The news team at Culinaria Eugenius (consisting of one hardworking, underpaid indentured servant/culinary assassin) brings you this special update in the midst of our 24/7 Taiwanese food blogging marathon:
Go. Right. Now. to the Holiday Farmers Market at the fairgrounds. Yes, it’s inside. Because next Saturday is Christmas Eve, this is the last weekend. Highlights include every single root vegetable, the first Oregon truffles, a bumper crop of candycap mushrooms and some fine hedgehogs, and apples and Asian pears by the box at the River Bend Farm booth (and they still have cider, too!).
As for superlative holiday presents: my favorite popcorn in the world, ‘Dakota Black’ heirloom corn from Lonesome Whistle Farm, and the new bean soup mix from Camas Country Mill. The soup mix includes all the legumes and pulses grown by the Huntons, plus some of their grains, like barley.
Another gift option: smoked pepper jelly from Pure Peppers. The pepper jelly is from the same folks who brought us Hell Dust smoked pepper flakes, and is without question the finest, strongest pepper jelly I’ve ever had. Like Lonesome Whistle and Camas Country, the Peppers grow and dry their own product in Junction City. The smokiness in the pepper jelly transforms ye olde pepper-jelly-over-a-hunk-of-cream cheese appetizer that everyone loves into something quite special.
Another very worthy pepper product to consider — the single-varietal smoked pepper powders from Crossroads Farm (first image). I’ve been using their full-strength smoked paprika for months, and it’s even better than the stuff a friend brought back from Spain. This year, Crossroads has expanded their line from paprika to cayenne, padron, guajillo, Hungarian, chipotle, and others.
And speaking of smokiness, Brie-berry with Smoked Almond ice cream from Red Wagon Creamery. Every single one of you should consider the cheese and ice cream combination that’s sweeping the nation (or should be). This stuff is no joke, folks. Red Wagon excels at the salt-sweet connection, and their cheese and fruit flavors hit it out of the ballpark. I never buy pints of ice cream, but I ended up taking home this irresistible cranberry-studded, smoky, crunchy, rich, decadent, tangy, slightly savory Christmas miracle.
Other flavors for the less adventurous are also terrific. (I stole this photo off their Facebook page so I can show you today’s offerings.) They’ve just started using organic Guittard chocolate sourced from local company Chocolate Decadence, so that’s a good bet. Sweet Potato and Cumin is better than a similar flavor I had in San Francisco last month. The Lucy’s Cracked Candy Cane uses all-natural candy and doesn’t have the weird fake mint flavor in every other peppermint ice cream you can buy…and it also doesn’t pull a fast one and make you eat stevia with dried peppermint leaves, either. Know what I mean? Sure you do.
And if they still have ’em, grab up any remaining quinces and San Carlos Bocadillo membrillo quince paste at the Berg’s Organic Farm booth. Quinces are a lovely addition to applesauce for, say, Hanukkah. The membrillo, a Spanish delicacy and a downright smooth version of it, is made of quinces cooked down past applesauce texture, so it form a thick paste. It should be cut into small slices and served alongside a cheese plate. The classic combination is membrillo and manchego cheese, but any hard, decently tangy cheese works. I’ve never seen this product offered locally with our own quinces, so it’s worth consideration for your holiday parties.
What did I miss? Let others know what you recommend.