In our tinned seafoodclasses, something that really excites our students is the common types of tuna and how to distinguish them.
As I tried to educate myself on the many types of tuna that are represented in the nice brands of conservas from Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, etc, it was a lot harder than I thought. Unfortunately, there is more conflicting and incorrect information out there than you can shake a stick at! After months of comparing notes with industry experts, we were able to create an accurate way of conveying the information visually. We even made it a poster!
For those who are visual learners, check out the poster or Tuna Types page on our website. For those who prefer to simply read words, below are all the types of tuna commonly found in tins, some stats, and other tidbits on everything from history to quality differences. We hope you find them as interesting in this format as our students do in our fishy classes!
Bonito (Not Tuna) = Atlantic Bonito Sarda sarda
Max Length: 3 ft
Max Weight: 18.25 lb
Ventresca (Not a fish)
Ventresca is a cut from the belly of the tuna. Think Toro vs. Maguro sushi. Toro is fattier and delish! Ventresca is the Toro.
REASONS FOR CONFUSION
TUNA vs BONITO
HISTORY Bonito (Sarda sarda) is a smaller fish found in the Mediterranean. When a similar looking but much larger fish Thunnus alalunga was discovered in more northern waters, it was named Bonito del Norte, or Bonito “of the North”.
Bonito del Norte weighs in at a whopping 88 lbs whereas Bonito’s maximum weight is 18.25 lbs.
CONFUSION? While “Bonito del Norte” and “Bonito” are often used interchangeably, they are entirely distinct species. Bonito is more closely related to mackerel than tuna
QUALITY In the wine world, where the grape is grown is indicative of quality. Similarly, the best tuna is caught in the Cantabrian Sea. Only Albacore Thunnus alalung caught in these waters should be called “Bonito del Norte.”
PRESERVING INTEGRITY Because the term “Bonito del Norte” comes with notoriety and inherent quality, inaccurate claims to it are often made…
…even when the fish is not from the Cantabrian Sea.
…even when it is an entirely wrong species! Bonito and Skipjack often referred to even by fisherman as Bonito del Norte.
Some of this confusion is inadvertent and some is not. Caputo’s asks all our suppliers the hard questions so you don’t have to
Oreos and milk. Peanut butter and Jelly. You’ve been creating “pairings” your whole life without realizing it! Meet the hottest pairing since fries and milkshakes – chocolate and cheese. Explore your creative, adventurous palate with the three introductory indulgent combinations below.
Pralus Sao Tome: Pralus presents dark, fudgy bars highlighting both the iconic French style (deeply roasted, high cocoa butter content) and the terroir of specific regions. Sao Tome, made with the island’s unique strain of Forastero beans, is fruity, spicy, and pleasantly acidic. Paired with: Ur-Eiche: This washed cow’s milk cheese is created by a team of mostly women at the Swiss mountain dairy of Girenbad. Led by award winning cheese maker Christa Egli, the dairy uses homemade rennet and pays a higher than average price for exceptional local milk. Ur-Eiche is washed with oak extract, creating a light barrique taste, with notes of pine nuts, buttered toast and roasted shallots. Why this works: The nutty, savory-sweet flavors of the cheese contrast with the acidity of the chocolate, creating a balanced bite in your mouth. Additionally, the roasty, dark notes from Pralus’ style compliment the buttered toast flavors in the cheese (think coffee with pastries!).
Naive Porcini: Yup, porcini, as in the mushroom. In dark milk chocolate! Such is the creative genius of Domatas Uzpalis, founder of Naive Chocolate. By using locally sourced Lithuanian ingredients – like porcini mushrooms – blended with velvety chocolate, he challenges our conceptions of what “should” be paired with cacao. Trust us – the earthy mushroom + creamy chocolate works. Paired with: Sapore del Piave: Produced in the Veneto region of Northeast Italy, Sapore del Piave takes the best of the Parmigiano Reggiano and the best of the Swisses and comes together in one glorious moment. Full of crystals and savory-sweetness. Why this works: The earthy mushroom begs for contrasting sweetness, and Sapore del Piave doesn’t disappoint. Additionally, the creaminess of the chocolate is a satisfying contrast to the crystalline texture of the cheese.
