Ari's Top 5

Our actions can be assessed based on whether or not they lead toward beauty.
—Makamoto Fujimora

Staffer holding balloon at Camp Bacon Street Fair

Camp Bacon Street Fair

The Sunday street fair that celebrates diverse porkways, Southern Foodways, and our local 4-H


Looking for something fun to do this Sunday? Like eating bacon? Love the smell of cured meat? Like to support good causes? Enjoy taking your kids to cool events? Enjoy eating excellent food, particularly when it’s got a lot of bacon in it? OK, we have the event for you!

The Camp Bacon Street Fair, the much-anticipated annual strolling celebration of smoked pork and community causes, is coming up this Sunday, June 2nd from 11 to 2pm at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market (just a block over from the Deli).

What does one do at the Camp Bacon Street Fair? Eat bacon. Get a bacon “tattoo” (temporarily) affixed to your arm. Find good food. Meet cool people. Enjoy the afternoon. Support a couple of really good causes while eating good bacon because . . . what a great way to spend a bit of a nice springtime Sunday in Ann Arbor!

What will you find when you get there? There’ll be 20 different vendors offering samples, sandwiches, and other great-tasting products. Nueske’s bacon, Arkansas Peppered bacon, Smoking Goose salami from Indiana, Fra'Mani’s masterful salamis and hams from Oakland (that’s Oakland, California, not Oakland County); Lazy Dogs hot dog cart. And . . . Charlito’s super excellent Spanish-style chorizo from New Jersey. There will be bacon-pimento cheese from the Creamery; bacon-rice (kind-of-like-rice crispie) squares from the Candy Manufactory; and Bacon Pepper Farm Bread (see below for more) from the Bakehouse! And that’s just the beginning!

As we do with all of Camp Bacon, we’ll be raising money for Washtenaw County 4-H and for our favorite culinary nonprofit, Southern Foodways Alliance.

RSVP to attend the Camp Bacon Street Fair
P.S. It starts tonight—the whole five days of Camp Bacon is about to play out! We can still fit you in! Come on out, even if it’s only for half an hour! (We’ve got student rates, scholarships, and other creative ways to include you—email me at

A Pair of Excellent Bean-to-Bar Offerings from Ecuador at the Candy Store

Two new choice (and award-winning) chocolate bars from Goodnow Farms


There are any number of good reasons one might be looking for a lovely chocolate bar. It could be a birthday gift for a friend, a Father’s Day present, a small but meaningful pick-me-up for a loved one struggling through a difficult situation, a thank-you for your kid’s favorite teacher . . . Or it could just be that you really like chocolate and after you read this you’re gonna divert from whatever you were doing and drive right over to the Candy Store on Plaza Drive and buy a couple of these terrific bars right away! Whatever the cause, if you like high-quality cacao, here are two new possibilities to put on your list. We’ve been serving their single origin Mexican hot cocoa at the Roadhouse for a while now. And a few weeks ago, the folks at the Candy Store added these very good chocolate bars. To the point of painter Makamoto Fujimora’s well-taken quote above, either or both will definitely bring a bit of beauty to your world and the world at large.

I met Tom and Monica Rogan from Goodnow Farms at the Mercantile artisan food show in San Francisco a few years ago. They’ve spent the last decade working around South and Central America to develop a line of direct trade, bean-to-bar chocolates. I was impressed with the chocolate and the choices they’d made about trying to work in sustainable ways. The Rogans are working from a two-centuries-plus-old farm in Sudbury, Massachusetts—it’s located on Goodnow Road, hence the name for their business.

The cacao for both of these lovely chocolate bars comes from the Salazar family who farm on the west coast of Ecuador, an hour or so to the west of the capital at Quito, and just south of the small city of Same. The Salazars work with the now hard-to-find, old school Ecuadorian Nacional variety of cacao beans as well as some beans of the traditional local Acriollado variety—both are from the low-yield, high-flavor beans, long ago abandoned by cost-conscious big producers, but still beloved by anyone who has a thing (like I do) for complex high-quality craft chocolate. The Salazars’ commitment to quality—and the Rogans’ skill at working with the Ecuadorian raw materials—comes through in the bars. Both are delicious.

The first is the Esmeraldas bar—70% cacao, dark and delicious. “Berries” are the flavor descriptor the Rogans use, and sure enough, this stuff tastes like a chocolate-covered cross between strawberry and blackberry jam! (To be clear, dark chocolate is the dominant flavor, but within that context the jaminess is pretty wild.) It has a long, clean finish.

The other bar starts with the same cacao. But in this case, the Rogans pair it with something I have to admit I wouldn’t have been inclined to investigate: Boston Harbor Distillery’s Putnam Rye Whiskey. It definitely works. The Rye is named after Silas Putnam, whose long-ago inventions included automating the manufacture of the hot-forged horse nail! If you want to see the bottles, the Rogans posted a photo on Instagram. They macerate the cacao nibs from the Salazar’s in whiskey for about 48 hours before grinding it for chocolate. The rye takes the chocolate berry notes of the straight Esmeraldas bar and rounds them out—like adding a big badass bass line to an already lovely song that started on acoustic guitar, it makes for some marvelous eating. Maybe in the same way that orange marmalade and Scotch swing so nicely together, Rye by the glass and dark chocolate could be a new pairing to keep in mind for the (your) future! In this case, the Goodnows have put the two together for us in one handy and tasty chocolate bar.

