Need a little something for the holiday hostess or maybe a festive indulgence for yourself? These seasonal treats from local food artisans are sure to please even the most discerning palates on your gift list.
MAPLE WALNUT BUTTER
Nutty, creamy, and sweet, this spread from nut butter makers PB & Jams is the perfect topper for holiday toast or swirled into oatmeal—but be warned, you may eat it all straight from the jar. Available at Fair Food Farmstand, 51 N. 12 St. (in the Reading Terminal Market), 215.386.5211, and online at pbandjamsphl.com.
This nut-studded Italian candy is available in many shops, but no one in the area makes it like Termini Brothers. It’s only available during the cold-weather months, when the chill makes its special chewy-not-chalky texture possible. Available at Termini Brothers, 1523 S. 8 St., 215.334.1816, and online at termini.com.
PUMPKIN SPICE WAFFLES
Since October, pumpkin pie–like spices have invaded everything from coffee to ice cream. For those who want to ride the wave into the new year, Waffatopia’s pumpkin spice waffles are a must for holiday brunches. Available at Whole Foods Market, 821 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, 610.688.940, and online at waffatopia.com.
VICTORIOUS B.I.G. JERKY
This small-batch beef jerky from Righteous Felon Jerky Cartel is infused with Victory Brewing Company’s wort (a booze-free by-product of beer making) for a sweet and savory snack. A generous shower of ground black pepper gives it some kick. Available at righteousfelon.com.
At first glance, the name Subarashii Kudamono may seem difficult to pronounce, but bite into an Asian pear from this family-owned orchard in the Lehigh Valley and you’re sure to remember the translation— “wonderful fruit”. Gift boxes featuring their beautiful hand-picked “Grown in Pennsylvania” pears are available online and at select gourmet shops. Partridge not included. wonderfulfruit.com or email@example.com.
AZURE BLUE CHEESE
Valley Shepherd Creamery makes a lot of wonderful cheese. A wedge of Azure will appeal to the most serious cheese lover in your life. Its robust marbling makes it a stunner on that holiday cheese plate. Available at Valley Shepherd Creamery, 51 N. 12 St. (in the Reading Terminal Market), 267.639.3309, and online at valleyshepherd.com.
CRANBERRY NUTMEG BAR
Local chef and restaurateur Chip Roman is now in the chocolate biz, and the creations of Tradestone Confections are every bit as giftable as Blackfish fans would expect. This cranberry nutmeg bar evokes the sweetness and spice of the season. Available at Di Bruno Bros. locations and online at tradestoneconfections.com.
Everyone knows it’s important for kids to learn their ABCs and one-two-threes, but some local tots are also learning how to cook meals from scratch. At the Waldorf School of Philadelphia, students as young as 18 months practice kneading dough and cooking rice. As part of the school’s Early Education Cooking Program, teachers and students spend time cooking every day.
Why? “It makes the learning experience richer,” says Alex Borders, director of admissions. When kids have hands-on experience growing, cooking and eating plants, they grasp complex concepts such as photosynthesis more readily when the time comes, according to Borders. But aside from food’s potential to enhance learning, the school includes gardening and cooking for the more obvious reasons.
“Our devotion to food and its importance in developing a firm foundation for lifelong health begins in our early-childhood classrooms,” says Borders. And as the school, which houses grades pre-K through eight, plans its move to a larger property in 2015, these values were a factor. They chose a property with ample room to expand Waldorf’s organic gardening program. —J.M. phillywaldorf.com
GOING GREEN? THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT.
Morgan Berman, like a lot of Philadelphians, tries to live sustainably. “I bike. I compost. I recycle,” she says. And every time she makes a purchase, grabs a bite to eat, or hires someone for a service, she puts in the time to research the companies involved. Why? She wants to put her purchasing power behind businesses whose values match her own.
“It’s a lot of work. A lot of time and energy, and I knew if more people were going to do this, it had to be easier,” says Berman. So she decided to make the data available for free to anyone with a smartphone. Her new app, Milk Crate, aims to make choosing sustainability as easy and addictive as a game of Candy Crush. The program, now in the beta phase of development, has taken on the painstaking task of combining the intel from organizations like Fair Food Philly and the details of B Corp’s social and eco-minded ratings to create a onestop shop for answers about whether a biz is sustainable. Businesses whose practices aren’t up to snuff aren’t included in the database. The app also offers features such as maps and discounts.
While Milk Crate is only in Philadelphia for now, Berman plans to roll out local apps in cities all around the country. Denver, San Francisco and DC will all get their own versions in 2015. “Ultimately, we want to be like a green Yelp. We want to be everywhere,” says Berman. —J.M. milkcratephilly.com
TEA, MEET CHEESE THIS UNLIKELY
DUO IS WINTER’S FAVORITE LOVE MATCH
By Alexis Siemons
Photographs: tea, ©mates-fotolia.com; cheese, Carole Topalian
With the cold weather upon us, consider pairing a warming cup of tea with a wedge of cheese. Taste buds will leap between dairy delights and the tea, leaving a lingering creamy sensation. Dare to dip your cheese in the cup, letting the warm steep gently hug the cheese and create a melting marvel. Take a peek at these suggested pairings crafted with the help of Rocco Rainone, certified cheese professional from Di Bruno Bros.
Genmaicha Green Tea
Toasty, nutty, fresh, subtly sweet.
Rou Gui Wuyi Oolong Tea
Tastes of dried apricot, pine and cinnamon.
Tibetan Pu-erh Tea
An earthy brew that suggests wet forests.
Assam Black Tea
Malty, robust and bright
A butterscotchy sheep’s milk gouda from Holland.
A sweet, herbaceous goat’s milk cheese from France.
A funky, oniony cow’s milk cheese from Vermont.
Marieke Smoked Gouda
A smoky, caramel-like cow’s milk cheese from Wisconsin.
Teas are available at InPursuitofTea.com.
Cheeses are available at Di Bruno Bros., 1730 Chestnut St., 215.665.9220, DiBruno.com.
Last year’s inaugural Philly Chef Conference at Drexel University inspired envy in the hearts of all those non-pro restaurant enthusiasts who couldn’t get tickets to the industry-only event. This year, fans will be able to food-geek out with the likes of Kevin Sbraga, Chris Kearse and Tod Wentz, because one day of the conference, Sunday, January 11, will be open to the public. The day’s agenda includes a panel on wine, which conference organizer Mike Traud says will leave attendees better informed about prices and more comfortable navigating wine lists. Another highlight will be the session titled “Philly 2020,” which will feature experts weighing in on what the future of the local food scene might look like. Cookbook author Peter Reinhart will give a TED-style talk on the science of gluten and bread making. Tickets cost $20 per person and are available at drexel.edu/hsm/phillychefconference. —J.M.
VEGAN SCRAPPLE: A HOMEGROWN OXYMORON
Scrapple is one of the most iconic Pennsylvania Dutch foods, and it’s recently received a vegan makeover from Chef Will Ternay of Long Cove Foods. His gluten-free, soy-free, non-GMO product is made from local, organic ingredients. It’s bound primarily by cornmeal from Castle Valley Mill in Doylestown and mushrooms from Mother Earth Organic Mushrooms, a farm near Kennett Square. It’s seasoned with cloves, peppercorns and sage. This is the first product from Long Cove Foods, housed at the Artisan Exchange in West Chester. You can buy it at the exchange’s Saturday market, Weavers Way Co-Op, Kimberton Whole Foods and, soon, Whole Foods Market in Devon. —Carrie Havranek longcovefoods.com