Fossa Lychee Rose: Rose tea-infused Haiti 52% Dark Milk Chocolate topped with dehydrated lychee from Thailand and crunchy cacao nibs. Paired with: La Peral: Produced by third generation cheesemakers Esther Alvarez and her husband Jose Luis Lopez at the family’s dairy in Northern Spain. Made from a blend of cow’s milk and sheep’s cream, La Peral boasts savory richness and a bit of crunch from tiny granules in the light blue veins. Why this works: Usually our rule of thumb for blue cheese with chocolate is the addition of vanilla to the chocolate! However, the floral aspect of rose tea steps in nicely as a substitute in this pairing, while chewy bits of lychee provide contrast to the cheese’s fudgy texture.
The secret is spreading about how Utah is such a great place for chocolate. Truly, it is hard to hide. Between the many makers, prevalence of the bars in stores, and sheer numbers of local people who devour the greatest chocolate on this blue planet, we have something special going on. Now, if our local chocolate makers were a bunch of hacks just plodding their way through, who would care? The rather pleasant fact that we have some of the VERY BEST chocolate makers, each showcasing different takes on the state of American chocolate, within an hour of my house makes a chocolate fiend such as myself very happy indeed.
Solstice is one of these makers who make me proud to share a state with them. I met them early in their chocolate-making days, when they were making tiny batches for sale at farmers’ markets only. Strangely, it was a coworker who first shared it with me, and my first response was, “That’s not terrible…” – to which my friend protested at my rudeness. But I maintain that the vast majority of chocolate in the world is terrible, so that counts as praise from a snob as pretentious as me! I met the makers shortly thereafter, and the chocolate had improved dramatically. Now we were in “that is really pretty good” territory. By the time they launched officially, and on store shelves, they had already carved a recognizable niche in the realm of fine chocolate.
The style of Solstice is compelling. They bring us these wonderful cocoa beans with honest purity. There is no denying nor mistaking the connection between the large burlap sacks of cacao that enter the back of their shop and the finished bars that proudly bear the name of the region that gave them life. But there is so much more substance behind their chocolate than merely letting the beans charge through the processes uncontested. You see, raw cacao is an INTENSE experience. It is not subtle, or quiet, or gentle. It grabs you by the face and shakes you. The flavors that eventually find their berth in the bars are there, albeit distorted by the loud, astringent, and bitter flavors.
It takes an artful touch to tame the wild portion, and to elevate and accentuate the delicate nuance. Superficially, the chocolate making process seems so simple. Roasting, cracking, and various grinding and/or aging steps develop the flavors. But that simplicity belies the difficulty. Simple does not mean easy. That is why so many chocolate makers stumble and fold before they ever unlock the secrets of chocolate production. But Solstice has it. Compared to the huge industrial makers, their equipment is so cute and dainty. Their facility is not one of ageless elegance or architectural beauty. But with those basic processes, magic suffuses that space, those ingredients. The artistry in producing fine chocolate lies in knowing the minute differences between roast levels, grinding times, ingredient ratios. Two bars with seemingly identical ingredient lists can be so completely different in how the chocolate maker wields her tools and weapons and knowledge.
DeAnn Wallin is the lady behind the curtain, and she has developed a magical sense of taste and process. The flavors of Solstice bring out the best in their beans, and in a typically American style, highlight lighter, fresher fruit flavors with a lighter roast than many European brands. A light roast can sometimes be a liability if it allows some of the off-putting volatile flavors to domineer the experience. Somewhere in DeAnn’s methods hides her mysterious prowess to balance the bold and the calm. Nowhere will you find a brand that can imitate Solstice bar for bar. As one who has attempted making chocolate, I don’t get it.
I can – and do – dive into the tasting experience of all Solstice’s bars. Let’s look at a few now.
