Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sweet Grass Dairy, Thomasville, GA: Camembert Style Cheese

Thomasville, GA--You don't have to go to France to eat gourmet cheese. Sweet Grass Dairy has a cheese shop that sells their delicious farm-fresh cheese and other gourmet cheese brands, many of them local to Georgia. Their latest soft ripened cow's milk cheese, similar in style to Camembert, is called Green Hill and is my new favorite American made cheese.
Ben Bacon, Morgan Murphy, Jan Badger, and Chef Jeffrey Brana of Sweet
Grass Dairy cheese shop, Thomasville, GA
A white edible rind with just the right amount of bitterness encases a creamy, slightly sweet slightly nutty,  pale yellow cheese.

"If you leave out on the counter for a couple of days at room temperature," said Chef Jeffrey Brana, "The flavor becomes wonderful and the cheese becomes very gooey."

Sweet Grass Dairy also produces Asher Blue cheese, an aged raw-milk cheese called Thomasville Tomme,  a spreadable Lil Moo cheese, a spicy Pimento cheese, and a super spicy Heat cheese.

They also sell sandwiches, charcuterie meats, salads, snacks, and desserts to take out or eat in. If you sit down and stay you can also buy a glass of wine or beer to go with your meal. "It's sort of the place people come to before they go out to dinner. It's reasonably priced good food," said Morgan Murphy.

I have to agree with Morgan. I bought  a delicious Pickled Pig sandwich made with prosciutto cotta, Georgia Gouda, Laurie Jo's pickled green tomatoes, and mayo on a toasted ciabatta bread all for just $8.

I also bought three 8oz wheels of the Green Hill cheese for just $9 each.

If you want to get in on this good cheese experience you can stop by their shop at 106 N. Broad Street, Thomasville, Georgia  31792 or go to their website

Friday, October 25, 2013

It's Pecan Season In North Florida, Updated

Pecans are delicious especially when they are fresh. But when you live in South Florida it can be hard to get fresh ones unless you travel to the northern counties of the state. The nuts grow on huge trees. The season starts about now and goes through the end of November.

Northern Florida pecan tree with nut
This past week I was on a business trip through northern Florida and everywhere I parked it always seemed to be under a pecan tree. Normally I don't like my car being pummelled by falling objects but this time I felt lucky. I adore pecans especially when they are fresh and free.

So if you are in the northern Florida or southern Georgia or southern Alabama, where pecans also grow, and you're hesitant about parking under a tree that has object falling out of it. Stop to see if those objects are pecans and if they are, enjoy!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Oystertini Anyone? Nebo Lodge, North Haven Maine Style

North Haven Island, Maine--Nebo Lodge Inn really likes to embrace local ingredients. They are a Bed & Breakfast Inn located on an island 12-miles out at sea. They also have a farm-to-table restaurant that sources ingredients from local farms and fisheries.

Bartender at Nebo Lodge Inn preparing Oystertini with North Haven
Island oyster, Maine

They especially like to use local items in their cocktails like North Haven oysters.

I got to try one of these North Haven Oystertinis during a recent visit to Nebo. The bartender made a point to stir not shake the chilled vodka and vermouth together before pouring it into a glass. Then she carefully prided open a fresh oyster and slid it gently into the cold martini.

Its slimy texture quickly firmed up as it was cooked ceviche style by the Maine Cold River vodka. This changed the flavor of the bivalve shellfish and made it a bit bitter.

If you want to try this drink or others like it hurry to Nebo Lodge before they close for the season.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Chef John Carlino, Chef Corp Inc, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.--Chef John Carlino cooks Florida grown food for Florida people. He is one of the Executive chefs at Chef Corp Inc, a commercial kitchen, in Palm Beach Gardens. From this location he cooks 350 school meals and 350 Alzheimer's patient meals a day for locations from Boca to Ft. Pierce to Pahokee, Florida. He uses Florida grown ingredients when he can.

Chef John Carlino at Slow Food Snail of Approval Award Dinner,
Chef Corp Inc, Palm Beach, Gardens, Fla.
Chef Carlino is also a founding member of Slow Food Gold & Treasure Coast chapter. Recently he received a Slow Food Snail Of Approval award for his services to the community for presenting food that embraced quality, authenticity, and sustainability.

Florida sourced duck and rye grain berry entree at the 2nd
Annual Snail of Approval Award dinner by Slow Food
Gold & Treasure Coast, Fla.
Chef Carlino along with fellow Snail of Approval awardee Chef Chris Pawlowski, created a fantastic main course entree at this year's Snail Of Approval Awards in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. With donated Florida rye grain, some duck stock, a bit of port, and some Fellsmere, Florida, sourced duck, a few other ingredients they created a gourmet dish worthy of any fine dining restaurant.

