food crafters: February 2008 Archives

Chavez at Sunset salsa

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Having lived in San Francisco for about six years, one of the hardest adjustments of moving to New England has been the dearth of authentic Mexican food.  It's tough having to rely on jarred salsa from far away places -- and the fresh one's we seen in the supermarkets just haven't overly excited our taste buds.

But we no longer need to fret.  Culinary help is on the way!  Larry Hernendez, a Los Angeles native and current Dorchester resident, has started selling his homemade Chavez at Sunset salsa at the Whole Foods in Hingham and on River Road in Cambridge.  (Look for the retro black and white labels.)

Chock full of tomatoes, onions, and Larry's secret blend of chilies and spices, the Red Chile Salsa is one of the freshest, tastiest salsas you'll find east of the Mississippi.  We paired ours with some homemade guac and organic blue chips.

salsa.jpgWhen he's not making salsa, Larry works as a chef at Ashmont Grill and teaches cooking classes through the Boston Center For Adult Education and at Bullfinch's restaurant in Sudbury.

Real Pickles

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While perusing the list of food options available from Boston Organics, we found Real Pickles based in Montague, MA. Their dill pickles are naturally fermented -- and boy, do they taste like it!  They've got a solid bite to them that couldn't be mistaken for anything else but fermentation.  On the first bite, it's a bit shocking, but these pickles are really, really good!

real pickles.jpg(It's funny -- as we've been systematically replacing our industrialized food-like products with local, natural foods, we've often buy surprised by the tastes of the more traditional items. While a lot of these natural items taste different, we're finding that they're different in a good and flavory way.)

Dan and Addie Rose, Real Pickles founders, say on their website, "In support of a regional food system, we buy all of our vegetables from family farms in the Northeast and sell our products only within the Northeast."

Ok, the chocolate you're about to read about is admittedly sourced far, far away from New England.  But if you're going to eat chocolate (and you know you will), then you might as well get it from folks that source their beans directly from farmers and process them (the beans, not the farmers) locally.

And that's just what the proprietors of Taza Chocolate do:  "The Taza Chocolate mission is to bring chocolate eaters closer to the cocoa farmer by making minimally processed chocolate that passes directly from the farm, to us, to you. Since we source beans directly from farming communities and co-operatives, we can ensure that a fair price is paid for high quality cocoa beans. From there, we bring the beans to our chocolate studio in Somerville, Massachusetts and grind them into our delicious chocolate."

We found their Chocolate Mexicano at Bloc 11 Cafe in Union Square (Somerville, MA).   (And, a noteworthy aside: after a lifetime of being a skim milk drinker, I finally caved to 1% so that we could buy from Crescent Ridge.)

taza - raw.jpgThis is no ordinary chocolate -- it comes in a disk that you have to break apart into pie-shaped pieces to make hot cocoa.  Action shot:

taza - action.jpgAnd, being no ordinary chocolate, it wasn't a huge surprise that it made no ordinary cup of cocoa.  It's much less lighter in color than the normal cocoa we normally get, the sweetness is more subtle, and it has a hint of cinnamon.  On sip one, we weren't really sold -- but by sip three, we could never go back to our old stuff.  It was incredible.

taza - cooked.jpgIf you're up for an outing this weekend, stop by the Paper & Chocolate event on Saturday, February 9, from 1 - 6 pm at 561 Windsor Street in Somerville.  Taza is pairing up with the very talented Shelley of Albertine Press who will be selling her beautiful handmade cards, coasters, and calendars.

If you can't make it to Paper & Chocolate, you can also find Taza in plenty of other (mostly New England) retailers and online

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the food crafters category from February 2008.

food crafters: January 2008 is the previous archive.

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