers a number of unique flavors; we also enjoyed Jeni's Meyer Lemon Yogurt and Riesling Poached Pear Sorbet and the dark chocolate ice cream is deadly delicious.

Best of the Rest: North Carolina

The Bamboo Ladies Bamboo Pickles ($15 for 2 [9-oz.] jars). What started as seven sprigs of bamboo behind Johnsie Walsh's Wilkes County home in 1970 is now a 3-acre grove tended by three generations of family. If you often find Southern pickles overly sweet, you'll be blown away by a tart vinegar balance and a texture that's crisp and yielding, similar to canned hearts of palm but without the metallic aftertaste. Charming, odd, and delicious, they're a perfect gift for the adventurous foodie.

Best of the Rest: Louisiana

Cajun Grain Brown Jasmine Rice ($35 for 4 [4-lb.] bags). Here is rice to convert a white-rice partisan to a brown-rice fanatic. From a third-generation farmer who turned 15 years ago to organic methods. This rice is dotted with bits of natural wild red rice, adding to the marvelous flavor and texture. Cooks up to a just-right al dente, ready for some red beans.

Best of the Rest: California

Massa Organics Crunchy Almond Butter ($13). A powerfully fresh roasted-almond flavor with depth that belies its ultrasimple ingredient list: roasted almonds. From a brown rice and nut farm near Chico that is blending mechanized harvest with sustainable, organic standards—an inspiring enterprise.


2015 Awards

Ireland’s finest food products and producers are celebrated at 2015 Irish Food Writers’ Guild awards

Food provenance and authenticity were top of the agenda at this year’s Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards, as seven food producers were awarded and honoured for the high standard and impeccable quality of their products, as well as for their unwavering dedication, devotion and commitment to Irish food. Special mention was also given to producers who embraced sustainable practices and techniques.

Now in its 21st year, the annual Irish Food Writers’ Guild (IFWG) Food Awards is a firm favourite on the Irish culinary calendar. The awards celebrate homegrown producers, organisations or individuals, whilst also celebrating the heroes who have devoted – and are continuing to devote – their lives to supporting and promoting Irish food.

Lizzie Gore-Grimes, Chairperson of the IFWG said, “The origin of food and drink products is becoming an increasingly important and influential factor for consumers more and more we are seeing ‘local’ and ‘homemade’ as key factors in their decision-making process. What’s more, as the consumers’ knowledge and interest in food provenance grows, so too does the need for complete transparency on the part of the producer. The stronger the story behind the brand and the more that is known about its origin, the greater the connection between the consumer and the product.

“All of our winners are flying the flag for food provenance this year. They come to the market with products that are real, authentic and bursting with honest-to-goodness quality. The quiet success of these seven winners is in no small part due to the richness of their produce, the strength of their story and the passion of the people behind them. What may initially have started as a labour of love for our award winners is now reaping the rewards today. All of our winners are wonderful ambassadors for Irish food, and I am certain that they will remain key players in maintaining Ireland’s enviable reputation on an international stage.”

The IFWG Food Awards are considered the most prestigious of their type in Ireland and are unique in that the members of the Guild are the sole nominating and decision-making body.

The Guild presented seven awards at an event that was attended by some of the biggest names in Irish food and hosted at the much-celebrated l’Ecrivain Restaurant.

The 2015 IFWG Food Award winners are Cork’s On the Pig’s Back, Skeaghanore Farm Fresh Ducks from Ballydehob and Wexford’s Wild About Foods. A special Irish Drink Award was presented to Richmount Elderflower Cordial from Co Longford, while Foods of Athenry claimed the Guild’s Environmental Award, with the Guild recognising the integrity of the production methods in their ‘Free From’ product range.

Birgitta Curtin of Burren Smokehouse was honoured for her notable contribution to Irish food, while Veronica Molloy of Crossogue Preserves won the Lifetime Achievement Award for her dedication to growing on the home farm and the consistent innovation of her range of artisan Irish preserves over 20 years.

