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April 2017 Tastes

April, 2017 Issue

Cook Like A Pro

Shed, a marketplace, Café and Fermentation Bar located in Healdsburg, is celebrating its four-year anniversary in April, and they’ve recently launched a pantry line for everyday cooks to take their culinary skills from ordinary to extraordinary. Every chef has a few secrets in the kitchen, admits Chef Perry Hoffman, who helped create the pantry line, along with Proprietor Cindy Daniel. “But we’re taking the mystery out of cooking and being transparent,” he says. “We’re giving cooks the tools we use in the business.”

The pantry line includes herb and spice collections; finishing powders; salt blends; preserves; pickled vegetables and “shrubs” (a refreshing drink made from fresh fruit, vinegar and sugar). The finishing powders include charred eggplant, smoked onion powder and shiitake mushroom.  “It’s crazy when you dehydrate vegetables¾our powders offer a concentration of flavors, so small bites are impactful,” says Hoffman. The herb and spice collection includes red pepper, essential baking spices, essential Indian spices and more. Their preserves, sourced from local farmers and made with seasonal fruits, include tangerine and Meyer lemon, and you can expect to see strawberry and kumquat preserves this spring. (Try the Meyer lemon ice cream, drizzled with tangerine preserves and a touch of lemon salt.) The salt blends include black lime salt and green herb salt (both great on fish); and a lemon salt.

The shrubs offer an eclectic collection of drinking vinegars such as Meyer lemon, tangerine, apple, quince, strawberry tarragon and beet, changing seasonally. Great for cocktails, Hoffman recommends adding shrubs to bubbly or sparkling water, top with a pinch of crushed pink peppercorns and a sprig of frothy fennel. Shrubs also can be added to salad dressings or sauces. Let your imagination lead the way and cook like a pro.

So Good

There are a number of flavored olive oils available from North Bay producers, but one that stands out is Davis Family Vineyards’ Fresh Basil Blend. Open the bottle and breathe deeply, letting the bright, herbaceous aroma of fresh basil wash over you. By adding the savory leaves directly to the olives during press, the oil carries an irresistible depth of flavor. Use it for salad dressing, drizzle it over soups and pastas, dip a piece of crusty bread or maybe just dab a drop behind each ear (Italian perfume). There’s no wrong way to enjoy.

Wild with Flavor

Have you heard the buzz? Wild fermented and pickled products are a hot trend these days, but they’re also great for a healthy gut. What’s driving the interest? “More adventurous eating habits as consumers explore more aggressive and savory flavors, and move away processed foods and sweeter flavors,” says Chris Glab, co-owner of wildbrine in Santa Rosa. Plus, consumers are interested in products made with simple, real and raw ingredients. “Consumers are becoming more aware of the nutritional benefits of fermented foods to build their immune systems,” he adds.

This summer, wildbrine is releasing new products‑two srirachas and a fermented cole slaw. The srirachas will be available in two flavors‑kimchi sriracha and a green smoky jalapeno sriracha. Unlike most hot sauces and srirachas, which are pasteurized and destroy probiotic benefits, wildbrine’s srirachas are fermented naturally and retain their probiotic benefits. And the new wildbrine probiotic cole slaw is a fermented take on the classic cole slaw made with cabbage, red onions, carrots and highlights of caraway and celery. It’s a ready-to-eat side salad with the tart taste you expect from cole slaw, says Glab, while adding great probiotic benefits.

All wildbrine products are made from fresh-picked produce and are fermented naturally, as Mother Nature intended, says Glab. “We use no lab cultures, added sugars, preservatives, or genetically-modified ingredients.” Watch your grocer’s shelves for wildbrine products this summer, and make sure you look for wildbrine with a lowercase “w”—a name as unique as its products.

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