We never thought of putting garam masala on cold greens either but a few nights ago we were treated to such a salad. A sprinkle of this quintessential Indian mixture onto crispy fresh fennel, juicy grapefruit supremes and the occasional candied ginger, worked better than I would have ever guessed in making our tastebuds dance. With a bit further investigation (Raiding our friend’s pantry) we discovered this triad of masalas from the late, great chef Floyd Cardoz in collaboration with Burlap and Barrel. Chef Cardoz passed from complications of COVID-19 in March 2020 but left a legacy through his compassion, teachings and artifacts, like these spices. Burlap and Barrel partners directly with small farmers to source spices that have never been available in the US before and help improve the livelihoods of their partner farmers. This collab was no exception. Working with Chef Cardoz’s wife and business partner Barkha Cardoz, as a memorial to his love for the cuisines of India and his passion for sharing them with the world, the three masalas are uniquely different but all Chef Cardoz. The garam masala is floral, sweet and aromatic. Second in the trifecta, the Goan masala has an earthy, pungent, gingery complexity flavor profile. Lastly, the Kashmiri masala brings the heat with a fennel, ginger and aromatic profile anchored by the Kashmiri chili. Aside from being great on your favorite greens, this trifector collection is a fantastic way to pay homage and connect with a chef who made a huge impact on the culinary world.
More Food Stuff
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.
Adult cereal and adaptogens are quite old but both are fairly new to most of us. Dare I say trendy. Off Limits is a new cereal brand developed by Emily Miller, famous for all sorts of breakfast stuff like books and tours. Watching my grandmother eat her daily milk doused bowl of bran and wheat germ with a yuck face had me running for my Tony the Tiger well into my 30’s. These days, as a smarter, slower metabolism, dude an alternative was in order. We’ve highlighted some of these new cereal brands before. What takes Off Limits to the next level are these wonderful little adaptogens added to the crunchy O’s. Adaptogens are things you’ve heard of but don’t really know what they are aside from “they are good for you”. Originally created in 1947, I told you they were old, to describe a substance that may increase resistance to stress, today they promote other benefits such as anti-inflammation and hormonal balance. They have crazy names like rhodiola, schisandra and, most trendy, ashwagandha but they are basically roots and plants you can find in various parts of the world. Ashwagandha is the adaptogen in one of the two current Off Limits flavors, Zombie. The green O’s are made from rice, oat, and coconut flour with notes of vanilla and pandan. BTW, pandan is a Southeast Asian plant that when crushed gives off a sweet, floral scent. The other flavor is Dash. Championing a caffeinated female rabbit mascot, these dots are a chocolatey, coffee goodness guaranteed to pep you up. There are three different coffee ingredients in them. WOWO. No chill adaptogens in these. Together these two options get you up in the morning and put you down at night hence their claim that this is cereal for any time of day. As cereal nerds, we like that idea a lot. Aside from the quality and taste, the design of everything from the box to the website wins in our book. Emily partnered with Shepard Fairey’s Studio Number One for the character development and Pentagram partner, Astrid Stavro for the visual identity. She didn’t stop there. We opened this post with “old stuff but new to us”. Continuing on the old is new theme, they even brought back the free toy inside, although it’s not inside. It’s more a carnival ticket system approach. You accumulate tickets with each purchase and then can go shopping in their online toy store for stuff like mascot keychains and other fun tchotchkes. Next time you are hankering for your childhood, need a boost but hate 24hr energy, or need to mellow into slumberland drop some Off Limits in a bowl and fix that need in a most delicious and fun-loving way.
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.