Most fine chocolate made with Madagascan beans source from a Swedish expat named Bertil Akesson. And so most Madagascan bars start with the same raw ingredient. And those beans are Tart – capital T necessary. They often smell of balsamic vinegar, grapefruit, and wood. But when the chocolate is finished and packaged, Solstice’s stands apart for being the (made-up word time) Madagascariest. They preserve so much of that vitality and brashness, but it is dialed down to a fun experience that doesn’t overstay its welcome. You will find a chocolate that, despite being a 70% cacao content bar, is unquestionably “bright.” It tastes of lemon and grapefruit, raisins, apple skin, and wood. It has a little bitterness, but not like stuffed-shirt poseurs from north of France. It has the mild bitterness you associate with fruit skin. It is bold and exciting and very eatable. Surprise your friends with this one because it is NOTHING like the dark chocolate of my childhood, at least.
The bar from Tanzania has the high honor of being banned from the Utah Chocolate Society’s annual tournament…for winning its first 2 years in a row. In order to not simply have a dynasty, we (I) decided to disallow it to give other bars a chance. Look for fresh stone fruit like peach and apricot, cherry, and yet also honey. And somehow, a little bit of mushrooms. For bright and fruity bars, this is probably my number one pick.
Uganda was not a place where people sourced cocoa beans until rather recently, but it is not common. This bar blew me away because it is so different from other Solstice bars. Rather than being light, bright, and fruit-forward, it is deep, dark, and beautiful. It tastes like naturally-fermented sourdough bread and cinnamon. While the beans roast, it smells like banana bread. Look for green banana and even a little mango hiding in the background. And if you can find (or make!) brownies with it, buckle up!
There are those who would decry milk chocolate as an abomination. Those killjoys probably haven’t had this bar. It represents as good a bridge between dark and milk chocolate as I have ever encountered. The trick is this: it has enough cocoa in it to be quite dark at 54%, and the milk powder is an incredibly rich full-fat exclusive that combine to make a bar that is simultaneously subterranean in its deep, dark, earthy, mushroomy, spicy flavors and creamy, indulgent, delicately milky floating on top. It will make you remember your fondest hot cocoa memories, but beware! Shaking a packet of a certain powdered mix with a blonde lady will wither beside this sublime bar. Seriously, I cannot heap enough praise on it. (Wait until we discuss the Bolivian dark milk later…)
I hope you have already gone on the Solstice adventure. Revisit it. If you have not yet tried it, may your future be filled with all of their bars – three of the dark milk. Solstice wins award after award for a reason, but awards cannot tell the tales that each of their incredibly unique and varied chocolate bars can. Let Solstice preach the sermon of Utah’s greatness to you!
You’ll never guess what we’re bringing to our NYE parties. What? Ok, fine, we ARE bringing cheese. But, it’s not just because we’re total cheese nerds (still true), it’s because small soft-ripened cheeses are a natural and utterly perfect pairing for sparkling wines. Whether you’re toasting with the real deal Champagne, it’s Italian cousin, prosecco, or a domestic sparkler, we’ve got you covered. Here are the three pairings we’re noshing on as we leave 2019 behind:
This Piedmontese blend of cow, sheep, and goat milks ripens from the outside in, making it creamy near the rind with a fluffy, mousse-like interior. A wash of Adami’s prosecco lights up the paste with a floral finish that will give fireworks a run for their money.
The name says it all. It’s a small little treasure of its own, the perfect kind to harness all the new age vibes for a blissful and successful new year. The buttery richness we expect is there, but it’s also backed by some lovely grass notes. Paired with the Mumm, well, it’s makes the importance of a New Year’s rather uninteresting.
For our high rollers and those of you splurging on your last night of the year. This farmstead French cheese has aromas of garlic, raw broccoli and Brussels sprouts, with faint notes of seawater in the background. Paired with this dry bottle, it’s a more savory pairing than the others, but more complex and intense on the finish. You’ll really set the bar high for 2020.
Orthodox Easter and Catholic Easter (I didn’t name it this, Google did) are about as close as they’ll ever be, which makes my life that much more full of the traditional fare for two whole weeks. The American classics are in full swing for the first week. Think lovely brunch spreads, hams, lamb, and bright spring vegetables here. Then the Greek fare kicks in for the second week, much of this due to the many, many Greeks in my life. Think American Easter, but tripled in size and with more dietary restrictions throughout the Easter season. Fasting, vegetarian, and pescatarian meals are all included at some point and I’m looking forward to sharing this salad for one such meal.
