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Top Tastes at the Pavilions

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It offered art, politics, even guided hikes. But many of the 50,000 who showed up at Slow Food Nation came to eat.

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There was plenty of food to try in the 15 "taste pavilions." Some products were brought by well-known small producers: Cowgirl Creamery, Frog Hollow Farm and Counter Culture Coffee. And there were plenty of new and lesser-known purveyors.

Here is a selection of our favorite finds:

Honey

Mockingbird Meadows Honey and Herb Farm , Marysville, Ohio: A husband-and-wife team grows the herbs biodynamically, then solar-infuses honeys to create original flavors such as coffee, garlic lemon and Honey Love, a blend of rose petals, vanilla and cinnamon. Great in salad dressings or tea. Available at http://www.mockingbirdmeadows.com, $5-$6 for a 5.5-ounce jar.

Olive Oil

Apollo Extra Virgin Organic Mistral Olive Oil, Oregon House, Calif.: Head miller Gianni Stafanini makes just 6,000 liters of this French-style olive oil. Unlike many California oils, which show off peppery, green flavors, this is delicate, with lively tropical-fruit aromas. Available at http://www.apollooliveoil.com, $20 for a 375 ml bottle.

Cheese

Big Woods Blue, Shepherd's Way Farms, Nerstrand, Minn.: Even the blue-averse will love this cheese, which unlike many blues is made entirely of sheep's milk. It's sweet and rich, yet mild. Great with pears or a glass of port.

Available at Cowgirl Creamery, 919 F St. NW, 202-393-6880, http://www.cowgirlcreamery.com.

Chocolate

Taza Chocolate Mexicano Vanilla Bean, Boston: Grate one disk of this stone-ground Mexican chocolate into one to two servings of milk or water and you have an ideal winter warmer. The cinnamon flavor is traditional, but Taza's vanilla, which crushes biodynamic pods from Costa Rica along with the cocoa nibs, creates a deliciously fragrant treat. Available at Cowgirl Creamery and http://www.tazachocolate.com, $4 for two disks.

Jam

June Taylor Jam, Berkeley, Calif.: This English expat has been hand-making jams such as sweet peach and rose and Santa Rosa plum with lavender in small batches for 20 years. Taylor uses no pectins and only local, organic fruits, which produce an intense purity of flavor. Available at http://www.junetaylorjams.com, $12 to $14 for an eight-ounce jar.

Ice Cream

La Divina Gelato, New Orleans: Like many, Carmelo and Katrina Turillo fell in love with gelato in Italy. And they brought that passion home. In 2007, the pair opened La Divina Gelateria in New Orleans, where they crank out dense, creamy and original flavors such as honey sesame goat's milk and pineapple mint sorbet, along with traditional ones such as hazelnut and fior di latte. Available at http://www.ladivinagelateria.com, $60 for six pints.

-- Jane Black


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