"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Guest Blogger: Bruce Watson visits the New York Sheep and Wool Festival

by Julie on November 9, 2010

in Holiday Hell

This is officially the first guest blogger post on Bad Home Cooking. Hopefully there will be others, but Bruce stepped up to the plate first and volunteered. Bruce Watson is an AOL colleague and friend, a writer for Daily Finance and former English professor at Virginia Tech. He knows his foodstuffs, oh yeah. And he’s also one of the best writers I’ve ever met.


The stars of the New York Sheep and Wool show ...next to the maple cotton candy

It’s not easy being a locavore in the Bronx, but I do my best.  I’m a regular at the nearby green markets, where I buy locally-produced seasonal honey from the local honey guy and fresh veggies from area farms.  I get mozzarella from a cheese-maker down the street, who assures me that he gets his milk from upstate cows.  And every Thanksgiving, I go to the nearby live-kill “pollo vivero” joint, where I pick the turkey who looks guiltiest and negotiate in broken Spanish with the attendants, who inevitably end up giving me a weird look before trying to jam the bird’s feet, still attached, into its rear cavity.

(Side note: if anybody can tell me the Spanish phrase for “don’t bother cramming the turkey’s feet up its ass,” I’d be greatly obliged.)

But locavorism rose to a new level when I went to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, where eating local means that your food comes with a face attached.  The festival is an internationally-renowned gathering of knitters, weavers, and yarn manufacturers.  For two days every year, the Duchess County fairgrounds is overrun with northern-European looking people clad in homemade woolens.  Except for the cell phones and factory-made jeans, it looks like a scene from The Road, or perhaps an indie remake of The Hobbit.

When my wife, my daughter, our friend Brady and I got to the fairgrounds, we were already hungry, so we wasted little time before rushing to one of the food areas in search of maple sugar cotton candy.  With a light, wheaty color, the stuff bears a remarkable resemblance to unbleached wool, which led half the people we met to wonder if we were a little special.  The other half realized what we were eating and demanded to know where they could get maple cotton candy.

But cotton candy, even if it comes from a maple tree, can’t sate a serious hunger, and we soon followed our noses to a tent where scurrying foodies were preparing lamb kebabs, burgers, chops and ravioli.  We got one of each and chowed down; while everything was good, the ravioli was extraordinary, with a delicate rosemary-accented flavor that balanced the slightly muttony taste of the lamb.

Afterward, with stomachs calmed, we wandered through the rooms full of wool, yarn, lambskins and leather jackets.  And then we wandered into the barns, which were full of dozens of different breeds of llamas, goats and, yes, lambs.  You haven’t eaten lamb ravioli until you’ve eaten it right before looking into the big, innocent eyes of a lamb curled up under a sign reading “Babydoll sheep: Stylish, sturdy, compact.  Good wool AND meat producers.”

And, as it turns out, they also make great ravioli!

Yeah. Thanks for that, Bruce. My kids will never forgive me now…

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Virginia November 10, 2010 at 4:28 am

The sheep were delicious! Also very cute. We’ve been making an effort to make sure Georgia knows where her food, including meat, comes from and the sheep and wool festival was a really fun way to do that.


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