Meet Airlie Anderson of Belle Mead
I had known for a while about Airle Anderson’s many awards for writing and illustrating a dozen-plus children’s picture books. But it wasn’t until her best-seller, Momo and Snap Are Not Friends, captivated my then four-month-old granddaughter (keep in mind that this is not a board book for infants) that I decided I needed to know more. That she is married to one of the Garden State’s best restaurant chefs and that the couple’s first child is just turning one only added to my curiosity. I was richly rewarded.
Meet them all here in my profile in the July issue of New Jersey Monthly.
The Winners among the Winners at the 2017 Fancy Food Show
If you’ve been following my work for a long time, you know I’ve been reporting on the Specialty Food Association’s fancy food show for years. I’ve tasted a lot of schlock over that time and seen too many questionable trends come and go. But I can say definitively that this year’s show, held at the end of June at the Javits Center, was impressive. One big departure from the not-so-distant past is that, at least among the show’s award-winners, the emphasis is on natural ingredients – often responsibly sourced – with fresh, bold flavors that rival homemade.
So it was challenging to select the best of the best. After all, there were 154 winning products out of 3,000 entries for the association’s sofi Awards. (In total, the show featured 2,600 exhibitors offering 180,000 products!) Below are my favorites.
LE BON MAGOT EVERYTHING: This line of condiments from Lawrenceville’s own Naomi Mobed garnered an unprecedented 5 sofi awards – in the company’s first year! Read all about Mobed and her terrific products in my profile here in the June issue of the Princeton Echo.
TOMATO ‘NDUJA, CITY SAUCERY: This vegetarian version of Italy’s beloved spicy pork salami spread is made in NY, but with 100% NJ vine-ripened San Marzano tomatoes. I swear, you won’t miss meat – which could by why it took the award for best new condiment.
CAMBODIAN COCONUT PEANUT SAUCE; BEET VINEGAR, WOZZ! KITCHEN CREATIONS: I’ve extolled this company’s products before, and I’m doing it again with these two. The beet vinegar was a total surprise – smooth and not too sweet.
ST. BENOIT ORGANIC MEYER LEMON YOGURT: It’s by the incomparable Laura Chenel’s Chevre company, so ’nuff said. Whole Foods carries the brand; I hope to find this new flavor there soon.
VERMONT CREAMERY CULTURED BUTTER WITH SEA SALT: This should come with a warning label it’s so good.
GRAETER’S HANDCRAFTED FRENCH POT ICE CREAM: A friend who went to school in Cincinnati introduced me years ago to Graeter’s – that city’s pride – and their signature black raspberry-chocolate chip in particular. It has been available at Wegmans and Whole Foods for a while, and if you haven’t yet tried it you’re in for a real treat.
LA TOURANGELLE ROASTED PISTACHIO OIL: Every bit as wonderful as that sounds. The company rep assures me it lasts in the fridge for up to 18 months. (I’ve had too many expensive nut oils go rancid too quickly, haven’t you?)
JERSEY ITALIAN GRAVY ALFREDO SAUCE: Each of those words – Jersey, Italian Gravy, Alfredo Sauce – struck fear in my heart, but the contents of these refrigerated tubs immediately erased it. It’s authentic and all natural.
THE ZEN OF SLOW COOKING’S SLOW COOKER SPICE BLENDS: I don’t use slow cookers, but my colleague who accompanied me to the show does – and was blown away. The company is also an example of a comforting trend of food businesses making a social impact. The founders, pictured above, help adults with developmental challenges to find employment by training them in “slow” cooking techniques.
BOBBYSUE’S NUTS! NUTS OVER OLIVES: This mix of almonds, cashews, and pecans with roasted black and green olives is salty, spicy, and irresistible. Bobbysue’s is another company with a social conscience: for 15 years it has supported animal welfare in the form of building modern shelters for rescue dogs.
BLACK SESAME SEED TOFFEE BRITTLE, NEO COCOA: A bit misnamed, this is really slabs of 72% dark chocolate with a layer of brown sugar-sea salt toffee and sprinkling of black and toasted white sesame seeds. The combination is a knockout.
CHEEKY CHEEKY CHURRO, CHUAO CHOCOLATIER: Yes! A chocolate bar with a layer of churro from a top-shelf chocolate maker.
GLUTEN-FREE PIE CRUST MIX, CUP4CUP: I tried it only because it’s from Thomas Keller. If I ever need to make a gluten-free pie crust, not only would I use it but I suspect no one would even know.
TOP NOTE INDIAN TONIC WATER: Time to give your gin and tonic a serious upgrade. Add a red grapefruit garnish and you’ll never go back.