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.
All Food Stuff - Page 2
I love Indian food almost as much as Italian food. The difference in cooking them couldn’t be further from each other. Italian cooking usually includes three main ingredients cooked together for a short period of time. Indian cooking is the exact opposite. The husband and wife team behind Masala Mama Simmer Sauce decided to jar up their Calcutta food education to combat this very problem. Creating Indian sauces from scratch takes a long time. Many times, two full days. They have successfully captured three of the most popular sauces of India. Vindaloo, Tikka Masala and Goan Curry. That’s three quarters of the cooking. The taste passed my mother-in-law test to round out this A+ recommendation. Now you can have butter chicken on Tuesday. Uhh, and probably lunch on Wednesday too.
I was drawn in by their packaging and hooked by Isabel Freed’s California vibes. I didn’t even need to taste the mustard selection but I’m glad I did. Horseradish has the tendency to blow out your mouth. Most of the condiments containing this potent root are strong enough to make your sandwich all spread, overshadowing everything else except maybe the bread. The difference with Wilder Horseradish Mustard is that it’s as mellow as a california drive up the coast. In food speak, that’s referred to as balanced. Which makes a huge difference when you want to taste all those carefully chosen layers of your Saturday afternoon hoagie. If the sting of horseradish isn’t your game they also produce a classic mustard and a honey jalapeño version. Both of of them complete with the same California vibes mixed through each jar.
Last weeks Fancy Food Show takeover was a lot to eat through. We’re still full from tasting. From the best Regalis stood out. Their display table at the Brooklyn Good Food Show consisted of two small black garbage bags growing rare mushrooms and a live whole king crab. Needless to say it drew a crowd. Speckled between the spectacle was their consumer product line. Caviar, to dried mushrooms to truffles. I opted for the oil tasting as Massimo had sufficiently schooled me on the chemical truffle oil gag. The Regalis guys told me the put the truffle near the oil not in it and let the oil absorb the scent. Skeptical I pressed them about the types of truffles and the process. They said the taste was much less bold than the typical truffle oil because of their process. It resulted in a pungent smelling oil with a very light truffle taste. Impressed, I decided to give them some props for their method and take some home for food combo tasting. Regalis makes an Organic White Truffle Oil as well as a black. You can this and the rest of their line direct from their website.
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.
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.
Last year I explored Maine for the first time ever on a four day road trip. As I pecked around Portland to Belfast to the LL BEAN HQ, I found lots of great bites. One of my favorites was the very publicly applauded, yet new to me, Raye’s Mustard. With 100 years of history and what seems like as many flavor concoctions, there’s a version for everyones taste. Boasting small batch crafted, high in antioxidants, gluten-free, low sodium and no GMOs, makes you love it even more. Founded in the family smokehouse to produce mustard for Maine’s burgeoning sardine industry, the origins story only adds to the quintessential American dream story. We dig the Raye’s Horseradish Mustard on a roast beef sando, in fact, we knocked back one of those today.
Our want for coffee is currently insatiable. What we need, that’s another story. Since we’re staggering around these days in seemingly one of two states, red-eye wired workaholics or free trade, caffeine deprived zombies, a chewable cup of coffee seemed like the next logical step to get you from your bed to your barista. Think of all the moments Go Cubes Chewable Coffee will come in handy. After that chewable cigarette for example. The 68th slide in a 112 page powerpoint slide during your weekly status meeting. Running down the jetway as you just make your 6am flight to Chicago. We could find moments like these all day. As younger and cheeky as we just were, the idea of a chewable coffee with all the flavor and all the benefits is just what the nation ordered.
The equivalent to a mic drop, Sir Kensington’s has just perfected an eggless mayonnaise using aquafaba. “Say whaaaat?” you ask. Yep. They not only perfected an eggless, mayo without using soy but they are using by products from a hummus company to do it. We love bi-product reclaimed goods and process. In short, when you cook chic peas in water the liquid that remains in aquafaba. It has very similar properties to eggs so they thought, “Who’s dumping tons of this aquafaba down the drain daily?” Hummus companies were the obvious, and low cost, answer. Now part of their avocado oil mayo, organic mayo made with sunflower oil and their classic, Sir Kensington’s Fabanaise rounds out the Mayo department not only with a smart recipe but with an innovation waste management solution. It tastes great too.
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.
This reminds me of the Seinfeld bit about maximum strength aspirin. “Figure out what will kill me, and then back it off a little bit.” Death Wish Coffee is the only common household food product that I’ve seen promote a skull and cross bones warning. It claims “highly addictive.” Thanks to Howard Schultz for exploiting what a bunch of Italian guys do in a “bar” every morning and afternoon, we’re a strong coffee obsessed nation. Death Wish takes that to the max by combining the strongest beans with what they call a perfect roasting process. We imagine blow torches and heat shields are involved. They even dropped this juice in vodka for a limited Death Wish Coffee Vodka run. Apparently only available in Albany New York though.
We’ve been big into barrel aged things that traditionally have never seen the inside of a barrel. SOSU Barrel Aged Sriracha takes it to the next, next level by applying this trend to a hot sauce. Just when you thought your hot chicken was perfected, along comes this depth in a jar to add yet another layer of complexity to your dinner party wow-pertoire. Secretly we dip carrots straight into the jar when no ones looking for a quick snack.
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.
Ashley started Farmbox Direct because she thinks that the freshness of the farm should be available to everyone. Here in NYC we have an incredible framers market network but even then it’s sometimes tough to stop in. When I can, I usually spend the day with a brussel sprout tree or some lacinto kale hanging out of my bag. Farmbox Direct brings the freshness of the farm (or green market) to your door. It’s sort of like a CSA and Hello Fresh smashed together. The box comes with what is fresh, local and at it’s peak, given the unpredictability of mother nature. This is a good thing for adjusting our eating habits back to the seasonal, locavore ways of the past. I remember when I was a kid, my grandmother would spend a weekend canning tomatoes because they didn’t grow in the winter. Not the case today. That’s because those winter tomatoes are greenhouse, pesticide, growth hormone, genetically altered seed, specimens that probably can grow on Mars (and they taste like it too). Ashley’s roots are on a farm which makes her perfect to start a service like this. She understand the enormous impact it can have on farmers and those of us subscribed to their delicious, natural bounty.
We couldn’t decide between the bread and butter beets and the Mostarda as our favorites. Preservation Society Members Club allows you to not have to choose. Unfortunately we don’t have a Montreal address so this club wasn’t an option for us. Luckily we have friends willing to pick up (and probably eat) our club benefits. What we love most, besides the quality, unique ingredients and perfectly ripened tastes, is that theirs not secrets or pretension to the small batch brand. Camilla Wynne ♥’s canning and wants to bring that knowledge to as many people as possible. This club is one way she does that. Workshops, events and a tell all book are three others. Talk about approachable. Of course our approach requires a JFK to YUL flight path.
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.