Archive | September, 2012

Northwind Farms Kabanosy

25 Sep


Northwind Farms Kabanosy

A food review by Daniel B.

A pork sausage in a sheep casing? Actually there’s beef in there as well. It’s pretty much the whole barn in one delicious package.

Except at Northwind Farm in Tivoli, there are a lot of other critters milling about. After all, it’s a place that made its name on their incredibly tasty free-range chickens and poultry. So they have chickens, turkeys, ducks, and pheasants, not to mention goats, rabbits, and more roaming their 197-acres.

On the package, this sausage calls itself kabanosy kielbasa, yet it looks nothing like the kielbasa made downstate by Rapacki & Sons. While it has the same name, this is an entirely different animal.

Kielbasa is simply the polish word for sausage, but it comes in many forms.

There is krakowska that is typically three to four inches in diameter, and is traditionally sliced like a deli meat and served cold. At my father-in-law’s favorite butcher they sell wiejska which is a long sausage formed in a continuous loop, and cut as needed. This is similar to the mysliwska, which is what I suspect is the official designation of the Rapacki product. And there are many more.

Northwind Farm’s kabanosy are about three-quarters of an inch in diameter, and are on average about seven inches long. Some are longer, others are shorter. But they are all dense, cured and smoked inside their black-pepper flaked, shriveled casings.

You could eat these out of the refrigerator or let them come to room temperature. But I enjoy throwing them into a low pan to slightly melt the fat and tighten up the casings. This give them a great snap and a juicy interior. Chef Noah also mentioned that he has rolled segments of these sausages in a rich dough to create an improved version of pigs in a blanket.

My wife who says she hates kielbasa with a passion, actually enjoys these sausages. Again, these are different. It’s not just about the form the sausage takes, but also the flavor.

I love them not just because of the better ratio of crisp casing to fatty filling, but also because they are made from the meat of animals that were raised without antibiotics or added hormones. When Richard Biezynski started raising chickens this way back in 1981 he couldn’t even find feed without antibiotics, so he had to make his own.

It’s great to see a trailblazer like him have success and grow the operation to include more delicious products. I’m going to keep my eyes open for his mini franks, because it would be amazing to create the Capital Region’s famed mini hot dogs with meat sauce, using locally produced, sustainably-raised ingredients.

While you could enjoy these kabanosky kielbasa on a hot dog bun, hot dogs they are not.

About Daniel B.

A west coast transplant now living in Albany, Daniel Berman is applying his communication strategy background to food writing with the ultimate goal of improving the culinary landscape in the Capital Region. He writes the FUSSYlittleBLOG and contributes regularly to All Over Albany.

Red Jacket Orchards apple juice

11 Sep


Red Jacket Orchards apple juice

A food review by Daniel B.

For the most part my family does not drink juice. Yes, I am keenly aware that this puts us far outside of mainstream America. Mostly the kids drink water, but also have a daily ration of fluid dairy. I drink a lot of coffee. This isn’t to say that we never drink juice. Occasionally I’ll buy a bottle of 100% pomegranate juice to make my own grenadine. We also tend to keep some grape juice on hand, as my children get one small glass of it a week as a very special treat.

Sure, juice is made out of fruit, but it’s mostly just sugar (a.k.a. fructose) without any of the good stuff that comes from eating the actual whole fruit. Lesser products can be pumped full of concentrated white grape juice to spike the sugar content, added “natural” flavors, and can contain precious little actual juice.

On the low rung of the ladder is Sunny D. One day you may want to check out the ingredients. It’s shocking.

But until recently I had no idea that Red Jacket in Geneva, NY had raised the bar for juice. This changes everything.

Redjacket1Looking at the ingredients on the label, it’s clearly apparent that Red Jacket is different. Their raspberry apple juice is made from apples, raspberries and vitamin C. Joe’s Summer Blend is identical except with lemon juice instead of raspberries. These unfiltered juices are delightfully cloudy. One cannot see through them, but even in the bottle they are radiant with brilliant color.

Joe’s Summer blend smells of apples and lemons. The balance they strike is amazing. Because they are both there, without either one eclipsing the other. It’s sweet floral apples with bright zesty lemon. And it tastes like an apple sweetened lemonade.

The raspberry apple juice smells like raspberries with an undercurrent of apples. It tastes a good bit sweeter than its more tart lemon cousin, but both juices contain the exact same amount of sugar. This would be a fantastic replacement for something like fruit punch. It’s even red.

How can Red Jacket get such pure flavors into a bottle of juice. I have to say that I am naturally suspicious.

Not too long ago I discovered that even the better grocery store orange juices are spiked with “natural” flavors and yet don’t have to declare that fact on their ingredient labels. The summary is that these flavors are synthesized from compounds found in oranges, and thus has created a loophole in labeling legislation.

But I don’t think that is the case here. After all, Red Jacket prominently states on its package that the apple juice is cold pressed and unfiltered. You can see that process in the video below, where they also explain that it’s flash pasteurized in just 15 seconds. Plus each eight ounce serving of juice has 3g of dietary fiber and 2.5g of soluble fiber. That’s a ton.

For comparison’s sake, my 100% pomegranate juice that I get from Trader Joe’s contains no fiber of any kind whatsoever. This introduction to Red Jacket is going to be the start of a beautiful relationship. They also make apple cider, cranberry apple cider, fuji apple juice, strawberry apple juice, tart cherry nectar, dark cherry nectar, apricot nectar, plum nectar, and rhubarb apple juice.

It should go without saying that this is what juice should be. This is how juice should be made. And it’s a tragedy that there aren’t more places making juice like this.

But even with all the fiber it’s important to remember that ounce per ounce there is still more sugar in this juice than in Pepsi Throwback. So it’s a sometimes treat to be sure. But it’s one you can feel good about.

About Daniel B.

A west coast transplant now living in Albany, Daniel Berman is applying his communication strategy background to food writing with the ultimate goal of improving the culinary landscape in the Capital Region. He writes the FUSSYlittleBLOG and contributes regularly to All Over Albany.