I’m not super into Valentine’s Day for many of the reasons you might imagine a progressive lady wouldn’t be. But I’ve grown to appreciate it in recent years – mostly because of the food.
After the bleak reality of post-holiday January, Valentine’s Day is a welcome excuse to prepare an extravagant meal with your sweetie or treat someone (yourself included!) to something delicious. Fair Food has everything you need for an intimate, home-cooked, locally-sourced dinner, as well as some awesome edible gifts.
For a Valentine’s dinner that will get hearts racing: start with a MICRO RED KALE salad garnished with crisp, pink WATERMELON RADISHES and our new Kevin’s Fresh LEMON VINAIGRETTE (bonus points if you carve your radish slices into hearts). Follow with a lavish honey-lacquered DUCK BREAST from Griggstown Farm accompanied by a romantic side of roasted PETITE POTATOES from Phillips Farm tossed with Overbrook Herb Farm’s ROSEMARY.
For dessert, try this modernized apple tarte tatin with STAYMAN WINESAP APPLES from Three Springs Fruit Farm or YORK IMPERIAL APPLES from Beechwood Orchards. Serve with whipped Seven Stars Farm’s ORGANIC HEAVY CREAM and a glass of port wine for a real “wow” finish.
If you’re on the hunt for gifts, we’ve got you covered. Use one of our gift baskets or an adorable (and functional) Fair Food tote to build your own gift box for any special someones! Here are our suggestions for some winning gift combos:
For the health nut: Show how much you care by giving the gift of probiotics. Pick up a jar of pink-hued LOVER’S KRAUT from the awesome artisans at Food & Ferments; a pint of Wholesome Dairy Farms’ delicious VANILLA AGAVE KEFIR (full of active cultures); a jar of local, grass-fed SIMPLY GHEE for those omega-3s; and a few rosy local APPLES to keep the doctor away.
For the decadent gourmet: Chocolate, of course. Grab a John & Kira’s HEARTS AND BUTTERFLIES or BEE MY LOVEBUG gift box featuring artisan chocolates hand-painted with cocoa butter and filled with salted honey caramel or almond hazelnut praline.
Or pick up a beautiful bar of Gabby’s Cacao’s Venezuelan direct-trade 73% DARK CHOCOLATE identified by bean varietal and vintage. Add a few CANALES from Market Day Canele, a jar of GOAT MILK CARAMEL SAUCE (cajeta) from Yellow Springs Farm, and a wedge of aged raw milk cheese – try Doe Run Farm’s toasty, savory ST. MALACHI – to complement all that sweetness.
For the cheese lover: Show your dairy-wild valentine how much you care by crafting the perfect cheese spread to start (or end) a special evening. A few sumptuous suggestions:Yellow Springs’ aged goat milk NUTCRACKER, washed in walnut liqueur; Keswick Creamery’s big, bold Stilton-style BLUE SUEDE MOO; and King’s Creamery’s new Camembert-style HOW NOW COW. Pair with your favorite Tait Farm preserves, a bag of Rip Rap’s flatbread SOURDOUGH CRACKERS, and Philadelphia Bee Co.’s NEIGHBORHOOD HONEY.
Contributed by Fair Food member Andrew Satinsky of Weckerly’s Ice Cream
In preparing to write this piece I asked for some advice from the folks at Fair Food. With a few simple words of direction from Emily Kohlhas came an opportunity to explore the essence of our product and reflect on the relationships that are continuing to grow out of making small batch ice cream. She said, “focus on how you integrate local ingredients into your products.” I thought about how local dairy and produce are at the core of every batch we make. It struck me that we have to exercise the most consideration with imported ingredients like sugar, cocoa, and vanilla, adding these items with care so as not to overpower the wonderful-and often subtle- flavors from our local farms.
Weckerly’s Ice Cream was born out of my partner Jen’s experience as a pastry chef. Creating desserts for ever-changing seasonal menus, she always felt a great affinity for ice cream. Few other desserts allowed her to focus on building an experience around the flavor of one or two perfect ingredients.
