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CHOW HOUND: Local flavor

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The dwindling daylight reminds us that the 2013 harvest is drawing to a close, but that doesn't mean locavores can't still find homegrown vittles. Our region is teeming with talented and enterprising individuals who are committed to crafting good things for us to eat, often with ingredients that they too have scored in our big, shared backyard.

This is the third installment in an occasional series that spotlights locally made edibles. Is there an area food company you'd like to put on our radar? Then do it! Add a comment to this article on rochestercitynewspaper.com, Tweet at us @roccitynews, or e-mail food@rochester-citynews.com.

The Abbey of the Genesee, a wee bit northeast of Geneseo in Piffard, New York, is home to about 30 Trappist monks who avoid the problem of idle hands by immersing them in dough. Since 1953 the abbey has been making Monks' Bread, now available throughout much of Western New York in that very familiar packaging. Among the current varieties are stone-ground whole wheat, cinnamon-raisin, sunflower with rolled oats, and caraway rye, with seasonal holiday breads on deck. The monks' baking repertoire has expanded to include cookies and cakes, and ordering directly from the abbey allows you to personalize gift boxes with handcrafted products from other monasteries. Call 877-264-6785 to learn more, or visit monksbread.com.

Totally employee-owned, Nunda, NY's Once Again Nut Butter has been roasting and grinding since 1976, with fair-trade and sustainability models that go back much further than the recent wave of consciousness. Once Again produces a number of peanut butter (think old-fashioned, organic, crunchy, no-salt) along with variations on cashew, almond, sesame, and sunflower-seed butters, plus packaged roasted nuts and the Dawes Honey line. You can find Once Again at places like Abundance Co-op and Lori's Natural Foods, or online at onceagainnutbutter.com.

Geulah's "Claim to Flame" Spicy Tomato Spread is the creation of Geulah von Perlstein, owner of Geulah's Café and Deli at the Jewish Community Center. A versatile and all-natural condiment co-starring garlic, cumin, and crushed red pepper, the spread takes advantage of the tomato's inherent umami to enliven whatever it's used on or in, be it chili or a rice cake. Look for Geulah's "Claim to Flame" Spicy Tomato Spread at shops like Parkleigh, Lipman's Kosher Market, and Lombardi's Gourmet Imports, or just pop by Geulah's Café. Check geulahs.com for more info.

If you visited an area farmers' market over the summer, you may have encountered Jennifer Brake slinging herb-and-spice mixtures under the banner of VonBrake Spices, a family business devoted to hand-blended rubs and seasonings. VonBrake spice blends include cajun, jerk, thai, and garam masala, along with prosciutto and pastrami rubs, plus the intriguing espresso blend and a poblano mole that did wonders for my Dr. Pepper barbecue sauce. VonBrake provides recipe ideas as well; follow the company on Facebook to see where it'll pop up next, or visit vonbrakespices.com.

South Bristol's Arbor Hill Winery has a lot on its proverbial plate, and most of it is grape-related. There are, of course, a number of wines, but Arbor Hill has been offering a line of gourmet foods since 1980, such as jams and preserves, flavored vinegars, finishing sauces, and Healthy Purple grape-pie filling, plus addictive grape gummy bears and licorice twists. Look for Arbor Hill products at shops like Red Bird Market and Aman's Farm Market, or visit thegrapery.com to order online.

Glenn and Marcia Litwiller's Mountain Rise Organics is a farm in the hills of Naples, NY, that makes herb blends, herbal soaps, and Mountain Rise Granola, a hearty combination of whole grains and other goodness, like cocoa in the Chunky Cocoa version, or raisins, cinnamon, and ginger in the Spice of Life blend. A few of the granolas in the Mountain Rise line are vegan, and all are baked and packaged in Mountain Rise's nut- and peanut-free bakery. Get your granola on at places like Abundance Co-op and Wegmans in Canandaigua and head to mountainrise.com for more details.

You're told that when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. But this is Western New York, and when you're confronted with a pile of grape guts, you make grape seed oil. Romulus, NY's Seneca BioEnergy cold-presses the byproducts from a couple dozen wineries to make Finger Lakes Grape Seed Oil, a light-bodied oil that's excellent as both an ingredient (it contains the "good" kind of cholesterol) and a cooking fat thanks to its relatively high smoke point. You can find Finger Lakes Grape Seed Oil at retailers like Casa Larga Vineyards and Pittsford Wegmans; visit fingerlakesgrapeseedoil.com to learn more.

"Do you dukkah?" the flyer salaciously wondered at Allens Hill Farm's booth at the Brighton Farmers' Market. From the Arabic word meaning "to pound" (which really doesn't help to make it any less dirty-sounding), dukkah is actually a nut-and-spice concoction of Egyptian origin that's traditionally used as a topping or mix-in. The Bloomfield, NY, farm sells a few varieties of dukkah, along with baking mixes, granolas, sea salts, and owner John Loveland's apple-cider molasses. Look for Allens Hill Farm products at shops like Red Bird Market, or visit allenshillfarm.com to order online.

Confession time! At last month's gut-busting Festival of Food, there was one vendor I visited twice, and that was Happy Earth Tea, the thoughtful infusions of owner/operator Niraj Lama helping to both warm and soothe on a long, brisk night of indulgence. Lama — a native of Darjeeling, India, if you're looking for bonafides — offers organic, single-origin black and green teas, as well as various herbal blends and chais. The Happy Earth Tea website provides gorgeous photos and tempting descriptions of flavor profiles, along with instructions for brewing. Experience Happy Earth Tea at restaurants like Red Fern, or pick up some for home enjoyment at Happy Earth Tea's Etsy shop and at happyearthtea.com.

Chow Hound is a food and restaurant news column. Do you have a tip? Send it to food@rochester-citynews.com.

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