By PHYLLIS ROWAN
Most farmers and food producers will readily admit that they need a bit of help. Not necessarily with the milking of the cows or the harvesting of the crops, but rather with getting their name and products into the public eye.
Philly Farm and Food Fest is designed to do just that.
According to its website, in 2011 Fair Food Philly teamed up with PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture) to “create a new annual marketplace for farmers and local food producers. Our shared goal was to assist small businesses in growing their bottom line by providing a low-cost venue accessible to a diverse audience of potential customers.”
Now in its third year, The Philly Farm and Food Fest is also a fund raiser for Fair Food and PASA, with proceeds going to support nonprofit educational and technical assistance programs for food producers.
This year, the event will feature more than 150 exhibitors, speakers, a shellfish salon, cooking demonstrations and a marketplace of restaurants that support local farms.
A Libations Lounge will feature guided tastings from producers that include Downingtown’s Victory Brewing, Frecon Farm Cider and Stonekeep Meadery in Boyertown, Sly Fox Brewing in Pottstown and Paradocx Vineyard in Landenberg.
One of the exhibitors at this year’s show is Conebella Farm in Elverson. Back in 1923, Joseph Gable started farming operations and in 1938 Harold, his son, brought 10 Ayrshire cows to the farm. The present Ayrshire population of 115 cows, plus 110 head of young stock can be traced to those original 10.
Skip ahead to Harold’s grandson, Don, and 1996 when he took over the operations. Don and Pam Gable now run the farm as the fourth generation of Gables. Their three sons are also active in the operation.
“We found it very hard to make it in farming just milking cows,” said Pam. “We had to bring in additional income.” So in 2007 they started selling raw milk and that grew into cheese making.
“We learned that Ayrshire milk makes great cheese,” said Pam. “It has to do with the fats and proteins in the milk.” In December of 2007, the first cheese was produced. “We started by giving it away.” They now sell 14 different varieties of colby and cheddar and for the past year have been selling spreads. They now sell to restaurants who use their product on cheese trays and in recipes, to florists who package it in their baskets, at farm stands and growers markets and at the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.
Pam said they are eager to showcase their products at the Fest. “We want more of a presence in that area.”
The Bacon Jams, with offices in West Chester and production in Conshohocken, started when five people joined forces. Eric Brewstein (Conshohocken) introduced Bruce Kramer (West Chester) and Lauren Koller (Exton) to Jeff McCary (Lehigh Valley) and Mike Oraschewsky (Lancaster).
According to Brewstein, Kramer and Koller had been making bacon jam at home for some time. Oraschewsky knew he could make it commercially and add some flavored varieties. McClary and Brewstein knew they could build a brand and market it digitally. All the pieces for success were in place.
“We launched the Bacon Jams project on Kickstarter.com with a great response from the customers. We really got going when we did the Christmas Village at Love Park in Philadelphia where the Bacon Jams became a crowd favorite,” wrote Brewstein.
The company’s three core varieties are All Original, Black Pepper & Honey, and Red Chili & Garlic. There are also limited edition flavors such as Chocolate Cherry as well as Maple Habanero.
“The main ingredient in all of them is everybody’s favorite food — real quality bacon!
“People all over love bacon, because of its ability to find a home on every dish at every meal. Its smoky salty goodness adds to veggies, other meats and even dessert. Bacon is also a standalone side dish. What we have done is add a little sweetness and a lot of convenience to your bacon experience with the Bacon Jams. No fry on the fly,” he wrote.
“We are super excited to be at the Philly Farm & Food Fest not only to sample and sell our jams, but, more importantly, to join in with other conscientious local producers in raising awareness of the need to buy fairly made sustainable foods. Mix some made local essence in there and it is a must attend.”
Shrimp and Grits, Chester County Style, with Conebella Farms Cheddar
I’m a Southern girl at heart, and I have a soft spot for old-school southern comfort food. This take on Shrimp and Grits has a Pennsylvania twist: the creamy grits are loaded with buttery, gooey Conebella Farms Old Bay Cheddar. Yum!
