Saturday, September 19, 2009

Vermont Cheesemaker's Festival: Part 3

There was more than just cheese available for sampling at the Vermont Cheesemaker's Festival. A number of artisan food producers were also present, offering items such as marinades to bacon. It was good to have something else to try, to break up all of the cheese tasting. I won't cover every artisan food producer at the festival but will instead highlight a few of them that stood out to me, for various reasons.

Vermont Pickle:
This is a small home-based company based in Burlington, Vermont. They pickle several different vegetables, some hot. Their signature product is Pickled Garlic ($7/jar), and they even provide several recipes. I enjoyed the pickled garlic, which was fresh with a clean taste, a nice blend of pungent garlic with the slightly tart pickling flavor. The Hot Pickled Carrots ($7) also impressed me. They too were fresh and crisp, with just the right amount of heat.

They also carry, though some are seasonal, Pickled Snap Peas, Green Tomatoes, Beans, Squash, Hot Peppers, Dill Spears, Hot Spears, and Sweet Spears. I really like the freshness of these products, and they seem very versatile as well. I am sure there are plenty of recipes which these pickled veggies would enhance. I bought a few jars of veggies and will be trying them with different dishes.

Laughing Moon Chocolates:
Founded in 2002, Leigh Williams wanted to share her "passion for creating delicious chocolates by hand." Located in Stowe Village, she uses as many fresh, local ingredients as possible. For example, they use Mitzi's Fresh Mountain Breakfast in their Green Mountain Turtles and Clusters. They make homemade marshmallow and caramel. They even use locally made wine, beer and spirits from places including Green Mountain Distillers and Boyden Valley Winery. They are also "committed to social responsibility, environmental stewardship and to creating a healthy local food system."

They produce a wide range of chocolate products, from truffles to chocolate covered cookies. They even have chocolate covered cheese! I got to taste the Vermont Butter & Cheese Chevre Lavender Truffle, Jasper Hill Farm Bailey Hazen Blue Cheese Truffle, and Chocolate Covered Ploughgate Creamery Willoughby. All three were quite delicious, with a smooth, creamy and sweet chocolate. The cheeses and the chocolate actually paired well together, especially the blue cheese. Based on these samples, Laughing Moon produces an excellent product and are well worth checking out. Plus, it is very good that they support so many other local producers, as well as their commitment to social responsibility.

Vermont Brownie Company:
More chocolate and cheese! Katherine and Shawna are the co-founders of this company, which was born on January 1, 2008. They spent plenty of time trying all sorts of brownie recipes before settling on their "signature" recipe. They also have a goal of support the local community. They currently produce about seven different flavors of brownie, including Maple Toffee Crunch, Peanut Butter, and White Chocolate Raspberry.

At the festival, they had their Dark Chocolate Chevre available for tasting. This is their twist on the classic cream cheese brownie, where they use locally made goat cheese. I do love a good brownie, and this one did impress me. It was moist and chocolatey, with the creamy goodness of goat cheese. This is the type of brownie that I prefer, a nice balanced treat that is neither too dry or overly moist. I bet it would be delicious, slightly warmed and topped with some vanilla ice cream.

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