If you know me, you know I love fennel. You’ll find it tucked into any meal I’m involved in creating. It’s here, and I’m not sorry. Finely shaved fennel and soaked shallot play with the spiciness of arugula and brightness of boquerones in a delicious, complex way. A few capers and sherry vinaigrette seal the deal with extra vibrancy. Serve on Palm Sunday, Good Friday, or whenever you feel like it.
A few notes on making this and any other salad especially delicious.
Season your greens – Wanna know why salads are especially delicious when you dine out at restaurants? Those lovely little lettuce bits get tossed with a sprinkle of salt before anything else touches them. Don’t salt them enough to make them salty, just enough to help coax out the flavor of your greens.
Soak your sliced onion (or shallot) – Do your onions have a little too much bite? Give them a soak in cold water for about ten minutes before using. The flavor will mellow and let the rest of your ingredients share the spotlight.
Combine arugula, fennel, shallot, and capers in large bowl. Whisk sherry vinegar and oil, season to taste, and toss with salad. Arrange on a serving platter and top with anchovies. Serve immediately with toasted baguette and more anchovies.
I’ve finally done it. I, Adri, of gifting procrastination and of slow wrapping skill, have completed my holiday shopping EARLY.
Try as I might, I have never before been able to finish my to-do list for gifts on time. December 22nd rolls around and I finally realize how behind I am. I run all over the city looking for gifts at picked-over stores and pop-up shops (arms flailing above my head the whole time), and I finally realize the perfect gifts have been right under my nose the whole time. At Caputo’s, of course.
Here’s what I know: Everyone likes to eat. Artisan food will always be in style. Why not let your friends and family eat the very best and most delicious treats available? Here’s your guide to the very best last-minute gifts. One gift for each of the 12 days of Christmas, a la Caputo’s:
1. Utah Chocolate – You can never go wrong gifting chocolate, especially in Utah. The Beehive State is internationally recognized as a well known hub for craft chocolate, in both consumption and production. Utah is home to five bean-to-bar chocolate companies that are putting themselves on the fine-chocolate map with their artisan bars and dedication to creating the best chocolate possible. Give your pals a taste of Utah with this perfect collection of fine dark chocolate, all made in Utah.
2. Local Treasures Gift Collection – This is the ideal choice for the locavore in your life. We’ve hand selected seven items that are not only made locally, but they’re world-class artisan products. From bean-to-bar chocolate to smoky and savory chili oil, this is sure to please you local-lovin’ pals.
3. Scaldaferro Torrone – I’m quite sure that I would prefer torrone to diamonds, and I know I’m not the only one. This is it. The most luxurious and ultimately wonderful confection to gift to your loved one with a notorious sweet tooth. Skip the holiday candies with questionable ingredient lists. These are made by true artisans with a list of ingredients you can count on one hand. Read more here and you’ll see why we’re so enamored with these little gems.
4. Underberg Digestif – We’re in the middle of a craft cocktail and bitters revival here, people! Along with some truly fantastic locally made bitters, Underberg is another true home bar necessity. These tiny bottles of German digestifs are the perfect spicy backbone for a cocktail or the perfect medicine for an over-filled belly after Christmas dinner. Shake into cocktails or sip solo, either will be a welcome treat to your palate. Stuff into stockings or stock your pals’ bars, but be sure to keep a bottle or two for yourself as well.
5. Caputo’s Cheese Cave Collection – Our market was founded on our love of cheese, and that love has only grown stronger with our burgeoning cave program. One cave just wasn’t cutting it for us. We need more room to to add additional wheels of cheese into their ideal aging environment (it makes them as absolutely delicious as possible, not to mention healthier). Our second cheese cave is fully stocked since last holiday season with plenty of projects and affinage happening every second. Wanna know what the cave is all about, or want to share your knowledge? This is the perfect choice. Four of our favorite cave-aged cheeses come bundled and ready to eat. Hopefully they share with you!