Goodnow Farms just won six different Sofi Awards—the most medals the Specialty Food Association has ever given to a brand in a single year. They’ve also won a fair few from the Good Food Mercantile.

Get to the Candy Store for these chocolate prize-winners!
Acciughe e Burro

Anchovies and Butter, or as they say in Italy, Acciughe e Burro

An appetizer for the ages


I just came back from a trip to Turin to learn about the food and cooking of the Piedmont region, where I found a bunch of good things. Stay tuned for more. But one I can’t get out of my mind is the simple combination of anchovies and butter. Unsalted butter with top-notch anchovies. On good bread, man, it’s delicious. It’s really one of the tastiest culinary combos I’ve had in a long time!

Nils Bohr, the physicist who also wrote wonderfully about the quiet and effective power of the dialogue process, once said, “The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.” Acciughe e Burro is just that—the coming together of two seemingly opposite, but equally profound in their excellence, culinary truths. It’s a marvelous, well-cured and well-curated take on Surf and Turf—Surf and Turf—the salty sea tang of good anchovies and the creaminess of high quality, cultured, butter. As one might say in Italy, “bellissimo!”

Acciughe e burro is all about the quality of the raw materials. Pick up some really great butter—cultured butter (not “sweet butter”—cultured butter is the old school style where the cream is allowed to ripen for a few days, like good yogurt), spread thickly, onto good bread. The Deli has the 1889 brand of cultured butter from the Piedmont in stock—it’s excellent! I’ve been putting it on a French baguette from the Bakehouse, but really any of the breads would be excellent. (Those great chestnut baguettes for sure, as well the lovely Country Miche.) Then lay on some really good anchovies. Right now, the Gran Anchoa Ortiz anchovies from the Spanish Basque Country would be my top pick! If you want, you can stick a caper berry or a tiny sprig of flat leaf Italian parsley on it, or maybe a grind of good black pepper but that’s about it. Let the ingredients come to room temperature before you eat. Put a bunch out on a plate and have at it. Really, there’s just something about the creamy dairy deliciousness of the butter paired with the umami excellence of the anchovies that makes this so good that I can barely stop eating it!

Having eaten this regularly in Turin last week, it got me thinking about the origins of the dish. I have found little so far (though, you can be sure, I’ll stay on the search for a while still) about its history. It seems to me it would have to be a northern dish—people in the south of Italy would hardly ever have eaten much butter in the old days, so it would make way more sense to have had its origins in a northern, dairy-rich region like Lombardy, Emilia Romagna, or the Piedmont. For the moment, I’m going to believe its beginnings are Piemontese—the region has a long tradition of anchovies. The story is that at various points in the past (some say centuries ago; one anchovy curer told me last week it was during WWII) salt was hard to get in the region and was also heavily taxed. In the way that Italians have with creatively getting around any rule, some smuggler figured out a way to top off boxes of salt with anchovies. Eventually someone realized the anchovies were worth more than the salt. To this day there’s a host of anchovy-heavy dishes in this region which is odd, since the Piemonte has no ocean front property! My friend and food writer Elizabeth Minchilli says, “It’s definitely a northern thing since it combines butter (north) with a fish that’s preserved, not fresh. That said, it’s something you find all over Italy these days and is considered a delicacy. For instance, in Puglia, it’s always part of a ‘fancy’ antipasto spread in any restaurant. It’s also common in Rome, where Romans order it as an appetizer even when it’s not on the menu.” So there you have it! If you don’t already know it, and if you’re inclined towards anchovies (like I am) anyways, make this your go-to appetizer of the year!

Order ahead at the Deli for the ingredients!

Peppered Bacon Farm Bread from the Bakehouse

Three of my favorite things all wrapped up in one lovable loaf!


With the 10th annual Camp Bacon kicking off Wednesday night (see above), what better way to celebrate than with a loaf of this special bake of Peppered Bacon Farm bread! Even if you can’t come to Camp, you can camp out at home with a loaf of this great bread. Actually, you’ll want to consider buying a couple—one thing I’ve learned over the years is that they go quickly!

If you’ve had Peppered Bacon Farm bread before, you already know how excellent it is. If you haven’t had it, well, there’s a first time for everything, right? The base, as you can tell from the name, is our best-selling Farm Bread (naturally leavened, with an 18-hour rise time), boosted with a healthy dose of Nueske’s applewood smoked and a bunch of ground 5-Star black pepper we get from Epices de Cru. Is it really that good? Let’s just say of the 50 or so special bakes we do at the Bakehouse over the course of a year, this one is our most popular!

What do you with it? Rip off a chunk and eat it. If you buy one late in the day, right after it’s emerged from the oven, you may not make it home without eating half (or a whole) loaf, the smell is so good! If you’re eating it later, simply stick it in the oven (as is—not wrapped) for about 20 minutes at 350°F to get the crust nice and crisp and fill your whole house with some seriously world-class aromas. You’ll feel like you’re at Camp Bacon just from the smell!