The Awards are supported by Bord Bia, which was commended by the Guild for its tireless support of the Irish food industry both in Ireland and abroad.

The Judging Process

  • No company or individual can enter themselves for these awards.
  • Every member of the Guild is invited to nominate products they believe are worthy of an award.
  • The products must be produced in Ireland and the main ingredient must be Irish grown or produced.
  • The producer must be trading for at least three years.
  • Products are bought and paid for and a formal tasting meeting takes place where members vote, using proportional representation.

Derry Clarke’s menu comprised:


Life on a Farm: Milking Sheep, Making Cheese. Part 2

My trip to the farm continued…

Thanks for coming back to read the second part of my blog post about my trip to La Moutonniere. Lets continue with day #3!!

Lucille, Straining fresh Ricotta!

Day 3:
I awoke again, super-early to head over to the Fromagerie to make cheese with Lucille. Today we were going to be finishing off the Ricotta started the night before and making the Fromagerie staple, Bleu de la Moutonniere! When I arrived at the plant, Lucille was busy preparing the milk for cheese making and the vat of ricotta was being rapidly heated. Once the vat reached the desired temperature and bubbled about for a little while, it was time to scoop it out and strain it. It was amazing to see the snow-white curd floating atop the vat of excess whey and it came out smelling warm and salty. We scooped away until the whole vat was emptied and the large cloth bags Lucille held open were full as could be!

Cutting Curd for Bleu de la Moutonniere!

Next up was making Bleu de la Moutonniere. This process started similarly to the day before. We waited for the milk to coagulate and once it was done so, the curd was cut. Then came the first change in cheese making. Today, the curd was cut into small cubes as opposed to tiny, uneven spheres. Making blue cheese requires a few changes from the firm cheese we had produced the day before. The curd is cut into larger cubes, then aerated on a large tray and finally packed loosely into moulds, in order to provide spaces where mould growth would be promoted. Once the whole vat had been dissected, I was privy to a new experiment. A new machine was being test driven to pipe out the curd cubes, air them out along a conveyor belt and the plop them into waiting moulds. The experiment was mostly successful, however, a few required tweaks made us revert back to the hand-scooped method.

Scooping Curd into Moulds

We hauled out the huge amount of curd onto a cloth-covered table and then scooped the curd into moulds. Once we were done and cleaned I was given the task of turning and salting cheese that was residing in the aging cave. I took a tablespoon of salt and rubbed it all over each of the cheeses ready for a flip over! Once that was complete, all that was left was cleaning up!

Day 4:
On day 4 I worked on the farm with Al. There isn’t too much new information to report about the day other than that I got a bit more proficient at milking sheep! During my stay on the farm, I was waiting to see lambs birthed by any of the very pregnant sheep in the barn. Each morning and night we would check out the pen of ready-to-pop sheep and each time I was disappointed to find that no lambs had arrived. On day 4, I took to observing one sheep that seemed to be showing the signs of labour which Al told me to look out for, such as getting up to turn around, finding an isolated spot and not chewing on hay like the other sheep. Unfortunately the sheep didn’t appease me by popping out a lamb, and so I went to sleep knowing that I would be leaving the next morning and it would be my last chance to see a lamb being birthed.

Day 5:
I awoke to the sun, bright and early and went down to the barn. To my excitement, Al let me know that the sheep I had been watching the day earlier really was about to give birth. He went over to the sheep to assist it along and before I knew it, a little lamb (which was admittedly kinda gross looking) had fallen out of the sheep – literally it fell out! Al took a look at the sheep and informed me another lamb was on the way. As Al went back to work, I stayed to watch and saw the sheep give birth to the second lamb all on its own. And so I felt my trip was complete.I had made 3 types of cheese, milked sheep, seen a sheep give birth.. what else could I ask for! And so, after saying Au Revoir I headed out on the road to drive the 7 hours home, ready to tell the story of my life on a farm to anyone who would listen!

