Local Spotlight: Sustainable Harvesters
November 16th, 2017
Sustainable Harvesters is an aquaponics farm in Hockley, Texas and is one of the largest aquaponics farms in the state. Andrew Alvis and Matthew Braud saw a need for local produce in Houston after graduating LSU and started their business. Aquaponics is a recirculatory growing method that combines two ecosystems: fish and plants. Sustainable Harvesters harvest fully matured heads of lettuce with the roots and guarantee three weeks of perfect freshness on the shelf.
Chef’s love locally sourced ingredients because of their unmatched freshness. See what ABC 13 in Houston, Texas had to say in their excellent article on Sustainable Harvesters.
The Story of Brighter Bites
October 25th, 2017
Brighter Bites, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to deliver fresh fruits and vegetables directly to families, has always tried to keep it simple. Their three-part plan to educate families on how to use and choose a different kind of fast food is easy to understand and fun to be involved in. It starts with giving families and their kids access to fresh, nutritious foods and continues by educating them on how to make the most of it. This can come from in-class lessons for children, nutrition education handouts for parents, weekly recipes, and much more. The most important part of their three-part plan is to make the whole process fun to be involved in. Brighter Bites has just put out a video showing the origins of this program and why it means so much to them, check it out below to see how their passion inspires lifestyle changes in families across Texas!
The Perfect Puree
October 9th, 2017
Pureed fruits and vegetables have been a kitchen staple for years, and have traditionally been hand-made by classically trained chefs. This labor intensive process produces a fantastic result, but it can be difficult to find the right consistency and to reliably replicate great purees. Today, The Perfect Puree of Napa Valley is the premium puree product available and is used in outstanding kitchens across the nation.
The Perfect Puree’s claim-to-fame is a product that is consistently high quality and captures the fresh flavor of the real fruit or vegetable. They constantly look for ways to improve their product and save chefs time. With a wide variety of single-note flavors ranging from Apricot to White Peach, chefs will never feel limited by time and will be inspired to try new ideas.
Samples are available now! Talk to your Hardie’s sales rep today to save time in the kitchen and open up a realm of new opportunities with The Perfect Puree.
Homegrown Chef – Episode One: Busted Bunny
September 8th, 2017
Hardie’s is proud to announce that we have partnered with Chef Ed Villarreal to help produce episode one of Homegrown Chef! In this episode, Chef Ed makes Rabbit Sausage with Hoja santa, an intriguing Mayan herb that grows wild all over San Antonio. Follow Chef Ed through episode one and see how he uses this unique herb in a one-of-a-kind way!
Hurricane Harvey: Texans Helping Texans
August 30th, 2017
Dealing with great tragedy is never easy, and Hurricane Harvey has been particularly devastating to our friends and family in Houston and much of South Texas. As we work together to provide food, shelter, and further assistance to those in need, we’d like to take a second to highlight the efforts of our hardworking staff at Hardie’s Houston distribution center and further grow awareness of the wreckage this hurricane has caused. The Produce News spoke with our Corporate Vice President of Procurement Tony Stachurski to discuss what steps Hardie’s and other produce distributors are taking to aid in the recovery efforts following Hurricane Harvey.
Click here to read the article.
The Source Live! – Episode 13: Grapes with Freshlink
The Source Live! is a wonderful resource provided by PRO*ACT to all of it’s distributor members. The Source Live! is a video series that covers topics such as current and upcoming trends, possible supply fluctuations, regional growing updates, and much more. This week PRO*ACT visited with Fresh-Link Fruit’s partner VBZ Grapes to highlight the effects of heat on different varieties of grapes, employee safety, and labor. Check out the video below!
June 27th, 2017
Hiland started back in 1938 with a small herd of cows and now has a bustling dairy operation. Hiland Dairy is delivering fresh dairy to Hardie’s Fresh Foods so our customers can receive the freshest products on the market.
By adding Hiland Dairy to your fresh foods orders, we are able to save you the extra distraction of a an additional delivery. Plus, you’ll save time on ordering from one fresh foods supplier versus a fresh foods and dairy supplier. Who couldn’t use extra time everyday?
The next time you order your fresh fruit and vegetables, remember to try some of our delicious Hiland Dairy products.
Sky Springs Rainwater
June 15th, 2017
Why is Sky Springs the best bottled water? It’s because Sky Springs Rainwater never touches the ground. Purified and distilled by Earth’s hydrologic cycle, Sky Springs is never contaminated by ground pollutants and doesn’t require energy-intensive reverse osmosis and chlorine to be potable.
Sky Springs is captured in Buda, Texas in the world’s largest Sky Spring. This Sky Spring harnesses the purest water that nature can provide throughout Texas. The rainwater is then bottled in biodegradable bottles in caps, which will breakdown in a landfill within 15 years instead of a thousand years. All plastics used are BPA-free.
Sky Springs Rainwater is a one-of-a-kind product with an unmatched, pure taste, made by a group of people that truly care about the impact they leave on their state. So support Sky Springs and try the most unique bottled water in the South!
Texas Olive Ranch
June 8th, 2017
Travel 10 minutes outside of beautiful Carrizo Springs, Texas and you’ll find hundreds of acres of flourishing olive trees. This is where the Henry family and Texas Olive Ranch grow more than 50,000 Arbequina, Arbosana, and Koroneiki trees to make some of the best olive oil in the South.
Texas Olive Ranch believes that all stages of olive growth offer a unique flavor, which is why they press olives at all stages of ripening. This combines to make a buttery, earthy flavor with a peppery aftertaste that has chefs from all over the state asking for more. Texas Olive Ranch has a variety of products that are great in salsas and salads, and for putting the finishing touches on meat or seafood.
