By Lorrie Baumann
The two best cheeses entered into this year’s sofi Awards competition were made by Rogue Creamery and Vermont Creamery. Rogue Creamery won a gold sofi Award for Organic Rogue River Blue, which won from among 68 entries in the category for cow milk cheeses, while Vermont Creamery’s Cremont, an aged mixed-milk cheese, won from among 65 entries in the category for non-cow milk and mixed-milk cheeses.
Vermont Creamery also won the best new product award in the non-cow milk category for its Fresh Goat Cheese Log with Clover Blossom Honey and a silver award in the dairy and dairy alternative category for its Creme Fraiche. Medlee Foods, LLC, won the gold award for the best dairy or dairy alternative product with its Red Chile Seasoned Butter. Nduja Artisans Co. won the gold award for charcuterie with Finocchiona.
The announcements came on April 11 in videotaped presentations by Specialty Food Association President Phil Kafarakis. Gold, silver and bronze awards were given on the basis of taste and ingredient quality, while new product winners were also judged on innovation, which was defined for the judges as an unexpected culinary experience, creativity in making the product healthier and/or sustainable or a sense that the product is on trend with changing consumer preferences. All of the winners will be displayed in the sofi Awards showcase at the Summer Fancy Food Show, June 30-July 2 at Javits Center in New York City. For the full list of this year’s awards, click here.
Gold awards also went to Loacker USA, Inc. for its Loacker Gran Pasticceria Tortina White in the baked good category, to La Tourangelle for its Roasted Virgin Peanut Oil in the baking ingredient category and for its roasted Pistachio Oil in the category for nut oils. La Tourangelle’s Roasted Walnut Oil won the bronze award in the nut oils category.
Wildly Delicious Fine Foods took home gold in the barbecue sauce category for its Badass Smoked Sriracha & Roasted Garlic Mop Sauce. The award for the best cooking sauce or marinade went to Salsaology for its Ancho Chile & Tamarind Sauce.
In the three chocolate categories: one for dark chocolate, one for milk and white chocolate and one for a chocolate candy, the three gold awards went to Poco Dolce for its Olive Oil and Sea Salt Chocolate Bar, to Milkboy Swiss Chocolates for its Swiss Alpine Milk Chocolate with Crunchy Caramel and Sea Salt and to Droga Chocolates for its Money on Honey Toasted Coconut Almond. Milkboy Swiss Chocolates also won the silver award for Swiss Alpine Milk Chocolate with Roasted Almonds and best new product for Swiss White Chocolate with Blue Potato Chips and Sea Salt. Neuchatel Chocolates won the gold award for a vegan product with its Vegan Dark Chocolate with Hazelnut Nectar, Honey Mama’s won gold in the sweet snack category with Honey Cocoa Bar Nibs and Coffee and Bissinger’s Handcrafted Chocolatier won the gold award in the confection category for its Strawberry Mango Gummy Pandas.
Mouth Foods received the gold award for the best cookie with its Smart Cookie Orange Pistachio Shortbread, and That’s How We Roll, LLC, won in the cracker category for its Kitchen Table Bakers Parm Crisps Original. The award for the best ice cream or gelato went to Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream for its Black Sesame Ice Cream, while the award for the best dessert sauce or topping went to Mount Mansfield Maple Products for its Single Malt Barrel Aged Organic Pure Vermont Maple Syrup.
There were two categories for cold beverages, one for a drink and cocktail mix and the other for a ready-to-drink beverage. Improper Goods LLC took home the gold award in the cocktail mix category for its The Bitter Housewife Cardamom Bitters, while Brands Within Reach took the gold award for a ready-to-drink beverage for Belvoir Fruit Farms Cucumber & Mint Lemonade. The gold award for the best hot beverage went to Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate for its Drinking Chocolate Belize Toldeo.
Date Lady won the gold award for the best condiment for its California Date Syrup as well as the silver award in the dessert sauce or topping category for its Pure Date Syrup and the bronze award in the category for vegan products with its Coconut Caramel Date Sauce. Cafe Spice Global Cuisine won the gold award in the gluten free category for its Cafe Spice Vegetable Bhajias with Chutneys.