Every step of creating an ice cream flavor starts with one ingredient. In the beginning that ingredient was cream. As we experimented with ice cream mixes and commercially abundant dairy there was something missing in our base. The plain ice cream lacked a depth of flavor that would be an important building block. In discussing our sourcing with Fair Food Director Ann Karlen she suggested that we try Seven Stars’ organic grass-fed cream from Phoenixville. At first taste we knew we had found the missing piece. From there the process was simplified. The other base ingredients-sugar, eggs, and salt-were integrated to accent the unique qualities of the milk and cream.
This approach carries through to every flavor. From spring to early winter the ingredients that inspire each flavor come from local harvests. Heirloom cranberries from Paradise Hill are framed by caramelized white chocolate, and lavender’s herbal sweetness is complimented by raw wildflower honey. Our responsibility in crafting the ice cream is to allow each ingredient room to work its magic.
The guidance and advice provided by Fair Food has been invaluable to a small operation that pours a great deal of time into production. Making the connection between producers and the best local farm sources completes an important link in the chain. As our company grows, that resource extends to helping create lasting relationships throughout the supply chain. When we came looking for more information about small-scale dairy production, Product Manager Alex Jones introduced us to some of Chester County’s farmstead cheese makers. This network has a thorough understanding of what goes into producing great quality milk, and through this relationship we can grow with dairy from pastured cows that live happy, healthy lives.
Weckerly’s Ice Cream produces small batch French-style ice cream with local and organic products in West Philadelphia. Find their seasonal specialties in the freezer case at the Fair Food Farmstand or consider pre-ordering your favorite flavors for pick up or delivery through their Pint of the Week program!
Photos courtesy of Ted Nghiem.
Alex Jones, Farmstand Product Manager
As reported last week, the cold has hampered our intrepid farmers’ best efforts to harvest salad and cooking greens. But even when leafy crops fall through, there’s lots of tasty, interesting, and unique local produce to find at the Farmstand – more than just potatoes (though we’ve got those too!).
Read on for some of our favorite ways to prepare these hardy, tasty vegetables, then stock up at the Farmstand (and see how best to store them at home). It’s time for a Root Vegetable Recipe Roundup!
ALLIUMS: Revisit these flavor-boosting veggies as the star of a dish, not a supporting role: Try this tartwith YELLOW ONIONS, this 44-clove GARLIC soup,melt some LEEKS with white wine, or caramelizesome whole JUMBO SHALLOTS.
BEETS: We’re keeping HEIRLOOM LUTZ, GOLD, and CHIOGGIA varieties in stock. Lutz beets are big, red, and – despite their large size – stay tender, never woody. Great for making Russian borscht, roasting and adding to grain salads, grating, or pureeing. Use “bleedless” gold beets to add color and Chioggia when preparing nice round slices in this beet carpaccio - the better to show off their pink and white striped flesh.
BURDOCK: A winter-only rarity at the Farmstand, it’s high in vitamin C and is said to have detoxing and immune-boosting properties. Peel, slice thinly, and sautee with olive oil, garlic, and balsamic vinegar, or stir-fry it with carrots to make kimpira.
CARROTS: Choose your favorite blend of KYOTO RED, DEEP PURPLE, YELLOW, and traditional ORANGE CARROTS for this rainbow ribbon salad, or sauté up slices ofcarrot in honey ginger butter for a beautiful side.
CELERIAC: AKA celery root, this knobbly knot is full of refreshing, subtle flavor, kind of like a celery stalk and a parsnip had a baby. Add to potato dishes, bake into a gratin, or any of the other 10(!) things to do with celeriac.
KOHLRABI: This cabbage-turnip missing link is covered in a sturdy green skin, but its flesh is crisp, sweet, and juicy. Peel and grate into slaw or give it a braise in butter.