Safe Quality Food and Quality Shield System
May 30th, 2017
The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is a worldwide initiative that provides the standard of providing the highest quality and safest foods to the consumer. GFSI is a private organization that is managed by the international trade association, the Consumer Goods Forum, where they are responsible for setting the standard for food safety standards across the globe. Safe Quality Food (SQF) is a benchmarked standard through GFSI.
At Hardie’s Fresh Foods, our goal is to provide our customers with the safest and highest quality products. In 2016, we became SQF Level 2 certified in distribution, fresh cut and value added, and fresh produce at all of our locations in order to provide the best quality to our customers. A SQF plan focuses specifically on the quality of the product and how it affects our customers, whereas a HACCP plan is a biological, chemical, and physical hazard plan.
In addition to being SQF certified, Hardie’s Fresh Foods follows a 40-point Quality Shield Program in order to provide our customers with the confidence that they are being provided with not only the freshest, but the highest quality and safest product possible.
We’re not just stopping at Level 2, but are continuing to find the best ways to keep our customers safe, providing the freshest product across the state of Texas. Being SQF certified is the top standard in our industry, and suppliers that are SQF certified have fewer recalls. Every layer of Hardie’s Fresh Foods is committed to the SQF program. From our executive team, managers, corporate staff, warehouse employees, and drivers, our company as a whole is focused on having the safest products available.
:15 of Fresh
May 22nd, 2017
Want to learn more about Hardie’s in 15 seconds? Here’s a quick look at how Hardie’s connects chefs to the farm every day.
Sweet and Savory Time-Savers
May 17th, 2017
Save time in the kitchen with MODA Mini Waffle Cones and Pre-Baked Tart Shells! Baking cones and shells from scratch can be labor intensive and a time sink, so Paris Gourmet has introduced sweet and savory waffle cones and shells that are dainty in size and elegant, providing a perfect platform for bite-sized treats. Great for buffets, both cones offer unique possibilities and flavor combinations.
Sweet cones are a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Wrapped in gold foil sleeves, these all butter cones have a hint of almond and coconut flavor. Fill them with fruit, ice cream, mousse, or any other sweet treat that comes to mind. Savory cones bring a new perspective and new ideas to the table. These cones are where unique flavor combinations happen; from avocado to zucchini, the options are endless.
Using wholesome ingredients such as New Zealand butter, MODA’s Pre-Baked Tart Shells are well constructed and also come in sweet and savory options, as well as “raw”. The raw option allows chefs to use the shells as a blank canvas and freely experiment with new flavor combinations.
Both the mini waffle cones and tart shells are hand made with premium ingredients, with no coloring or preservatives, and are trans-fat free. All Paris Gourmet selections come lightly coated with cocoa butter, creating a barrier against moist fillings so the cone stays crisp and crunchy.
Perfect for parties, buffets, and hors d’oeuvres, sweet and savory waffle cones and tart shells bring a fresh take on finger food!
Seed & Soil
May 16th, 2017
Most people think of farming in terms of plant or animal “care” and as true as those terms are, they also overlook a crucial component. It is of course true that, if you care for the plants, they will produce healthy crops to harvest and the same for raising animals. However, by only focusing on the end-game and final product, we lose a great deal of the story about our food and how it got to be so delicious.
To better understand this story, I ask that you join me in thinking like a farmer. Think as if your livelihood was hinged on growing edible products from scratch. What is it that you would count on the most? What is it that you would invest your time and energy into? Strip away the equipment, the digital forecasts, the yield ratios, etc… and the simple, honest truth is you would be left with seed and soil. Growers and producers don’t raise good food, they raise good soil and IT raises the food.
This idea of taking care of what is around you to foster a better end product is quite profound and transcends all business and personal aspects that we operate in. What we nurture, nurtures us, and food is no exception. To take it one step further, we must nurture below the surface. Only treating things at the surface level will never create healthy harvests.
I have the pleasure of working some of the best “soil masters” in the world and two things remain the same with all of them: consistency and time. Growing good food and making great soil doesn’t happen overnight.
Let me wrap this up before this turns from a field report blog to a review of my college philosophy courses…. There is always more going on below the surface than what we see. A healthy and sustainable future in food is within reach, but we need to continue to nurture the soil and plant the seeds to build a strong supply. For this reason alone, I urge you to buy locally, think outside the box, and put in more than you get out. How we do these things will look different for all of us, but there is no better time to start than right now. Summer is here and it’s the time of year when Texas does what we seem to do best; feed and eat.
‘Til next week,
May 8th, 2017
Texas weather is known for changing on a dime. I’m sure we’ve all heard the old saying, ‘If you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes.’ Many days, this plays in favor of most folks and means we get the conditions we are hoping for, if we’re patient enough. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, which is exactly what happened on April 29th, 2017 when four confirmed tornadoes touched down all across East Texas. However, one thing remained true. Everything changed in the blink of an eye.
One of these tornadoes went right through Canton, TX and it did its best to make sure the people of Canton didn’t forget its passing through. This historic Texas town is home to a long-term Hardie’s partner, Sides Pea Farm.
Sides Pea Farm is a great example of a small, family-run operation with a huge impact, providing locally grown peas to his community and others throughout the state. That impact is something Brandon Sides, the founder’s grandson and current farmer, takes very seriously. That was never clearer than when I called to check in the day after the tornadoes. Brandon told me that the storm had “practically taken the entire farm”, but when I called back less than a week later he told me “there will be product. We’ve just got to get a few things lined out and then we can start feeding people again…”
Weather is the uncontrollable variable that reigns supreme in the food production industry on a global scale. Weather is what makes and breaks crops. Oddly enough, despite everyone knowing man’s struggle with weather, people have little forgiveness when the worst happens and crops don’t make it.
