Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Fieldtrip - Pastoral's Artisan Producer Festival

About a week or so ago, my sister and I took the train into Chicago for the 
4th Annual Pastoral's Artisan Producer Festival 
 Chicago's French Market.

Coolest thing ever!
Underneath one of the Chicago train stations, 100 artisan producers showed off their goods.  The event was entirely free and was filled with table after table after table of  the most delicious artisan cheeses, breads, kraft beers, wines and confections.  We were in foodie heaven!  If only we could eat like that ALL the time.  Anyhow, we snacked our way through the tables and learned all about the different varities of foods offered as well as how and where they are made.

Before it got super crowded

Everything was really, really good...but here are some of my favorites.  Check out the links to find out more and even order some for your family.

Sweet Margy is known as the confection diva!  She is out of Chicago (Love it!!!) and makes the most delicious toffee.   I know, I tried it!  You know how toffee tends to stick in your teeth?  This toffee actually melts in your mouth and the flavor is just right!  Not too sweet.  It is incredible!  It is preservative and additive free (Love it!!!).  These toffees are gluten free too.  If you are ever in Chicago, check her out!  If not, order some from home.  They are unbelievably good!  You can even get them in dark or milk chocolate.    She makes lots of other confections too, so I can only imagine just how good those are!

I definitely had to mention Ames Farm honey.  I usually get the honey from the bear, you know, the one on the grocery store shelf.  I know, lame.  Sometimes I get honey from the farmer's market, which I thought was pretty good.  But after having tasted the honey from Ames Farm...I will never, ever, ever be able to go back!  The honey comes from Minnesota.  In fact, each jar of honey is marked with the location of the hive and floral source of the honey.  The honey was incredibly flavorful and has a slight textured crunch within it.  You can't get that flavor from grocery store honey.  I can't wait to order some!

Prairie Fruits was another one of my favorites.  They are located in Champaign, Illinois not far from the University of Illinois.  They shared some of their fresh chevre.  Using milk from their goats, this cheese is unbelievably creamy with a little bit of a lemon flavor.  Not only did I love the flavor, but the creamy texture was such a delight!  You can't get that level of freshness and creaminess from the grocery store.  Prairie Fruits offers many other French inspired cheeses, but what I think is really cool is their dinner on the farm.  They offer a multicourse, slow food meal that hi-lights the best seasonal and local foods to be found in the Midwest.  Dinners include a tour of the farm and dining under the open prairie sky!  Where do I sign up???

Check out the local artisan foods in your area.  It is always great to support those farms close to your neck of the woods.  But, there are a lot of artisanal foods across the country that you can support too.  My sister and I tried wine from wineries a few hours away to some out in Oregon.  There wasn't a one we didn't like.

Well, I'll have to wait a whole year to sample my way through all these wonderful artisan producer creations.  Thanks so much to Pastoral Artisan for hosting the events.  If you are in Chicago, make sure to stop by their market where you can find these types of products.

Pastoral Market
But until then...

Celebrate the little things that make life sweet!