This weekend I attended the Good Food Festival and Conference at the UIC Forum. I met up with my friends Jen and Kelly. I met Jen at my sister-in-law’s birthday dinner at this amazing Italian restaurant, and we hit it off over a fabulous rib roast (with the bone marrow . . .droool. . .) And lots of red wine. Jen and Kelly met at a canning class. We like to go on food adventures together when we can.
So this Good Food Festival: It’s an event hosted by FamilyFarmed.org, which is an organization whose mission “ . . . is to expand the production, marketing and distribution of locally grown and responsibly produced food, in order to enhance the social, economic, and environmental health of our communities.” Groovy. It was a big indoor fest of 150 vendors hawking their locally grown/ produced food products, (why yes, thank you, I would LOVE try a sample of your delicious Amish Goat Cheese!! Pickled Beets!! Chai and Masala Seasoned Popcorn!! Tomato Jam!! Portobello Tamales!! Grass-Fed Summer Sausage!!! etc, etc.) In addition there were informative talks and workshops on assorted topics like beekeeping, composting, dehydrating, home cheesemaking, and climate-change-in-your-backyard to name a few. Lots of urban-granola-hipster types there if I were to stereotype (which I’m not.) Many of these workshop things don’t really apply to me as I live in an apartment with no backyard. No composting or raising chickens for me. There was no way to see it all anyways.
Also there were some pretty sweet options for lunch. Obviously all of the vendors support local farms. Jen and I opted for the “Mac and Cheese- Cedar Grove Cheddar, Kilgus Farm Cream” from Local Root (AMAZING after we added a little salt and pepper,) and the “Maple & Brown Sugar Bacon Sausage paired with a creamy bourbon bbq sauce on a pretzel roll” from Big Fork Bacon Sausage. Twas quite tasty. Kelly had the “Burger (sans bun) and Side (salad)” from B’Gabs Goodies Raw Vegan Deli. It was a beautiful salad and a weird looking burger thing. They are gluten and soy free. I had a bite and it was pretty good.
So then we moved on to the “Brew Your Own Kombucha” workshop. I have absolutely no experience with kombucha, other than the vague idea of it being moldy tea that people drink
for health reasons. Jen and Kelly have both tried it, and in the spirit of learning something entirely new, I agreed to forgo the home cheese making class that was going on at the same time.
So it turns out that kombucha is pretty funky stuff. In a very general terms, you start with a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) and you grow it in a big glass jar of sweetened tea (it eats sugar,) where it ferments for a few days or a week and gets kinda fizzy. Then you bottle the tea part (the kombucha) and reserve the SCOBY to start the process all over again. And then you drink it. It’s supposed to be a liver detoxifier or something. It looks like a science experiment, or evidence the FBI would find in a serial killer’s storage locker (think Silence of the Lambs).
I tried it. A few different kinds. It tastes like weird fizzy watered down tea that’s a bit tart. There are different flavors from infusing different herbs and whatnot in the teas. Apparently people go ape shit for this stuff. Not my bag, but the ladies of NessAlla Kombucha who put on the workshop were highly entertaining, and I learned many new weird things. Did you know that fruit flies are born pregnant?? Me neither.
Well, this concludes my adventures at the Good Food Festival and Conference 2013. What did you learn this weekend?