6. Blue’s Chocolates – The country’s most inimitable filled chocolates live right here at Caputo’s. These little treasures are handmade in Berkeley, CA and are only available at Blue’s Chocolate stores and Caputo’s. Not only does Blue’s Chocolates use locally-made Solstice Chocolate, they make products that are utterly divine. One taste will convince anyone of their superiority. The good news for you is that there are plenty of box sizes to choose from. There’s a perfect size for each person depending on how naughty or nice they’ve been this year.
7. Luxardo Cherries – There’s something incredibly attractive about shaking a cocktail shaker around like a mad person…or like you know what you’re doing. If your loved ones are getting into the craft-cocktail movement and experimenting at home, this is the perfect gift. Luxardo cherries are steeped in history and are the original Maraschino cherry that those chemical red sugar-bombs are attempting to imitate. Garnish classic cocktails like an Old Fashioned or Manhattan, throw into pork pan sauces, and chop into ice cream custards and cake batters. These will be the jar that empties the fastest this season.
8. Viola Colleruita Olive Oil – An Italian condiment olive oil is the ideal gift for those taking Italian food seriously. If someone on your list is looking to unleash their inner Marcella Hazan, this will become a key finishing component for nearly every dish. Think of the brightest, greenest flavors of summer and now imagine harnessing those very flavors in the dead of winter. This is the way do it. Use this oil for finishing roasted dishes, drizzle over vegetables and protein alike, and save a few drops for your gelato (I’m serious). It doesn’t get any more flavorful, or Italian, than this.
9. Holiday Chocolate Trio – It won’t get any easier than this. The season’s most iconic flavors, enrobed in chocolate of varying percentages. Whether your giftee is a craft chocolate geek like us or simply enjoys traditional holiday flavors, you can’t go wrong with these three bars. Pro tip: kids love this as a stocking stuffer and are most likely to share based on a sample set of one little sister.
10. Caputo’s Old School Gift Collection – If you’re fond of the good ol’ days and want to share some tasty nostalgia with your pals, this is the collection for you. It’s like a shopping spree of our award winning market bundled into a gift, and ready to be unloaded into the pantry or right on into a pot for dinner. Snacks, provisions, sweet indulgence, and the makings for a tasty weeknight meal all rolled into one. What’s not to love?
11. Fresh Truffles – For the gourmand in your life. This is it. The most luxurious and ultimately wonderful gift for your foodie friend, or you can use it as the focal point of you holiday meal. We’re air-shipping truffles into our downtown market as often as is needed to ensure a fresh, aromatic supply. This friend will have just the recipe to shave these beauties over and I sure hope you get an invitation to the meal. Just the aroma knocks you off your feet, so imagine what your finished entree will do.
12. Class Certificates – Give the gift of food (or drink!) knowledge. It’s the perfect gift for a couple or a friend who might be new to either cooking or the Salt Lake valley. Pick up a certificate for the amount of the class, plus the optional beverage pairing, and let them choose the best class for their calendar and tastes. We’ll help you give the exact dollar amount or round up so your giftee can pick up a special little treat after the class. Choose from cheese or chocolate tastings, cooking classes, or whiskey classes. You read that right: whiskey classes! Remember that bucket list from SL Mag? Send them to class!
I am among the vast number of people who look to Matt Caputo for inspiration when seeking out new, exciting food when life starts to taste a little dull. With the holidays drawing closer everyday, now is time for me to start poking my nose into all the decadent, delicious treats hiding in plain sight on the shelves here at Caputo’s. I stock up now on things like cheese, chocolate, and confections to keep on hand for last minute host gifts, gift exchanges, and snacks to keep me going through decorating and gift wrapping.
Like every time before, Matt’s done it again and found a tiny company worthy of all praise and adoration. Friends, meet Scaldaferro Torrone. Torrone is an ancient old Italian confection from the time of the Roman empire made from honey, almonds, and egg whites. Scaldaferro takes this time honored confection to new heights with their commitment to using only the highest quality monofloral honeys, DOP and IGP protected nuts, and production methods that are almost outrageously particular. The result is a crunchy, ethereal treat perfect for sharing after large meals with your family.
