Tag Archives: Artisanal

Do This!: Brooklyn’s Depressingly Awesome Industry City Distillery Creates Handcrafted Vodka

Industry City Distillery

Down a quiet brick-laid industrial street, on the edge of Sunset Park and Greenwood Brooklyn, lies an undiscovered gem that has the makings of being our very own NYC Willy Wonka factory. But instead of chocolate, the team behind Industry City Distillery is mastering the art of handcrafted sugar beet vodka. And handcrafting their own letter-pressed labels with a reclaimed 1930s machine to boot — Depressingly Awesome indeed!

1930s Letterpress Machine for Handcrafted Vodka Labels

Rich Showing Off the Depressingly Awesome 1930s Letterpress Machine for Handcrafted Labels

You’ve heard the catch-phrases bean-to-bar, grain-to-glass, farm-to-table — these guys are bringing us still-to-spirit. After taking over the 6,000 sq ft. space only six short months ago, the team of six bearded Brooklyn brains have built an in-house kitchen, machine workshop, laboratory, distillery and bottling station to dissect and build the entire process of distilling vodka by hand. And they have their first product run coming to market next week on April 20th — did you hear me when I said this started only six short months ago? Again, Depressingly Awesome. With an intense focus on efficiency and controlling every stage to keep costs low, they have built their own stills to tweak the entire process, using different grades of heat for incoming an outgoing product to share supply and waste lines.

Industry City Distillery Stills

Dave Shows Off the Industry City Distillery Stills and Machine Workshop

Why is this cool? Because lighter alcohol will vaporize at different heat points, they have created a fractional still that enables them to extract different types of alcohols at different heats  and then selectively add these back together for the final product {or handmade cleaning supplies}, wasting nothing. They call these “the cuts” or “the flavor character,” which they are constantly experimenting with to mix at different ratios, producing a range of flavors akin to sweeter, buttery and even rubbery vodkas {I tasted it — it was booty!}. True to the Wonka nature of the tour, we sat down in the handcrafted kitchen for a tasting — beakers lined up in front of us and droppers at the ready to mix and match and see just how quickly a vodka can go from smooth to robust.

And Now for a Vodka Tasting

And Now for a Vodka Tasting

Tom, Our Fermented Friend

Tom, Our Fermented Well-Loved Friend

To put this production efficiency-flavor controlled process in perspective, a typical big-industry vodka is distilled 5 times. It’s boiled and produced from 5 cuts. Industry City Distillery passes the product through their fractional still once and from it, they take 30 cuts! The product is also made from beet sugar, instead of cane sugar as it has a higher energy density and they’re making their own algae-encapsulated yeast beads {meet Tom, the inaugural batch that has been put through the test-lab ringer} in a small climate-controlled, and apparently groundbreaking, fermentation environment that they plan to open-source in the future.

Impressed? Intrigued? Totally geeked out and ready to sample? Good news, Industry City Distillery’s inaugural product launch is happening April 20th and you can get your hands a bottle of Industry City Distillery “No.2” Vodka by pre-ordering at DrinkUpNY here and for a limited time it’s on sale for 25% off. I’ll drink to that! Want to know more? Check-out their website for cool diagrams, photos and more about the secret sauce — oh, and sign-up for their newsletter so stay in the know.

More Brooklyn Gems You Should Know About:
Do This!: Learn to Forage in Prospect Park for Edible and Medicinal Plants with Expert Leda Meredith
NYC Best: Brooklyn’s Frej Should Be Your New Dining Kinfolk
Blue Bottle Coffee Brews One Brilliant Cup at a Time
Rustic Space Features Really Good Wood-Burning Oven Pizza @Roberta’s
NYC Best: Source Your Spices and Specialty Foods @ Sahadi’s

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Mouth Foods: Lovers of Artisanal & Small-Batch Producers and All Things Delicious

Mouth Foods Artisan Selections

I recently sat down with Craig Kanarick, CEO and founder of a delicious new start-up called Mouth Foods. The first time I looked at his website I wanted to grab a spoon and dive right in. Instead, I took him to coffee to digest the story of how someone left an executive seat at Razorfish, in favor of a small office piled high with jam jars and stoopwaffles.

Mouth Foods Headquarters

Mouth Foods Headquarters

We’ve all been there. Riding the corporate roller coaster, looking out the static windows with an unfocused stare, dreaming of our professional freedom. One day, Craig’s daydreaming eyes narrowed in on the French Culinary Institute’s smoke-breaking students across from his downtown office. Light bulb: “I want to leave this grind behind and go to culinary school.” Lucky for Craig, he just happens to be friends with Mario Batali, who quickly advised him that he would learn more jumping straight into a restaurant kitchen than spending months and thousands of dollars at FCI. Craig hung up his briefcase, grabbed his knives and jumped at the opportunity to help with prep and learn the inner workings of Babbo.

