Sunday, December 5, 2010

Jumping One at Midtown Market, Danville, Va

Yesterday was a culinary move upward for this little city, Danville, in the Southside of Virginia.  I had the pleasure of doing a food tasting in the popular local market, Midtown Market, that stocks the usual staples but has a respectable gourmet section and three on-duty meat cutters...very rare to be able to request and get custom cuts of meat but here you can, freshly cut and all wrapped up in butcher's paper.
OK, I was pairing their deli meats with a friend of mine's bakery products from her killer bakery, Rising Sun Breads, in Ridgeway, Va.  I had cranberry and blueberry sourdough multi-grain bread with pecans, a yeasted corn bread, a Jewish rye and some toasted baguette squares.  These were matched up with sun-dried tomato chicken, roasted fresh turkey, thin slices of natural roast beef and a wonderful country ham, sliced thin and just enough saltiness to punch through that good southern, old timey taste.  Local goat cheese, too.
It was snowing outside and the store was loaded with Saturday afternoon shoppers and I had positioned myself right next to their pimiento cheese and chicken salad display...the site of solid action all day.
I set out over 12 dozen mixed samples and talked to everyone about the products, that the market was carrying a huge line of the fresh Rising Sun products and also these meats and goat cheese, too.  It was a riot watching people, especially the picky eaters, pick up the goat cheese on the cranberry/pecan bread and take that first time bite.  Most of them had never tasted chevre (French for goat cheese) but paired with either the cranberry or the blueberry pecan (and a nice Shiraz!), they were amazed at the cloying taste between them.
I had accomplished something I never thought possible...I could get over 20 ultra food conservatives in this small town to try goat cheese for the first time...the fact that it was goat cheese isn't really the punch line...the deal that they tried something new from a fast-talking guy in a chef's jacket just splits the cultural uprights from 50 yards out...any salesman knows how thrilling it is for people to listen to you and then trust you.  And then for them to thank you and buy a loaf of the blueberry bread, a tub of the goat cheese and take it on home is, in fact, a marketing and validating personal victory in itself.  Sigh...  

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