I met Hansen Shieh in the “new” products aisle at the Fancy Food NYC. He was first in a long line of new vendors and the Earthy. Spicy. Tingly. did it’s job. It drew me right in and had me asking for more. That more was a couple spoonful of Hansen’s truly deep sauces. Incredible flavors on their own, how he can bottle them that way is even more impressive. Typically the jar of sauce looses something from mom’s kitchen to co-packer. Aside from the sauce Hansen knows his stuff, tells a great story and is super gracious. Closing deals is a big part of the show and not being a buyer, I sometimes have trouble focusing purveyors to talk beyond the sale. Not the case with Hansen. Since that talk, we’ve had some Earthy Spicy Tingly in the pantry at all times.
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I ate my first bug in Vietnam. It was a cricket.Legs and all. I followed that with tree grubs, grasshoppers, ants and beetles. None of those insects tasted particularly terrible but the texture was the palette killer, especially the cricket legs. As we run out of viable protein sources with the rapidly increasing world population, using insects to supplement traditional forms of protein is going to be a necessary move. The first step in that is hurdling the psychological obstacle course. Exo Cricket Flour Protein Bars takes the first big leap in the direction of the finish line. The key, get rid of the cricket legs. They do it by turning crickets into a fine “flour” and then making their bars from the fine grain. That leaves you with a virtually indistinguishable protein bar that’s not only tasty and effective but sustainable in the best way possible.
On a walk up to Jean-Talon Market we walked into a store that at first seemed to be all duck. As we made our way to the front counter we discovered the Ils En Fument Du Bon sausage counter. Technically they classify themselves as charcuterie but it’s their sausage selection that grabbed us by the taste buds. Scanning the counter our tongues watered over tequila lime, foie gras and spaghetti sausages. There’s spaghetti IN the casing. Crazy. These are only three of about 30 different concoctions. All of them twisting your brain around contrasting ingredients. The picture above does the perfect job of explaining the owner and the vibe of this artisanal brand. If these guys aren’t on VICE by summer someone in editorial blew it.
This is what happens when an Indian woman finds a conduit in frozen cream. Thankfully this happened so we can now indulge in Pooja’s Malai Ice Cream flavors. I always explain Indian cuisine as complex because of how much prep goes into building the depth of flavor many Indian dishes so successfully share with our palettes. Taking that same development process and using ice cream base as the delivery vehicle is a brilliant idea. Not to mention the beauty in her packaging design and flavor combinations. Apparently Pooja’s been like this about flavor since she was a kid. When we met, mom was by her side to prove this true. All that said, the flavor descriptions do all the selling themselves. Rose with cinnamon roasted almonds, golden turmeric, orange fennel, of course, masala chai. My personal fav was her lemon cardamom. Two incredibly distinct flavors mixed perfectly. The list is 14 flavors deep. Each one an incredible mashup of distinct flavors. So much for our attempt to ween ourselves off of our ice cream habit.
The first thing they placed on our cloud white, spotless, linen clade table at Per Se in NYC was a lidded porcelain bowl shaped like a flower. With dramatic flare, the cover was lifted to reveal six different salts. A second waiter began explaining the different flavors, regions and usages for the white gold as I fell into reverie about the efficiency of the container. My spice closet is incredibly organized and uniform but I often am hunting for all my finishing salts in order to decide which to use. The World Salt Tower both remedies this problem and reloads my stash of salts for all culinary occasions. Now I can decide between my volcanic black, Himalayan pink, Malden or French coast grey sea without freaking out that my halibut is getting cold and my guests are getting restless.