Portion of Tangerine Jam

I’ll admit it! I’m a die-hard hunter-gatherer of unique, handmade, small batch foods. So last month I took my food-lovin’ palate on the road for a taste-a-thon at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, the premier specialty food showcase, and a quick junket through the Napa and Sonoma wine country regions. Along the way I met passionate, creative food crafters and discovered products destined to shake up food lover eating habits in fun and always creative ways. What a trip! 

There’s no doubt food artisans are adding a new layer of flavor to American food and the way we cook…one bite, one sip at a time, and they’re vying for our collective taste buds. Just imagine these in your kitchen: Friend in Cheeses Carrot Marmalade on a turkey sandwich. Quinoa Pop Cakes slathered with Barney Butter Almond Butter. Oat Works Smoothies crafted from organic oats and fruit. Semi-sweet cola from Xumma (Zuh-Mah) doing a smackdown on the big guys. Hot Lips Soda flush with Pacific Northwest fruit to quench that thirst… to name just a few.

Artisans are the new “food stars” in my book and I know you’ll love meeting them and their creations here on the pages of The Local Dish in the year ahead. We’re declaring 2014 as The Year of the Artisan to raise the bar on local food by paying homage to these new players on the local food scene. We’ll be hunting down products you can’t live without, stories about their makers, recipes, food pairings, and food news from regions around the country.

But hold on! In addition to a new editorial focus on The Local Dish, you’ll be able to join our journey to communities around the country by tuning in to our brand-spankin’-new podcast in the months to come. Until then, you can sign up for our weekly newsletter for special stories, food finds, cooking tips and first notice about our podcast launch. We’re excited to have you along for the ride!