For a moment, imagine your livelihood is riding on a factor that was not only completely out of your control, but predictions of its events and outcomes were unreliable. Despite the uncontrollable factors, you are still expected to deliver perfection everyday… getting the image?
I don’t say this to throw a pity party for growers and producers, but rather to point out the amazing job these people do to keep the world fed. Despite the odds and uncontrollable variables, they deliver. In the face of destruction they look around, pull their community together, and find a way to keep feeding people. It is with that mentality of resilience that I recommend we, the consumer, do the same.
As we see extreme weather patterns become more normalized across the world, let’s work together to adopt more flexible plates and palates. Staples are great, but sustainable food systems are built on resilience from start to finish. So when the next tornado hits, remember this: we all have work to do.
See y’all next week.
May 1st, 2017
We can see it all around us right now- the wildflowers in bloom in the highway medians, farmers market offerings are becoming more colorful, students are counting the hours until sweet summer freedom, shorts and sandals have become the accepted attire almost everywhere; the seasons are changing. The illusive Texas spring has almost snuck away and we are full steam ahead into summer.
This change comes on as an exciting time for most and with a variety of reasons- vacation, cook outs, road trips, and of course the aforementioned shorts and sandals. For me on the other hand, this transition is my annual starting gun and with no vacation on the near horizon I keep my boots and jeans on to welcome the summer sun.
My job as the Sustainability Coordinator for Hardie’s Fresh Foods grants me the unique opportunity and honor of working with some of the best growers and producers across Texas. This post and those to follow it each week will serve as a platform to connect you with those folks and the great work they do.
As you might imagine with a state as wide as it is tall, and characters twice as large, there is always a lot going on “in the field” and no shortage of stories. If everything goes to plan and I stay on topic, you should know a little more about what is grown and produced in your backyard, when you can expect to start putting it on your menu, and maybe even a few other interesting tidbits.
As we have already touched on, we are quickly making the transition from winter to spring to summer and as we welcome our sweet summer crops, we wave goodbye to the winter greens that kept us full on those “chilly” Texas nights.
As a final note I would be remiss if I didn’t tip my hat to some of the folks that made these past fall and winter seasons such a success. As I mentioned before, we have been fortunate to build our Texas Harvest program with some of the best growers and producers in the state. These folks are no exception- Rio Fresh (San Juan), PPC (Mission), and Tenaza Organics (McAllen). From everyone here at Hardie’s, our hats go off to these teams and all the hard work they did to take care of us and our great customers.
Talk at ya next week.
April 12th, 2017
Sitting on a 510 acre farm in Waco, TX, Brazos Valley Cheese has been quietly producing the highest quality, all-natural cheese in Texas and Hardie’s is sharing the secret. Using traditional methods and no preservatives, coloring, or artificial flavors, Brazos Valley’s artisan cheeses start with raw milk from freely grazing grass-fed cows. This base sets the stage for some of the most delicious cheese in the state.
One of the most popular, award-winning cheeses Brazos Valley Cheese makes is called the Eden. It’s a rich and flavorful Brie, dusted with a layer of vegetable ash before being wrapped top-to-bottom in farm fresh fig leaves. Paired with crackers and fruit or by itself, the Eden is truly heavenly.
It’s not a proper cheese plate without Brazos Valley Cheese, so bring a unique, local flavor to the table with the Eden or one of their many all natural handmade artisan cheeses!
HAMming IT UP
April 4th, 2017
Tender Belly’s 100% Berkshire, naturally cured, spiral cut hams are a real crowd pleaser! These hams have incredible fat marbling, a sweet honey glaze, and go through a natural curing process makes for one of the tastiest hogs we’ve ever tried.
Tender Belly pigs have a rich heritage, and that’s not just for show. Heritage pigs come from bloodlines going back hundreds of years. Chefs search these hogs out for their distinct flavors. With inherent genetic advantage and superior diet, Tender Belly flavor is unmatched.
Perfect for Easter, Thanksgiving, or any occasion, Tender Belly hams set the standard for pork and save valuable time in the kitchen!
March 31st, 2017
Hardie’s very own Corporate Vice President of Procurement Tony Stachurski was featured in the April issue of Blueprints! In an article called “Tex-Appeal”, Tony addresses the challenges of unpredictable Texas weather, the shortening of the Texas growing season, difficulties in managing supply to meet demand for commodities, and the rapid shift in supplier’s mindset towards food safety. Joined by industry leaders and other produce powerhouses, this article is full of great information and different perspectives of the state of Texas’ produce industry. Click here to check it out!
Local Spotlight: Kelley’s Honey
March 27th, 2017
As a family-owned business in Arthur City, Texas, Kelley’s Honey has more than 100 years of passion and experience in beekeeping and packing. They have perfected converting nectar to all-natural American Honey and have several deliciously Texan honey varieties.
Kelley’s Texas Farmland honey is a true testament to Texas honey flavor. Technically a “brush honey,” this liquid gold was originally only offered from Kelley’s to local farmers. The bees responsible for it feed not only on wildflowers, but on a variety of plants which helps make up its rich flavor. This Hardie’s exclusive is collected by 4th generation beekeepers from hives less than 50 miles outside of Dallas.
