Local Food Companies Shine at Summer Fancy Food Show

By Susan Able, Edible DC The Capital Region’s food artisans were well represented at the Summer Fancy Food show in NYC.

Just closing yesterday afternoon, the 2015 Summer Fancy Food Show (SFFS) held June 28-30, had over 2,600 product vendors pitching everything from sriracha flavors, to exotic teas, cheese infused with kale, goat milk caramels and lavender chocolate nuts. Over 22,000 attendees crowded through the Javits Convention Center on the west side of Manhattan to taste, talk and size up the vendors as they searched for new, novel, great tasting and on trend products for their stores or customers. The great news was that all the packaged food samples are collected at the end of the show and given to City Harvest, a NYC gleaning non-profit. 200 volunteers gather up all the specialty foods and fill more than six tractor trailers to give to the hungry.


The Virginia Pavilion was one of the largest of the state pavilions this year, sponsored by Virginia’s Finest, a state marketing program designed to promote the success of Virginia’s specialty food companies, processors and agriculture producers. Virginia producers were well represented by almost every peanut company in the state (think Williamsburg, Whitely’s and Virginia Diner), popcorn, gourmet chocolate makers, chutney, mango preserves, crab pie and peanut butter makers. We chatted with CEO Sarah Cohen of Route 11 Potato Chips, headquartered in Mt. Jackson, VA. She has been chipping for 23 years and is a regular trade show attendee. This year, as the show opened and Sarah was arranging the display in her booth, a very large national retailer made a beeline to talk to her about coming on board as a buyer and distributer of Route 11 chips. That kind of thing is exciting to food entrepreneur and while deals like that don’t happen everyday at the SFFS, Sarah sees attending as good promotion for her brand and praises the Virginia First’s program as a great booster for Virginia food businesses. (www.rt11.com)


We also ran into a DC area favorite, Trickling Springs Creamery from Chambersburg, PA who had wheeled in a entire dairy case of their products that have had us at hello--ice cream, milk, drinkable yogurt smoothies, and oh yes, the dark chocolate milk. (tricklingspringscreamery.com)

Firehook Bakery, the retail bakery and cracker maker headquartered out of Chantilly, VA, was introducing a line of crackers made with hummus and showcasing their cookies. (firehook.com)


S. Wallace Edwards & Sons of Surry, VA showcased their award winning hams and a new product that will have a lot of interest--lamb ham. The Edwards ham curing experts teamed up with reknowned lamb producer, Craig Rogers, owner of Virginia's Border Springs grass-fed lamb farm, to create the "lamb ham." Lamb ham has a long history dating back to colonial times, for more info, follow this link to a story from NPR. The spring delicacy was a fixture of American foodways in colonial times, gracing the tables of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. (For more company info, go to www.edwardsvaham.com.)

The family behind Virginia Chutney was there—their hot pepper jelly and chutneys are distributed nationally, and are widely available at area Whole Foods Markets and other grocers. (www.virginiachutney.com)

Our pals with the chickpea snacks, 2 Armadillos, profiled in our fall issue last year have had a name change—Whatusee. They've also updated their packaging and will be rolling out the new look all fall. (www.2armadillos.com)



The Van Cleve Seafood Company has a long history of being first a seafood purveyor, and got so much acclaim for their crab pies that they have turned their focus to selling and marketing only crab and scallop pies, available locally at Balducci’s and some Whole Foods Markets and via ordering online at their website. (vancleveseafood.com)


We ended up talking to the team at Virginia’s Finest, started 25 years ago under the aegis of the VA Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as the Specialty Food Advisory Committee. The goal of the committee is to market and promote Virginia’s specialty food and beverage industry. Companies that meet or exceed quality standards can become part of the Virginia’s Finest program. For more information, go to vafinest.com.


Amazing to see the ingenuity and entrepreneurs from our area in person. The Edible DC teams wishes  everyone the best of luck and great outcomes from the show.

Drinks Invitational Digital Recipe Book Now Available!

By AJ Dronkers, EdibleDC Digital Editor As what we hope are the last snowflakes of the season drifting by, we are dreaming of the artisan cocktails and food served on February 19 at EdibleDC's Drinks Invitational. Can't remember what cherry infused drink Zentan served you? Want to re-create the divine Vinifera Wine Bar & Bistro hush puppies at home? You're in luck, we asked our incredible event partners to provide their recipes from that evening--and we've compiled them into this digital recipe book. Enjoy!

EdibleDC Drinks Invitational Digital Recipe Book Cover Cocktail with Dried Organe and Cherry Garnish.

