In case you were wondering: the fifth annual Philly Farm and Food Fest happened this past Sunday and it was amazing. Our region’s stellar artisans, farmers, and grocers stood table to table, filling the sprawling Philadelphia Convention Center. The 192 tables showed the stunning variety of provisions produced in the greater Philadelphia area.
It was amazing; it was also overwhelming. Between the curd convention with more cheese samples than I could count, the piles of local produce at the CSA pop-up shop, the morsels of crusty breads at the grain station, and the pickled, brewed, baked, foraged, fermented, and preserved treats all around, I found myself starting to panic. How am I going to try EVERYTHING?
Maybe if you arrived at 10 am for the preview hour and stayed until breakdown at 4:00pm (and you weren’t busy passing copies of Edible Philly and having wonderful conversations with so many of our readers) you might have been able to take it all in. Assuming you, too, were unable to achieve this feat, I’d like to highlight a few new-to-me items I found especially delicious in my next few posts.
First up: Burnt Cabins Grist Mill.
Cheers to Dawn Harnish for flipping hundreds of buckwheat pancakes the size of silver dollars on Sunday. She’s the owner of this historic mill in southeastern PA that churns out stone-ground flours the old fashioned way. A 16-foot waterwheel powers the 1,500-pound grinding stones that were originally set in the mill more 200 years ago. The texture of the flour is determined by the speed of the grinding stones, which is regulated by the water flow.
I picked up a baby golden pancake and dabbed it in a gem of maple syrup at the Grist Mill table. It was hearty yet fluffy—a texture achieve with a little flour blending. “The tried-and-true recipe that we inherited with the mill does have some wheat flour mixed in,” Harnish says. The addition lightens up the dense buckwheat.
The cast-iron skillet cornbread made from their stone-ground cornmeal is moist, with a toasty corn flavor – the best I can remember since the stuff I used to slather with honey in my mom’s kitchen.
The Harnishes source their grain from a variety of farms in southeastern PA, but they’ve recently rented land and plan to start grow their own. Celebrate the family’s 10-year anniversary at the mill by picking up a bag at the Pennsylvania General Store in Reading Terminal, or place an order directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Crisp & Co Pickles
Living up to their name in a big way, these might just be the snappiest sweet pickles I’ve crunched. That the founder is a molecular gastronomist (one of his titles among inventor, biomedical engineer, and pianist) may have something to do with it.
Thomas Peter uses his training as a scientist to craft tasty, crisp pickles that preserve the peak of the summer season in Hockessin, DE. Ultra-fresh cukes from A.T. Buzby Farm in south Jersey are sliced and then submerged in a barrel of salted water for 12-24 hours. They’re then assembled in jars with herbs and spices, hot-packed with brine, and processed in boiling water to seal.
How did Peter go from researching cancer at Cornell University to making pickles? “All I wanted for my birthday was a jar of pickles,” he tells me. He was around 25 and difficult to buy for. He made it easy on his parents, or so he thought. “They went around to all the gourmet shops and did a lot of research,” he says, “And what they got wasn’t very good.” He started making his own, and when a pickle ended up in the mouth of a Wegman’s regional manager at a party and he loved it, Peter had the confidence to run with it.
I like the Sweet Ginger Pickles, made with a sweet-hot vinegar brine, crushed red pepper flakes, and ginger. Of course the pickles are nice with an aged cheddar or chopped in an egg salad, but I go for them straight out of the jar, one after another.
Crisp & Co also makes your standard dills along with Pickled Cremini Mushrooms, Pinot Noir Pickled Beets, Spicy Dilly Beans, and award-winning Pint Pickles (made with Victory’s Pilsner).
You can find them in more than 22 states and order them online, but we recommend picking them up at DiBruno Brothers, or sampling them on the menu at Talula’s Garden and Local 44.