Achaar is Indian pickles. Besides the puntastic name of the company, Chitra Agrawal and Ben Garthus make a delicious version of this Indian staple. No joke my Indian mother-in-law raved the entire time she cleaned out the jar. We’ve been smearing it on everything from sandwiches to fish. Word is a new flavor is in the works. You can pick up a jar in Brooklyn, obviously, bt there distribution is expanding quickly. Non-Brooklynites rejoice at one of these locations.
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This is a bunch of Brooklyn guys who decided to reinvent dried pasta. To do so they brought back some rare shapes and even made up a few new ones. They also bucked the flour norm and add some unique flavors to the mix. Mint, ramp, nettles even cocoa find their way into these unique shapes. To boot the guys are awesome. On a recent trip to the market I couldn’t find their zucca (a pumpkin like globe shaped pasta). I gave a call to see where I could find some. After they spent 10 minutes diligently tracking it down, they told me to just pop down to the factory and they’d give me some. You got to love that real Italian hospitality. So, when I heard they has a Sfoglini Pasta of the Month Club, it was an instant join. We opted for the 12-Month plan. You can never have enough pasta on hand.
Speaking of that Maine trip, we also discovered Pemberton’s Puttanesca, another Maine business with a great origin story. Ever heard of Death by Chocolate. Yep. That’s right. Pemberton’s. That first product quickly went from local favorite to legendary status. How did they get to a jar of sauce? Simple really, they are about small batch, traditional classics, handcrafted with care. That allows them to explore a lot of different products from sweet to savory. As you know, we’re usually a discerning crowd when it comes to jarred red sauce but this puttanesca delighted our tongues and makes for a quick fix when we’re two tired (read busy) to start from scratch.
Impossible to drop into Montreal without some David McMillan and Frédéric Morin touchpoint. This trip, it was snacks and drinks at their newish wine bar Le Vin Papillon and some Joe Beef Butcher’s Blend. This souvenir was acquired at a local market in the Westmount proving that the Joe Beef dynasty reaches far from the humble, pioneering roots of Little Burgundy into even the shishiest of Anglo-Quebec ‘hoods. As it should.
We’ve written about ‘Nduja, the spicy, spreadable pork salame from Calabria, before. It’s a pig shoulder and belly concoction mixed with various other ingredients depending on the village you’re in. Among them besides spices could be tripe or roasted peppers. Tony gave me the low down and said theirs, aside from being a Chicago version, was spiced for the American market NOT the hot headed southern Italian man. The ‘Nduja Black Label Iberico de Bellot is the Cadillac of spreads. Rich, creamy and just the right spice made me think this could be a winner for our current recipe testing back at my day job offices. Tony slipped me a ‘Nduja bomb and waved me off as if to say, “Go ahead take some a play. Call Chicago when you’re ready.” For you, you’re going to have to order some from his website.