My day two, part one, recap of the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival comes from seat 30C as I make my way back to Boston. I was sad to see the event come to an end this morning, but also entirely grateful for the opportunity. As I found myself saying a lot this weekend, “I don’t know why someone would pay for me to come here, I’m just a girl who cooks up food in her kitchen and writes about it.”
I started my day off by having my copy of The Foodie Handbook signed by the author, Pim, who also happens to be the blogger behind Chez Pim. She was tremendously sweet, which seems to be a running theme with just about everyone I met.
Next I wandered through the Ferry Building in search of breakfast. Amazingly, even after consuming so much the night before, my hunger was back, persistent as ever. Between all the amazing choices inside and farmers’ market samples outside it wasn’t hard to satisfy my tummy. My first stop had been planned out since I first found out I won a scholarship to attend and those who know me may be surprised that it was not Cowgirl Creamery, but…
Yes, Boccalone, the home of tasty salted pig parts. I intended to visit on my last trip after a recommendation from a co-worker but somehow missed it. I wasn’t going to let that happen a second time so I decided to treat myself to a tasty cone of meat for breakfast, a steal at $3.25. The paper-thin slices were a kind of salty, rich perfection and would have been memorable on their own, but were made even better by two awesome guys behind the counter.
They actually let me come behind the counter and try my hand at slicing meat while they took a picture. I was so excited I could hardly turn the crank, especially with a sea of customers looking on. It completely made my day. What is sad is that I am so short I had to stand on a stool to use the slicer and was still so short I had to stand on my tippy toes to be seen in the picture.
After enjoying my freshly cut meat I met up with fellow bloggers Shannon and Sabrina and wandered around the farmers’ market. I know it might sound trivial and silly, but this market is one of the reasons I’ve wanted to make the move to San Francisco. Most of the bloggers seemed to express similar feelings, which made it nice to be among such like-minded company. Sure, we have ample farmers’ markets back in Boston, but the differences in our climates and the relative importance of locally raised food means that ours are much smaller and less varied in their offerings than those in San Francisco.
I found myself surrounded by pungent fresh lavender, multiple varieties of fresh dates, homemade flavored yogurts and pears deserving of every positive superlative. The Warren pears from Frog Hollow Farm represented everything I love about farmers’ markets. Every bite revealed a perfectly ripe pear, that with its soft flesh and sweet juices, put supermarket pears to shame. I also bought a slice of Achadinha Cheese Company’s Capricious aged goat cheese (pictured below), which was awarded Best in Show by the American Cheese Society in 2002. I can understand why. This olive oil-rubbed cheese was pleasantly pungent and complex. The rind also offered a great textural contrast without being too assertive or barnyard-esque. Sadly, I do not believe they distribute to Boston, so I may have to plead for it to be ordered next time I’m at Formaggio Kitchen.
Clad in a cowboy hat and an oversized belt buckle he looked every bit the part. The discussion that unfolded was wonderful. I got a much better sense of what goes into more sustainable and holistic cattle rearing and appreciated that we had a forum to ask questions and get honest answers straight from a producer. So many times as Americans we’re so separated from those who raise our food that I appreciated the opportunity to connect. We talked a lot about what it would take to raise more animals in a sustainable and humane way and it’s clear that we have a long way to go. However, as long as there are producers like Hearst Ranch and Stillman’s at the Turkey Farm (where I get my meat CSA share) I’m hopeful things will slowly change, in much the same way it has with organics. The challenge becomes how you make such products widely available, and not just a luxury only the affluent can afford, when the costs are genuinely higher and the yield lower. Understandably, $8+/lb meat seems insane to people in an area where it can be had for $2/lb on sale. This choice also becomes harder in the current economic climate, when many people have had to reexamine their priorities. I left the discussion realizing there were no easy answers, but hopeful of where we could go as a country of eaters in the future.
We’re about to make our descent into Boston so the second half of day two to come tomorrow.
In the meantime, do you have farmers’ markets in your local area? What products from the market do you enjoy the most?