Spring at FTHQ means firing up the grill and picking shishito peppers straight off the plant to toss on those sizzling cast-iron grates. That scent becomes the envy of our Queens neighborhood and we bask in it. Before we can wear that urban farming crown we need to get dirty in some soil. If all that trouble isn’t your style and black specs under your freshly primp and polished gel manicure makes you throw side-eyes, Back to the Roots has a solution that is as easy as opening a can of beans. That’s mostly because it is opening a can just not beans. Pre-canned seeds sit dormant waiting for you to crack open and pour in sunshine and some H2O. Besides ingenious, the clean design looks perfect amidst your $300 toaster and fair trade coffee display. BTW, save those grinds for healthy soil, ohh wait, dirty nail issue again. Never-mind Now you just need to choose what to grow. From herbs and flowers to tomatoes and peppers they have a DIY kit that’s even easier than your second-grade avocado pit science project. Remember that? In terms of timing, plant now so you are ready to show off during your Memorial Day party even if that will be over zoom this year.
More Food Stuff
I didn’t even know that sweet pepper relish was a thing when I dropped a sample spoon of the luscious condiment on my tongue. After 3 hours walking the aisles of the massive Fancy Food Show, you get a little tasted out. By that point, you are not expecting to taste something that excites you the way this did. As my tastebuds transmitted the sweet and spicy to my brain, Andrew Schiavetti, founder of Fourth Creek Food Co., smiled widely as if to say, “I’ve been seeing reactions like this all day.” On second bite, I knew I was hooked. “What is this?” I asked as if it came from another planet. Ready with the answer, the rep, explained in detail but all I heard was “amazing”. The story I missed, because my brain was focusing on taste, was one of those my-mom-made-this-awesome-so-we-jarred-it-for-your-pleasure type stories. The best part is their whole line is this good and I am subsequently addicted to bruschetta made solely of their products. Thanks mom Fourth Creek.
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.
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.
Today’s the day of atonement. I only know this as an honorary member of “the tribe” having sat through my fair share of Yom Kippur dinners. This is the meal that breaks the fast of the past 24 hours. This was the day that sent all my Jewish friends home from soccer practice early to beat sundown in high school. The thing is, my jew crew didn’t really do the fasting part very well BUT they definitely did the breaking part excellently. The typical Jewish cuisine gets a poor rep. This, under the trained taste buds, is a falsely perpetuated opinion perhaps the same way Portlanders say it’s always grey in Stumptown. For context and as a case in point, I’ve sampled some incredible homemade gefilte fish that can go toe to toe with any cultural cuisine. To this end, Jewish food needs better press and a little more marketing oomph to jump the hurdle into main stream. Ashley Albert is spearheading the effort with her artisanal matzo company from Brooklyn, The Matzo Project. Salted, cinnamon or everything (as in bagel) are your delicious choices. You can’t pick wrong. We’ve tasted them all. You might be asking why I didn’t post this last week. That’s the point you should be stocking this year round. Eating it instead of chips or Triscuits. Plus, those of you who partake in the festivities, you’ve got Sukkot in five days. Stock up.