It was a weekend excursion to a Brooklyn shop, Marlow and Daughters, that was the second light bulb illuminating his path to launching Mouth Foods. As his children excitedly talked with the butcher and wanted to try all the hand-prepared products lining the cases and shop shelves, Craig realized it was difficult to get these treats unless they paid a visit to the depths of Brooklyn when they had the time. Small production artisans just want to produce – they don’t often think about distribution and when they do can often encounter difficulty winning the competition for shelf space. So how do we get our hands on these goods? And how do we share our favorite new bacon-chocolate discovery without having to stand in line at FedEx to send someone we love the pork-cacao confections that we have wrapped ourselves?

There have been a few online channels that have popped up – foodzie is one of the largest and have recently changed their focus to a subscription model. Gilt Taste is a lusty site that makes me drool for Spanish Mangalica Ham and White Truffle Cream…and also makes we wish I had eight figures in the bank account to afford those items.

Mouth Foods ViewEnter Mouth Foods. A beautifully designed site that showcases what’s in the jar with a bird’s-eye view that tells the mind to dive right in. Just launched in December, they are quickly adding products that live up to the philosophy of supporting small independent packaged food makers to grow their businesses. They are focused on the art and craft of local, sustainable business preparing foods and making food products and making it easier for the consumer to get a taste.

With the desire to support a start-up supporting the up-all-night small food producers of New York, I sent a package of intriguing bites ranging from a bacon toffee bar to ginger ale, to my cousin and did a face-time session with her when her surprise belated-Christmas package arrived. The local angle may not have resonated with her as much as it did with me – she has no idea who NY-based Nunu chocolates or Sour Puss Pickles is, but that didn’t stop her from gushing over every sip and bite of just plain old delicious handmade treats. And if she is interested {as I was} she can read about each of the makers on the site.

So what’s next for Mouth Foods? More products and more cities. And, in my opinion, I’d love to see a subscription model that brings Christmas morning to your doorstep on a regular basis. I don’t always want to go online when my craving hits, but I would like to receive a jar when Brooklyn Brine launches a new flavor. I want to be the first to try Nunu chocolates latest chocolate-covered X. And then I want to send a gift of all my favorites that I have personally tried to my network of friends and family. I want to be a tastemaker and I want Mouth Foods to be my discovery channel of all the best and newly launched artisanal goodness being brewed in the small, scattered storefronts throughout the country.

Need Quick Gift Ideas?
Choco-Lot Taster
Jackers and Crams Taster
Hot Stuff Taster
Pickle Town Taster
Nuts for You Taster
Snack Mouth Taster 

Mouth Foods Gift Tasters

Mouth Foods Gift Tasters

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NYC Best: I’m In Love with Jacob’s Pickle

Jacob's Pickles Warms West Side

Jacob's Pickles Warms West Side

At first glance you might think this picture is of a really cool bar in Brooklyn. Lucky for upper west siders, it’s the newly opened Jacob’s Pickles — an outpost that took over a former lighting store and is bringing a new brightness to the neighborhood’s dining scene. Serving a menu centered around artisanal Beer, Biscuits, Pickles, Jams and Sustainably-Raised Meats, owner Jacob Hadjigeorgis saw an opportunity to bring simple American craft-comfort cuisine to an area that doesn’t welcome news-worthy restaurant openings with the same frequency as stops below 14th-street. I think Jacob is going to be a new friend.

American Craft-Comfort CuisineThe atmosphere has a casual elegant buzz about it. Soft lighting illuminates a wood-planked wall of bottles and jars behind the bar. The opposite wall is lined with tables intimately spaced along an elevated black leather banquette — the looks of which any man’s man would like in his own living room. Sit across from the banquette or at the bar and you’ve scored a seat in the most comfortable and cool looking bar stools I’ve seen in a long time. I should have taken a picture of these perfect perches, but with a deep seat, a back and arm rests, I promise they are the vehicles fit for a lengthy pickling session {you, not the gherkins}. The music is subtle so you can still have a conversation, but adds to the warm vibe — if I didn’t know any better, it could have been my ipod playing. It was the energy of the crowd that was really humming — I was enthralled.

The menu: 25 American craft beers on tap list some of my favorites {Founder IPA from Michigan}, as well as others begging to be sampled {Speakeasy-Prohibition Ale from California}. Intriguing cocktails include the Dirty Aphrodite, a martini made dirty with dill pickle brine, and the B.L.T Bloody Mary, which sounds like breakfast in a glass with peppercorn vodka, Niman Ranch bacon and a jalapeno pickled egg. There’s also a selection of artisanal root beers on tap, lemonade and other craft sodas if you’re looking to keep things simple. But even those can be converted to a float if you want to take it to another level. For the truly over the top treat, try the Sixpoints-Otis Oatmeal Stout float or the Allagash Black float. Beer and ice cream? Awesome.

