September 18, 2016
Buying local and shopping small are important values to you, our customers. They’re important values for us as buyers, too. Yes, we seek out items from all over the world, but we are very proud to carry many wonderful, locally-made items, too. “Buy local” is most evident in our food section, since there are so many talented people making tasty things with the bounty of produce in Northern California.
Toque Blanche’s Stuart has been working with Albert Katz for almost twenty years. Katz’s award-winning olive oils, vinegars and honeys have been a constant staple at Toque Blanche since it opened. Katz’s Meyer Lemon Olive Oil and Gravenstein Apple Cider Vinegar are still some of our best selling items. Albert’s olive groves and his vinegar house (a converted carriage house!) are located in the Suisun Valley, just northeast of Napa.
For something a little different in the vinegar realm try Kokomo’s Verjus or Sonoma Valley Portworks’ Sonomic “Almost Vinegar.”
Verjus is the juice of green (as in not quite ripe) wine grapes. Not as acidic as vinegar or lemon juice but tarter than wine, Verjus is great in sauces for delicate items such as white fish, or in salads where you want the ingredients to really shine through. Kokomo Verjus is from a winery in the Dry Creek area of Healdsburg. Sonomic is similar to an aged balsamic, but with the added benefits of being lead-free and a lot less expensive! Made in Petaluma by a company that makes Ports (Which Toque Blanche also carries), Sonomic is unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. Thick, sweet and slightly acidic, it’s perfect on a Caprese Salad, drizzled over roasted veggies or a grilled steak topped with blue cheese.
The other half of our Mutual Admiration Society (they LOVE Chamba!), Rancho Gordo Beans are a revelation. With flavor and texture, these heirloom variety beans from Napa and the Sacramento Delta have an almost cult-like following, and many of the Coastside and Peninsula adherents come to us for their fix. Since these are an heirloom agricultural product, sometimes they run out of certain varieties. We just look at this as an excuse to try something new. Our current favorite (with plenty of stock!) is the Domingo Rojo, a red skinned bean that works in almost any application, from the famous Red Beans and Rice to inside a burrito or just on their own. The pot liquor from these beans could be bottled and sold separately!
More fun stuff from Napa! These tasty compotes are made to pair with cheese on a cheese plate, but that doesn’t stop us from cooking with them. An omelet with their Dried Apricot & Shallot Compote and Goat Cheese is a great breakfast!
Hailing from Emeryville, Inna Jam uses only heirloom varieties of fruit grown within one hundred miles of their kitchen to make incredible jams and shrubs, a blend of fruit juice, sugar and vinegar used in cocktails or with sparkling water. Her jams are made with just enough sugar and pectin to hold together, but the true tasted of the fruit is what shines through and the reason this local gem has garnered national attention.
Also from Emeryville, and one of our newest finds, Cornology flavored popcorn is non-GMO and incredibly addictive! The Truffle – Parmesan or the Logeman Dark Caramel are our favorites depending on the day. If you can’t decide between sweet or savory, you can always try the Chicago Mix of Cheddar and Caramel.
If it is heat you’re looking for, look no further than this local hot sauce from the Palo Alto fire station, available in just plain hot, or Habanero. Firefighters are standing by… Plus, all proceeds go to the Palo Alto Firefighters Charitable Fund.
Something not quite so hot, but with a kick, these incredibly balanced mustards from My Kind of Mustard have quickly become a customer and staff favorite. From the sweeter beer or garlic mustards to the just-perfectly-hot-enough 3-peppers mustard, these condiments will elevate your creation whether it’s a simple sandwich or something more elaborate.
Phil Bava pays tribute to his Genovese roots in Escalon by making a fruitier, smoother olive oil than is usually made in California. Bava Olive Oil is great drizzled over fish or of course used in the Genovese classic, pesto.
Working in Belmont and San Francisco respectively, these chocolatiers create amazing confections. They can both be found right by the register. Why? Because we’re evil that way.
Not cloyingly sweet and with great flavor, this local Coastside honey is at home on your granola, yogurt with fruit, toast with ricotta or in your tea. Also available in a very limited dark honey while supplies last, this aptly titled “Dark Side of the Moon” is rich, earthy and treacle like. Avalable at Toque Blanche.
Available in Wildflower, Sage, Orange Blossom, and Meadowfoam. Don't know which you would like best? Try a sampler pack of all four. Carmel Honey company is dedicated to support and education for honeybee and pollination research. No bees, no food! Available at Chefworks.
These exquisite rolling pins are quite the gift for the baker in your life. No, they don’t have handles and they aren’t tapered. This gives you both more surface area to work with and also more control on the pressure used when rolling. Made in Philo, CA.
The perfect pour-over coffee station! Function and fashion plus caffeination equals happy! Made in Half Moon Bay by furniture maker Scott Smith, these ceramic and wood works of art leave you room to see the coffee in the cup and have wells designed to catch any drips when the cup is removed. Uses #2 cone filters.
San Rafael resident Michael Finizio was didn’t like how the old school ravioli pins worked; the filling had to be placed just so and there was very little space in between so they tended to fall apart when cooking. His re-working of the ravioli pin makes it much easier. Lay down the dough, spread the filling ¼ “ thick evenly across then roll the pin across and it squeezes the filling into the pocket and leaves ample room to cut them without worrying about them splitting apart when cooking. Check out the video below or come to the Toque Blanche cooking class on September 29th to see Michael make the ravioli in person!
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