RTF: Pretzel’s are a girls best friend

New York City is a dynamic city known for finance, media, and entertainment – and people, lots of people. With so many people and so many ideas buzzing around they all seem to have successfully created a unique and vibrant food scene too. I strolled through the streets of East Village and Soho admiring the abundance of local food establishments. It’s rare to pass restaurant chains in this bustling city. Sigmund’s Pretzels is one of those neighborhood spots that’s doing a great job at helping keeping food local and distinctive in New York City.

   

These pretzels are hand made and crafted fresh everyday offering a variety of flavors. In the back of the cozy pretzel-shop they create the wide range of pretzels and when they run out they simply run out!

All of those behind Sigmund’s Pretzels take pride in offering a wholesome snack such as the traditional salted pretzel, a savory bacon and scallion flavor, sandwiches on pretzel rolls and even “Uber Pretzels” for sharing. The pretzels are also suggested to be paired with a variety of dips ranging from adventurous ‘beet-horseradish’ to a smooth and sweet nutella.

The pretzel goodness is found at over 20 establishments ranging from the Dean & Deluca retail stores, local bier gartens and even the Delta airline at Laguardia. Beyond these they are also interested in expanding their wholesale program as they are eager to include other local eateries.

  

  

All hail a food artisan.

Amy Verhey

Summer 2012 Food Warrior

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RTF: Sharing a way of life

The confusion associated with walking up to the olive oil aisle in a grocery store left Tyler and Carry Guell fed up with their cooking experiences as they often ended up at home, opening a new bottle of olive oil and feeling defeated with its lack of or even overpowering flavors. Their very own olive oil and fine vinegar boutique soon became the answer to these problems. Tyler and Carry Guell are the happy couple that founded Olivada, nestled on the river of Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

Beyond housing the freshest olives oils accompanied by fine balsamic vinegars Tyler and Carry wanted to offer the customer an experience. Therefore, the shopper is able to sample anything in the store before purchase. This is a part of understanding your food deeper in order to enjoy it to its fullest advantage. The amount of oils and vinegars range far and wide while many customers know very little about the different flavors and accents. Tyler and Carry take the time to truly explain to their customers how to understand the flavors before even bottling it for them in house.

For example the one of the many honey balsamics is taken like a half shot out of a small plastic cup and then swirled around in your mouth until the flavors are in full effect. The acidity of balsamic holds many different flavors, especially when they are infused. Allowing the taste buds to gather the balsamic’s key notes gives the individual a full idea of how it can be enjoyed best. While using your senses to do this it is easy to fantasize about the endless dishes it would enhance, and soon find yourself wanting to sample the entire row.

On the other hand, sampling the oils is done a bit differently. The shopper is instructed to cover the small cup while rubbing the bottom on your palm. This warms the oil and prepares you for a full experience. After about 30 seconds of this you are to breath in the oil, smelling the different undertones. Finally, you slowly sip the oil and let it rest on your tongue while sliding down your throat. You are essentially using a majority of your senses to not only taste the oil but also understanding the olives and their strengths. This is a learning experience that helps to connect the customer with oil they are destined to cook with.

The wore down shipping warehouses lining Sheboygan’s river have become home to a variety of funky hipster cafes, fine English pubs, health food stores and more allowing Olivada to fit in as well as a missing puzzle piece. The establishment has only been in working service for about a year but their expertise with oils and vinegars really sets them apart and allows business to do very well. This unique approach to selling oils and vinegars stems from their own frustration and encourages them to offer a sampling of all products sold as well as bottling everything in store before purchase.

After being greeted with a gust of air conditioning you find yourself face to face with a wall of dark bottles. Below each is a small description of the vinegars location, flavorings and pairings. Recipes are sprinkled among the bottles and featured in the center of the store is the island of oils. These olive oils are 100% pure extra virgin coming from the northern and southern hemispheres allowing Olivada to offer the freshest oils. Any of the staff members will gleefully explain that there are only two time frames a year when olives are crushed. Due to Olivada gathering oils from both hemispheres they are receiving oils twice a year when those olives were crushed, leading to the freshest product available. These different olives coming from both the northern and southern hemispheres allows the oil to range in flavor from a more grassy and earthy undertone to the buttery and rich flavors.

The idea of Olivada is to avoid selling a vinegar or oil to someone who is not truly invested in its flavor. Food is to be enjoyed and experienced and the Italians believe that olive oil is an ingredient that unleashes flavors in foods that would not otherwise be tasted. The vinegars offer a way to enhance ingredients through adding wholesome acidity. Olivada is not only selling these product but rather sharing a way of life.

All hail oil and vinegar.

Amy Verhey

Summer 2012 Food Warrior

RTF: 8 varieties and 3 generations

 

Honey is harvested from the hives at the beginning of each fall season. It is then bottled, processed and sold throughout the year until they can harvest the honey in the upcoming fall. By the time the honey is processed and being sold the new honey is starting to be harvested. Kallas Honey is a regional business so their distribution is not spread across the United States allowing them to work with only a small amount of farmers. The amount of honey they collect is sold by the time the next harvest comes around allowing them to collect and sell the freshest honey. Many larger honey processors work to sell their honey on national and regional scales as well as to many grocery stores. This causes them to harvest mass quantities of honey and process it much heavier since it is distributed far and wide. Many national honey processors provide the average honey bear many of us are used to seeing in grocery stores and often free from any crystallization or imperfections. This honey purchased in a grocery store was bottled many harvests before offering a more processed product that has a longer shelf life.

 

Perry Kallas along with the entire Kallas family business prides themselves on working with small farmers to bottle the honey as fresh as possible after harvest and sell that honey to local restaurants and other food establishments. Their honey is very pure when comparing it to brand name processed brands sold nation wide. The more processed honeys are striving to remove the effect of crystallization and instead ‘satisfy’ the customers. Perry Kallas touched on the issues about a lack of education around honey and how the products found in the grocery store can seem misleading. A more pure honey is bound to crystallize over time due to air entering the jar after many uses. Kallas honey tends to have a crystallization seen in their glass jars which unfortunately can have this negative connotation associated with it. The crystallization, however, is a pure sign of fresh, less processed honey, that is why the raw honey has a higher amount than other honeys. In fact, the Kallas raw honey is one of the most pure honey products on the market as they bottle it directly from the bee’s hives.

Driving up to Kallas Honey is an interesting experience when you realize you are stationed a couple blocks away from the heart of the city of Milwaukee – Wisconsin. This ‘farm’ is a place where three generations of Kallas family members pristinely process honey gathered from their local, Midwestern bee keepers. The Kallas Honey Farm is a building where these philosophies behind raising bees and processing, or simply bottling in the case of their Raw Honey, comes to a reality.

The Kallas family has built their business to maintain roughly 50 farmers in the Midwest region who are humanely raising bees under similar principles and philosophies that come with raising any other livestock. Perry Kallas simply touches on the science behind bee keeping along with the entire business behind the honey bears that are commonly found on grocery store shelves. The Kallas family strives to produce their honey each year so that it is the freshest and most pure. They keep their clientele small and manageable while sourcing locally to Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana food producers.

 

The Kallas business produces eight different varieties that are mainly sold to food producers in bulk, yet available as wholesale on site and throughout farmers’ markets and other specialty stores. The Kallas family strives to understand the nature of the bees and source a wholesome product while educating their customers.

      

All hail honeybees.

Amy Verhey

Summer 2012 Food Warrior