Beyond that? It’s particularly good with egg salad. Make a fried egg sandwich out of it. Or turn some into bread crumbs grated onto pasta or salad. Make a grilled cheese with fresh goat cheese from the Creamery. Make toast and spread it with bacon-fat mayonnaise (recipe in Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon). Throw chunks of it into an asparagus soup. In fact, a sandwich of sautéed or grilled asparagus with a fried egg sounds really good too. If you do try making toast with it, be ready for anyone else in the building to come looking—to say the aroma is enticing is an understatement. If bacon, peanut butter, and banana sandwiches (á la Elvis) are your thing, then it would make total sense to spread some peanut butter on it. Or maybe even better still, some of the amazing Naturalmond almond butter from Georgia! (Jaime from Georgia Grinders has donated a jar of her peanut butter for everyone who comes to Camp Bacon’s Main Event!)

Buy some this weekend at the Bakeshop, the Deli, the Roadhouse, or ship six or eight loaves to yourself or a loved one (Father’s Day deliciousness?) from Mail Order.

Peppered Bacon Farmbread for a limited time only!
Special Selection Sweet Paprika 210 from Eastern Spain

Special Selection Sweet Paprika 210 from Eastern Spain

Experience paprika at its peak with May’s Spice of the Month


It’s hard to believe that something as seemingly passé as paprika could have such a big impact on your everyday eating. But sure enough, this stuff has been appearing—either as a main feature, or a bit of elegant add-on—at almost every meal I’ve made over the last month or so. It truly is terrific—takes paprika to a whole new level. Even someone like me—who’s had the best of Spanish and Hungarian offerings for many years now has been wowed. Try it—I’m betting you will be, too.

For context, you should probably know that paprika—pimenton in Spanish—is to Murcia in eastern Spain what saffron is to La Mancha in the center; the core spice around which almost everyone’s cooking is based. In Murcia, people use pimenton like people in Parma use Parmigiano Reggiano—every day and at almost every meal.

While paprika is often dismissed in North America as something to use merely for color, properly-produced pimenton like this adds enormous amounts of flavor and aroma. Unlike some of the spicier paprikas from Hungary or Western Spain, Murcia producers are adamant about the importance of the paprika having rich, mellow sweetness. Philippe de Vienne, our supplier from Épices de Cru explains that, “Most Spanish paprika is made from a blend of whole peppers that are actually grown in Peru, Chili, or China with some of the more expensive and delicious genuine Spanish peppers added to achieve the grade desired. The varieties grown outside of Spain are closer to red bell peppers,” he said. “They are not pimenton. The blended peppers are ground with stems and seeds to produce ‘paprika.’ That is legal under European food regulations that essentially states that the country where the greater financial value is added to a product can be named as the country of origin. If you think that is dishonest, think of a cookie made in France with American wheat and Brazilian sugar!”

Paprika, as I was saying, is an everyday essential in Murcia. The standard Murcian breakfast is two pieces of toasted baguette drizzled with olive oil, and a pinch each of paprika and salt. Try it—it’s terrific! Similarly, you’ll be served boiled potatoes dressed with, you guessed it, olive oil, salt, and paprika. The same setting and combination also appear on eggs, fried first in olive oil, then sprinkled with salt and pimenton. The color of the paprika—in particular this 210 paprika from Épices de Cru spreads across the fried egg like a stunning orange red sunset around the yolk.

Strangely, the region of Galicia—in the far opposite corner of Spain—is the largest purchaser of Murcia paprika because of its use in pulpo gallego: octopus boiled and spiced with salt, paprika, and probably some olive oil as well. It’s delicious—one of my favorite dishes. You can pick up octopus already cleaned at Monahan’s Seafood Market in Kerrytown. Simply cut it into chunks, bring to a boil and simmer it for a good hour or so until it’s tender. Toss with extra virgin olive oil, a good bit of this amazing paprika, some sea salt, and if you like, a squeeze of lemon.

The full flavor of the paprika is particularly good on fresh cheese. I love it on the City Goat cheese from the Creamery. I’ve taken to dusting one side of the cheese with paprika, the other with the ground black pepper from India. Great in mashed potatoes, or tossed with just-cooked pasta for a super simple and amazing sauce. Sprinkle it onto salads or rice dishes or really almost anything! Rub it on meat or fish before cooking. Blend it with butter, and then put a pat of the paprika-butter onto steak or swordfish or a baked potato. Small cost, great color, big impact! Let’s toast to the power of paprika!

NOTE: When you use any paprika in cooking, be sure to add it to your pan or pot along with some liquid, or its natural sugars will quickly burn.

Available at the Deli: Spice of the Month

Know anyone who’s interested in progressive business practices that lives out in the Bay Area? I’ll be in San Francisco teaching and doing a book signing at the Cheese School of San Francisco. There’s a more casual “Book Talk” on Monday evening June 3rd, and a more intensive, all-day ZingTrain session on Customer Service on Tuesday, June 4th. There are a few seats left for each, so sign up soon!

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