Tag Archives: Brooklyn Brine

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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Do This!: How to Get Pickled with Happy Girl Kitchen

Let's Get Pickled!

Let's Get Pickled!

Pickles have come a long way from the days of our friend the classic Vlasic stork. It is never more apparent that just about anything can not only be pickled, but improved upon with the process. Pickling is one of the top 5 food trends this year, and in NYC, Rick’s Picks, Brooklyn Brine, and McClures have all shown us that while the classic cucumber is great, things like a whiskey sour blend or maple bourbon bread & butter is even better. And if you stray down the vegetable path you may find that creative combos like chipotle carrots, Moroccan green beans or fennel beets also make for a welcomed variety of pickled punch. It’s not just about sandwich stackers anymore.

Nothing fascinates me more than when true artisans take a kitchen-staple and reinvent the approach with new flavor combos that bring excitement to a rather standard world. Well maybe one thing fascinates me more — demystifying the process and learning that something that delighted you out of the jar can easily be made in your own kitchen.

2012 is the year of getting back to the basics and doing things from scratch.

Happy Girl Kitchen Preserves

Happy Girl Kitchen Preserves

A recent trip to Happy Girl Kitchen in Pacific Grove, CA was the perfect venue for said fascinations. Happy Girl Kitchen is run by a husband and wife team, Todd and Jordan Champagne, who had worked on local farms for years, but found the art of food preservation was fading into a thing of the past. Dedicated to supporting the local, organic food community and teaching people how to enjoy their favorite local seasonal bounty in the off-season, the couple launched Happy Girl Kitchen as a brand that offers the very best in artisan preserves, workshops and events in the Bay Area. Start with the right ingredients, add passion and creativity and you’ve got a line of products that will improve any table. Happy Girl is not only dedicated to happy fork licking, but is also giving people the tools to carry out food preservation in their own kitchens by teaching these techniques at their weekly workshops. “Teach a man to fish…” These are good people.

Beautiful Pickling Ingredients

Beautiful Pickling Ingredients

The five hours we spent happily pickling at their workshop was some of the most fruitful {pun intended} time I’ve spent in culinary education. For the first hour or so we learned about different types of preserving, the nature of fermentation, basic rules to live by to avoid flimsy {overcooked}, blue {iodized salt} or botulism-infected {low-acidity} pickles {all disappointing failures, the last of which is deadly and should be reserved as ammo for your enemies}. Do not be afraid, in the end we came away feeling confident that with great ingredients, a few basic kitchen tools and some spicy creativity, we were all destined to be pickling pros ready for market.  I would, however, suggest taking a class as you venture into the new world of pickling to absorb some of these basic guidelines — and hey, have a fun experience along the way.

Sweet! {and sour} what did you make?! Alas, we pickled baby carrots {purple, white and orange varieties}, beets {red, yellow and candied}, and a mixed garden which included carrots, beets, romanesco cauliflower and anything else we felt like jamming in the jar {lemon slices, fennel, red onion, jalepenos, etc.} producing a beautiful variety of colors and shapes.

Pickling ProcessSo in an effort to spread the good food love, I’ve included one of the recipes we learned below. Get as creative as you’d like with adding different spices, cutting carrot shapes {sticks or rounds} and veggie varieties, but please people, don’t mess with the vinegar:water ratio {follow the recipe, live to tell the story}. Let’s get pickled!

I live in SF: Take a Class at Happy Girl {here}
I live in NYC: Take a Class with Leda Meredith {here} 

Spicy Carrots {aka Spicy Rabbit}

Recipe for pint jars:
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1 sprig of thyme
1-2 clices of jalapenos on bottom and top of jar
Several pounds of carrots to fill number of jars desired.

Vinegar solution:
8 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
12 cups water
1/4 cup sea salt
2 tablespoons honey

  1. Bring a large stock pot with a jar rack {if you have one} to a rolling boil {want to reach 200 degrees}. If you don’t have a jarring rack to submerge your jars, you can put rocks on the bottom of the pot so your jars are not directly on the bottom where they could crack and use tongs to submerge and remove jars.
  2. Scrub clean, but don’t peel carrots. Remove green top and any roots or bad spots. Slice the carrots so that they are the same height as the jars you are using {or if cutting rounds, cut each the same thickness}.
  3. Slice the jalapenos in 1/4-inch thick rounds and start by adding 1-2 in the bottom of each jar {depending on how spicy they are}. Add all your spices to the bottom of the jar.
  4. While packing the jars heat up the vinegar solution to a rolling boil.
  5. Pack the carrots in the jars with the thyme displayed on the side of the jar. Finish off the top with more jalapenos.
  6. Pour the hot liquid brining solution into the jars up to the fill line {where the jar curves at the top}.
  7. Using one hand, place the lid on top and turn just until the jar starts to turn with the lid. This will ensure it’s not too tight and will allow air to release in the hot water bath. You don’t want the lid to be on tight at this point.
  8. Process each jar in the hot water bath for 15 minutes. The water temperature should be 200 degrees.
  9. Remove immediately with jar tongs or water/heat resistant gloves and tighten lid slightly.
  10. Store in a cool, dark place for 6 weeks to finish pickling.

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