The blue ribbon label of Kelley’s is their Kelley’s Premium, a 100% Orange Blossom honey from Edinburg, TX citrus groves. This highly sought after item is now available year-round, much to the delight of chefs across the South. Try Kelley’s Premium with local honey comb for an authentic, all-natural culinary experience.
Local honey can be incorporated into a honey and fruit glaze, add sweetness to a bowl of oatmeal or granola, or be the base in a classic Texas honey barbeque sauce. This full flavor honey is ready for your prep station and cheese board!
March 20th, 2017
Charcuterie boards have become standard in fine-dining across Texas, and at the heart of every great board is quality cured meats. Olli Salumeria’s artisanal slow-cured meats based on 160-year-old family recipes have been gaining popularity among chefs. Pair this with sustainable farming practices and humanely raised pork and it’s no wonder why Olli’s salami is becoming a southern staple.
Every chef knows quality ingredients are a must, and for Olli it all starts with humanely pasture-raised pigs.The pigs are fed GMO-free organic feed, free of growth hormones and antibiotics. After butchering, the caring curing process can begin.
Another step towards Olli’s unmatched taste is what they boast as “the most gentle curing process possible”. The process begins by hand-rubbing the meat with carefully mixed spice blends. Then the meat is cooled to allow the salt and spices to sink in. While the meat is curing the temperature and humidity is constantly monitored, keeping the temperature below 70 degrees at all times. Products are then hung in nets or laid on drying racks, where they are closely monitored for appearance, taste, and moisture levels in Olli’s high-tech curing rooms. Meats are individually marked for tracking to allow Olli to trace the farm of origin.
With a wide product line ranging from dry-cured salami, to whole cured meats, to Italian-style cooking fats, Olli is a great way to get authentic Italian slow-cured meats to your table.
Pi Day Pies!
March 14th, 2017
It’s National Pi Day! To celebrate, we’re sharing two of our favorite Texan “Pie” Day staples: Pie Tap’s Prosciutto Pizza and Tiny Pies’ Texas Two Step.
Pie Tap Pizza Workshop + Bar first opened its doors in the Dallas Design district and has expanded to a second location in Dallas on Henderson Avenue. Boasting a self-proclaimed “obsession” with the process behind making dough, Pie Tap’s crust provides an excellent, crunchy base. We recommend their La Quercia Prosciutto Pizza, topped with prosciutto, medjool dates, pistachios, arugula, house ricotta and parmigiana-reggiano cheeses, and lightly drizzled with balsamic vinegar.
Next up is Tiny Pies out in Austin, Texas. Packing big flavor into small pies is second nature for this bakery which has been featured on O Magazine, The Huffington Post, and several TV segments. Our personal favorite is a classic: the Texas Two Step. The Texas Two Step pie is served year round and has a sweet Texas pecan filling with chunks of chocolate brownie mixed in. Naturally, this pie is topped with a pastry cut out in the shape of Texas, just in case you forget the name.
Pi may be just a number, but any excuse to try these local legends is good enough for us!
Big Things Come in Small Packages
March 10th, 2017
Callebaut has made it even easier for chefs to add taste and texture with new small, crunchy Crispearls. These tiny, shiny pearls add a refined look to plenty of desserts. Sprinkle on drinks or rim chocolate cocktails with Crispearls for a contemporary look. Mix into mousse, ice cream, or bavarois to add texture and a flavor that pops. Use in confectionaries such as mendicants, chocolate clusters, or truffles to give a unique look and a crunchy, chocolaty texture. With dark, milk, and white chocolate, along with strawberry and salted caramel flavors, the options are endless. Callebaut Crispearls are a delicous reminder that pure beauty can come in small things.
Mix It Up!
March 6th, 2017
Mini Herb and Flower Crystals from Fresh origins are shaking up the Mixology world! With a very fine granule, these crystals are perfect for rimming cocktail glasses or decorating plates. Bright colors and unique flavors add depth to drinks and bring magic to cocktails.
Mini Herb Crystals are a fresh innovation in the world of creative drinks. Mini Mint Crystals pair well with mojitos, Mini Cilantro Crystals are delicious in a margarita, and Mini Basil Crystals are perfect with sweeter strawberry and lemon cocktails. Mini Flower Crystals inspire a whole new world of magic mixes! Mini Fennel Crystals bring balance to exotic tequila drinks, Mini Rose Crystals provide color and are a sweet rimmer for champagne cocktails, and Mini Hibiscus Crystals bring a modern twist to the classic Cosmo. Experiment with fresh combinations and add a little magic to your Mixology with Fresh Origins Mini Crystals!
Food for the Future
February 27th, 2017
Sustainable agriculture isn’t just a flash in the pan, it’s gone from fad to force. Chefs and foodies alike are beginning to demand responsibly sourced foods in order to protect the environment those foods are grown in.
Sustainable agriculture can be simply defined as this: the production of food or other plant or animal products using techniques that protect and preserve the environment. The goal is to produce healthy food without hurting future farmers ability to follow suit.
The benefits of sustainable agriculture are easy to see. It helps protect the environment against unstable farming practices, protects and preserves public health, and is an economically viable option for farmers and food processors. So challenge your favorite chef to try using responsibly sourced, sustainable foods. Your local growers will be sure to thank you for it!
Divina Fig Spread
February 24th, 2017
Divina Fig Spread is bringing sweetness to a charcuterie board near you! Crafted from Aegean figs, Divina Fig Spread is full of fruity and complex flavors. Notes of caramel and honey are sure to surprise and bring balance to this sweet treat. A standout on any menu, try pairing it with pizza, making fig vinaigrette, or spreading it on sandwiches. Add a unique taste to pastries, cakes, and pies by incorporating it into a one of a kind filling. It may be cheese’s perfect pairing, but Divina Fig Spread’s endless applications are a chef’s dream.
