"Seitan isn't a meat replacement, it's a food stuff in its own right."
Meet Chris Kim and Rebecca Lopez-Howes, the co-owners and seitan specialists behind Monk's Meats, a vegetarian butcher shop - with plans to open a storefront - in Brooklyn, New York. Monk's Meats is on a mission to supply home cooks and local chefs with meatless raw materials made with a foodie in mind, whole foods made with integrity and a passion for flavor. Dissatisfied with the seitan options at grocery stores, Chris and Rebecca started making their own version at home three years ago, getting so good at it that they decided to launch a business. I'm glad they did.
Watching them make artisan seitan is a fascinating process, both very physical and very tedious. But, according to Chris, "It's fun!"
On a daily basis, Monk's Meats produces between 100 to 150 pounds of seitan, hand-delivering them to restaurants, customers and a handful of retail shops around the city. I've tried all of their flavors, and each one of them stands out distinctly - enhancing stir-frys, sandwiches, salads, soups, omelettes - you name it - with a great source of protein. Oh, and the texture is unbelievable too. Perfectly chewy. Firm. Succulent. Like they say, it IS meat. I gotta say, it sure does feel like it. Enjoy the piece.
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"Like everybody else, I have Tabasco getting dusty in my cupboard. For me, it's always been about fresh peppers."
Meet Sonya Samuel, the founder and owner behind Bacchanal Pepper Sauce, a Brooklyn made, Caribbean-hot, soul-satisfying pepper sauce that recently launched in New York City. Like her hot sauce, Sonya too is a party. She throws around "hey babys" like I throw around smiles, engaging people with a lust-for-life attitude that you're always glad to bump up into, when you do. Now, Sonya LOVES food. And I'm not saying it just to say it. I'm saying it because it's something she'll tell you often - and often with a very vocal opinion. She knows what she likes and doesn't like, and isn't shy about picking dishes apart. I appreciate that about her. She knows and trusts her palate, and I think that's why her hot sauce is SO GOOD. She has standards...very high standards. Sonya wants her pepper sauce to represent what she believes in food: that good food should create memories and moments. It should "transport" you. And, you know what, I'll give it to her. This pepper sauce is like a nice, spicy vacation.
Enjoy her story!
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"When you use multiple versions of one ingredient, it makes a difference! We do a lot of blending with spices that way. These aren't just one-note or two-note flavors."
Meet Lynn Sterett and Joan Kass, the co-founders of The Well Dressed Nut, a premium, artisan nut company based in Tenafly, NJ. I will admit, I'm not the biggest nut person. I rarely crave them. In fact, I don't seek them out. Nuts, in general, rarely make it into my pantry as a snack. So, when I came across The Well Dressed Nut, it's not that I was skeptical, I guess you could say, I was just going through the motions of story research. I wasn't thinking too much about it, until I took that first bite. Immediately, my brain and tastebuds kicked in: what's that flavor, and THAT spice? What IS that? That hot, peppery kick in the back end of the bite, that's new. That's interesting. All these flavors, woke me up. It was a nice change. And, they have a nice story.
Lynn and Joan don't come from the food world. They originally met, and became close friends, selling beauty products in New York City for a few decades. After they left their careers, they still wanted to work together, they searched for ideas, until one just fell naturally into their lap.
Enjoy the story of The Well Dressed Nut! Hope you purchase a few pouches online to try them. They carry a variety of flavors in their "Flavor Wardrobe". My favorites: the Spiced-Up Pecans (using a top secret spicy ground pepper in the mix) and the Cinnamon-Vanilla Pecans (incorporating 3 unique types of cinnamon to enhance the flavor).
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"Life tastes better with a cookie."
Meet Paige McCurdy-Flynn, Head Cookie Fairy and Founder of Cookie Fairy Sweets based in Brooklyn, New York. Now, it takes a certain kind of person to call themselves a "cookie fairy", a certain confidence to own up to the title, and a certain belief to name your company just that. After spending a day with Paige, I discovered there truly is something magical about her. Maybe it's her infectious laugh, or the way she makes you believe that her cookies are BETTER and HEALTHIER from the freezer box. Whatever it is, I'm sold.
I actually discovered her My Man Cookies while randomly wandering through a small gourmet shop in Park Slope. I had never seen fresh baked frozen cookies marketed in the freezer aisle before and I was intrigued (maybe a little skeptical), but I'm so glad I tried it. Her My Man Cookies might be the best cookies I ate last year. You'll see why during my close-ups of her mix! It's filled with so many layers of goodness, I stopped counting. Enjoy the new story for the new year!
Please check out Cookie Fairy Sweets and her line up of flavors on her website. You can purchase her cookies for delivery online, or visit one of a handful of local shops that carry her cookies. Oh, and if you like oatmeal raisin cookies, today's your lucky day.
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"Our cookie selection is different. I didn't grow up in the United States, so, I didn't grow up on chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookies. I don't connect to them like others do. I just bake what I've known all my life."
Meet Zohar Zohar, the owner and head baker behind Zucker Bakery, a specialty, small-batch bakery cafe in the heart of New York City's East Village. Here, you'll find uniquely spiced cookies that just might surprise you; cookies that make you feel like you've traveled - with flavors and spices that hint of other countries, other walks of life. It's a tiny, homey space - just the way Zohar imagined it - with a curated collection of family and friends of family cookie recipes very close to Zohar's heart.
Zohar comes from a small community in Israel, where baking was a big part of life. She moved to New York City to work as a professional chef in restaurant kitchens, and only re-discovered baking when she left the trade to raise her own kids. During the past 10 years, she's been perfecting classic cookie and pastry recipes in her kitchen at home, sharing what she loved solely with family and friends. It was just supposed to be a hobby, a personal act of passion, until her husband convinced her to open her own bake shop.
Zucker Bakery has only been around for a year now, and in a short amount of time, has created quite a cookie-loving community for itself. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming. The cookies are always fresh. I hope you stop by! To me, the discovery of this little bakery is what makes New York so much fun.
"I hope my cookies strike a memory or a warm place for anyone who eats them." -Zohar Zohar
Zucker Bakery -
433 East 9th Street, New York, NY
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