Honey, Chicken and Pickles Southern Biscuit Sandwich

Honey, Chicken and Pickles Southern Biscuit Sandwich

But don’t get too carried away with the drink selection before you order up some grub. Like pickles? You’ve come to the right place — special or hot sours, candied beets, salt & pepper asparagus, sweet & spicy carrots, sour green tomatoes are just a few ways to get started. There also seemed to be a lot of fried pickle plates coming out of the kitchen {everything tastes better fried}. Our neighbors were ooohing and aaahing over the mac ‘n cheese — not surprising, since Jacob owns a mac n’ cheese shop in Boston, which was his primary focus before gracing us with his presence. The southern biscuit sandwiches all sounded outstanding — we tried the creamy mushroom gravy smothered chicken and the honey, chicken & pickles versions. The latter of which was my order and was the perfect sweet-salty-vinegary marriage of flavors. I swapped out the cheese grits for fries and the house ketchup {which I would bottle up and take home, if I could}. Speaking of which, if you just can’t get enough of these specialties, you can take home jars of their house-made pickles, preserves and 32- or 64-oz refillable growlers of beer. I’ll have to speak to Jacob about adding his ketchup to the pantry. Full menu here.

As if you don’t already have enough reasons to hop on the northbound subway, Jacob’s Pickles will be hosting a daily beer tasting from 3-6pm, which will also feature specials. Sounds like a perfect reason to leave work early.

The Skim: Good vibe. Good beer. Good grub. ‘nough said.  Will be back for more — tomorrow. This newcomer has quickly won me over and despite only opening a month ago, I’m adding it to my Favor8 list.

Map: 509 Amsterdam Avenue {Between 84th / 85th}
Reservations: Not taken
Phone: 212.470.5566 


8.ate@eight Favor8
Seal of Approval

Other Favor8s:
The Art of Eating {and Drinking} Well @ L’Artusi
Rustic Space Features Really Good Wood-Burning Oven Pizza
Highlands Highlights: Scottish Plaids, Pub Fare and Hand 
18 Favorite Meat Dishes for Men & Barbeque Heaven @Fette Sau
The Beagle: A Restaurant You Should Be Loyal To


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SF Best: Bi-Rite Ice Cream Done Right

Bi-Rite Creamery

If people are standing in line for ice cream when it’s 40 degrees outside, you know it must be good. And when I visited Bi-Rite it was 40 degrees outside. But with the mercury shooting well into the 60s on this fine February Friday in NYC, I thought there was no better thing to write about than ice cream. The encouraging words that “the line moves quickly” made me feel only slightly better about our decision to join a long queue of eager scoopers streaming out of the Bi-Rite Creamery and half way down the block behind a red rope. A red rope for ice cream? If it didn’t feel special already, this touch certainly added to the depiction that this was not just any ‘ole ‘scream stand.

After perusing the list of clever creams – roasted banana, chocolate coconut, Ricanelas {cinnamon with snickerdoodles}, I thought I knew my order and was prepared to swiftly answer back when I finally made it to the front of the line. But upon introduction as “a newbie,” the expert behind the counter even more swiftly spun to snatch a silver spoon, upon which he presented his favorite concoction – a trio of blood orange olive oil {literally olive oil, not olive oil flavored ice cream}, hot fudge and honey lavender ice cream. An inordinate heavenly bite that at once confirmed Bi-Rite’s exceptional rank in the nobility of frozen treasured treats.

The skillful scooper quickly handed me three more spoons, each with a single flavor for more sampling which undoubtedly drove me into deeper confusion about what to order.  But in an effort to contribute to “the line moving quickly” I placed my bets and married the roasted banana with the salted caramel {banana’s foster anyone?} and left feeling I probably couldn’t go wrong with any duo and most definitely will wait behind the red rope again.

The Skim: Vanilla may be the most popular ice cream flavor in America, but who wants to do what everyone else is doing? Treat your taste buds to any of Bi-Rite’s craft ice cream creations or go out on a limb and pick a popsicle (how about pineapple with mint}.

Map3692 18th Street
Reservations: Yeah right!
Phone: 415.626.5600

More Scoop Please:
Send Your Valentine an Ice Cream Gram from Milkmade
Under the Bridge, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory Treat
I Scream, You Scream For MilkMade Handcrafted Ice Cream

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Do This!: Cheese Basics @Artisanal

Artisanal Cheese Classroom

 

Whew — all these fantastic cheese events, so little time. Grab a friend and start the holiday season out with some fun at this unique, hands-on exploration of the world’s finest artisanal cheeses is the perfect overview for any beginner. From the history of its accidental creation to its intricate styles and complexities, cheese is back, and no one knows it better than Jessica Wurwarg.  Follow Jessica as she unravels the intricacies of milk types, ripening processes, flavor profiles, and wine pairings.

What: Artisanal Center Cheese Basics Class
When: Tuesday Nov 23 at 6:30-8:30 PM
Price: $75 per person {SIGN-UP HERE}
8.ate@eight Discount: $10 off with code JESSICA
Where: Artisanal Cheese Center
483 Tenth Ave between 36 and 37th Sts.

Get Cheese Inspired:
Do This!: A Taste of What to Expect @ Artisanal Premium Cheese Classes
8.ate@eight #2: Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink!
Del Posto Presents Murray’s Cheese & Salumi Wine Party @NYCWFF

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