Over a dozen Washington products won Good Food Awards this year, more than any other previous year since the inaugural honors in 2011, when the Emerald State took home just four awards. Our state's growing share of the list is proof of a food culture trending more and more toward environmental and social sustainability: The awardees were among 2,000-plus nominations nationwide that were vetted based on local sourcing and ethical production, and beat out finalists in a blind taste test.
Consider this Washington state's unofficial food lover's bucket list of 2017.
Reuben's Brews: Crikey IPA
Citrus, tangerine, and tropical fruit notes backed by a little pine and a malt backbone. This double dry-hopped IPA straight out of Seattle is the real deal and recently took gold at Europe's largest beer competition.
Available at: Town and Country, PCC Natural Market, Met Market, Whole Foods, and Safeway.
Laurel's Crown Cheese: Bebe
Produced at the only certified grass-fed dairy farm in the US, Pure E'ire in Othello, Bebe is a fresh, asiago-style cheese made from the farm's Jersey whole milk; a nutty variety that leans smooth and creamy at less than a year old.
Available at: Select PCC stores, Central Co-op, Sno-Isle Co-op, Olympia Co-op, New Seasons Market, Marlene's Market and Deli and online.
Finnriver Farm and Cidery: Oak and Apple Cider
Farm crafted out of Chimacum, this cider is all American oak, Northwest rye whiskey, and organic Washington apples. Aging for 12 to 16 weeks in oak barrels after fermentation gives this semi-dry a liquid gold color and toasty flavor that pairs perfectly with the heartiest foods (think roasted chicken or stewed rabbit).
Available at: Online now and in select stores soon.
Snowdrift Cider Company: Reserve Perry, Pommeau
Just a hop, skip, and jump over Steven's Pass, this East Wenatchee cidery churned out two wins with farm-to-table ciders made from their own traditional cider apples and perry pears. Both obscure finds in the cider world, the Pommeau is a rich after-dinner cider made with Eau d'vie distilled from red-fleshed apples, while the Reserve Perry is made solely from pears aged for two years and then put through a champagne process for a natural, velvety drink.
Available at: Capitol Cider, Snowdrift Tasting Room, and online.
Whitewood Cider Company: Gibb's Farm Single Farm
Apples grown at the 45-year-old farmstead of Grant Gibbs in the Fruend Canyon near Leavenworth give this cider a caramelized, ripe fruitiness up front, chased down by a citrus acidity that hints to notes of Meyer lemon and tangerine. Just dry, this multi-layer drink has a clean tannic finish
Available at: Bottlework's, Beveridge Place Pub, Beer Junction, Teku Tavern , Chuck's Hop Shop, DeLaurenti, Peaks & Pints, Full Throttle Bottles, Schilling Cider House, Capitol Cider, and Special Brews.
Olympia Coffee: Ethiopia Konga
Ethiopian heirloom varieties give this roast flavors of candied citrus, dark chocolate, and jasmine. Not your average cup of Joe, all thanks go to the Konga Cooperative—1,400 organic and fair trade growers in Ethiopia's Yirgacheffe region—and the PNW coffee house that brought it over 8,000 miles to Washington.
Available at: Burien Press, Vif Coffee and Wine, Sound and Fog, Whole Foods, Union Coffee, and Craftworks Coffee.
Fran's Chocolates: Almond Gold Bar
Toasted almonds and buttery caramel covered in dark chocolate—surely not a new combination, but somebody has to perfect the classics. Fran's Chocolates definitely delivers.
Available at: Fran's Chocolates stores and online.
Theo Chocolate: Walla Walla Sweet Onion Caramel
Grown at the foot of the Blue Mountains in southeast Washington, the Walla Walla sweet onion gets center stage in this new specialty confection out of Seattle-grown Theo Chocolate. Caramelized, the onions are coated in milk chocolate and topped with caramelized white chocolate and black pepper flakes.
Available at: The Theo Chocolate retail store in Fremont only until November 1, 2017.
DeckHand's Daughter/Sea Creatures: Smoked Herring
Smoked with natural wood, Renee Erickson's The Whale Wins serves this canned Togiak herring whipped in butter on toast with chives and pickled red onion. Order it prepped by her able kitchen staff at many of her restaurants or pick up a can (or several) for your pantry at home.
Available at: The Whale Wins, Bar Melusine, Hama Hama Oyster Farm, DeLaurenti, East Anchor Seafoods, Old Ballard Liquor Co., Freshy's Seafood, and online.
Ekone Oyster Company: Smoked Tuna with Lemon Slices
How often does "processed" mean a stint in a natural smoker, handling by a team of just five, and a kick of flavor via organic lemons? These days, not often. Each can of this albacore tuna, sourced from a 48-foot vessel out of Chinook, is hand packed with just a slice of lemon and a pinch of salt for maximum tang and minimal—strike that, zero—unnatural food additives.
Available at: Online or by phone at 888-875-5494.
Sequim Bee Farm: Blackberry Farm
Strong hints of berry sweetness pepper this honey varietal. While honey doesn't usually taste like its nectar source, this apiary, located in the foothills of the Olympic Mountains, works an exception to that rule: blackberries. Owners Meg and Doug Depew position their bees near the native flora while the berry blossoms start to form, ensuring their honey is made predominately from blackberry bushes.
Available at: Sequim and Port Angeles Farmer's Markets come spring, or order online and by phone at 360-460-2341.
Pike Brewing Company: Pike Stout Mustard
Chef and owner Gary Marx wrote the recipe for this pantry must-have 20 years ago and has been serving it up ever since. Stone ground, this whole grain mustard is all kinds of rich tangy sweetness and is made with notes of Pike Brewing Company's XXXXX Stout beer.
Available at: The Pike Pub, select QFC stores, Tom Douglas's Home Remedy, Central Market, Made in Washington stores, and online.
Bow Hill Blueberries: Organic Heirloom Pickled Blueberries
Bow Hill Farm's blueberries are old school and thick skinned–the plants used for their pickle are 70 years old this year; the first blueberry variety brought in from the wild to be farmed. As such, these handpicked blueberries hold the pickle without becoming mushy, something newer varieties can't quite compete with. With undertones of organic spices, use these local wonders to garnish salmon, duck, or even artisan cheeses.
Available at: The Bow Hill Farm, online, and some PCC Market stores.
Johnson Berry Farm: Little Wild Jake Jam, Raspberry Habanero Jam
One an intense, sharp seasonal jam made from the closest relative of the diminutive wild mountain blackberry and the other a bursting red berry tang followed up by the soft roll of habanero heat. Both of these preserves pack a punch and both are made weekly out of Olympia, Washington.
Available at: Little Wild Jake Jam: online only. Raspberry Habanero: year round at the Olympia Farmers Market, Pike Place Market, or online.