Finds at Fabulous Food Show
The fine folks at Blue Jacket Dairy offered samples of their gretna grillin' cheese and cheese curds. I am already a huge fan of the delicious gretna soft cheese, especially when crusted on a hot skillet. Owners Angel and Jim King said they will be at the Worthington Farmer's Market every other week starting in January. Their cheeses can also be found at Weiland's market locally.
I enjoyed talking to the farmers of Covered Bridge Gardens about how corn grows and their four colors of popcorn. A local mill stone grinds some of their crop into cornmeal. (Did you know that cornmeal can come from the same corn grain as popcorn? I didn't!) They also offer a CSA for people local to their Ashtabula county location.
Edward Gordos, distributor of Middlefield Original Cheese Co-op and pictured above in the apron, was generous with his time and cheese samples. He explained that the Middlefield co-operative had operated for fifty years but was suffering from lack of hand milking amish farmers due to low prices in the mid nineties. His distributorship helped the farmers and cheese makers transition to more artisan products and begin retail sales, including distribution to Whole Foods stores in Ohio and Kentucky. Their business is growing and this year they started marketing organic cow's milk, 100% grassfed cow's milk and goat's milk varieties. All milk used in the making of the cheese is hormone and steroid free and comes from Ohio cows. Most importantly, the varieties I tried were tasty!
The Ohio apple people had a busy booth tasting apple varieties.
Many of the rest of the booths were occupied by processed seasoning mixes, gimmicky cooking "tools", and prepared ready to eat foods. Celebrity chef appearances are the other big draw to the Fabulous Food Show, although I attended none except the aforementioned Keller/Ruhlman interview.
I was intrigued by two non-edible exhibits. Sillycone Inc. was an exhibitor showing off their freezer, oven, and microwave-safe BPA free silicone food trays. While not an entirely new concept, Sillycone is innovative in their letter, number and symbol designs. The family owned company is based in northeastern Ohio. They offered me a sample of the 26 letter trays that can be used to make letter shaped ice, chalk, candles, chocolate and more. I am excited for Lil and I to explore the alphabet with food!
Then I ran into this:
It's an oversize (two feet in diameter!) burger cake. Only in Ohio...
I had high hopes for the large beer and wine tasting area. Cleveland is, after all, home to my favorite brewery, Great Lakes. Several wineries in the area are acceptable and others in Ohio are excellent.
I should have read between the lines here. Just because Inbev (parent company of Anheuser-Busch) is based in Belgium does not qualify Michelob varietals as Belgian beers. I tasted a bottled Michelob "cask ale" that was sickeningly sweet. Stella Artois and Hoegarden were the only beers available on draft and the only ones I consider Belgian.
The wine selection was similarly uninspiring. I could find only one Ohio wine, from a mediocre winery. I recognized most other selections as average $12 bottles. Two Bailey's products and several pre-made cocktail mixes occupied the spirits section.
In conclusion, the Fabulous Food Show favored typical middle American food preferences more than I expected. I had high hopes for more honestly local whole foods. Ohio is home to hundreds of farmers raising heirloom products and dozens of fantstic breweries and wineries. A fabulous food show is the perfect time to introduce consumers to these local treasures.
My stay in Cleveland was enhanced by lodging provided by the Cleveland Airport Marriott. They were showing off their luxurious and comfortable rooms, renovated lobby, and Dean James Max restaurant AMP150. I did not have a chance to eat at the restaurant because I was busy at the food show. The menu changes seasonally and makes use of northeastern Ohio's local foods.