Many of us at T&C are settling back into those familiar eating routines and, for me this week, it’s about simple breakfasts on the go and light green salads at night. I guess that’s why I’m so glad our markets are so well-stocked with excellent eating options during both the peak of summer abundance AND the gray winter doldrums of January.
A Winter Tomato that Tastes Good? You Bet.
While we’ve always carried tomatoes in the winter for those customers who wanted them, we’ve never been terribly impressed with the flavor and quality. In fact, finding a great tomato in winter has been nigh on to impossible. That is, until we found Tasti-Lee organic tomatoes a few years ago. The discovery was a game changer.
“They’re a far superior, really nice size winter tomato that actually tastes good,” says Jim Foley, our Produce Specialist. When he found out they also offered a lower-priced, non-organic version, he got pretty excited and helped make a deal right away to make sure we could offer them for the first time this year.
“At first, I didn’t even know they had a conventional tomato,” said Jim. “But we got to talking with them during a convention in New Orleans last year and knew right away we had to get the ball rolling on this. Tasti-Lee is just the best-eating winter tomato around. We’ve had them since last December, but we’re really seeing nice color this week with more maturity and flavor. We’re dang proud to have these for our customers.”
So if you’re tired of substituting pickled beets or trying to cut through another eerily bland, off-color “imposter” for your next green salad, come on in and give Tasti-Lee a try this week.
Get to Know Seattle Bagel Bakery
Speaking of Jim Foley, we’ve got his favorite non-Produce item on our Big Board Buys this week — Seattle Bakery Bagels!
Every week, Jim cruises one of our Delis looking for a tasty lunch. We ALL know what he’s going to do, eventually – get a bagel (seriously, stop wasting time, Jim, and just grab the bagel already!). And this week he’s even happier because he’ll be snagging two four-packs for only $5. That’s almost seven bucks back in Jim’s pocket!
Now those of you who hail from the East Coast have got your own special obsession with bagels and LOVE to share your own particular rules for how bagels should be made. And that’s great. But out here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re a little more laid back and we have our own style. Since 1986, Seattle Bakery has been kettle-boiling their bagels instead of steaming, which gives them that crisp outer shell and chewy, pull-a-part texture that bagel aficionados can’t live without.
Owner AJ Ghambari says that, for them, “it’s really about people from top to bottom. It’s about the farmers in Eastern Washington who grow the grain and the Shepherd’s Grain Co-Op. To the bakers who are here day in and day out, morning and night baking.”
And for a company like ours that values Food People Love, their message really resonates with us. They make ‘em, bake ‘em and deliver all within 24 hours. You can also check out this video that outlines their entire process. Or read more about them in our “Company We Keep” section of our website.
Seattle Granola Deserves a Major Shout-Out
And speaking of Seattle — my segues need work, I know — I want to give a quick shout out to Seattle Granola Company. Based on the numbers from Bulk Foods, many of you already know how amazing and delicious their granolas are, but I’ve had the pleasure of starting my morning dashing out the door to daycare and work with a few handfuls of this addictive, local and crunchy granola. It’s really made eating breakfast while driving and singing Itsy Bitsy Spider over and over even more fun than it already is.
Owners Emily and her brother-in-law Chris use organic, gluten-free oats and organic, extra-virgin coconut oil to make all their batches, and they’re certified vegan … if you’re into that. They just finished baking their 1,000th batch so congratulations! In the words of the kids who just posted a video jingle on the Seattle Granola Company Facebook page, “Don’t eat crapola, eat Seattle granola!”
Our very own cheese whiz, Shauna Howell, offers up a cheese worth discovering.
LA BOTTEGA CRESCENZA-STRACCHINO — If you are the kind of person who loves to pull their Oreos apart and scoop out the cream, you will love this gooey, delicious Italian cheese. In fact, even if you’re not one of those people, you will love this cheese anyway.
It’s like getting all the gooey good stuff from a Brie without a rind to work around. A common table cheese that originated in Italy’s Lombardy region, this fresh, young, cow’s milk cheese is made in Wisconsin with rich morning milk. It’s a little gem of discovery in the cheese case and is honestly one of my favorites. It’s extraordinarily versatile, creamy and mild with a slight salty tang. Spread it on a warm baguette, stir into pasta, dollop onto pizza, spread on a crostini and top with pomegranate arils and a drizzle of chocolate, or enjoy it the way I do—with a spoon and my favorite beverage.
Here’s a secret: Keep the cheese about a week past its best-eaten-by date. That’s when Crescenza-Stracchino shows its sassy side. I promise you’ll have a hard time sharing.
Chris Allen is a copywriter and assistant marketer with Town & Country Markets. He’s a former contributing editor, radio anchor and producer, and an Air Force veteran. He’s also mastered the art of chopping red onions with one hand while sipping a dry Tempranillo in the other.