Aliseo Blood Orange Juice
February 20th, 2017
The name “blood orange” may sound strange, but this delicious citrus fruit is far from it! Getting its name from the red-colored flesh and blushed red skin, blood oranges are available in the winter and spring months. Easy to peel and medium-size, blood oranges are seedless and have a wide range of culinary uses, our favorite being Aliseo’s authentic Italian blood orange juice.
Blood oranges have been a Sicilian staple for decades. A popular Sicilian winter salad pairs sliced blood oranges with sliced bulb fennel and olive oil. Blood orange juice is a popular Italian drink, its unique flavor profile slightly resembling raspberries in addition to the familiar citrus notes. The oranges can also be used to create marmalade, gelato, and sorbet.
Unique flavor and deep color set blood oranges apart from the average citrus, and Texas’ harvest is in full swing. There’s no better time to try a blood orange or Aliseo’s authentic blood orange juice!
Waste Not, Want Not!
February 17th, 2017
Kitchen waste can be a real problem for chefs. According to a 2005 study at the University of Arizona, full service restaurants throw away a little over 3% of the food coming into the store. That may not seem like much, but it adds up to an estimated 49,296,540 pounds in the United States alone!
Creative chefs have always found a way to reduce the food waste problem, utilizing scraps in stocks and soups. An onion base in stocks supplies a range of umami flavors, but what about the skins? Adding onion skins to a stock gives soups a golden, caramel-colored hue, difficult to get otherwise. Broccoli and kale stems can also be used in stocks, becoming tender and adding balance to healthy, fiber-filled soups.
Stocks and soups are any easy fix, but they’re not the only option. Try adding olive pits in olive oil to bring an intense fruitiness to the oil. Carrot and radish tops can be ground into a puree or blended with nuts and a little garlic for a delicious vegetable pesto. Beet skins and tops act as a natural dye when converted into beet pulp.
Food waste can be a huge problem, even for the craftiest chefs. Try these tips and experiment with leftovers; often times it looks better on the plate than it does in the trash!
Callebaut Chocolate: Sustainable Sweets
February 13th, 2017
Chefs, bakers, and confectioners alike know the importance of quality chocolate. There are so many factors that go into making good chocolate, and Callebaut have been finding the perfect balance since 1911.
In order to create Callebaut chocolate’s legendary workability, they start from the source. Callebaut’s cocoa beans are responsibly sourced from West Africa, where Callebaut has established a program that aims to make cocoa cultivation a sustainable source of income for local farmers. These farmers have been trained and use modern agricultural practices, aiming to improve cocoa quality and quantity. After harvest, the beans are heaped up and covered with banana leaves, allowing them to ferment and be stored safely.
Once the beans have been transported, the expertise of Callebaut’s Master Blenders and Roasters is put to good use. The Master Blender selects cocoa beans that develop the body of the chocolate taste first, and then adds additional selections of beans that will bring out the top notes. The cocoa beans are roasted in their shells by the Master Roaster, careful to preserve every flavor and aroma that the beans have to offer. This level of detail is why you can expect consistency and exceptional chocolate from Callebaut.
Once roasting is complete, it’s time for conching, the process of kneading the chocolate dough for hours at a very high temperature. Removing unwanted acidity from the chocolate is important to keep the well-balanced taste that is expected from Callebaut’s Finest Belgian Chocolate.
With Valentine’s Day just a day away, it’s not too late to add some silky smooth Callebaut to your menu. From bean to bar, this responsibly sourced, easy to use chocolate will surely make a dish or dessert worth remembering.
Food Trends 2017: Purple Produce
February 9th, 2017
Purple produce is on the rise! From asparagus to yams, purple fruit and vegetables are making their way onto menus across Texas.
A popular menu item for the last few years, Acai bowls have paved the way for the purple trend. Acai berries are typically pureed with other tasty fruits and topped with oatmeal, more fruit, or peanut butter, creating a deep purple and delicious tropical breakfast.
Sweet treats aren’t the only way you can put purple on the menu. Purple yams can be used in soups and sauces to add thickness and flavor. Roasted purple baby carrots and asparagus create a colorful rainbow effect when mixed with traditional counterparts. Wood-fired purple cauliflower is a crowd pleasing and health conscious starter.
More and more deeply-colored dishes are finding a place on Texas menus, and talented chefs are letting their creativity flow with this fun food trend. It’s safe to say that purple produce is here to stay!
Heart Shaped Pasta
February 7th, 2017
Looking for something to set your Valentine’s Day menu apart from the rest? Cucina Della Cucina’s intricately shaped fresh pasta hearts are a quick and easy way to create a beautiful presentation.
Handmade style gourmet pasta is Cucina Della Cucina’s specialty and they’ve been hard at work crafting innovative new options to expand menus; this heart shaped pasta is no exception. Creamy sauces coat the heart shapes perfectly and can be paired with your menu’s seafood, chicken, or beef dishes. It’s the perfect time to feel the love in the air and create a flawless Valentine’s Day dinner!
Say It With Flowers
January 30th, 2017
Valentine’s Day is around the corner and chocolate, desserts, and roses are everywhere you look. Rose trends have made their way from the fashion industry into hues of pink and rose in desserts and drinks. Rose shapes are catching on as well with the newest being rose shaped ice cream with waffles.
