Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015: Favorite Food-Related Items

What were some of my favorite food-related items of the past year?

Let me continue my collection of lists of my best recommendations and favorites of the past year, 2015. On Monday, I posted my list of my Favorite Restaurant Dishes of 2015 and yesterday, I posted my Favorite Restaurants & Top 50 list. Now I want to address my favorites for other Food-Related Items, from cookbook to food events, seafood to soup. This is certainly not a complete list but it is more a sampling of memorable matters I have experienced and posted about over the past year.

This is also a purely subjective list, based on my own preferences, and makes no claims about being the "best" of anything. But all of the items here have earned my strong recommendations and I hope you will enjoy them as well. For more food-related items, you can just search my blog posts for the past year.

Favorite Food Trade Event: For the fifth year in a row, I have selected the Seafood Expo North America (SENA) as my favorite. It is a massive trade event, a three day event showcasing purveyors of seafood and related vendors. You'll find tons of free seafood samples and learn plenty, from sustainability to cooking. The Seafood Show is an engaging event and I wrote twenty-one posts about the show this year. The Seafood Show is compelling on many levels and I look forward to attending the next SENA in March 2016. Hope to see you there too.

Favorite Food Education Program: The Seafood Nutrition Partnershipa non-profit organization dedicated to raising public awareness about the health benefits of seafood, created the Eating Heart Healthy program. Its goal is to introduce seafood into the diets of women and their families, to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease. Through interactive cooking and nutrition education, they have succeeded in teaching a number of women who have subsequently introduced seafood into their family meals. Such a worthwhile objective, which has shown success, it deserves far more attention.

Favorite Food Magazine: For the fifth year in a row, Lucky Peach easily prevails as my favorite. This quarterly magazine is eclectic and irreverent, with fascinating articles, essays, recipes, and more. I eagerly devour each issue when it is released and its quality has remained consistent. It entertains and educates, as well as providing much for reflection. If you love food and are not reading Lucky Peach, then shame on you.

Favorite Cookbook: Nikkei Cuisine presents over 100 recipes, reflecting a blending of Japanese cuisine with those of Brazil and Peru. It presents a more unique cookbook, one which highlights a cuisine which previously has not received sufficient attention. The recipes are for cooks of all skill levels and there are plenty of beautiful photographs of the various dishes. The recipes also cover everything from appetizers to desserts, so you could make an entire meal from this cookbook.

Favorite Food Contest: With about 32 burgers vying for contentions, the Battle of the Burger was a fierce competition, presenting plenty of delicious and inventive burgers for tasting. It was a full scale event, with music, wine and cocktails to complement all of the burgers. I made it through 21 entries, making some new finds, and feeling delightfully stuffed. The event didn't get too crowded until later in the day, giving me plenty of time to savor burger after burger. I recommend you check out this event next year.

Favorite Food Truck Item: The Crispy Chicken Rice Burger, with a sweet & sour sauce, at the Rice Burg Food Truck was an interesting and tasty sandwich. The chicken, all white meat, was large and thick, with a crisp coating and lots of tender, moist meat. The sauce was good too, a nice balance of flavors. The rice patties were interesting and delicious, adding an intriguing element to the sandwich, like a rice and chicken bowl. Overall, a delicious sandwich which was priced very reasonably.

Favorite Cheese Shop: When it comes to cheese, the suburbs reign supreme with the Concord Cheese Shop, which commonly stocks 150-200 cheeses, including many local cheeses. The staff is very knowledgeable and passionate about their cheese, and they are always seeking out new cheeses for their stock. Besides all that cheese, they also carry a variety of other gourmet foods as well as wines and beers. It is an excellent destination for many reasons.

Favorite Lamb Dinner: Starting with some amazing cheese, such as the Portuguese Zimbro, the Lamb dinner at Tavern Road was fantastic, from start to finish. Got to watch a fascinating lamb butchery demo before enjoying a Lamb Hotdog, Lamb Merguez Sausage, Lamb Biryani and much more. The lamb was also from a local farm, making it even more compelling. Accompanied by wine, and good friends, this was an excellent event.

Favorite New Seafood: Norwegian Skrei is a sustainable North Arctic Cod that lives in the Barents Sea. The skrei fishing industry is considered one of the best-managed cod stocks in the world. I enjoyed some pan-roasted Skrei which possessed a firmer texture than other cod, and had a delightful flaky white flesh and a clean taste. Simply a delicious piece of fish that will appeal to any seafood lover.

Favorite Seafood Product: The Sunburst Trout Farms produce numerous trout produces and I was especially taken with their Trout Jerky I enjoyed the texture and taste of the jerky. It was chewy, but without being too hard on your jaw, the texture you want in a piece of jerky. The taste is pleasing, with a nice blend of spices, a touch of briny goodness, and isn't overly fishy. You'll realize the jerky isn't beef or pork, but you won't care.

Favorite Local Seafood Purveyor: Located on the Boston fish pier, Red's Best sells fish for over 1,000 fishermen, offering more than 60 types of seafood which is sustainable and has traceability. It is all domestic seafood, much local, and it includes under-utilized species. I really like their philosophy, their support of small, local fishermen, and their passion. They now have a small store at the Boston Public Market which you should visit to buy some excellent seafood.

Favorite Soup: At the Seafood Expo, I tasted and was enamored with the Peruvian Shrimp Chupe, a chowder made with peas, corn and aji planca (a type of chile pepper). I found this chowder to possess a great depth of flavor, a creamy texture and a unique spicy kick to it. A perfect winter chowder which would warm your body and soul. I had to return to this booth several times to get another taste of this chowder.

Favorite Nuts: The Pearson Farms Georgia Pecans possess a fine, nutty taste with a firm texture, tasting fresher than some of the pecans I've bought at the local store. I had a pecan pie made with these nuts and it came out excellent. The pecans had a prominent savory flavor, and seemed to enhance the pie even more than usual. I'm sure those pecans would enhance any dish they calls for such nuts and you can order them online.

Favorite Candy: I previously raved about the Caramels from McCrea's Candies and they continue to satisfy, offering new flavors on a regular basis. One of my new favorites is their Highland Single Malt Scotch, which is made with actual Scotch, from the Ardmore Distillery. They have a new packaging now, which is more elegant, and even more new flavors. Their caramels are soft and chewy, with bright flavors, just an excellent sweet bite, one you might find addictive.

Favorite Food/Drink Blogger List: Diversity is important for all of us, helping to broaden our experiences, to open our minds to new ideas, and to eliminate our biases and prejudices. To promote and celebrate diversity, I have compiled a list of People of Color Blogging About Food & Drink. It is a small but important list and I highly recommend you check out these blogs, to gain a different viewpoint on food & drink issues. If anyone knows of someone else from Massachusetts who belongs on this list, please contact me with their info.

What were some of your favorite food-related items this year?

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