Thanks to Al and Lucille for graciously hosting me and for really letting me get my hands dirty!


In a Thanksgiving foodpickle? Your Answer is Seconds Away

We all stumble upon questions mid-prep. How do I defrost this turkey quicker? What do I mix with the juices with to make gravy? How many pounds per person should I plan for? Usually, my mom is at the ready to answer all my cooking fire alarms, but if you find you need an instant answer or don’t want to ask the woman who raised you, foodpickle from food52 is a real-time food q&a service supported by a community of passionate and knowledgeable foodies at the ready to share their expertise and set you on the right preparation path.

And if you’re the one with all the answers, you could win a up to $150 prize from Viking for the being the best foodpickler each week!

TEXT MESSAGING
You can now text your questions to foodpickle! Just send an SMS text msg to 803-380-FOOD (3663) and foodpickle text you back the responses right away.

FOODPICKLE ON TWITTER
Tweet @foodpickle a question from anywhere — your stove, the grocery aisle, a dinner party. foodpickle will @reply or d.m. you the responses.

Follow @foodpickle on Twitter to see questions and answers as they come in.


Mar 25, 2012

I should have known that going to the Stellenbosch Slow Market at Oude Libertas yesterday would bring on claustrophobia, it being the fullest I have ever seen this popular market, and one that I had sworn that I would never go back to again. The announcement of the winners of the 2012 Eat In DStv Food Network Produce Awards was the reason for my visit, and once I had received a copy of the magazine with the winners’ names, and tasted some of their produce, it was a good time to leave.

Given the increased passion for food preparation, spurred by cooking programs such as MasterChef Australia and now our own South African reality TV cooking show , as well as the recession reducing the frequency of eating out, buying healthy produce to use and eat at home is becoming increasingly popular. Five years ago Eat In, sister publication to Eat Out, which presents the annual Top 10 Restaurant awards, was launched by New Media Publishing. The magazine’s Awards ‘aim to acknowledge and celebrate outstanding independent South African producers for their integrity, passion and innovation’. The crucial criterion is that the produce is South African grown, and added criteria were that the products are produced ethically in terms of the workforce, and in an environmentally responsible manner. The winners were judged by Eat In editor Anelde Greeff, Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly, MasterChef SA judge Pete Goffe-Wood, Hartford House Chef Jackie Cameron, and Melissa’s food buyer Deon van Wyk, and are the following:

* Best new product: Karma Jams from Kestell in the Free State, judged to be ‘one of the first serious South African jam ranges’

* Best Small Producer: Confectionery: Sweet Temptations Toffee from Somerset West, which makes innovative toffee flavours such as Blueberry and Pinotage, and is wrapped in colourful packaging.

* Best Small Producer: Dairy (Cheese) : Buffalo Ridge from Wellington, awarded for its ‘authentic flavours and textures’, and its ‘phenomenal’ Feta.

* Best Small Producer: Dairy (Other): Jenny’s Clotted Cream from Langvallei Jersey Dairy farm in Robertson, awarded for its ‘authentic’ English-style clotted cream.

* Best Small Producer: Earth: Boon Hill Salad Leaves for its unusual mix of edible flowers and salad leaves.

* Best Small Producer: Grocery: Quality Pickles, awarded for their well-balanced and aromatic flavours without being overwhelming

* Best Small Producer: Bakery: De Oude Bank Bakkerij in Stellenbosch, Fritz Schoon having developed a reputation for his excellent rustic artisanal breads

* Best Small Producer: Paddock: Dargle Duck in Pietermaritzburg was praised for its duck paté, sausages, and breasts.

* South African Heritage Award: Rozendal Farm Vinegar from Stellenbosch, flavoured with interesting herbs such as buchu and honeybush.

* Innovation Award: Earthshine’s range of kale chips: a range of raw vegan chips.

