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The White Moustache: Small-Batch Yogurts with a Persian Twist

VideoBy Liza de Guia on Dec 9, 2014
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“100 batches in, it still feels like magic.”

Meet Homa Dashtaki, the founder and owner of The White Moustache yogurt company based in Brooklyn, NY. It’s nice when artisans are still in awe of their product, still bright eyed and in wonder about the magic of their process. It’s a feeling I seldom run into. Most artisans are so deep into the repetition of production that the feeling of excitement has left them. Taking its place: focus, duty, responsibility, deadlines, and other demands of the entrepreneurial world. But not Homa. Not yet, anyway. For her, everyday is like delivering a new child into the world. The beauty of life…of raising happy cultures in milk to form ultra-creamy yogurt.

What sets The White Moustache apart is “coddling.” Homa admits to the TLC method of yogurt care – a lot of attention to the details. It’s how her dad (yup, the dad with the white moustache) taught her to make the beautiful Persian style yogurts she grew up with. These yogurts are elegant, and incredibly soft and rich on the palate, many spoonfuls above the quality of supermarket brands. Add her specialty Middle Eastern flavors to the mix, and entirely new experiences in yogurt arise! Dates, Orange blossom honey & walnuts, sweet beets, and sour cherry whisk you off to the distant countries from which they were inspired – for every batch comes from a family memory. Ideas inspired by dishes or flavors from Homa’s home country of Iran. Enjoy her story.

This is the third installment of our exciting video collaboration with Food & Wine Magazine on The Best American Artisans. Look out for Homa’s yogurt at select specialty stores in New York City and online at GoodEggsNYC.

Thanks for watching food. curated.! Happy eating!

The Sweetness & The Heatness: NYShuk’s Marvelous Harissa Chili Paste

VideoBy Liza de Guia on Nov 18, 2014
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“Not everyone in the Middle East eats hummus and falafel everyday.”

Meet Ron & Leetal Arazi, the founders and chefs behind NYShuk Harissa, an artisan, aromatic chili paste made in Brooklyn, NY.  As Ron explained to me, you can find harissa in almost every North African/Middle Eastern family kitchen. Every mom has a family recipe passed down from their mom, and every recipe is different. Though not yet an American staple, harissa is becoming more and more familiar around professional kitchens. I’ve seen it in the aisles of gourmet markets. In restaurants, on interesting sandwiches and egg dishes. It’s like sriracha 5 years ago, about to have its moment.

For Ron & Leetal, this is a blessing and a curse: as mass produced harissa is on the rise, the tradition of homemade harissa is “dying.” So, they started NYShuk to preserve the craft. Using 3 distinct types of chili peppers and tons of physical labor, their harissa refuses to cut corners, “a night & day difference from most supermarket brands.” It’s a condiment that transforms dishes, that magic kitchen ingredient the adds richness and depth to a dish.  I mix it into mashed potatoes, simmer it into soups, braise it into meats. To be honest, I’m having my own harissa epiphany, and NYShuk wants you to have one too. Enjoy their story!

You can purchase NYShuk Harissa online from their website. They make new batches every week, so it’s guaranteed fresh.

Thanks for watching and supporting my food. curated. Best American Artisans story partnership with Food & Wine Magazine. Happy Eating!

The Secret Is in the Suffering: Bodhi Tree Farm

VideoBy Liza de Guia on Nov 10, 2014
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“I really truly believe I grow the best food in the world.”

As part of an exciting video partnership with Food & Wine Magazine, I am happy to introduce you to Nevia No, the spiritual gardener and owner of Bodhi Tree Farm, a one-of-a-kind, specialty vegetable farm based in Pemberton, New Jersey. Nevia is a black sheep of the farming community.  At the farm, you won’t find charts or watering schedules; but, instead you might find Nevia in a field happily singing and dancing to her crops. She abandons traditional protocol for something more spiritual, letting her farm practices be guided by an instinct or a feeling. To her, a vegetable’s spirit must be nurtured, and along with that, provided with room for suffering.

“Most farmers laugh at me,” she’ll readily admit with a confident smile. But, laugh as you may, for her vegetables and clientele speak for themselves. In just under 5 years of launching, Nevia landed over 65 top restaurant accounts in NYC, many with chefs of high regard. At the farmers market, her vegetables always look the happiest. It might seem far-fetched for me to say, but it’s true. Pull up to Nevia’s vegetable stand, and the vegetables look sturdier, healthier, more colorful, more inviting and more ready to eat. Come see for yourself, the secret is in the suffering.

For more info on Food & Wine’s picks for Best American Artisans, head to the F&W Artisan Hub.

Thanks for watching food. curated.! Happy eating your vegetables!

Naughty Treats: Bread Ahead’s “Custard Grenade” Donuts

VideoBy Liza de Guia on Oct 7, 2014
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“The donuts give our bakers a chance to be naughty, really. We literally carpet bomb them with sugar.”

Meet Justin Gellatly, the head baker of Bread Ahead Bakery located at the popular food stalls in London’s Borough Market. Good fortune brought me to Bread Ahead early one morning in England. A wave of heavy rock blasted from the kitchen, while an army of men in white danced to the beat of their own bread making. But, I wasn’t here for the bread this morning, I was here for Justin’s legendary custard-filled donuts – a menu item so famous and so blogged about, sometimes, even Justin admittedly can’t cope with it.

My local journalist friend, Felicity Spector, suggested this story and I am forever grateful. Justin is a modern day Willy Wonka of sorts – a true craftsman who delights in the wonder of his creations. Watch as his eyes light up when talking about the experience of eating his donuts. There’s a cheeky amusement to it, a sense that he’s recreated the magical experience of being a kid again.

I tried to share one of his donuts. A novice mistake, as these are not made for sharing. In one bite, you instantly want to be alone. The gush of cream is surprising, and it ends up everywhere! On your nose, on your cheeks, all over your fingers. Moments later, you find no matter how much you’ve licked and wiped away, there is still more custard. An everlasting memory of the most famous donuts in London. Enjoy his story.

Thanks for watching food. curated.! Happy eating!

Giving Anchovies a Good Name: Bon Chovie

VideoBy Liza de Guia on Sep 23, 2014
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“Honestly, I don’t even know if people know they are a fish, sometimes.”

Meet Renae Holland, the co-founder of Bon Chovie, a fresh seafood pop-up based in Brooklyn, New York. It seems silly to think that some people don’t realize anchovies are fish. To me, it’s pretty obvious. For Renae, it’s a problem – an educational obstacle she welcomes, gladly. Week after week, it’s her job to convince people that anchovies aren’t just the smelly, slimy, salty, dark pieces of mush they’re used to. She wants to expose New Yorkers to this tiny, hard to find delicacy. Lure them in with bold flavors, sell them on jam-packed nutrients and show customers that anchovies are fish worth snacking on.

Good medicine, or so this Jon Bon Jovi fanatic would say. (heh heh)

Renae believes that most Americans have never seen a fresh, whole anchovy. The majority of commercially harvested anchovies go straight to fishmeal and fish farms, with only a small percentage making it to our seafood markets. When she started Bon Chovie, 4-years ago, part of the allure was that they were so hard to get. She’s found only one shop in The Bronx that’ll source her 50lbs of fresh, Turkish anchovies each week. A source she keeps very secret. Enjoy her story!

You can find Bon Chovie every weekend at Smorgasburg food market in Brooklyn. Thanks for watching food. curated! Happy Eating!