Food Tour of Iowa: New Pioneer Cooperative and the Local Foods Festival
I love the Iowan attitude towards giving food to strangers: Please! Take some!
That seemed to be the motto of the many different vendors who were present at the Coralville branch of the New Pioneer Cooperative Grocery Store. First, I’m going to talk about the fabulous vendors and local food producers who were present, and then discuss why the New Pioneer Co-op is such a representative Iowan store.
When I walked into NP this beautiful Sunday morning, I was immediately faced with two types of home made applesauce, from apples grown not 20 miles away. With a shameless greed that I have developed since starting the blog, I devoured both samples and squirreled away the business card. This would typify my visit.
The festival was lively, with music from local bands The Beggerman and Gilded Bats, which set a lively mood that definitely perked me up. Local restaurants, such as the Red Avocado and Falafel Oasis were represented, as were growers of apples and chestnuts, and food producers, such as Sutliff Cider and Reicherts Goat Dairy.
I will just run down a bulleted list of the independent producers who were there, and then I will discuss the samples that the store (which houses its own bake house and delightful dairy) was offering.
-The Red Avocado: A local (and very popular) vegetarian and vegan restaurant was giving out samples of it delicious veggie burger, as well as its delicious vegan-cheeses, which were served on top of crackers with a smidge of Red Pepper Jelly. Both were delectable. The Veggie burger didn’t strive to re-create beef flavor- instead, it tried for its own vegetable heartiness, an endeavor in which it succeeded. The cheese spreads lacked the consistency, but not the unami flavor, of real brie and mozzarella- a delicious (and healthy!) alternative for cheese, if it is ever needed. Link: http://www.theredavocado.com
Above: The Red Avocado's table. On the right are some of their dairy-free cheeses.
-Cocina Del Mundo: A local spice blender, she had a particularly delicious spread of home-made samples, ranging from delicious quiches to a hearty veggie stew. See picture below
Above: Cocina Del Mundo's delicious quiches (on the left)
-Annes Gluten Free bread: A vendor of ready-made gluten free bread mixes. They showcased four different types, the mixes for which were all available: herb, pumpkin, banana and wheat. Their gluten free nature, atleast to me, was not readily distinguishable: they tasted simply like delicious breads. The highlight of the booth? Their banana bread. Link: http://glutenevolution.com/
-Sutliff Cider: A local cider maker of both hard and soft varieties. I much preferred the soft; I felt the hard sacrificed apple flavor. Link: http://www.sutliffcider.com/Sutliff%20Cider/Welcome.html
-Reichert’s Dairy Air: A local Goat Cheese dairy in Knoxville. I am actually going to visit her this Thursday, so stay tuned for more news about her and her dedication to Slow Food and Goat Cheese! At the fair, she had samples of her plain, chipotle, cranberry-walnut and herb chevre’s. They were all delicious. Link: http://www.reichertsdairyair.com/
-Grass Run Farms: Definitely the best smelling booth; they were grilling up beautiful hamburger sliders, which enclosed some of the most tender and flavorful beef I have had in a long time. I look forward to trying to visit them in the future. Link: http://www.grassrunfarm.com/
-Falafel Oasis: Another local restaurant, they had samples of their pita, both in the fried and un-fried variety, along with some delicious Hummus. Based on the quality of their pita (thick and flavorful) I look forward to getting a Falafel from them when I am next in Iowa City.
There was also a booth from Kalona Organics. For notes about them, I direct my dear readers to an earlier post in which I visit them.
In addition, the NP was showcasing many of its delicious products. Their bakery was giving out liberal samples of their delicious pecan and pumpkin pies. The deli had huge slabs of a delectable onion tart for the taking. Their ready-made lunch section had samples of their California rolls. All of their products gave me the utmost faith that any product made at or retailed by NP will be of the utmost quality and taste.
However, they did not just have fantastic foods that were made on site. They also were showcasing their impressive selection of bulk foods, such as nuts and cereals, as well as their jams. Overall, I was extremely impressed with the entire NP operation- from their on site bake house, to their dedication to only stocking high quality and local products. If you are ever in Iowa City, I cannot recommend a stop at the New Pioneer Co-Op Enough- either to dine on one of their delicious sandwiches or ready made lunches, or to stock up on high quality produce, meat or dry goods.
Above: New Pioneer Co-Op's staggering collection of bulk goods- they had everything from nuts, to flours to cereals.