POTATOES: We’re stocking waxy REDS, flavorful YUKONS, a lovely MIXED FINGERLING BLEND, and the occasional PURPLE VIKING or ADIRONDACK BLUE as they’re available. New this week? Cute little GERMAN BUTTERBALL POTATOES, golden-hued and ready to shine in any dish (preferably with some heavy cream).
RADISH: Grab juicy, pink WATERMELON RADISHES or crisp, zesty GREEN RADISHES and use them as you would smaller radishes – just be sure to peel them first and slice thinly. Try thismarinated salad with slices of red onion.
RUTABAGA: This purple-skinned root is a sweet, tender hybrid of potato and turnip. Get rich and smoky with this cheesy, smoked paprika-rutabaga puree or stay raw with this juliennedrutabaga/carrot/apple salad.
This filling, hearty one-pot meal is perfect for those cold winter nights you want something easy that doesn’t necessarily taste so. If you have a cast iron skillet, this would be a great opportunity to get it broken in! Adapted from BBC Foods.
4-5 small beets
about 1 lb. potatoes (sweet, red, white, blue…any type will do!)
3 slices smoky, thick bacon
2 tbsp grated fresh horseradish
Cut the potatoes into chunks (halves if using finger potatoes, approximately 1-1 1.5 inch chunks if using larger potatoes).
Place the beets and potato chunks into a steamer for 10 minutes, or until tender.
Remove the beets from the steamer, rub the skin off, and cut into quarters.
Large dice the bacon and fry until crisp (in a cast iron pan, if possible).
Remove any excess bacon grease, if necessary (leaving enough to properly crisp up everything else!).
Add the horseradish into the pan until just crisp.
Add the beet and potato.
Let crisp in the bacon fat for a few minutes.
Add a splash of sherry vinegar and a handful of chopped parsley to the pan.
Mix together and serve.
When weather happens – be it snow, a cold snap, a heat wave, rain, or no rain – our product list becomes more of a “wish list” as our farmers take preventive action to save their crops.
Overcast days stunt the growth of hydroponic lettuces and high-tunnel greens. Blizzard conditions can damage greenhouses and freeze carefully tended rows of salad mix. Harsh freezes like the recent polar vortex can even ruin crops that have already been harvested: for example, a broken heater in one of our farm’s storage facilities last week meant an entire stock of claimed spaghetti squash was lost.
There are lessons to be learned here. Have a plan B (when possible). Be flexible. Be thankful that a barn full of frozen squash or snow-covered rows of greens don’t mean we might not make it to spring (although our hardworking farmers still take a hit when harvests don’t make it to market). After two mild winters that had us eating cauliflower in January, we’re due for a season that tests our commitment to eating locally!
This week, I’m hoping we’ll have lots more salad greens – chemical-free BABY ARUGULA from Mill Creek Farm in Nj., Agriark’s RED OAK LEAF LETTUCE, and the beautiful HYDROPONIC GREEN and RED LEAF LETTUCES that the Gehman Family has been bringing us. And you cleaned us out of Young Sprouts’ CHEMICAL-FREE SUNFLOWER SHOOTS last weekend – but we should receive another batch late this week.
If harvests don’t go as planned, there are alternatives. Check our freezer for bags of IPM FROZEN SPINACH from Dusty Lane Farm in Elmer, Nj., or get your greens from a jar of Cobblestone Krautery’s RITTENHOUSE KRAUT or SOUTH PHILLY JUNGLE KRAUT (watch this space for news on lots more fermented foods coming soon to the Farmstand).
And there are still plenty of tasty, colorful veggies to brighten up your winter table. We’ve got SWEET POTATOES in WHITE, PURPLE, and ORANGE from Parzanese Bros. Farm; ORGANIC KYOTO RED, HEIRLOOM YELLOW, and DEEP PURPLE CARROTS; and flavorful, uncommon roots like ORGANIC CELERIAC and SCORZONERA (AKA black salsify) to experiment with (I had a great celeriac panzanella at Local 44 last weekend and can’t wait to recreate it at home).
