Friday, February 8, 2013
It's no secret how much I hate winter, and I've been surviving the season this year by stuffing my face with some delicious treats. Which might be why when I stepped on the scale on January 1st, I received some very unpleasant news. In an effort to recover from the holiday binge and to prepare for an upcoming vacation, I've been trying to eat healthier and have given up some of my favorite and most fattening foods for the month of February: bread, pasta, dessert, and beer. So basically I'm posting this so I can live vicariously through my own photos!
I also can't help but share some of the tastiest things I've recently discovered. You all know I'm a huge fan of supporting local small businesses, and five of the seven products below are all made within two hours of my house. Luckily, for those of you not in the DC area, several of these treats are available for purchase online.
LANGDON WOOD (Washington, DC)
Langdon Wood was a neighboring vendor at GRUMP - an art market my shop vended at in December. And it may have been the most popular booth - shortly after Larry scored three bottles of their Maple Syrup which HAS BEEN AGED IN WHISKEY BARRELS, they completely sold out! We gave all three bottles away as Christmas presents, so it was a total bummer that we didn't score some of this delicious syrup for ourselves. Luckily, the syrup can be purchased both locally and online.
While Langdon Wood is based in Washington, DC, they source their whiskey barrels from Catoctin Creek Distillery in Purcellville, VA and their maple syrup from Milroy Farms in Salisbury, PA - so it's almost like three local(ish) businesses in one! The company calls their syrup "an adult twist on a breakfast staple" and claims "It Won't Change Your Life. It Will Change Your Pancakes." Awesome.
WHISKED! (Washington, DC)
You guys, these might be the best cookies I've ever had! These were another score from GRUMP - first Brandi stopped by and offered me a cookie from her stash (Thanks, Brandi!), and then I made Larry run over to the Whisked! booth to buy me a whole sleeve of them. Milk Chocolate AND Nutella in a giant, soft, chewy cookie? How can you go wrong?
THE VIRGINIA CHUTNEY CO. (Washington, VA)
I discovered this stuff through Jane - during one of our weekend excursions, she pulled out a smorgasbord of bread, cheese, and this delicious chutney. I sat in the passenger seat and stuffed my face while she drove. "What is this stuff?!" I demanded between bites as chutney dripped down my chin. "Spicy Plum Chutney," she responded. "You can get it at Whole Foods." Done!
SILLY COW FARMS by BURNHAM AND MILLS (Wells River, VT)
Last winter, I was on a mission: I spent several months searching for The Best hot chocolate. I sampled many that were disappointing, some that were undrinkable, and was about to settle on one that was just average when I caught sight of these adorable mini milk bottles of hot chocolate in Whole Foods. While I made the purchase based entirely on the cuteness of the container (they make great bud vases when empty), Silly Cow Farms ended up being the winning cocoa and now it is the only hot chocolate I drink. (Yes, I am a hot chocolate snob - I think that's allowed considering how discerning people are about their coffee. I don't drink coffee, but I do love a hot drink in the morning year round.)
I've tried several of the flavors (and consequently have amassed quite a collection of bottles), and while they're all good, the Chocolate Moo-usse is my absolute favorite. Add a splash of cream to your mug for extra decadence.
WONDERMADE (Orlando, FL)
I can't talk about hot chocolate without a marshmallow mention, can I? Larry was intrigued by the gourmet flavors at Wondermade and purchased three boxes before Christmas: Peppermint (our favorite), Bourbon (really good), and Guinness (more of a novelty). These aren't your grocery store jet-puffed mallows - they're delicate and tender and really do seem to be made of sweet, magic air. Eat these plain or put them in your cocoa, but as we learned during our cabin weekend, they melt over a fire.
Also, last night I had the pleasure of meeting Beth of FLUFFED UP DESSERTS. Beth makes homemade marshmallows here in the DC area and she has over two dozen flavors, including cookie dough, chocolate-covered strawberry, eggnog, and cinnamon toast! I'm so happy to have found handcrafted marshmallows made locally and can't wait to work my way though Beth's offerings.
THE FARM AT RED HILL (North Garden, VA)
Just as I'm a hot chocolate snob, I am also a hummus snob. I eat hummus nearly every day and find most of the grocery store choices extremely disappointing. Enter hummus from The Farm at Red Hill, which is hands down the best hummus I've ever had. I discovered it at Whole Foods and was elated that this hummus comes from a local Virginia farm - bonus! Their original flavor is my favorite, and it contains a dash of cayenne and some cumin for an extra kick.
LINDEN VINEYARDS (Linden, VA)
I have to include at least one adult beverage on the list, right? In my opinion, wine is the best medicine for surviving winter!
I first visited Linden with Jane in the fall, and then went a second time in January - that's all it took for me to become a lifelong fan. This really is some of the best wine I've ever had and definitely the best in Virginia. The winery is gorgeous, too, and the owner is an inspiration for all small business owners. I'm currently hoarding three bottles on our wine rack: a 2007 Late Harvest Vidal, a 2010 Vidal Riesling, and a 2009 Boisseau. Now I just need a special reason to drink them!