TBJ Gourmet’s Uncured Bacon Jam Let me open this with the preface of saying that growing up on the edge of the American South, with all of its famous culture and, ahem, hospitality, it is a wonderful place to be FROM. But with that said, TBJ Gourmet’s Classic Uncured Bacon Jam gave me a quick reminder of the things that I truly do miss from my being raised in Southeast Oklahoma, most of which are food related in one way or another. If you have ever been to a region of the world where Bar-B-Q means more than throwing hot dogs on a propane grill, you, too, will be able to appreciate this accoutrement. With a subtle but rich cherry, smoke, and brown sugar presence, this “jam” has all the sauce to make any seasoning or marinade its added to feel like its been cooked, as they say in any Texas-Style BBQ joint: “low and slow”. This spread makes sweet-n-savory not just a welcomed addition, but something that you build a meal experience around. Next time you are in our Baker City locale, grab yourself a jar of this, a pound of the wagyu ground beef*, some Kerrygold Dubliner Cheddar, make yourself some coleslaw and pile it all on a kaiser roll with some Jo-Jo’s and a pickle spear on the side and tell me it’s not the best damned “bacon” cheeseburger experience you’ve had. I double-dog dare you. For those on the breakfast side of culinary adventure seeking, grab a bag of Birchbender’s Buttermilk (or Gluten Free) pancake mix and add a tablespoon of this into the batter and then cook. Don’t forget the Vermont Maple B syrup to drizzle on top of your shortstack (or if you’re like me, to drown your pancakes in). It’s definitely a wonderful addition to any meal that not only bookends a day, but everything in between. In the south, bacon is basically a seasoning. This is a little bit of a homecoming for me in that sense and is a concept I implore you to adopt as well by just dabbing a bit here, there, and everywhere.
Bunches and Bunches Fire Roasted Green Chile Sauce Moving forward in the same vein of having a product that enhances the opening and closing meals of your day, this chile sauce will turn no matter what style of egg, chicken, or pork dish you fancy into a smokey zest fest!! With three different types of fire roasted chile there is a well rounded depth and balance of just the right amount of peppery warmth with the great capsicum fruit flavor one would expect from a well crafted, hand made expression of love that the folks at Bunches & Bunches have gifted the world. Everything, literally everything, that we carry of theirs is a smash hit, no matter if you are needing sweet or savory. This is no exception. Maybe it’s left over food culture that I have brought with me in my genes to the Pacific Northwest, but adding heat notes to any dish is almost as much of a compulsive requirement as having a cold beer for yard work on a hot summer day. And a little bit of this sauce goes a long way in doing just that. So far my absolute favorite use for this is a tablespoon of this drizzled atop an omelette with sauteed spinach, Delallo roasted red pepper bruschetta, and fresh grated parmigiano reggiano folded inside. Also, try adding this to top your chicken enchiladas for a whole other level of depth to the classic family favorite.
Cantine Vincenzo Ippolito Liber Pater, Ciro DOC Located in the ball of the foot in the Mediterranian stiletto boot that is Italy, Ippolito is the oldest wine producer in Calabria, growing grapes and producing wine for 5 generations. With 15 different labels under their helm, they rightly named this bottle, made 100% from Gaglioppo, after the Italic god of Wine, Liber Pater (The Free Father for us who barely have grips on the one language). With an ancient grape make-up and tannins that command your respect to allow them to settle for a bit, this full bodied red wine expresses pretty straight forward with a prominent cranberry and raspberry presence that doesn’t so much evolve with much complexity as the pour opens up, but rather gets a bit deeper as exposure plays its part. The weight of the body and its counterbalance of brighter red fruit flavors lends itself to being something that could be enjoyed comfortably into the late spring or early summer without feeling like its impeding on white wine season. Be sure to allow this big boi decant for at least 30 minutes before enjoying. Matter of fact, pop this cork out as you are beginning to prep dinner. By the time those steaks are done resting after the sear or the chicken off the flame kissing grill, these complimentary vino will be 1000% ready for any and all imbibing purposes.