Despite the freeze, we’ve still got some BUTTERNUT SQUASH and brightly-colored CARNIVAL ACORN SQUASH, plus HEIRLOOM RED CRANBERRIES, tons of APPLES, and beautiful new ORGANIC MAITAKE MUSHROOMS (delicious when seared). Lucky for us, fungi are always in season in Pennsylvania!
Elsewhere at the Farmstand, look for this season’s new cheeses from Yellow Springs Farm in Chester County, Pa.: HERBALICIOUS and SUNSET (and consider signing up for their 2014 Cheese CSA now!). We’re also getting a new batch of PB&JAMS organic NUT BUTTERS sweetened with local honey. And don’t forget to grab your Philly Bread, with deliveries of PHILLY MUFFINS and FOCACCIA on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
With the first month of the new year almost through, it’s becoming increasingly clear which resolutions may have been more “intention” than “strategy,” as certain rather lofty goals recede slowly into the blur of a once again busy schedule.
One that likely falls into that category is the ever-popular New Year detox. The typical depravation diet, be it a maple-and-lemon master, juice fast, or kale binge, is not only potentially harmful to one’s health, it’s also completely unsustainable. A cleanse may start the new year off with a big bang, but it can just as easily prepare it for an even bigger crash.
We like a more sustainable approach to eating clean…one that doesn’t involve an expensive juicer or reducing blood sugar to negligible levels and instead focuses on incorporating nutrient-dense whole foods during each meal of the day. A perfect example of just such a regime is Bon Appetité’s stunningly photographed Food Lover’s Cleanse.
Based on whole foods; emphasizing fruits, vegetables, fiber, and lean proteins; creating healthy portion sizes; and featuring all things in moderation (they even have a menu of low-alcohol cocktails to enjoy!), the Food Lover’s Cleanse provides delicious recipes and helpful strategies that turn “dieting” from a painful endeavor into a pleasurable lifestyle. Who’s counting down days or dreaming of cold pizza when savoring a meal of Roast Pork Tenderloin and Apples with Mushroom Sauté?
The best part is, a whole foods “cleanse” allows you to eat with the season, so it never gets boring. There’s always a new vegetable to roast, fruit to purée, or humanely-raised cutlet to sear. Perhaps with a month of failed fad behind us we may find it wise to adjust our dietary goals for the new year from a focus on what we can’t have to a celebration of what we can!
Emily Kohlhas, Farmstand Staffer
Being a part of the Reading Terminal Market during the holiday season is a wild experience. The past two months have been a wonderful whirlwind of turkeys, pot roasts, cheese plates, gift baskets, mulled cider, egg nog…rum.
But this past weekend, as the mummery dust finally settled at our feet, the Fair Food family quietly closed the Farmstand doors, travelled across town, and converged upon the house of Executive Director Ann Karlen for a well-deserved evening of carefree post-holiday merry making.
As you may imagine, our little group is quite good when it comes to food – so our spread was, if I do say so myself, an enviable one. We started out with an all-star selection of cheeses from our friends at Di Bruno Bros. served with their famous Black Lava Cashews and a tangy, sweet membrillo made from Beechwood Orchard quince. Farmstand Manager Anne whipped up a cheese ball for the ages. Studded with Taproot Farm heirloom garlic and Obis One black garlic, then coated in crushed pecans and chives, Anne’s magical ball-o-cheese was the sleeper hit of the evening.
For dinner we let loose on some harissa-rubbed Stryker Farm goat leg lovingly braised by Product Manager Alex while – perhaps ironically – enjoying some roasted heirloom bronze turkey from Koch’s (how Managing Director Vikram had it in him to face another turkey is beyond us – but we’re certainly happy he did!). Just to make sure we covered all the bases, the hostess with the mostess, Ann, threw in some barbecued Stryker Farm spare ribs and a Farmstand salad featuring our electric watermelon radishes and striking purple carrots.
