Today I eat the last of the homemade toffee that's been tempting my hand since the start of the holiday season. With a stab of regret, I shake the tin in disbelief—all that toffee, really gone? I note the carnage: chocolate boxes emptied, cookie Santas decapitated, gingerbread houses gnawed to their foundations. As I nearly stoop to breaking out early Valentine treats (okay, leftover chocolates from last year), I remember that this late-winter season will not be like other years of the sparse and the spare.
January 14, 2011 kicks off Good Food Month. Desperados like me can rest easy: With an announcement of the winners of the Good Food Awards this Friday and a festival the following day, much talking about and tasting of delicious food will continue well past the holiday season.
The Good Food Awards is an initiative that supports both producers and consumers of food that is as delicious as it is responsibly cultivated. Alice Waters is set to host the ceremony in the San Francisco Ferry Building, where 80 winners will be recognized in seven categories: beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, pickles, and preserves. The winners have been chosen out of over 780 submissions. The Awards came together under the direction of Sarah Weiner and Dominic Phillips of Seedling Projects, an L3C company in support of the sustainable food movement. Contributing to organizational efforts was a diverse community of food producers, writers, artists, and chefs.
The judging has already taken place: blind tastings by established food-industry titans. On the line-up was anyone from coffee roaster Andrew Barnett to cheese expert Laura Werlin, with John Scharffenberger and Alice Medrich of the world of chocolate, and Neil Newman of Newman's Own Organics.
One finalist in the cheese competition is Cato Corner Farm, a small family-owned business in Colchester, Connecticut. The mom-and-son team of farmers raise free-range cows without using hormones or subtherapeutic antibiotics. The purpose of the Good Food Awards is to support such farmstead cheese producers with a stamp that indicates that their product not only adheres to certain ethical standards of production, but also is exceptionally tasty.
Another finalist, this one in the chocolate category, is Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Co. from Nashville, Tennessee. Scott Witherow presents his Sea Salt Bar, a product from the southern artisan chocolate house he opened in September 2009. The beans he uses for his chocolate come from a certified organic and fair trade coop in the Dominican Republic. The marketing and distribution support from the Good Food Awards, along with the media attention, will directly benefit break-out companies like Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Co.
Just thinking about the announcement of the best pickles is enough get retract my hand from empty toffee jars and shut the drawer of last year's chocolate. I don't throw it away, but at least I'm momentarily distracted.
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