3 Really Good Things I Ate During Eat Write Retreat

I just got back from 3 fun, inspiring, and (gotta admit) exhausting (in a good way!!) days in my old stomping grounds of Washington, DC. I was there for a food blogger conference called Eat Write Retreat, and while I was planning to start off telling you about it with a post recapping the actual weekend and things we learned/discussed, I couldn't get past all the little delicious things I discovered and ate while I was there. I don't usually do product reviews here, but these were so good I couldn't not mention them. (I also figured that this might be even more fun for you since you can't attend a conference you missed, but you can definitely pop over to the store to pick up and experience a few of these things for yourself.)

1. Lifeway Frozen Kefir 
Having skipped breakfast that morning, I was really happy when the conference staff came by our table on Sunday with little cartons of frozen kefir. I loved this stuff! It was like ice cream and frozen yogurt got married and had a baby. A tangy, not too sweet baby, with a dense and creamy texture that I couldn't stop digging my spoon into.

I also loved that the samples were packaged in these cute little cartons with tiny individual spoons hidden beneath the label, just like the Italian ice cartons I grew up eating in New Jersey during the summer months.

Kefir, as you may know, is a cultured probiotic beverage very similar to drinkable yogurt, with many of the same health benefits as yogurt (some say more, even). It's made from milk that is fermented with kefir grains, and originated thousands of years ago in the Caucasus mountains.

I did a bit of research on this awesomeness (the frozen kefir, not the Caucasus mountains) when I got home and found out that it's a relatively new product so not yet available in all stores, but if you're curious about it, I really recommend sending their Twitter account a message and asking them where you can find it in your neighborhood. That's actually what I did, and was told it's going to soon be popping up in NYC at Food Emporium and (ugh) Gristedes. (Ugh because Gristedes is pretty much my least favorite grocery chain in the whole wide world.) That said, if I can buy this kick-ass frozen kefir there, I may just suck it up and go get some.

I'm also planning on trying to recreate my own version of the frozen treat using homemade kefir and maybe raw honey or maple syrup. I will of course be sure to report back if it works out!

2. Goo Goo Clusters
Oh man! Have you heard of these? I hadn't until this weekend and they were a revelation. It's a 99-year-old southern candy, based out of Nashville, and it is just freaking delicious.

They have a thick, chewy nougat and caramel center, with a bit of crunch from the peanuts, all enrobed in really good milk chocolate. It's actually reminiscent of a Snickers bar, but much less cloying, with a richer, more homemade flavor and a round little rustic shape.

I could not get enough of these all weekend, stuffing several into my purse anytime I passed by a sample display. There is also a pecan version that I fell hard for, and a peanut butter version that tastes like what a Reese's should taste like.

These are available widely in the south and can also be purchased online. (The VP of the company also mentioned that they're in talks with Duane Reade so keep an eye out for them, fellow New Yorkers!)

3. Honey Ridge Farms Lemon Honey Creme 
Whenever I had a sore throat growing up, my mom or dad would whisk together equal parts fresh lemon juice and honey until smooth and then feed it to us by the spoonful. My mom was never really into over-the-counter medications, preferring natural and herbal remedies, so this was our cough syrup. And it was delicious. So delicious that I would sometimes extend or exaggerate my symptoms just to get a few more spoonfuls of that honey-lemon nectar. I still take this when my throat is sore, and it's what I give Eugene when he is sick.

All that to say that my first spoonful of this honey lemon creme tasted like a dozen childhood memories. With just three ingredients--honey, lemon peel, and lemon concentrate--it's not far from what I ate as a child. It actually tastes like lemon curd whipped with honey, and can be spread on bread or scones, drizzled on ice cream, or used to sweeten tea. It would also be great for savory dishes; the jar actually recommends adding it to marinades, and I bet it would make a really nice addition to a dipping sauce for fried chicken.

(The honey cremes come in other flavors, but lemon is the only one I've tried so far.)

*In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that these items were all given to us as samples in our gift bag or distributed for free during the conference. But this didn't affect my opinion as we got TONS of free stuff and there were actually a few things that I didn't like at all. I was genuinely excited to learn about the products I featured here, and plan on definitely purchasing them in the future.

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