Since no one can describe such a treat like Matt himself – here’s his take on Scaldaferro:
“When an artisan makes nougat based on the waxing of the moon and explains it in such a way that makes sense, you should go out of your way to eat that nougat. Scaldaferro is the perfect nexus of heirloom ingredients and outlier in skill. No other nougat on Earth will taste like this. In my somewhat expansive nougat experience, it is the best out there. With our modern day food system continuously degrading what people are willing to pay for food, it is a treasure that will likely be lost to history some day. I am giving Scaldaferro as a gift, because it is a perfect example what Caputo’s is trying to achieve. We fight to protect these traditional foods by sharing our passion for them with our friends, family, and customers.”
My favorite? I have a hard time choosing between the Rose almond torrone made with Sicilian DOP Avola Almonds and rose honey OR the pistachio torrone made w/ DOP Bronte Pistachios from Sicily and coriander honey. Both are lovely and easy to buy together so I never have to choose. I’ll keep these stashed away for gifts and shared treats, but I am pretty sure most of these will be kept hidden away for my own indulgence.
So, are you drooling yet? Dying to get your mitten-ed paws on these confections? You can get them here or at your nearest and dearest Caputo’s location.
There are certain cookies we make for the delicious tastes of the season and there are other certain cookies we make to celebrate the themes of the season. Christmas is an easy example. Gingerbread is for taste, sugar cookies for decorative fun. But now consider Hallow’s Eve. Sure, there are cookie cutouts and images aplenty, but there’s little left for taste other than the spices behind the now cult favorite Pumpkin Spice everything.
In the spirit of both taste and decoration, we’ve combined the two here with a simple swap of ingredients. Bitters are much like vanilla extract in that the flavors of a raw ingredient are extracted into an alcohol based solution over a long period of time. When used in baking, the alcohol evaporates and leaves behind the ghost of its place presence in the form of those extracted flavors. While sugar cookies are often a blank canvas for spooky cookie cutters and sweet icings, seasonal bitters are an invaluable resource to also breathe some flavor into what was once just a fun cookie to look at and never sink your teeth into.
Instead of a recipe, here’s the pro-tip for tip top tasty treats. Substitute equal amount of bitters for vanilla extract and take a taste. Add more flavor if needed, but the same amount should do the trick.
During my lunch date with Gia and Frankie, both our sugar cookies and royal icing had Workhorse Rye’s Pumpkin bitters in place of vanilla extract. There’s just a hint of spice in both, but nothing too potent to change the place a sugar cookie serves. They’re tasty and almost as adorable as these two little ladies, but now with a hint that fall flavor we love so dearly.
Have you made the switch to bitters in any of your recipes? What’s been your favorite?!
Italian cuisine does not exist. I could likely make this argument about many other classic cuisines, but no other country lives and dies by the bible of regional cuisine quite like Italians do. Calabrian cuisine exists, Roman cuisine exists, Tuscan cuisine exists, but none of these are the same. That said, there is one common opinion that has seeped into the veins of every region, city, and town that inspires some of our favorite dishes. Source ingredients locally and seasonally at the peak of ripeness and quality. Then, honor those ingredients with pure, simple preparation. Don’t complicate it.
So, let’s simplify things and get back to the basics. Let’s do it with one classic dish that has been the victim of complication across the globe: Insalata Caprese.
The beloved ‘Salad of Capri’ is a celebration of the union of two of our favorite ingredients, mozzarella and tomatoes. We’re in the peak of tomato season here in SLC, so there is no better time to serve this than right now. Add up to three more ingredients and we have a dish worthy of greatness.
The key, of course, is selecting the highest quality ingredients. Locally grown tomatoes picked when ripe rather than picked under-ripe to ripen in the pipeline of food transportation will result in tomatoes that taste like tomatoes. Start here. Select fragrant, dense tomatoes of your favorite hue. I prefer a large heirloom like Eva Purples with thin skin and abundant flesh blotted with a towel to remove any excessive amounts of juice.
From here, choose your cheese. My first choice is our housemade burrata. I love how the creamy, decadent interior of burrata permeates the holes in each slice of tomato. You can also choose mozzarella di bufala from mainland neighbor Campania or another fresh cow’s milk mozzarella. The key here is a fresh cheese, no aged mozzarella here, please! Drop dollops or slices throughout your tomato slices, leaving more tomato than cheese in your wake.