* Best Organic or Free-Range Producer: Croft Chickens: praised for its ‘good old-fashioned farm bird’ taste, and comes from the Natal Midlands

. North: Braeside Butchery. Pretoria Boeremark

. East: Piggly Wiggly, The Food Market

. South: Ocean’s Edge, Wild Oats

* Best Local Food Blog: ‘My Easy Cooking’ by Nina Timm

The magazine has a calendar of the harvest seasons for fruit and vegetables, and contains a selection of recipes. It also has an article on ‘Shopping ethically in South Africa’, written by Claire Hu, being the purchase of produce made with minimal harm and maximum benefit. She raises ethically interesting issues:

* Should one buy at a supermarket or a local shop. The answer is obvious, due to the carbon footprint effect of the delivery by the supermarket chains, but it is not always feasible to not shop at a supermarket

* Buying Organic foods is ideal, but there is no national standard yet

* Free-range meat is also ideal, but once again there are no government-approved criteria

* Shopping at Food markets is a growing trend, which is carbon footprint-friendly

* Fairtrade accreditation for sustainable food production is not yet widespread, compared to Europe

* SASSI approved fish should be the benchmark for all purchasers

* Genetic modification of maize and soybeans is widespread in South Africa, and its health effects is not yet known. There is no mandatory product labelling of such products.

* Carbon footprint: consumers can choose to buy products with a lower carbon footprint.

* Recycling should be encouraged in reducing and separating waste. Products with lighter packs should be chosen, and one should bring one’s own shopping bags.

* Slow Food: this international organisation has branches in South Africa, creating awareness for the benefits of eating healthy foods, and avoiding fast foods.

Artisanal beer (Robson’s Beer, Triggerfish), and aromatic spirit (Wilderer Distillery, Jorgensen’s Distillery) producers are highlighted in an article, matching what Eat In stands for. The balance of the magazine is a regional listing of bakeries, cooking schools, Deli’s and farm stalls, fish suppliers, fruit, vegetable and nut suppliers, markets, meat and poultry suppliers, organic and health produce suppliers, sweet stuff, and tea and coffee suppliers.


Shopping List: Modern Grilling Gear

Living in an apartment six stories above ground makes it problematic to indulge the seasonal stirrings to fire up the grill. Hemmed in by walls, I've resorted on more than one occasion to using a cast iron grill pan, which actually does an adequate job except for the profusion of smoke that results. Despite an elaborate arrangement of multiple electric fans intended to propel the murk out the kitchen window, this never really works, and I end up swearing off indoor grilling until the urge strikes again.

I'm left with a particular envy for those who have just a few inches of outdoor space in which to create a fiery surface for Pollo al Mattone or even fresh fava beans.

This brings me to grilling gear, which holds a peculiar attraction, especially since I have no use for it.

On a recent visit to the Terence Conran Shop, home to ultra-modern, high-priced products for the home. The store, underneath the Queensboro Bridge, has a large selection of super sleek kitchen supplies and tableware, not to mention grilling tools.

Like a piece of barbecue spy-ware, the portable Picnic Grill (above left) from Sagaform folds up into the shape of a briefcase. I also liked the simple design of this the Bucket Grill (above right), made by Sagaform as well, which is manufactured in green, chrome, and khaki, as well as black.

Even though I've never found the heat of a grill to be so intense that I could not risk seasoning up close and personal, this barbecue salt and pepper shaker, at right, seemed ingenious. Designed by Viceversa, the tool's long handle extends to a double-headed container for sprinkling salt and pepper.

While the barbecue salt and pepper shaker is not available for puchase online, the Picnic Grill and Bucket Grill (in black) are available at The Conran Shop web store.

Photos: Sagaform, Vice Versa.


The most trending fiery food event on the planet is back this weekend at the Brooklyn Expo Center.

Brought to you by High River Sauces and the man behind the event, Steve Seabury, the who’s who in hot sauce will be in attendance.