#EdibleDCDrinks Event Recap

by AJ Dronkers, EdibleDC Digital Editor Garden

Last Thursday, despite what the WaPo Capital Weather Gang called one of the coldest nights on record since 1934, hundreds of eat and drink local advocates turned out for the inaugural EdibleDC Drinks Invitational. We had been dreaming about pulling together an event for some time and after successfully producing four issues we felt an event held in tandem with our January 2015 Drinks Issue was the perfect excuse. We called it an "Invitational" because in addition to inviting a majority of local small distillers and chefs to participate, we wanted to include some of the best artisan producers from across the region. In the end, 30+ vendors were at our event representing VA, WV, DC, MD, PA, MN, TX, and NY!


Guests arrived at Long View Gallery in DC's Shaw neighborhood to find the gallery space re-invented as a Botanical Winter Park. The art gallery was separated into four distinct vendor sections, Root, Stem, Leaf, and Bloom with accents of roots, green wall and hanging gardens throughout.

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Guests received a nifty guide to help them explore our drink and food vendors, checking them off as they go, and even making a shopping list of any bottles they may want to buy at checkout via our retail sponsor Sherry's Wine & Spirits.

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Here are some highlights from our event you can also follow along online with hashtag #EdibleDCDrinks.














VIP guests were treated to an after party hosted by La Colombe Coffee, located just behind the art gallery in Blagden Alley. Upon arrival they sipped on artisan coffee, ice-cream by Trickling Springs Creamery and an assortment of delicious desserts provided by RareSweets. Of course our guests were custom ordering affogatos, drowning Trickling Springs ice cream and La Colombe espresso.


Light snow started to fall as guests left the after party with their picnic box gifts packaged and designed by Welcome to My Wedding. The picnic boxes contained treats including: Cinch Tonics, One Eight Distilling Matches, CHIQS pita chips, RareSweets hot cocoa, Carla Hall cookies, ThunderBeast rootbeer, Cajun Meets Asian ginger cayenne spice rub, two Deep Eddy Vodka nips, a Yelp bottle opener, Element Shrub tonic, as well as Gouter and La Colombe drink coupons.


It was a wonderful evening! Special thanks goes to the entire EdibleDC team, our incredible volunteers, Operation: Eatery and our event partners Long View Gallery, La Colombe Coffee Occasions Catering, Amaryllis, Elizabeth Duncan Events, GrassFed Media and Welcome to My Wedding as well as all our incredible sponsors/vendors. Stay tuned for our next event...

Drink Invitational Express

Vodka Made with Local Honey? MD's First Distillery in 35 Years Makes Award-Winning Spirits on Kent Island

An afternoon trip to historic Stevensville, MD--a quaint little town just over the Bay Bridge on Kent Island--included a tour of Blackwater Distilling. Founded four years ago, Blackwater Distilling has the unique claim of being Maryland’s first fully licensed beverage alcohol distiller since 1972. Brothers Chris and Jon Cook, Maryland natives, became passionate about the idea of starting a distillery that would source ingredients from Maryland and organic growers--and harkening back to the days when Maryland was known as a top producer of Maryland Rye Whiskey.SloopBettyBottles Prohibition changed all that, and the last MD distillery, Pikesville Rye made their last batch in 1973 and sold their recipe and final inventory to Heaven Hill-Evan Williams in Bardstown, KY. The Cook brothers and their team put Maryland back on the map as a distilling state when they launched their Sloop Betty Wheat Vodka in 2011.

The Cook brothers source as many of their ingredients as possible from Maryland growers, including the honey from their vodka which is from Maryland's Eastern Shore's apiary owned by Kara Brook of Waxing Kara. The credit the distinctive flavor of their honey vodka to the delicate nature of the butterbean flowers, the pollen source for these hives.


Blackwater's Sloop Betty vodkas are gentle, creamy spirits, easy to drink on the rocks or mixed in cocktails. And their approach and recipes have won industry recognition. Sloop Betty was named Best Vodka in Show at the New York World Wine and Spirits Competition in 2012, a 94-point rating from The Tasting Panel magazine, 91 points and a gold medal from the Beverage Testing Institute and a gold medal from TheFiftyBest.com.

Come taste at our Drinks Invitational on Feb. 19th when they will be mixing with Cinch Tonics!! Or visit their distillery in Stevensville on Friday and Saturday afternoons, for more information or an appointment go to www.sloopbetty.com.