Add fragrant basil, ideally picked at this moment. I prefer a chiffonade or fine chop to evenly disperse flavor and aroma across the plate rather than using whole leaves. Finally, add a sprinkle of finishing salt (e.g. a fleur de sel), which should be given a few minutes to melt into your ingredients to highlight the flavors in fruit, dairy, and herb rather than add ‘salty flavor’.
If you wish (and I always do), serve with a bottle of your very best olive oil. Drizzle sparingly over the plate just before digging in for a touch of bitterness and grassy backbone to an already excellent dish.
You’ll notice no mention of balsamic, olives, pesto, or any other ingredient. While I love all these things, they have no place on a plate served as caprese. Save fusion, addition, and refrigerator purging for another time. Right here, right now, when tomatoes are meant to be eaten and burrata is being tied up as you read, this is the time to enjoy the pureness of caprese.
Is it just me, or are dads sometimes even more difficult to shop for than moms? Flowers and chocolate may be cliche, but they sure are easy. Now that June is just on the horizon, Father’s Day is coming. If you’re like me, a little inspiration goes a long way. Here’s what we’re giving to every kind of dad out there:
Sentimental Dad: ‘The only gift I want is to spend time with you’
Well, if that doesn’t hit you right in the feels, I don’t know what will. If dad wants to hang out, don’t spend it wasting away in front of the tv or napping on his couch. We’ve got a handful of classes perfect for any Dad that make for the perfect gift and a great to spend time together. Whether your dad is a beer guy, wine enthusiast, chocolate lover, or cheese geek, we’ve got a class perfect for each one. Give the gift and join him for the class!
Is a sweet tooth genetic? If you and your old man share a love for the sweeter side of life, we got chocolate that will impress that discerning palette of his. Dick Taylor is a thing of beauty and perfect for gifting. Award winning craft chocolate wrapped in a dad-approved package. Think chocolate for strong men who work in garages on weekends, but with the kind of flavor and nuance to turn any sawdusty frown upside down. Pick from single origin dark bars and inclusions ranging from Fleur de Sel to everything bagel.
There comes a time every summer where someone has to put their foot down and tell dad to step away from the grill. Soften the blow with Olympia Provisions. Rillettes, pate, and salumi are all ready to eat and made with the highest quality pork and spices. If you just can’t wrestle dad away from the those charcoals, join in on the fun with OP’s tasty sausages like Kasekrainer (um, hi, they’re filled with CHEESE), sweet Italian, and spicy chorizo. We’ve got plenty of serving suggestions for you, stop by one of our stores and we’ll help you put together the perfect porky gift.
Cocktail Dad: Knows the difference between an Old Fashioned and a Manhattan
This guy, he knows how to stir, shake, and garnish accordingly. I bet he’s got the home bar to back it up, too. Honest John Bitters are the perfect addition to a well curated or burgeoning collection. With a name referring to the not-so-honest persuasive tactics of the storied “snake oil salesman,” by whom bitters were easily peddled for their supposedly miraculous health benefits, Honest John offers an impressive take on classic bitters. The subtle, clean, balanced flavor profiles work remarkably well in both pre-Prohibition classics and their modern interpretations.
We’re always for looking for new ways to step up our kitchen game. New flavors are welcome in the hands of our Caputo’s team. In this case, the flavor is new to us, but not necessarily to new to Greek culinary enthusiasts. Friends, meet Chios Mastica.
On one particular Greek island just south of Lesvos and nearer to mainland Turkey than mainland Greece, there is one particular tree grown for one particular sap. The island of Chios is known for the most flavorful sap harvested from the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus). A close cousin of the pistachios we regularly eat, mastic is grown for the sap and is dried out to produce chewing gum, a distilled spirit, and the pure dried teardrops of sap. Bark is cut early in the morning and revisited later in the afternoon to collect the seeping, sticky sap. In the kitchen, mastica is finely ground and added to breads, pastries, and ice cream for its pine-y flavor and bright aroma. Mastica is exported to Egypt, Turkey, and Lebanon for use in jams, meat marinades, and even coffee.
