Sue's Produce, 114 S. 18th St. 215.241.0102
Metropolitan Bakery, 262 S. 19th St. 215.545.6655
Farm to City, www.farmtocity.org
First: Pequea is pronounced Peck-wah, according to Bob Pierson, program director of Farm to City, a Philadelphia-based initiative that promotes locally grown food. Second: I'm sorry, I'm too busy shoveling spoonfuls of strawberry yogurt in my mouth to pronounce anything correctly. Pequea Valley Farms' yogurt is so freaking delicious, the only sound you'll be able to summon is a deeply satisfied "mmm." As Pierson says, "Many people who taste this yogurt think it's the best they've ever had." I certainly did on the day I stumbled upon it at Sue's Produce on 18th Street. Those glorious Amish folk have done it again, creating a yogurt that's so rich and flavorful, it puts our sorry little Dannon and even "gourmet" Stonyfield Farm to shame. Pequea Valley Farms, owned by Abner King in the miniscule village of Ronks in Lancaster County, turns out a product that's densely creamy, with a zippy tang and a melt-in-your-mouth quality that you don't normally associate with yogurt. Although yogurt's health benefits are often touted--high in calcium and B vitamins and good for digestion--its flavor profile tends to underwhelm, and it too easily gets shuffled into the category of snooze-inducing diet foods. Yogurt, like its friend cheese, is an ancient fermented farm product that was developed as a way to preserve an excess of milk. And like cheese, when yogurt is made in an artisanal way, with respect for the product and the process, it can be wonderfully complex, delicious and a world away from the mass-produced impostors that occupy many supermarket shelves. This yogurt is made from the milk of grass-fed Jersey cows--Jersey as in the British Island, not Turnpike--which are prized for the quality of their milk. And "grass-fed" means the cows are allowed to graze freely, not fed a processed feed mix, which often includes ground-up bits of other dead cows and has been pinpointed as a source of the spread of mad cow disease. Pequea Valley Farms' yogurt comes in a variety of flavors, all of them luscious. I can personally recommend the strawberry, black cherry and blueberry. There's also a plain version, which is a great substitute for sour cream in a pinch. Or if you don't mind a little tartness, it's tasty on its own topped with a little black pepper. Pick it up at Sue's or Metropolitan Bakery, or order it through the Farm to City website. (Kirsten Henri)
Wine with Mexican Food? Sí!