When guests walk in, try greeting them with a simple long stem rose. A single red rose represent love, so show your guests how much you appreciate them. A great way to set the mood at your table for two is with a simple vase with a beautiful rose. Try sprinkling the rose petals on the table or around the rim of an entrée for an even more intimate evening.
Looking to update your menu? Start the evening off right by adding rose petals to your ice cubes and serve with ice water, lemonade, or iced tea. Need a stiffer drink? Whether it’s a margarita or a glass of champagne, rose syrup adds a hint of pink for color which is perfect for Valentine’s Day! Try making a delicious rose jam and pair it with a fresh bread basket. For a starter, toss fresh rose petals into a fresh bed of greens to add color variety and taste to your salad. Try incorporating rose petals into your menu by creating candied flower petals. The darker the petal, the stronger the flavor.
Roses are fully edible and are ready to be enjoyed on the table and on the plate. Roses are fully edible and are ready to be enjoyed on the table and on the plate; this versatile flower brings much needed color and a fun take on Valentine’s Day dishes from talented chefs.
Food Trends 2017: Sweet Colors and Gravity-Defying Creations!
January 20th, 2017
Food trends are one thing, but dessert trends have created a category of their own. Cakes, pies, and cupcakes not only taste great, but have become more and more visually appealing over the years. Rainbow cakes were huge in 2016, and it looks like the color trend will continue into 2017. The color explosion has no boundaries and social media is eating it up, so don’t expect to see those trendy dessert videos disappear from your newsfeed anytime soon.
There’s a new type of cake that is pushing the boundaries by literally defying gravity. Anti-gravity cakes are impressive creations that are sure to be the talk of any party. They can embody many different themes, but the trick to them is a stable support system. Once you’ve got that and pair it with a heap of creativity, the magic comes together. The dessert category continues to blow us away, showing that there are no limits to the mind of a chef!
Calling for Cauliflower
January 16th, 2017
Grown during the fall for a winter harvest, Texas cauliflower is in full swing! Although California is the main producer of cauliflower, Texas is a growing state in the harvest of this vegetable.
Val Verde Produce out of McAllen, Texas has over 3,000 acres of land that is used to grow a variety of produce such as beets, parsley, cilantro, and more. Val Verde recently added cauliflower to its production in 2016 with great success, and with demand for this versatile vegetable growing Val Verde is looking forward to the next harvest.
Culinary uses for cauliflower are only limited by a chef’s imagination. A popular use for cauliflower is to steam, mash, and pair it with garlic to make a delicious alternative to mashed potatoes. Others push the creative boundaries. An example would be Wood-Fired Cauliflower, a must-have appetizer at Sixty Vines; it’s served as a whole head, crusted with pesto and Parmesan, and with a lemon-dill yogurt sauce on the side.
Healthy and delicious, cauliflower is making its mark in 2017. We love seeing what our inspired chefs do with fresh ideas and quality ingredients!
Food Trends 2017: Poke is Making Waves!
January 13th, 2017
For techies, the newest iPhone is one of the most followed trends. Well, foodies track trends just as much, if not more. Recent trends have brought us kale, specialty cheeses, Brussels sprouts, and more. When a product or flavor becomes popular, chefs jump on the chance to prepare it their special way and customers get excited to see it on the menu. Many new recipes are inspired by trending ingredients and adding them to your kitchen is a great way to attract trendy eaters to your concept.
If you’ve already had your first poke experience, consider yourself one of the trendsetters for this Hawaiian specialty. Those who try it are sure to love the mix of cubed raw seafood and bold, flavorful ingredients. Poke is the type of dish to keep your palate excited, especially if you are one that likes varied textures and savory flavors with your fish.
A classic in Hawaii that can be found anywhere on the island, poke is perfect to enjoy on-the-go. Poke refers to anything that is chunked, so it can be prepared in a variety of different ways. The most common version is prepared with tuna marinated in soy and sesame. The closest comparison to this dish would be sashimi or ceviche. Sashimi presents thin and long slabs of raw fish, whereas in poke the fish is cut into thick cubes and tossed with a mix of ingredients. The concept of poke is similar to ceviche, but offers a different variety of flavors. From ceviche, you can expect light acidic flavors, whereas poke has more rounded flavors. If you’re thinking about trying poke, add cubed fresh fish to some rice, avocado, red cabbage, radishes, and whatever else comes to mind!
Tender Belly: Heritage Hogs
January 10th, 2017
Shrinking bacon and salty ham can take a backseat; Tender Belly is providing the highest quality pork possible and they’re not afraid to flaunt it.
Tender Belly pigs have a rich heritage, and that’s not just for show. Heritage pigs come from bloodlines going back hundreds of years. Chefs search these hogs out for their distinct flavors. With inherent genetic advantage and superior diet, Tender Belly flavor is unmatched.
Tender Belly works with a co-op of 90 small, family-owned pig farms. All pigs are raised on a 100% vegetarian diet with no animal by-products – and without the use of antibiotics or hormones. Being pasture-fed, Tender Belly pigs means better blood flow to muscles, creating flavorful juices throughout the pig and lower stress for the animals.
From back ribs to bacon, these pigs are perfect for any menu!
Local Spotlight: The New World Bakery
January 6th, 2017
Master Baker Reinhard Haltermann can’t stop providing high quality artisan breads to hungry Texans!
Reinhard, a native German, perfected his craft at a San Francisco, California-based bakery before taking his talents to Texas. The Master Baker established The New World Bakery in 1995 in South Austin. Now serving over two hundred restaurants every day, Reinhard grew and relocated to a bigger and better bakery.