Think of your favorite breads and pastries that rely on typical baking spices like clove, cinnamon, and allspice and then imagine incorporating one more layer to that recipe that complements those warm spice notes, but also offers a brighter, more green aroma. We get both increased depth of flavor and, for me, an aroma reminiscent of the first days of having a fresh Christmas tree at home.
We’re just scratching the surface of the endless possibilities mastica has to offer. Stay tuned for recipes and uses are we dive even deeper into this new pool of tasty obsession.
I will never consider myself to be the kind of person who skips dessert. I love to celebrate birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions with a homemade dessert. It’s a fun way for me to contribute some of my TLC to a deserving friend or family member that everyone can enjoy. That said, I’ve grown more and more wary of desserts that are too sweet, too heavy, or simply too big. This is a sign that I’m growing up, right? I don’t just throw myself at just any dessert anymore… I’m pretty sure that means I’m getting better at this adulting thing.
Nowadays, especially with the lovely warming weather, I lean toward lighter desserts with hints of sweetness rather than heavy sugar bombs. Enter the almighty pavlova, Australia’s most important contribution to the dessert category. A pavlova is a large meringue topped with either whipped cream or fruit curd, fresh fruit, and other toppings. The size of the meringue makes is light and crispy on the outside, but pillowy and ethereally soft on the inside. Top that off with a creamy whip or curd and fresh fruit, and I’m quite positive there may not be another more satisfying dessert in existence.
Meringues are easily flavored by alcohol or bitters and showcase the more subtle flavors lost in cocktails. When Workhorse Rye released their Flowers & Cacao bitters, I knew it needed to meringue treatment. In the bottle, the bitters are potent and fragrant. Baked into a meringue, there is a fresh, floral nose backed by cacao and sugar sweetness. My mind built a beautiful whipped cream topping with macerated strawberries and cacao nibs from there. My work pals helped me bring it to life today just in time to share it with you for your Mother’s Day celebrations.
Just think, we always give our moms chocolate and a bouquet of flowers. Flowers & Cacao bitters are the perfect expression of that in one tiny bottle. Top the whole thing off with bitters macerated strawberries and a few edible flower petals, and we have a beautiful little number that will make Mom the happiest and you the best child.
FLOWERS & CACAO PAVLOVA
6 egg whites, room temperature (makes for easier whipping)
1 1/2 cups sugar
4-6 blasts Flowers & Cacao bitters, to taste
NOTE: A blast of bitters is the equivalent to a full dropper of your bitters bottle
1 half pint heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
2 blasts Flowers & Cacao bitters
Solstice Sweet Nibs
Edible flower petals
Make the meringue:
Preheat your oven to 275 degrees. Using a stand mixer, beat the egg whites slowly (On a 10-speed mixer, I start at 3). Gradually increase the speed until the egg whites begin to create soft peaks. Begin adding the sugar 1-2 tablespoons at a time, allowing a few seconds between each addition. Increase the speed intermittently between additions, ending the addition of sugar at the same time your mixer reaches its fastest speed. Continue whipping until the meringue holds stiff peaks. Blast the bitters into the center of the bowl and beat for another 30 seconds.
Use a spatula to remove the meringue to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Use the spatula to shape the meringue into a circle that is about one inch smaller than the plate you plan to serve your pavlova on. Bake in the center of your oven for 75-80 minutes, or until the outside is dry and just beginning to brown.
NOTE: Meringue can be make up to two days in advance. Keep in an airtight container at room temperature
Make the toppings:
While the meringue is baking, stir sugar and bitters into sliced strawberries in a small bowl. Keep refrigerated and remove to stir a few times before serving. In another bowl, whip cream and confectioner’s sugar until the cream holds stiff peaks. Keep chilled until assembling your pavlova.
Assemble the pavlova:
Remove meringue to your serving dish. The edges will likely crack but don’t stress, it’s all part of the carefree form. Gently spread whipped cream on top of the meringue, stopping just before reaching the edge of the pavlova. Spoon strawberries over the whipped cream in an even layer. Finish off your pavlova with generous sprinklings of cacao nibs, flower petals, and any other fruit you’d like to use. Serve immediately.