After a little bit of drinking (thanks to our wonderful partners in crime Victory and Yard’s) and a lotta bit of dancing (thanks due there to Alex for the smashing playlist…LCD Soundsystem + Lauren Hill + Simon and Garfunkel = happy Fair Fooders), we descended upon dessert. Yes, more food.
I thought I didn’t have a sweet tooth, but Ann’s dreamy carrot cake and board member Lindsey’s fluffy, buoyant gluten free bread pudding said otherwise. Needless to say, I rolled home happy.
We here at Fair Food are truly lucky in an almost silly number of ways. We’re surrounded by some of the most fertile land, innovative farmers, and talented food artisans in the country. We have a group of supporters and customers whom we love dearly. And we have co-workers that we actually want to spend time with after work. The people are warm, the conversation great, and the food even better!
(Our apologies for the blurry photos – just use your imagination!)
It’s been a minute since we talked about cheese here, but the topic is especially timely this week. On Saturday, January 18 at the Ruba Club, Philadelphia will celebrate all things curd at Cheese Ball II: A Cave Raising. This “dairy fantasia,” as hostess/blogger Madame Fromage calls it, will feature the city’s largest cheese board, a raffle, a live auction, and the crowning of Philly’s King and Queen of Curd. Admission? $10 and a wedge.
Best of all, proceeds go to building a new cheese cave for Birchrun Hills Farm, one of our favorite cheesemakers. Sue Miller and her family make someof southeast Pa.’s flagship farmstead cheeses – fudgy BURCH RUN BLUE, supple FAT CAT, stinky RED CAT – with milk from their herd of Holsteins in Chester County. Currently, they have to schlep their milk to a production facility in a neighboring town – and age in a space the size of a closet. To grow their business and maintain their sustainable, grass-fed operation, the Millers need to make more cheese, and a larger aging cave on their farm will help them do just that.
So come out to the Cheese Ball! I was at the first back in 2012, and it was a whirlwind of amazing cheeses local and global, plus delicious pairings, beverages (cash bar), and dancing. It’s the place to be if you love dairy – or want to score amazing items like a pair of tickets to our upcoming Brewer’s Plate or a season of Yellow Springs Farm’s goat cheese CSA during the auction.
Now that you know what you’re doing this Saturday night, which cheese should you bring? Any one of our local, sustainable cheeses would shine on the Big Board, but here are a few suggestions from our cheese case:
TALEGGINATOR: This whiffy raw milk slab is Keswick Creamery’s take on Taleggio, washed in Troeg’s Troeginator beer. Stinky and semisoft with a pungent rind and lush, smooth interior.
BLISS: A surface-ripened offering from Yellow Springs Farm’s frisky herd of heritage breed Nubian goats. Cheesemakers Al and Catherine Renzi combined their favorite aspects of Brie and Camembert-style cheeses for this variety, milky and creamy when younger but tangy and oozy when ripe.
CLOTHBOUND JACK RESERVE: A new take on Cherry Grove Farm’s flavorful, meltable jacks, this one spends extra months in the aging cave swaddled in bandages for maximum flavor development. Choose this crumbly, bite-y jack to stand out at the Cheese Ball or anywhere cheese is consumed.
FRESH MOZZARELLA: Want to get hands-on with your selection? Then pick up a tub of Caputo Brothers Creamery’s authentic, Italian-style CAGLIATA CURD from our freezer and make the freshest mozzarella you’ll ever eat right there in your own kitchen. Simply thaw in the fridge the night before, check the Caputo Brothers website for super-easy how-to videos, and in less than 10 minutes, you’ll have tender, toothsome fior di latte.
See you at the Cheese Ball!
Calling all local, sustainable farmers, producers, restaurants, and organizations!