Awards and Contests

Some of the finest artisan craftsmen and women will be sampling their goods, while the event itself will unleash a full schedule of entertainment which includes the 2016 Hot Sauce Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, the annual Screaming Mi Mi Awards Presentation, another Guinness Book Of World Records Carolina Reaper Challenge from Puckerbutt’s very own Smokin’ Ed Currie, and the Defcon Deathmatch is back after a one year hiatus.

And the only food eating contest that has been a part of the Expo since it’s inception, the Volcanic Peppers & Grimaldi’s Fiery Pizza Challenge is once again presented by Al “Buddah” Goldenberg and ILoveItSpicy.com.

A big thanks goes out to Grimaldi’s Pizzeria and Tim Bader, Buddah’s pizza partner and the man behind the heat who have kept this contest alive these last 4 years. Very excited if the defending champion Wayne Algenio will repeat as champion or will John Andrews return to his 1st year form and take back the pizza trophy!

Here is da Champ, Wayne posing with his trophy

The Schedule

April 23rd – Saturday

12 PM – Torch Bearer Sauces’ Guacamole Eating Contest

1 PM – Defcon Sauces & Bird Dog Whiskey Presents Chicken Wing Eating Competition

2 PM – Hot Sauce Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

3 PM – Screaming Mi Mi Awards Presentation

4 PM – El Jimador & Cocktail Crate Presents Margarita Mix-Down

5 PM –Grimaldi’s Pizza Eating Contest

April 24th – Sunday

12 PM – Jersey Barn Fire – Great Balls of Fire – Spicy Meatball Challenge

1 PM – Cold Spell Whiskey & Heartbreaking Dawns – Spicy Taco Eating Challenge

2 PM – High River Sauces – Burrito Eating Challenge

3 PM – Stoli & Murphs Bloody Mix Present The Bloody Mary Mix-Down West Coast vs East Coast – National Championship!

5 PM – Puckerbutt Pepper Company Presents The Guinness World Record – Smokin’ Ed’s Reaper Eating Challenge

The Screaming Mi Mi Awards

It was just announced that both Blair Lazar and Marie Sharp will be at the ceremony to meet and greet with the public and to take pictures with their new Hall of Fame rings and custom red jackets.

The 2016 Screaming Mi Mi Award Categories

Hot Sauce Categories:
Asian Style
Caribbean Style
Louisiana Style
Chipotle
Fruit Based
Fruit Based Hot Habanero
Jalapeno
Pepper Blend
XXX Hot Sauce (Non Extract)
Best Hot Sauce Label Artwork

Additional Categories:

Chicken Wing
Spicy BBQ
Spicy Salsa

The Screaming Mi Mi Awards will be done live right after the Hall of Fame Ceremony is concluded. The results will be posted on ILoveItSpicy.com right after the ceremony is completed around 4pm est.

We’ll be there! Will you? Leave a Comment below. Maybe we can meet up!


Penne with Tomatoes, West Cork Chorizo and Desmond Cheese

This is a fantastic year for fruit – the best for maybe 10 years. In the orchard the trees are groaning with fruit, there’s a huge crop of apples and plums and although the pears are not quite as abundant there’s still a terrific crop.

We picked our first Beauty of Bath a few weeks ago, this variety more than any other reminds me of my childhood. Almost every family had a few apple trees, as children we knew exactly where the best apples were and where to clamber over the wall into our neighbour’s orchard. My first bite of that bittersweet apple with its red and yellow speckled skin brought memories flooding back.

Grenadier is the earliest cooker to ripen. We have already had some grenadier apple sauce with some of our oven succulent roast pork. The pigs are Saddleback and Tamworth crossed with red Duroc for good measure. The flavour of the meat from these happy lazy pigs is sublime. These breeds have a decent layer of fat, which renders out to baste the meat while the skin crisps into the most irresistible crackling. The pigs adore snuffling around under the apple trees to find wind falls – we joke that they then come with built in apple sauce! Plum sauce is also delicious with pork, duck, even a goose – in fact now is the time to order a plump goose for Michaelmas and have a Thanksgiving feast.