In the granola category Cucina Classica Organic Italian 10 Minute Farro won the gold award. It’s imported to the U.S. by Atalanta Corporation. The French Farm received the gold award in the honey category for L’Abeille Occitane Pure Lavender Honey, and Blake Hill Preserves won the gold award in the category for jams and preserves with its Cardamom-infused Meyer Lemon Marmalade. In the nut and seed butter category, Manna Organics won gold with Manna Butter Coconut Cashew and silver with Manna Butter Hazelnut Cocoa Truffle.
In the olive oil category, Planeta Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Italian Products USA won gold, and the winning vinegar was Villa Manodori Dark Cherry Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, imported by De Medici Imports, Ltd.
Doorganics, Michigan’s only organic grocery delivery company, is making it easier to receive the freshest food possible from local and organic farms with the launch of a mobile app. The app will provide customers with an entirely mobile experience for optimum convenience and accessibility.
“We are excited to make it even easier for our customers to stock up on local and organic groceries each week,” said Mike Hughes, Founder of Doorganics. “The grocery and food delivery industry is ever changing, and we know that our customers have been looking for added conveniences. We’re confident that the app makes the Doorganics experience even better, allowing our customers more time around the table eating real food.”
Doorganics deliveries start with a customizable produce box full of organic and local fruits and vegetables. Customers can then shop from more than 150 different Michigan-made grocery items including farm eggs, pastured meats, fresh baked breads, cheeses as well as organic deli salads and prepared meals. Delivery is free, and customers have full control of their delivery schedule inside an online member portal.
“Not only do we support local farmers with each delivery, we also strive to support the communities we are lucky to serve,” said Hughes. “All leftovers and food service quality extras are donated each week to help feed the hungry. To celebrate our app launch, we are pledging to do more. For each app download through the end of May, we’ll be donating one additional pound of organic food.
For each app download, Doorganics will be donating one pound of food to Gleaners Community Food Bank in Detroit and God’s Kitchen in Grand Rapids. Doorganics regularly partners with these organizations by donating remaining produce and grocery items to fight food insecurity, the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.
Doorganics recently expanded its delivery area to 85 zip codes in southeast Michigan in December and plans to open a second facility in the Detroit metropolitan area in the coming year. The company makes weekly deliveries to customers in metro Detroit, Grand Rapids, Holland, Grand Haven, and Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The Maryland Senate voted unanimously today to pass HB 1106, which would expand where home bakers can legally sell their homemade treats. Currently, the state has some of the strictest limits in the nation, and only allows home bakers to sell at farmer’s markets or at special events. But sell those very same cakes or cookies anywhere else, including from a baker’s very own home—where they are already being made—and bakers risk heavy fines and even jail time. The bill now heads to Gov. Larry Hogan for his signature.
HB 1106 would change this by allowing home bakers to sell directly from home or through mail deliveries. The bill would also allow home bakers to take custom orders, which can be both lucrative and in demand for consumers. HB 1106 would only apply to food sold under Maryland’s “cottage food” law, which lets Marylanders sell “nonhazardous” homemade food, like cakes, cookies, or jams.
“Passing this bill would expand economic opportunity and would leaven some common-sense into Maryland’s half-baked cottage-food law,” said Pablo Carvajal, Baltimore Activism Manager at the Institute for Justice. “Cottage food is inherently safe, and the government shouldn’t arbitrarily restrict where inherently safe food is sold.”
According to a report by the Institute for Justice, 49 states (including Maryland) currently allow the sale of cottage food. Yet Maryland is just one of a dozen states that bans home bakers from selling out of their homes, and one of three that prohibits sales at all venues except farmer’s markets.
“Maryland makes running a cottage food business out of the home nearly impossible for people like me who have big dreams but can’t fork over thousands of dollars on a commercial kitchen space,” said Zak Whipp, a Baltimore-based baker who testified in favor of the bill earlier this year. “Reforming the law will positively impact countless of cottage foods entrepreneurs across the state.”
If the governor signs HB 1106, Maryland will join a growing, nationwide movement. On Monday, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin approved a bill that legalizes home-baking businesses for all residents in the Bluegrass State. The Institute for Justice has secured victories for home bakers in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and is currently challenging New Jersey’s complete ban on selling homemade goods.