In search of the state’s specialties

It ain't easy, but someone's got to do it.

The Connecticut Specialty Food Association, in its mission to support and promote Connecticut-based specialty food entrepreneurs, runs an annual product awards competition, seeking the best of what its membership has to offer. This year, I was called on to serve as a judge at the 12th annual competition, held Tuesday at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington.

I evaluated the entries in a handful of the event's 30 categories - cookies, packaged mix, savory condiment - tapenade, yeast bread, and barbecue sauces, in particular. Other categories include certified organic product; cheese; oil; packaging; chocolate, ice cream; and more (such as the beer, ale, and wine offerings the lucky ones got to sample).

Judges are not privy to the makers of each item in a given category; samples sit in sterile white bowls and plates, identified only by a number. We were asked to judge each item on its appearance, aroma, taste and texture, aftertaste, and overall impression, using a corresponding scale of quality (0 to 6 for taste and texture, for example).

While I sampled a few standout items (and some quite the opposite), I have no idea who made them, so I can't quite share any useful results, but official results should be announced in a few days, as CT Specialty Food staff tally the judges' scores. We'll run the names of any local winners in Daybreak.

For more information about the Connecticut Specialty Food Association - a part of the Connecticut Food Association - visit www.ctspecialtyfood.org.

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