On Sunday, April 14th, when you were planning to wait in endless brunch lines or luxuriously lie in bed till noon, two Local Pickers were up, out, and on the road before the first rays of morning light could shine through the kitchen blinds. At New York’s Penn Station, we found steaming cups of coffee, buttered New York bagels, and a train to Philadelphia. Within the hour, we stepped through the big glass doors of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, eager to meet the exceptional farmers and food purveyors exhibiting at the 2013 Philly Farm & Food Fest. We were especially excited to connect with purveyors listed on Local Pickins — the ones with websites we’d oohed and aahed over, twitter feeds we’d scoured, and, most importantly, with pickins we couldn’t wait to try!
We met so many amazing farmers, beekeepers, ice-cream scoopers, and waffle-iron tenders that it’s simply impossible to list them all. Instead, we’ve distilled some of our most exciting findings. So read on, dear readers…and we bet within the next five minutes, you’ll be buying your ticket for the 2014 fest…
Happy Cat Farms supports seed to table farming and aims to help people grow and forage their food sustainably. At the fest, they were selling a whole slew of fresh produce and goods. Pictured above, their ramps jumped out at us. After an informative conversation with a Happy Cat employee, we bought a bunch to grill with olive oil and add to our next batch of tacos!
Bobolink Dairy & Bakery had some of the friendliest employees at the fest. In addition to delicious bread and cheese, we learned that they offer an impressive variety of classes on topics such as baking, cheese making, and charcuterie! We asked the woman behind the counter for something out of the ordinary, and landed a mini medieval rye baguette that had been fermented for 2 days and and some Jean-Louis blue cheese (unbelievably pungent). Both had strong but complex flavors, and the rye was especially remarkable for it’s chewy texture. As soon as we got home, we created a delicious sandwich with cucumbers, pictured above!
oWowCow Creamery’s savory nut ice cream was simply unreal. It was so good. Sweet, salty, spicy, creamy…everything you could wish for in a unique dessert.
Yeehaw Farm — A small farm owned by a friendly and dynamic husband and wife team. They grow grains, grind their own flours, make a maple syrup-like concoction Shagbark Hickory trees (which makes for an amazing batch of Boston Baked Beans), and have an innovative ‘Whole-diet’ CSA program, which provides enough vegetables, meat, dairy, grains, and value-added goods, like soap, to make for a three complete meals for one person every day for an entire year. Interested in really following through with a pledge to eat local, organic, real foods? This could be the CSA for you!
Quarry Hill Farm — Set on 100 acres of farmland just outside of Philadelphia that was in danger of being made into a housing development, a fully-functioning organic farm that belongs to Philadelphia’s Farmland Restoration Program. They also recently bought a nearby restaurant that had closed down and are turning it into a farm-to-table restaurant that will be almost completely sourced from ingredients grown on their farm.
Philadelphia CowShare connects the (carnivorous) Philadelphia urban community with responsible farmers and butchers to provide access to pasture-raised, organic, sustainable meat. Four cowshare bundles to choose from, which means that each individual and family can find one that is right for them.
Beechwood Orchards — This fifth generation, family owned farm offered a million and one different kinds of apples. After a conversation with the father/daughter farming duo, we purchased a cameo apple. This pickin’ was crisp, sweet, and unlike anything we could’ve gotten at the supermarket.