The Summer Fancy Food Show

by Anne Maxfield on July 11, 2016

Fancy Food ShowCan you imagine 840,000 square feet of food?

No, neither can the Accidental Locavore, even though I was part of it.

That was the recent Summer Fancy Food Show in New York.

Vast.

Overwhelming.

And delicious!

It made me glad to be just a casual observer, rather than a food retailer or someone who needed to really shop the show for business. Think about working your way through 180,000 products – in three days, that’s 60,000 a day!

Sensory overload went into effect after about five minutes and my objectives for the show – find local vendors for future pieces, identify potential clients for my consulting business and do some market research for a client – totally went out the window.

But what you want to know is what’s going to show up in the stores. Here are a few of the trends I noticed at the Fancy Food Show:FancyFood Show Coconuts

  • Chips: Made out of anything that can be flattened and fried or baked. Pumpkin, risotto, kale (old news), coconut. Flavors from savory to sweet, some of them more successful than others. Surprisingly Parmesan/garlic risotto chips made me run for something to take the nasty taste out of my mouth (Bulgarian feta worked very nicely).
  • Coconut: Probably the kale of 2016. Many different types of oils. More varieties of coconut water and other drinks all in about a thousand flavors. Yogurt made from coconut milk. Chips (see above). Just imagine all the things people have tried to put kale into and substitute coconut…
  • Coffee: Fair trade, local blends, local roasters. Hot, iced, cold brew. Recyclable pods. Composting pods. Flavors. DIY roasting, cold brew etc. kits. At least half of the incubator companies were coffee related. And although tea is supposed to be a contender, there was very little of it that I saw.

Fancy Food Show Sample SausageThere was a huge area representing Italy and pastas in all shapes and colors. Like rice noodles from Taiwan, not sure how you tasted them to figure out what was what.

Other countries at the Fancy Food Show included places like Latvia who had a surprisingly large area (lots of fish and dairy products, if you were wondering). I don’t know if I was projecting, but the aisles along the United Kingdom’s booths seemed eerily quiet.  Sad, if you had spent the money to come and exhibit and end up not knowing what future trade rules look like.

Overwhelming.

The most beautiful food there was a version of a Middle Eastern date bar, but by that point too tired to taste, photograph, or even get a card.

Dumb.

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Escarole Recipe: Try This Easy Escarole Salad

by Anne Maxfield on July 7, 2016

Accidental Locavore Escarole Salad RecipeI hate gritty produce.

At the CSA pick-up recently, one of the things Frank brought home was a beautiful head of escarole. It’s something I always like, both cooked and raw, but tend to avoid because it needs careful washing and sometimes I’m just not in the mood (you know what I mean?).

After a leisurely bath and a thorough shower (the escarole, not the Accidental Locavore), it was ready for a simple escarole salad recipe I’d seen in bon appètit. This served 6:

  • ¼ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 6 cups torn escarole (from about 2 heads)
  • 2 tablespoons rinsed capers
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup shaved peeled horseradish (or prepared horseradish)

Soak onion in a small bowl of ice water at least 30 minutes (you can do this while the escarole is soaking). Drain and pat dry.

Whisk crème fraîche, oil, lemon juice, and vinegar in a large bowl. Add escarole, capers, and drained onion; season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Top salad with horseradish and season with more pepper, serve and enjoy!

Finished Escarole RecipeMy verdict: This escarole salad was made for dinner with friends. Because there wasn’t a scrap left, it proved to be a big hit. Super simple and really delicious! While the summer may be peak time for escarole, it’s not for fresh horseradish, which becomes a small problem. Imagine how much better this could be with the punch you’d get from fresh (or fresher than what I had) horseradish!

Instead of soaking the onions (which I do a lot these days with raw onions) I had made some pickled red onions and used those instead.

The dressing I made separately so I could do it ahead of time. Check it for taste, remembering that it’s going on bitter greens so you might want to add a bit more crème fraîche and adjust the horseradish accordingly.

It’s a great dressing and would work well on a lot of different greens. Grilled radicchio anyone?

 

 

 

 

 

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10 Things NOT to do at a Farmers’ Market

by Anne Maxfield on July 4, 2016

Accidental Locavore Tomatoes From Farmers MarketIt’s getting to be peak farmers’ market season. The Accidental Locavore thought it was a good time to re-run on of your favorite posts.

During the taping of a cooking show I was talking to a couple of farmers who have been at the various farmers’ markets for years.