But what to do with the surplus, I’m always desperate to store some Brambly apples for winter tarts and pies. This year I have plans to spread them out in a single layer on fruit trays in a cool shed. We’ll stack the recycled boxes so the air can circulate. I’m racking my brains to try to remember how it was done years ago “in life before electricity”. Perhaps some of the readers can share their tips with me. I certainly remember our old gardener Pad digging a long shallow pit to store cooking apples. I must have been tiny, 3 or 4 when I helped him to select unblemished cooking apples. I seem to recollect that the pit was lined with straw and then covered with a good layer of soil then covered with an old mat

Nowadays, almost everyone has a freezer, so make as much stewed or apple puree as you can manage. It can be used not only for sauce but also in crumbles and tarts in winter. The flavour is immeasurably better than the under mature Brambly available in the shops. Have you noticed how they don’t break like the homegrown apples that are picked when they are properly matured. Apple juice is another option – you’ll need to buy a centrifuge, Krups, Magimix, Kenwood and other manufacturers have models worth investing in (you can also use the centrifuge to make a variety of other fruit and vegetable juices.

Chutneys are another delicious way of preserving surplus fruit and vegetables, there are a myriad of recipes, try this Spicy Apple Chutney and then start to experiment yourself.

Plums, greengages or pears poached in a sweet geranium or even a simple syrup is completely delicious and freeze brilliantly – a terrific standby pudding to have in the freezer. Store them in smallish plastic tubs so that they can be defrosted easily. Meanwhile feast on as many apples, plums and pears as you can for breakfast, lunch and dinner and build up your stock of vitamins to guard against winter colds – remember to old adage “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”.


Christmas recipes: turkey and some of the trimmings

In 2009 I wrote down my pudding, cake and mincemeat recipes. This year I’ve decided to write about turkey, stuffings and cranberry sauce. Sometimes we have a goose at Christmas, sometimes turkey. A number of people have told me recently that goose is more traditional than turkey, but it is an enormous turkey which features in the closing scenes of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and you can’t get more traditional than that in my book.

I’ve done terrible things to turkeys over the years tending to over- rather than undercook them. Worst of all was when I took someone’s advice to put the turkey into the Aga simmering oven and leave it to cook overnight for 12 + hours. The turkey was cooked alright but swimming in a bath of caramel brown juice that should have been retained within the bird – the most wasteful turkey stock ever…

Since I discovered the slightly odd method suggested in “Leith’s Cookery Bible” of draping over the stuffed bird before it goes into the oven a folded piece of muslin soaked in an unfeasible quantity of melted butter, I’ve never looked back. Doing this and investing in a decent meat thermometer, I really don’t think you can go wrong.

This method produces a moist, perfectly cooked turkey with a deep burnished gold skin:

Family Christmases when I was growing up always involved a turkey with two different stuffings – sage and onion and chestnut and sausagemeat. When we have turkey now, that’s how it still has to be. Preparing the stuffings on Christmas eve was a family affair (although when I say family I mean the women in the family…) Tiny Auntie Em would always boil and chop the onions for the sage and onion stuffing but my mother would take charge of the chestnut and sausagemeat one. My mother was a fantastic but instinctive cook so never wrote her recipes down. I learned by watching and tasting. I have made the sage and onion stuffing recipe my own over time preferring now to fry rather than boil the onions and adding a handful of
oatmeal really lifts the texture of the stuffing and stops it being too stodgy.

I found my cranberry sauce recipe in a pre Christmas newspaper article written by Simon Hopkinson. The brown sugar, port and orange zest add fantastic flavour and fill the kitchen with wonderful scents as the sauce cooks. I treasure this recipe and am now very happy to have set it down in writing as it currently exists as a single brown stained piece of newsprint. I got very, very twitchy one year when I couldn’t find it.