To find out more about Chef Corp Inc you can go to their website at

Friday, October 4, 2013

Peruvian Chef Giacomo Bocchio Interview, Miami, Fla.

Chef Giacomo Bocchio, 29, passionately promotes Peru and its ingredients. He uses Peruvian ingredients in Manifiesto, his Lima, Peru, based restaurant. I met him at last year’s Taste of Peru at the Miami Convention Center, Florida.

Chef Giacomo Bocchio at Taste of Peru, Miami, Fla.
“I believe it is a mistake, to try to show the dishes, to talk about Peru’s one dish. It’s like Sushi to Japan but Japan has a lot of types of food. OK, so with Peru, we do have ceviche. That’s OK but we should start exporting produce not plates,” said Bocchio.

Born in Tacna, in the south of Peru, Chef Bocchio started cooking at an early age during hunting trips with his Italian family. Then one summer, at age 15, he took a cooking class and realized he cook make a living at it.

It took him several years of studying at Le Cordon Bleu Peru culinary school and working at several Michelin start restaurants in Europe, Brazil and the United States before he opened his own fine dining restaurant.

Chef Bocchio said farm-to-table style sourcing is normal in Lima.

“I use a salt in Lima called Macnames, it is from a small town in Cusco, it was the salt the Incas used because they didn’t want to go all the way to the beach for salt. And this salt, it’s a pink salt, and I don’t know why but it doesn’t affect the pressure, like high blood pressure.”
Bocchio uses several southern Peruvian ingredients, on his menu, like lamb. “Italians brought this type of lamb and they show Peruvians how to raise the lamb. In Tacna they eat that lamb where other places they eat nothing.”
One of his lamb dishes won best dinner in Condé Nast Traveler magazine.
“I have a plate only of goat cheese from a little city in Lima—Pachacamac, and it is really nice. Four types of cheese and it is really a contrast in taste.
“It’s maybe 45 minutes from Lima. There was a guy at the restaurant. He gave me a taste of all the cheeses, they were incredible. So I start using them and other chefs start using them because they were impressed too.
“If we offer produce, there are a lot of creative cooks around the world that are going to grab the produce and do something with this produce. And that’s going to make us sell a lot more produce and classic Peruvian restaurants will have those products everywhere to cook classic Peruvian food.”
To find out more about Manifiesto and Chef Bocchio you can go to

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

NK Lago Farms, Pahokee, Fla: Plantains & More

Pahokee, Fla--NK Lago Farms grows plantains and bananas near Lake Okeechobee, Florida. Co-owner Nick Larsen, started the part-time plantation in 2009. "I started growing bananas because I thought it would be easy but it isn't." It takes a lot of work to grow bananas and plantains Larsen's style--with little to no herbicides and no pesticides.

Nick Larsen of NK Lago Farms, Pahokee, Fla.
Larsen has 600 plants on two pieces of property. He grows 31 varieties of plantains and bananas, some are experimental and grown at his quarter acre plant nursery, "If it does good here it goes up to the other farm in quantity."

NK Lago Farms bags their bananas to keep off bugs,
Pahokee, Fla.
He has inventive pest management system, "The reason I bag fruit is the black spots," he says, pointing to a Hua Moa plantain with tiny black spots created by thrips, "It still tastes good but it's easier to sell fruit that looks pretty."

To control white fly he uses soapy water and to control weeds he mainly uses his hands.

Nick Larsen with Hua Moa plantain stalk, NK Lago Farms,
Pahokee, Fla.
The Hua Moa plantain is a Hawaiian variety that can grow up to one and a half pounds in weight per fruit. It tastes like a Cuban Manzano plantain, according to Larsen. It can be eaten green as a vegetable or ripened to yellow and eaten as a fruit.

FHIA-17 banana variety will soon replace grocery store
Cavendish bananas, NK Lago Farms, Pahokee, Fla.
Larsen also grows a delicious disease resistant hybrid-banana called Fundación Hondureña de Investigación Agrícola (FHIA-17). It is the variety that will eventually replace the favorite grocery store Cavendish banana. "It tastes like what bananas used to taste like," says Larsen.

NK Lago Farms sells fruit directly from the farm, through a CSA program and at the Wellington Green Market in season (Nov to May). To find out more you can call them at (561) 727-9553 or email