Monday, July 6, 2009

Sweet and sticky

When it comes to honey appreciation, I am a late bloomer. Sure, I've always liked the taste of honey. But I never realized how many varieties there are, or that even the simple clover honey could actually taste of clover when not mass produced.

When I was in Turkey a few months ago, I had my first encounter with honey comb. There it lay in a beautiful golden 8x11 block, next to the many jam varieties. I was clueless as to what I was to do with it. My breakfast companion told me to put a little bit in my mouth and chew it like gum while extracting the honey. The instant I started chewing the taste of clover filled my mouth. Transporting me back to my childhood when we would sometimes suck on the purple clover flowers in the fields. Never had I tried honey that actually tasted of it's source. It was summer trapped in the sticky combs.

Last week, Honey Ridge Farms came and gave a honey tasting at Family Circle (where I am currently interning) and took honey to a whole other level. Not only do they boast a delicious and wonderful array of products ranging from pumpkin blossom to spiced honey cream and my favorite: honey balsamic vinegar (which goes great over a salad mixed with radicchio, romaine, blue cheese and pine nuts.)

Honey Ridge and Molly Fowler prepared for us a small feast including cocktails made with honey, a mixed green salad with balsamic honey dressing, pork tenderloin with balsamic honey sauce and strawberries, and berry cream tiramisu. The food items showcased the versatility of honey.

No longer will honey be relegated to my Greek yogurt or drizzled on top of an English muffins. With all these varieties available, honey will find a more prominent place in my cupboard. Who needs high fructose corn syrup when nature has perfected it's own natural sweetener.

Spicy Sanguine Sling
Molly Fowler, Dinning Diva on behalf of Honey Ridge Farms
1 1-2 oz vodka
1 Tbsp Grand Marnier
2 oz blood orange juice
1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 -1/2 Tbsp spiced honey

Shake all ingredients on ice and strain over crushed ice in a high ball glass.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Fancy Food Show. What's Hot in the World of Food.

Feeling like a kid with a sack of Halloween loot, I emptied two bags worth of food items on my apartment floor. Screaming with delight as I found a bottle of fig and walnut savory balsamic salad dressing from Lucini, chocolates from Aequare and Antoine Amrani, olive oil and balsamic vinegar spritzer bottles from Gourme Mist and countless other goodies.

Did I rob a Food Emporium? No. I just returned from Food Fete. Kind of like the Fancy Food Show after party. Over two thousand vendors jockeyed for attention of over 20,000 attendees at the Javits Center in New York, from June 28-30. But the few vendors that were willing to throw down $3000 could have the sole attention of magazine editors on June 29, 2009.

I had the priveledge of accompanying the Food Director of Family Circle. Some of the trends popping up were yerba matte in iced tea form, lots of chocolates but I was particularly taken with Cholives, which is chocolate shaped like an olive, with a smooth chocolate ganache that can be skewered and served over a delicously alcholic martini. Think espresso liqour and vodka.

Watermelon was popping up all over the place, in beers and as a part of appetizers. Prunes were in juice form and strawberries a la Neil Armstorng, a.k.a freeze dried.

When I actually went to the Fancy Food Show on Tuesday, it was very overwhelming. So much food, it was gustatory overload. However, I did manage to find a few things that stood out. I loved Charlie's Truffled Popcorn, marshmellows made by Butter, particularly the pumpkin spice and mint, and the Indonesian cashews by Nuts Plus Nuts, with a spicy lemongrass flavor.

Among the hot trends this year were; yuzu (Asian citrus closesly resembling grapefruit and mandarain orange), blood orange (juice and products), black garlic (fermented garlic and used as topper on things like pizza), and caramel sea salt brownies.

After wandering around for three hours sampling anything that caught my eye, I was happy that I chose the last day to visit. The crowds were smaller and less agressive (if that's possible in New York). I thought because it was the last day I could score some more free food (yes, I am that greedy. But most vendors were still not willing to give up samples. Apparently you aren't allowed to leave the show with any food. I managed to slip by with my popcorn, apple cider, swizzle sticks,yogurt and nuts.

One woman was not so lucky. A bag packed full of goodies was taken away by security. I had already made up my mind that if so forced, I would down that bag of truffle popcorn. Even if it meant dealing with post-gorging remorse. It would have been worth every kernel.