Currently located in Kyle, Texas, The New World Bakery delivers delicious breads from Austin to San Antonio. If there’s one thing that stands out about Reinhard, besides the relatable story of humble beginnings, it’s that he still stays true to his original goal: providing the highest quality artisan breads to local restaurants.
New Year, Same Certification
January 4th, 2017
In 2016, all four Hardie’s Fresh Foods’ locations earned their Safe Quality Food (SQF) Certification! SQF is recognized by retailers and suppliers around the world who need a thorough and credible food safety management system. Earning this certification is important to us so we can nourish our customers, families and communities with the freshest, healthiest stuff on earth.
The SQF Certification process is not for the faint of heart. The first audit, called the Desk Audit, involves an auditor going over our written policies and procedures, detailing how we operate. The second phase of the process, the Facility Audit, goes through the warehouse to inspect and review our operations to make sure we’re following our own policies and procedures.
Richard Kattner, Inventory Control, and Radames Leal, Operations Manager, had a huge part in ensuring SQF success in Austin and gave high praise for Hardie’s employees. “Every department stepped up to the plate and swung for the fences,” Richard said. “We had to create documentation and procedures for what we do here in our DC to follow the SQF codes. We all went through a lot of training to ensure we carry out our day to day operations as we say.”
Even though all four locations have completed the audit, our work isn’t done yet! SQF is synonymous with “Continuous Improvement”, so we will be aiming even higher for the 2017 audits.
In Season Selections
December 28th, 2016
Stone Fruit Standouts
Stone fruit are still going strong! With popularity rising, the race is on to get the last these juicy-sweet standouts.
A stone fruit (or drupe) is a fruit that has a hard, stone-like pit in the center. These fruits include nectarines, peaches, and apricots. Fresh or cooked, these fruits are mostly interchangeable in recipes, so chefs are free to have fun and experiment with new flavors and combinations!
Diverse in flavor and practice, stone fruit can be chopped and used as a garnish in cold sweets such as ice cream or frozen yogurt, but can also be added to hot foods such as pancakes, waffles, muffins, and quick breads. Chop fresh stone fruit into salsa or chutney and serve with grilled meats, fish, or tofu. Or you can eat them out of hand for a juicy snack on the go.
Specialty Fruits Update
With winter weather comes another bushel of fresh favorites of Hardie’s!
Hidden Rose Apples (#9283) are a uniquely tart and mildly sweet apple that reminds us of homemade strawberry lemonade. With a bright pink flesh that delivers a crisp crunch, Hidden Rose Apples are a must have this winter!
Organic Vaniglia Oranges (#9311) are running low, but this distinctive orange is still available for a short time. Boasting a fragrant citrus flavor profile with a stone fruit twist, these “mango oranges” are sure to be a crowd pleaser this holiday season.
Lastly, a local favorite! Blood Oranges (#73018) are ripe and ready for the New Year. With a deep red flesh and a bright red rind, these powerful oranges have a distinct, sweet flavor with a hint of raspberry. Perfect for juicing or eating alone, you won’t want to miss out on this season’s crop!
Local Spotlight: 38 Pecans
December 22nd, 2016
One of the top food trends in 2016 and continuing into 2017 is locally sourced produce and proteins. Local vendors are at the core of Hardie’s Fresh Foods, and their story is almost as good as what they grow!
38 Pecans is a family-run legacy pecan farm in Seguin, Texas. The 58-year-old farm is still going strong and is safely in the hands of the second generation. Positioned on the Guadalupe River, the soil on the farm is full of the perfect nutrients to grow 38 varieties of quality Texas pecans.
At the helm of 38 Pecans is Farm Manager Gary Rainwater. Gary began his management role in 1990 and has done an incredible job making 38 Pecans the best farm it can be. Gary brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table, including a Masters in Agricultural Education from Southwest Texas State University and 32 years serving the USDA Soil Conservation Service. Outside of his education in the classroom, he has been a member of the Texas Pecan Association for 23 years, serving as Directory of the Texas Pecan Association from 2003-2006.
38 Pecans combines experience and tradition with love and passion to grow the best product they can. It’s safe to say they’re nuts about pecans; pick some up today to see what has Texans tickled pink!
Local Spotlight: Sides Pea Farm
December 14th, 2016
Driving a little over an hour outside of Dallas will take you to Sides Pea Farm, the largest grower of fresh market peas in the state. From Purple Hulls to Pintos, the Sides family has been growing the finest peas and beans in Texas.
Sides Pea Farm was started in 1957 in Canton, Texas by Winford and Virginia Sides. Originally, Winford grew a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, but he soon realized that peas and beans were his true calling. With Virginia handling sales and Winford growing crops, the two became known for their tasty and nutritious legumes.
Now, after two generations, Brandon Sides farms over 4,000 acres, cultivating local favorites like Purple Hull peas, Lady Cream peas, Zipper Peas, Pinto beans and Black-eyed peas. Not only do these peas bring great flavor and nutrition, they also bring a bit of luck for the New Year.
A popular tradition in the South, Black-eyed peas are eaten on New Year’s Day for good luck throughout the year. With New Year’s Eve only a few weeks away, many Texans will be keeping the tradition alive with help from the Sides family. With a little luck and a lot of perfect peas, it’s no wonder that Sides Pea Farm has grown year after year!
‘Tis the Season for Local Citrus!
December 6th, 2016
Ruby Red Grapefruit – 70654
Grapefruit season is in full swing! South Texas Citrus Growers – the Edinburg Citrus Association in Edinburg, TX – have come together to provide us with this tangy-sweet tasting fruit, a perfect addition to old favorite recipes or to eat by the spoonful.