Daytrippers and distillery visitors:  Make a note in to drive through "downtown" Stevensville--a little train station town that stayed frozen in time after the passenger trains stopped running in 1938 and freight trains in 1948. A bakery, wine bar, Italian restaurant, antique and other shops round out the tiny town. You can see the original Post Office, train station and town bank, they are open a few times a year for town celebrations.

Italy in a Glass - Make Your Own Pesche Al Vino Rosso

Italy in a glass: Make-your-own Pesche al Vino Rosso After a Pick-Your-Own Trip to Homestead Farm by Giacomo Abrusci


I just rolled back from Homestead Farm in Poolesville, MD, a mere 45 minutes from downtown DC, where every variety of peach is now at its peak. Even if you didn’t make it to Puglia, Italy this summer, you can still drink like you are there when you have a freshly-picked peck of peaches. While it’s true that southern Italy is not famous for wine-based sangria, the fruit is literally dripping off the trees there during the summer months, perfect for soaking in your favorite red wine.


My uncle Giovanni will exclusively use nectarines, while my sister Angela will usually choose the juiciest peach in the house. So grab some delicious fresh summer tree fruit and follow my lead tonight: before you start to prepare dinner, roughly chop two to three ripe pitted peaches or nectarines, drown them in a pitcher of red wine, and throw it into the fridge. Thirty minutes to an hour later — or whenever you’re ready to eat, because this fruity concoction only gets better with time — pull out your chilled wine and pour yourself a heavy glass.



Settle in and enjoy your dinner while nursing your peach-infused wine and finish off the evening with a few pieces of drunken fruit for dessert. Give it a try now while the trees are still loaded with ripe fruit, bursting with flavor!


You can visit Homestead Farm several months out of the year to pick your own produce, from spring berries to pumpkins.


A Julep So Cool It’s Blue

By Tim Ebner As the heat and humidity hit this summer, skip the Manhattan and order up an ice-cold mint julep. Sure, this cocktail has several centuries of history in Kentucky, and it’s the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, but it might also be the perfect remedy for a muggy D.C. afternoon.


Nick Caruana runs a drinks site called The Straight Up, a Saveur 2014 finalist for best cocktail blog. Caruana says Kentucky Senator Henry Clay is credited with bringing the julep to our nation’s capital where he introduced the drink back in the early 1800s at the hotel where the Willard Intercontinental now stands. The Willard’s Round Robin bar still makes the julep according to Clay’s recipe, but for a summer refresh on this iced bourbon beverage, Caruana adds fresh blueberries.

He muddles mint and blueberries with Maraschino to create the base of his “Mint Blulep.” Then, he mixes bourbon (Woodford Reserve is his Kentucky standard), St-Germain, Creme Yvette and peach bitters over crushed ice. The result is a refreshing combination of fruit and herbal flavors.

“Taking a sip of it and then feeling the frosty cup will really help cool you down quickly,” Caruana says.

Don’t overlook the glassware. Juleps are a special drink for a special kind of glass. Caruana uses pewter julep cups, but highball or rocks glasses can work in a pinch. And, there’s no need to mound the ice over the rim, he says. It’s mainly for effect and might melt quickly on a summer day. Instead, use a few leftover blueberries and a sprig of mint to top off the drink.

The sweetness really makes or breaks the julep, Caruana says. Most people overcomplicate their syrups, but a good julep keeps the simple syrup simple, he says.

If anything, though, don’t let Senator Clay stop you from experimenting with the classic recipe.“ At its heart the drink is a Kentucky standard,” he says, “But D.C. has definitely helped to tweak and perfect it.”

Mint Blulep Recipe

  • 12 blueberries
  • 10 mint Leaves
  • ¾ ounce Maraschino liqueur
  • 2½ ounces bourbon
  • ¼ ounce St–Germain liqueur
  • 1 bar spoon Creme Yvette
  • 2 dashes Peach Bitters
  • 12 blueberries
  • 10 mint Leaves
  • 2 mint sprigs
  • Blueberries for garnish

Add the blueberries and mint leave to the bottom of a julep cup (a highball glass or rocks glass would also work). Top with the Maraschino, then generously muddle the mixture. Add the bourbon, St-Germain, Creme Yvette and peach bitters.


Fill the cup with crushed ice, so that the ice fills the cup, but doesn’t mound up above the cup. Garnish with the mint sprigs, then add a few blueberries to the top of the drink to finish it off.

Notes about the ingredients: Crème Yvette is a liqueur made from parma violet petals with blackberries, red raspberries, wild strawberries and cassis, honey, orange peel and vanilla. St-Germain is a French liqueur made from elderflowers. These and the other special ingredients can be found at most spirits shops.