Recipe for perfect roast turkey

Adapted from a recipe in “Leith’s Cookery Bible”. Serves 12

1 turkey unstuffed weight 10-13lb/5-6kg
1 recipe sage and onion stuffing
1 recipe chestnut and sausagemeat stuffing
1 large square fine muslin about 4 times the size of the turkey
6 oz butter

Stuff the cavity of the turkey with some of the sage and onion stuffing. Stuff the neck end of the turkey with the chestnut and sausagemeat stuffing. Draw the skin flap down to cover the stuffing and secure with a skewer. Weigh the stuffed turkey and calculate the cooking time. Put any leftover stuffing into a shallow greased baking dish and bake at 180 degrees C for 45 minutes or so until cooked through and crusty on top.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F/gas mark 4. Melt the butter and in it soak the piece of muslin until all the butter has been absorbed.

Completely cover the bird with the doubled butter muslin and roast in the preheated oven for the calculated time – a 12lb/5.35kg turkey should take 3 to 3 and 3/4 hours.

I roast my turkey in the roasting oven of a two oven Aga on the lowest set of runners. The oven has quite a high temperature, 200 degrees C at the bottom, higher at the top, so the bird cooks a little more quickly. I turn it round after an hour or so to ensure it cooks evenly.

Other than this, there’s no need to turn, baste change the temperature, just leave it to do its thing in the oven.

I use a meat thermometer to make sure the turkey is cooked through, removing it from the oven when the internal temperature is 10 degrees C below the temperature I’m looking for (ie I take it out at 72 degrees C) degrees C). As the bird rests, the internal temperature rises to the required 82 degrees C.

A long resting time (at least 1 hour, in fact up to 2 hours for a good sized turkey) will ensure the bird is easy to carve and gives you time to prepare the gravy, finish the vegetables, and generally have a more relaxing time.

Recipe for sage and onion stuffing

2 oz butter
3 medium onions, finely chopped
15-20 fresh medium sized sage leaves, finely shredded
12 oz fresh white breadcrumbs
4 oz medium oatmeal
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Fry the onion until translucent but not browned. Stir in the breadcrumbs, sage and seasoning to taste.

Recipe for chestnut and sausagemeat stuffing

2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon light olive oil
1 and 1/2 lb of your favourite sausagemeat
1 lb cooked peeled chestnuts (I like Merchant Gourmet vacuum packed chestnuts)
1 beaten egg
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fry the onions in the oil in a small frying pan until tranlucent. Cool. Roughly mash the chestnuts with a fork. Combine the cooled cooked onions, sausagemeat, mashed chestnuts, a teaspoon of salt and a couple of twists of black pepper in a large bowl. Add the beaten egg and go in with your hands to mix and combine all the ingredients. Don’t try and taste this to check seasoning as it contains raw sausagemeat.

Recipe for cranberry sauce

8oz (200g) brown sugar (demerara or light soft brown or even golden granulated)
1/2 pint (1/4 litre) port – ruby or LBV is fine, don’t use your best stuff for cooking
12 oz (340g) cranberries, rinsed and drained
grated zest of 2 oranges

Put the sugar and port into a medium non-reactive (stainless steel or enamelled cast iron) saucepan. Mix well and bring to the boil over a gentle heat, stirring from time to time until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cranberries and orange zest and simmer until the skins of the cranberries have burst. Be careful not to overcook at this stage as otherwise you’ll get a rubber set.


Greenwashing in the Natural Sunscreen Space

Greenwashing is something that unfortunately happens frequently in the natural skincare space and sunscreens aren’t excluded. The term “greenwashing” refers to falsely portraying a product as natural, chemical-free, or environmentally-friendly. (17) A lot of “natural” sunscreens are anything but. You can read more about greenwashing in this article.