The official State Fruit of Texas, Ruby Red Grapefruit grow in clusters similar to grapes. The grapefruit is allowed to ripen on the tree and is hand-picked for best quality. Grapefruit grows best in tropical or subtropical regions, which is why South Texas is the perfect place for this juicy citrus. Texans have grown grapefruit in the Rio Grande Valley for nearly 100 years. When a Ruby Red was found growing on a pink grapefruit tree, Texas scientists developed several red grapefruit varieties.
Grapefruit is bursting with nutrients, not just flavor! Vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and Vitamin A are just a few of the micronutrients that these fruits have to offer.
Add sweet and juicy flavor to your menu with grapefruit! When peeled, it’s perfect for fruit salads or dark leafy greens. Try diced grapefruit in fruit salsa recipes for added sweetness. Add cottage cheese or yogurt with your grapefruit for a perfect pairing, or just slice the fruit in half and dig in with a spoon. There’s no wrong way to eat a Ruby Red!
Some Sweet and Some Heat
Some Sweet: Koko’s Gouda Coconut Cheese
Craving a taste of the topics? Your palate is in for a treat! Koko’s unique Gouda Coconut Cheese comes from Holland and has a bit of coconut cream that makes it refreshingly sweet. This special taste demands some special pairings. Enjoy your coconut cheese with fruit or crackers and a chilled beverage or white wine. If you’re feeling like red, pair it with chocolate and a glass of red wine.
Really loving the coconut gouda? Try a Chocolate Banana Panini; all you need is a baguette bread, bananas, apples, chocolate spread, butter, and of course, Koko’s Coconut Cheese! Here’s what you do: slice your apple and caramelize in butter and spread chocolate spread on the bread. Slice bananas and place them on top of spread, thinly slice your Koko’s Coconut Cheese and evenly lay it on top of bananas. Next, place the caramelized apple or on top of cheese, close and place into panini griller. Wait for your Panini to cook for five to seven minutes until golden brown, serve to enjoy!
Some Heat: Roth Kase 3 Chile Pepper Gouda
Texans know a thing or two about hot summers; bring some heat to your plate and spice up your next meal with some Roth Kase 3 Chile Pepper Gouda. The creamy gouda meets a bold blend of spices! Enjoy this chipotle, habanero and jalapeno pepper infusion by melting it onto sandwiches, quesadillas, nachos, burgers, grilled chicken, soups, or mac n’ cheese.
It’s Melon Season and we are lucky to have a delicious and fresh selection this summer with Little Bear’s quality Honeydew and Dixondale’s Sweet Carrizo Cantaloupe. Read more about these two great local growers and make sure to enjoy Texas Melons while they’re in season!
J&D Produce, created by Jimmy and Diane Bassetti, came to life during heavy storms on the Eastern seaboard in the 1980s. Jimmy’s father, “The Bear,” was a produce broker in New Jersey when storms destroyed all of the fields on the East Coast. Jimmy happened to be in South Texas checking out the winter growing areas, and he filled up two trucks of the freshest vegetables and met them in New Jersey. After seeing the amazing Rio Grande Valley, complete with year-round sunshine and perfect soil, Jimmy and Diane packed up their Jeep with their cat, Dylan, and headed south. Since then, the Bassetti’s have been growing their operation and following their goal of not being the biggest local grower, but the best!
Dixondale Farms located in Carrizo Springs, Texas is the oldest and largest onion plant farm in the US and the only large shipper of Texas cantaloupes. Despite the huge success Dixondale Farms has achieved over the past 100 years, it still feels like a small family farm. That’s because Bruce Frasier and his wife Jeanie (great-granddaughter of the founder) are deeply involved in the day-to-day Winter Garden farm operation. Dixondale Farm proudly grows 100% of its crop in Texas.
Central Texas Specialty Growers (Leaf Safari to those in the know) are a new breed of Texan farmers. With two hydroponic greenhouses, the Leaf Safari team farms over 34,000 square feet in Waxahachie and Manor, Texas using completely sustainable and pesticide-free growing practices — and the results are delicious! Why are they so amazing?
-The local lettuces are so fresh, they haven’t been picked yet
-Leaf Safari greens are harvest with roots intact to preserve nutrition and freshness
-Grown by Texans for Texans in Waxahachie and Manor, our lettuces are already 3-4 days fresher than field lettuces trucked in from California.
-Their hydroponic farming techniques use up to 90% less water per plant than traditional farms.
Seasonality issues? Not a problem!
-Available year round
-Seeds pre-mixed and grown in individual portions
-Delivered fresh from the farm
As a double Green Certified company, we work to protect the environment every day. We love supporting local growers and their sustainability efforts. If you’re looking to make a greener change, here are some helpful tips to get started!
Shed some (efficient) light on the subject! One of the easiest ways to start going green is to replace your traditional light bulbs with energy-efficient lights.
Pack smarter, not harder. Ditch the old Styrofoam containers that never decompose and switch to biodegradable options. The landfills will thank you!
Keep it clean. Why use toxic cleaning supplies when there are so many environmentally-friendly options!
Recycle everything you can! Most things are recyclable, you just have to know what they’re really made of. If you have the space, start a compost pile for leftover food scraps. The leftovers can be used as fertilizer in a garden. Talking about turning trash into treasure!
Buy local. We love to make this one easy for our customers. Check out some of our newest local growers and their current offerings by asking your account manager today! It’s local season, so we’re getting fresh new goodies every day.