I riffed on fake food last week pretty harshly. Sorry to Jelly Bellies but the juxtaposition was too attractive to ignore. Truth be told, I have long put Jelly Bellies in my kids Christmas stockings, Easter Baskets and in college care packages. . .because they are treats, but they are not real food.
There was plentiful real food at the Fancy Food Show to be fair. In fact, three vendors alone gave me pause in the convention center aisles. Two cheese + one salumi. After tasting boothside I could not seem to thank the artisan food producers/owners enough. I was gushing. Had my New Yorker husband, Lyle, been with me he would have been embarrassed by my gushing. (I am at heart a Californian).
UTAH is BOUNTIFUL! I lived in Utah for six tortuous months after a 9-month Eurail pass backpacking stint at age 22 back in the early 80’s. My college boyfriend was employed there. We signed all of our letters, “From Behind The Zion Curtain.” We hiked. We skied. We enjoyed the Wasatch Mountains. But drinking and eating were more challenging. Things have changed. Take note of two food producers that deserve your attention: Beehive Cheese Co. of Uintah and Creminelli Fine Meats of Salt Lake City. I tasted. And I testify. The Zion Curtain on a true and real food culture has been lifted. Now I finally get why the beehive is the state symbol!
You know when you taste a cheese boldly entitled “Barely Buzzed” you’re not in state of mind or belly that is pious and reserved any more. These Jersey cow’s milk cheeses are produced by Tim and Pat Ford, with a nod to Irish cheese making traditions. “Barely Buzzed” is hand rubbed with espresso and lavender and lands in a nutty smile in your mouth. Even Joseph Henry Smith would have smiled. Lyle and I plan on ordering from this regional food shed rising star for our next summer season of farm-based catering. Order some for yourself at email@example.com.
Sharing a booth, with an old barn wood motif, with Beehive Cheese Co. was Creminelli Fine Meats. Really – big, masterful Italian Salumi makers led by a 6’ tall Piedmontese Italian who somehow landed in the state whose motto is still “Industry.” Let’s face it. Salumi is sexy. Salami Felino. Coppa. Coppa Cotta. Bresaola Piccola. Sopressa Veneta. These sound like sweaty dances or at least new moves. The tall Italian with sweat on his brow and a bar towel tucked in his Dockers was the real deal. He snuck me a secret taste of his salumi specked with black truffle (Tartufo Salami). He leered in a positive, “I know what you’re feeling” way. I asked him about Norcia, Italy and his leering smile turned into a big grin. We compared notes on wild boar salumi. They sell to a few Whole Foods stores and then they sell out. We will be ordering the tall Italian’s salumi this ’11 season and proudly considering this part of our Rocky Mt. food shed. No antibiotics. Nothing artificial. All heritage breed pork. That is real food.
Oh – and actually my favorite and final taste of the ’11 Fancy Food Show was Oregon’s Rogue Creamery’s “Rogue River Blue,” the American Cheese Society’s 2009 Best in Show. Wrapped in grape leaves macerated in pear brandy – it is oozing terroir and ‘don’t mess with me’ character. It’s intense. It’s real. Just like most of the best life experiences.