Speaking of greenwashing, there’s a new ingredient that’s been introduced to the “clean” sunscreen market. It’s called Butyloctyl Salicylate (BOS). You may have already seen it while reading labels. It’s in the same category as “chemical” sunscreen active ingredients and it’s added to increase the SPF without making the sunscreen more white. (18) Brands will list it in the “inactive ingredients” section of the product label, so you won’t see it alongside the Zinc Oxide.

BOS is not an approved sunscreen ingredient by the FDA in the United States. So we have to wonder, “Is it safe?” In Australia, the Therapeutical Goods Administration under the Department of Health determined that BOS should not be used in:

  • Children under 4 years of age
  • The last trimester of pregnancy
  • Those who have salicylate sensitivity
  • Asthma patients

Products containing BOS cannot have a concentration over 1%. (19)

With all the greenwashing that occurs these days, it can be difficult to find a company and product line you can trust.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Smoked Hamburgers via Indirect Grilling Technique

It's week two of the NFL regular season and I finished my second "tailgate grilling session" of the year. Last time I cooked ABTs. This time I stuck to the tried and true backyard bbq favorite. hamburgers. But, I put my own twist on grilled hamburgers.

I didn't really follow the directions on the Miner's Mix (TM) package. Half the fun of bbq for me is the trial and error experimentation that goes along with it.

I cooked these on my Weber Platinum charcoal kettle grill using the charcoal "triangles" on either side of the cooking chamber. This provides reliable and controllable indirect heat in your kettle grill.

Starr Pass Barbeque Classic - October 29-30

I received this bbq contest announcement in my e-mail today.

Tucson, AZ (9/1/10) – JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa today announced the first annual Starr Pass Barbeque Classic taking place October 29-30, 2010. The weekend of fun and finger-lickin’ food will pit top barbeque teams from across the country competing to win the inaugural event as well as featuring drinks, family games and more. Fully sanctioned and judged by the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) and AZ Barbeque, this event promises to be the first of its kind in Southern Arizona .

“We’re thrilled to host the Starr Pass Barbeque Classic,” said Starr Pass Executive Chef, Chris Brown. Brown is the mastermind behind the event and, being a KCBS award-winning barbeque pit master himself, he wanted to bring an event of this caliber to Southern Arizona . “It’s been a dream of mine to help bring a world-class event like this to Tucson and now it’s a reality. From the competition and grilling to the fun-filled activities, there’s truly something for everyone. The event also allows us a fantastic opportunity to give back to our local community.”

Some of the finest competitive barbeque teams in the country will make their way to Tucson to fire up their savory, saucy specialties and compete for a share of $10,000 in cash and prizes. Among the competitors is multiple-grand-championship-winner Harry Soo and his Slap Yo’ Daddy BBQ team. Teams will be competing in several categories including chicken, pork, pork ribs and beef brisket. Fans who want to get closer to the action can sign up for Thursday night’s KCBS-certified judging class to learn the official rules, regulations and tasting tips employed by the Kansas City Barbeque Society. The class costs $55 for KCBS members and $90 for non-KCBS members and includes food as well as a year’s membership to KCBS.

In addition to the prizes, teams will compete for a much bigger cause. The Special Olympics will sponsor the event and a portion of the proceeds will go directly to the organization and its mission of encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide.

As well as the main BBQ competition on Saturday, there will be Dessert, “Anything Butt” and BBQ Appetizer Contests on Friday. Throughout the weekend, visitors will enjoy a bevy of goodies including samples of competition BBQ, a free slider sandwich meal from Catalina Barbeque Co. & Sports Bar, live bands, live chef demonstrations, vendors, Halloween-themed games and trick-or-treating for the kids, a family fun area, and much more. Tickets for the event are $45 each and kids 12 and under get in free!

For barbeque fanatics and families who want to enjoy a full weekend of food and fun, the JW Marriott Starr Pass has rolled out special room rates exclusively for event attendees. Packages include:


Watch the video: Simple Chinese Noodles Recipe by Masterchef (May 2022).