They’ve witnessed a lot.

Drunks, dogs and kids all run amuck.

Women with cigarettes demanding to know if the produce is organic.

They’ve seen it all.

Some of their stories may surprise you and if you recognize yourself…

  1. Give yourself time to wander through and see what’s available.
  2. If you pick up a tomato to see how ripe it is, put it down, someone else picks it up, etc, etc., by the end of the day it’s essentially a tomato water balloon. Not good.
  3. Usually farmers are happy to let you taste berries. If you taste a berry and like it, take the box you picked the berry from. Don’t get a new box and don’t add more berries to the box you have.Accidental Locavore Corn From Farmers Market
  4. My big pet peeve at any market: shucking corn. It makes a huge mess. If you take it home shucked, it loses moisture and flavor. You’ve got nothing to grill it in, one of the best and easiest ways to cook corn. The way to see if an ear of corn is going to be good is to look at it. It should look fresh and moist, not dried out. If you are a corn shucker, try picking one or two ears that look good to you. Take them home un-shucked and see how they compare to the ones you made a mess with. My history shows a 98% success rate just going for the good-looking ones.
  5. Talk with the farmers, they’ll welcome your appreciation of their hard work. In return, they will be happy to help you pick out the best stuff and often give you tips on how to prepare it.
  6. Remember, all this beautiful food is really labor intensive. It’s planted, weeded and harvested, primarily by hand. Trust me, these guys work hard, harder than you or I. If you think prices seem higher than at a big supermarket, be thankful you have access to the remarkable taste that only comes from something being picked that morning, at the peak of flavor. Not to mention the variety. Even at the best stores, you never see twenty different kinds of eggplants or forty varieties of tomatoes. Accidental Locavore Farmers Market Exchange
  7. Even if you are in a rush, hand the farmers the money. If you leave the money on the counter, leave it right in front of them so they don’t have to reach across to get it (or worse, someone else picks it up). And if you’re in that much of a hurry, chill (and stop shucking that corn).
  8. Would you leave an empty coffee cup or other garbage on the counter at Tiffany’s? Then why do you think you can do it at a farmers’ market? Because it’s outside??? All vendors have trash cans, usually behind the counter. Ask nicely and they’ll toss your trash.
  9. If you want cheap prices, to be able to run in and out, grab a handful of plastic bags and toss money on a counter, go to a supermarket (use the self-service line). Don’t complain that the veggies don’t taste good.  When you go to a farmers’ market, look for a more personal experience, a slower pace, an interaction with the people who spend their lives bringing us great food to eat.
  10. And if you want to see if a tomato can actually be a water balloon, just do the one thing that’s universally despised by farmers everywhere…shake your bag in their face…

Don’t say you weren’t warned! Did I miss anything?

 

 

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Caramelized Peaches

by Anne Maxfield on June 30, 2016

Accidental Locavore Caramelized PeachesDo you have recipes that you’ve used a lot in the past and then somehow they get lost in the shuffle?

For the Accidental Locavore, it’s often a combo of the thrill of the new along with some old favorites that push the good-but-not-part-of-the-repertoire aside. This is one of them and serves 4:

  • 4 large peaches, unpeeled
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • Water as needed
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Cut the peaches in half and pit them, set aside.

In a large heavy-bottomed pan, add sugar, corn syrup and just enough water to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Cook until sugar caramelizes and becomes a deep amber color. Keep an eye on it as it can go from good to burnt in an instant.

Add the chilled butter, a few small pieces at a time, whisking constantly until all the butter is emulsified into the caramel.

Place the peaches, cut side down, in one layer in the pot with the caramel. Cover pot with foil and roast for 20 minutes.

Remove foil and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest 5-10 minutes. Serve with your favorite ice cream and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Peaches in CaramelMy verdict: I’d forgotten how good this was! As much as the Accidental Locavore loves biting into a perfect peach, there’s something about cooking them that’s equally wonderful.

While this is a great go-to recipe for less-than-perfect peaches, it works even better with ripe ones, and if you can get freestone peaches, it’s a huge help.

I did this as my version of peach shortcake with buttermilk biscuits and vanilla ice cream (homemade) but you really don’t need the biscuits, it’s wonderful just with ice cream.

I have an idea about putting the pot on the side of a hot grill instead of in the oven…for that touch of smoke and so I’m not heating up the kitchen, but haven’t tried it yet. What do you think?

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