It's been a fun foodie journey starting this blog. I have met so many great Cleveland people and of course enjoyed so much Cleveland food. One of the best things to have come from this blog is being a part of the pilot program of the Cleveland Culinary Launch & Kitchen, LLC Food Business Incubator Program. We were lucky enough to get a heads up about the program from Sylvie, who runs the awesomely fun Dishcrawl here in Cleveland. We mentioned our interest in starting a food truck when talking during the Tremont Dishcrawl and she tweeted us a link to info about the program. We submitted our application and a presentation to ECDI and we made it in! Monday was week two of our classes - product development week. All 10 businesses in the program brought in food for testing. The evening started with some great talks. The first one by Tom from Cleveland Whiskey and then Terri of the Kitchen's Bounty. Terri even brought in a little gift bag with a sample of her Amazing Rub.
Here is a glimpse of the 10 awesome businesses in the program and the food being produced in Cleveland.
Mason's Creamery Mason's handed out samples of their Cleveland Whiskey Ice Cream. While I have been lucky enough to have had it before I was more than excited to try it again. I love getting a taste of that Cleveland Whiskey flavor without the overpowering heat of alcohol. It's pure flavor and it's delicious. If you have a chance to try it in a Coke Float you will not regret it.
HooftyPlates I care greatly about where my food comes from and I know that a lot of other people do too. HooftyPlates has extensively researched to find the best local food sources and has created some amazing and healthy food from the best of the best. They brought in a sample of their Sweet Broccoli Salad. The best broccoli salads I have had are covered in mayonnaise and topped with bacon, but this was far better than any of those without using either!
Clark Pope Catering Clark is like the jack of all trades in the kitchen. He has created a ton of products for Fresh Fork Market so he had a lot for us to sample. He is a master of tomato so he brought in a BBQ Sauce, Tomato Sauce, Blueberry Sauce and a Bloody Mary Mix. I am a big fan of fruit sauces so I was really drawn to the Blueberry Sauce. It was nicely balanced and not overly sweet like you find in a fruit sauce all too often.
Chill Pop Shop I have had a lot of popsicles in my life and I figured a popsicle is a popsicle. That is until I put one of these in my mouth! I was immediately blown away by these Watermelon Lime Pops. There is a very powerful freshness built into these. My husband loves watermelon, but hates artificial watermelon flavors. I have learned to steer clear of giving him watermelon treats, but he LOVED these because it is actual watermelon vs watermelonish flavoring.
Randy's Pickles Pickles are just so much fun to eat! Randy's brought in their Pepper Chips, Hungarian Peppers and Dill Pickles for us to try. Any pickle fan would love these. If you've never had hungarian peppers they are a must try. They are currently working on a mega hot new pickle recipe.
Olivia Rose Confections I take pictures constantly so I always appreciate when my food is also beautiful. Olivia's food is incredibly photogenic. She brought in Cupcakes and one of her beautiful Fat Baby Cakes. The cupcake was so pretty I didn't want to eat it, but I am glad I did because it was incredibly light and moist.
Sweet Bean I love that Sweet Bean is named after their dog, who's nickname is Sweet Bean. They also call their round candy bars bark as a play on words. Too cute! I was so excited that they brought in some dark chocolate items. That is my favorite! These little candies pack a ton of big flavor. The little dark round ones are filled with a peanut butter and jelly mix that is oh so good.
Really Good Bacon From the moment I heard that name I was excited to try this bacon. As soon as my husband and I finished our first bite all we could say was "that is really good bacon." The name really says it all. David also brought in some amazing sliders. They were a mix of ground beef and bacon and I could not stop eating them! Best slider I've ever had.
Bay Branch Farms Bay Branch does urban farming in Lakewood. They have some amazing produce you can pick up at the Lakewood Farmers Market and LEAF. They brought in a beautiful and fresh salad made from their garden veggies and a blueberry fruit leather. We've all had an over-processed fruit rollup, but you'd think of fruit rollup differently after trying one of Bay Branch's fruit leathers. You get all the real fruit flavor in the familiar rollup form. I've had high quality fruit leathers from the grocery store before, but they were far closer to cardboard than fruit rollups. These were the real deal.
Wok 'n' Roll Yes, that's the name of our future food truck! :) We are hoping to launch in Spring 2014. For now we are just a concept, but by the end of program we want to have a solid business plan to get us started building our truck. We brought in a few treats that represent us. BBQ Pork Cookies and Mini Vegan Curry Pies. What was so great about this tasting was hearing peoples descriptions of our food. People are very curious about the Pork Cookies, but as someone said, "they are exactly as they sound." The Pork Cookies are a sweet cookie with an even sweeter pork inside. I enjoy the crumbly cookie dough. The pies were described as similar to a samosa. The cool thing about these are that they are a baked version of a samosa instead of fried.
At the end of the program we will have a graduation type event that will be open to the public. I'll be sure to tweet info when the time comes. Foodies and bacon lovers alike should come out to sample these local goodies and support these Cleveland businesses!