We are very excited to announce the 3rd Annual Philly Farm & Food Fest! With upwards of 5,000 expected to attend, we’re doubling the floor space to ensure Fest has the capacity to represent the amazing diversity of our region’s sustainable foods, products, businesses, and organizations. This year, we’re also inviting restaurants to join in and showcase their commitment to local, sustainable foods and practices.
Fest is an unparalleled opportunity to connect with thousands of visitors, offering samples, promotional materials, and products for sale. Don’t miss out on your chance to build relationships in Philadelphia’s ever-expanding consumer market.
To be a part of this incredible event, please submit an application as soon as possible. Details on exhibiting, including fees and inclusions, are listed on the application page. You will be notified of acceptance shortly once your application is submitted.
The 2014 Philly Farm & Food Fest presented by Whole Foods Market will be held at the PA Convention Center Annex on Sunday, April 13, 2014 from 11 am to 4 pm. This ticketed event will bring together over 150 regional farmers, unique food producers, local restaurants, sustainable food businesses, and organizations under one roof for a day of sampling, shopping, and learning in support of our region’s diverse and delicious food system.
Emily Kohlhas, Farmstand Staffer
This year, before I eat “organic,” before I eat “raw” or “vegan” or even “whole,” I resolve to eat local. Why local above all else? Because eating local is not only a personal choice but a political and environmental statement that has implications both at home and across the globe. Here are some of my top reasons for keeping food close in 2014 (and beyond!):
10. Because food is personal: I like to meet the people that grow my food, raise the animals I eat, and make the products I use. By connecting with the source of what I consume I feel more grounded in reality and better equipped to align my priorities with my values.
9. Because it tastes better: local, sustainable foods are fresher and tastier than their well-travelled cousins. While the lettuces of California’s big organic may look perfect year round, I know that I’ll find more pronounced and nuanced flavors in our own, scraggly butterheads.
8. Because it’s more fun: eating seasonally is more fun than buying whatever you feel like, whenever you feel like. You become connected to the seasons through your plate, constantly learning about new foods and being forced (well, encouraged) to experiment with new recipes and techniques based on what’s available.
7. Because chemicals aren’t meant for eating – or waterways: by buying from family farms committed to sustainability I’m not only able to control my exposure to chemicals and pesticides, but in my small way contribute to the reduction of farm-related chemical runoff that often accompanies large-scale agriculture.
6. Because animals are people too: if I’m going to eat a domesticated animal, I want to know that it lived a natural, full and happy life surrounded by caring people. I also want to do anything I can to take a stand against the horrors of intensive animal farming – because it’s disgusting, dirty, unsafe, environmentally disastrous, and, most of all, completely and totally inhuman.
5. Because local means less carbon: every beet counts when it comes to reducing the number of semis on the road trucking produce from point A to point Z.
4. Because dirt is at the root of it all: I vote with my produce budget to preserve the soil health of my region. By supporting local, sustainable farmers I also support their efforts to maintain the soil fertility and ecosystem health, because my kids may have to eat from that dirt too one day!
3. Because biodiversity rules: as the number and variety of crops diminishes across the globe, we (yes, I am referring to humankind) are becoming more at risk for large-scale crop failure and agricultural disaster. Biodiversity is not only more fun than “same old same old” in the produce department, it’s a tried and true way to safeguard food production from environmental disaster. Win-win!
2. Because open space is healthy space: local farmers are at the heart of efforts to preserve open spaces – and their ecosystems – in our region. Suburban sprawl may be great for strip malls and SUVs, but me personally? I prefer the birds and the bees.
10. Because like it or not, we’re in it together: With information speeding from one side of the planet to the other in seconds, it’s easy to forget that potatoes and leeks don’t function the same as 1s and 0s. When it comes to food, we’re tied to where we are – and it’s in our best interest to build a community of farmers and producers that are empowered to thrive with access to markets and fair prices. That way, we can rest easy knowing that our region isn’t reliant on rain in Chile or export law in China for its food supply. At least it helps me sleep at night…
Whatever reasons you have for eating local, I hope you choose to make it a big part of your 2014!