— Courtesy of Kate Stroh, cheese monger at Talula’s Table, Kennett Square
3 slices thick-cut bacon
1.5 pounds medium shrimp (preferably wild), peeled and de-veined
1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups diced bell pepper (orange, green, red)
14.5 ounce can diced, Organic, fire-roasted tomatoes
2 cups corn grits (I love Bob’s Red Mill Yellow Grits)
3 cups water
3 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon salt
2½ cups shredded Conebella Cheddar (Old Bay or Plain)
Tabasco sauce (optional)
¼ cup scallions, sliced thin
½ cup parsley, chopped
Cook bacon until crisp in a large, heavy-bottom frying pan. Drain bacon on paper towels, crumble, and set aside.
Pour off mostly all of the bacon grease, reserving a little at the bottom of the pan for flavor. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and reheat pan over medium heat. Sauté onion until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and peppers and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add can of tomatoes and cook until reduced by half, about 7-8 minutes. Add shrimp and cook until firm, another 5 minutes. Add Tabasco, salt, and pepper to taste. Cover and keep warm until grits are ready.
Meanwhile, to make the grits, bring water, milk, and salt to a boil in a large, heavy pot. Add grits in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for approximately 10 minutes, whisking frequently to prevent clumping. Stir in shredded cheese and more salt and pepper, to taste.
To serve, stir in chopped scallions and parsley to shrimp mixture. Serve grits first, top with generous serving of shrimp, and finish with crumbled bacon.
Bacon Jam Casino
A Bacon Jams twist on the surfside tradition of clams casino.
24 small clams in shell
4 ounces panko bread crumbs
4 ounces shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
4 ounces The Bacon Jam’s Red Chile & Garlic Spreadable Bacon
Remove the clams from their shells. Wash half of the shells and discard the remaining.
Place each clam in the deeper half of each washed shell. Mix the Bacon Jams Red Chile & Garlic flavor Spreadable Bacon, 3 ounces of bread crumbs, and the shredded Parmesan cheese together in a bowl.
Dollop an equal portion of the mixture onto each clam. Coat each clam with the panko bread crumbs.
Bake at 425 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and garnish with paprika and parsley. Serve over rock salt or right out of the pan.
Honey Bacon Jam Chicken Delight
6 ounces the Bacon Jams Black Pepper and Honey Bacon Jam
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon. olive oil
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups shredded cheddar jack cheese
Add butter and olive oil to a hot saute pan. Sear both sides of the chicken breasts turning once. Lower to medium heat for about 8-10 minutes or until breast are just a little pink in the center. Drop chicken in dry baking dish. Caramelize the onions and garlic in the pan used for cooking the chicken. Remove from heat and stir in the Bacon Jams Black Pepper and Honey Bacon Jam. Spoon this mixture over chicken breasts and cover with cheddar jack cheese. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 11-13 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the cheese is gooey.
Please don’t tell Nana about this one or Uncle Tony is gonna need to have a talk wit chew about goin’ against tradition.
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves crushed
3 egg yolks
6 ounces the Bacon Jams All Original Spreadable Bacon
1 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
¾ cup heavy whipping cream
¾ cup fresh peas
1 pound tricolored tortellini
Start a pot of water to boil the tortellini (or any other pasta.) Put a skillet on medium heat then add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and cook until golden. Lower heat to low and add the Bacon Jams All Original Spreadable Bacon. Warm through then return heat to medium while adding the heavy cream. Scrape the contents of the skillet into a mixing bowl after they have been mixed thoroughly. Add cup of cheese and the egg yolks to the sauce and whisk thoroughly. Cook the peas in the boiling water removing them after about a minute of cooking. Keep the reserved peas covered to remain hot. Cook the tortellini in the same water. Once cooked strain and return to the pot. Quickly fold in the sauce while the pasta is still very hot. Serve after finishing with the peas and cup cheese. Place the remaining cheese on the table for your dinners.