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Ari's Top 5
Thank you for signing up for our new weekly curated email! Here’s a quick roundup of 5 Zing things Ari is excited about this week—stuff you might not have heard of!
A jar of m'hamsa couscous
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Mail Order Summer Sale

Five weeks to buy big at low prices!

Back in the middle years of the 20th century, Martinique-an surrealist poet Suzanne Cesaire spoke about living in what she called a state of “permanent readiness for the marvelous.” I love her outlook; if I were looking for a motto or a mantra, I might seriously consider adopting it. The now, much-awaited, bigger and bolder than ever, Summer Sale at Mail Order might be a good trigger for Ms. Cesaire’s proposition—the Summer Sale gives you a chance to snap up some super marvelously delicious foods at crazy good prices. AND, because most of these great offerings have long shelf lives, you can affordably order up enough to make the marvelous happen every day at your house, all the way through to the holidays!  

After nearly a decade of doing the Mail Order Summer Sale, the idea has clearly connected with our customer base. It might well be THE event of the artisan food summer season. I’ve had folks asking me about it for the last few weeks, with the same sort of anticipation I might expect if they were getting ready to start the NCAA Tournament, or choosing their restaurants for a long-awaited weekend visit to San Francisco. In any case, it’s showtime—the Summer Sale is ON, now through the end of July.

There’s a plethora of powerfully good things to order and eat. Some of my favorites?

Anyways, there are many more... The list is long, but those are the ones I’d be ordering if I didn’t already live in the middle of this food every day. Supplies on all the items are limited so don’t dally! And if you’re local, you can either select “pick up” from the Mail Order warehouse, or stop by the Deli for many of the same sale items!

Don’t miss the Summer Sale!
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A collage of Traverse City tour spots

A grand culinary tour of Grand Traverse

September 21 – 23—A weekend of great eating, drinking, laughing and learning

One of the little-known secrets of the Zingerman’s world is…well, if I tell you, it won’t be such a secret anymore...but then if I don’t tell you…well, that’s clearly no good, either. So here’s the deal—just don’t tell everyone because seats are limited and we’ve chosen to stay on a relatively small scale. But the secret is: we do Food Tours!

There’s a terrific tour to Hungary early in September, but it’s already sold out. Then we have one going to Croatia—I haven’t yet been but it’s been near the top of my list for a long time. I hear nothing but great things. Only two seats left on that one!! Coming after that, with a few more seats still remaining is a shorter, more economically and schedule-friendly little jaunt up to northern Michigan—a weekend culinary tour of the Grand Traverse Bay region. (If you’re looking ahead, early October is Tuscany—also sold out but you can ask to be added to the waitlist; and then France, which is almost sold out!)

This little weekend wonder of a food tour should be pretty terrific! Traverse City scored high—in the top five!—of food towns in the U.S. I can’t really think of a better place to put autumn into action. It’s three days of eating artisan food and drinking craft beer and carefully made Michigan wines. All of which will be led by co-managing partner and chef at Cornman Farms, Kieron Hales—you’ll get to talk and taste food with an expert throughout the trip, and you’ll surely be charmed by this Brit and his old-world outlook.

If you don’t know it, the region has a really special microclimate that makes for great agricultural activity. It’s at about the same latitude as some of northern Italy’s and France’s great wine regions. Lots of snow keeps vines safe in the winter; the late spring means there’s low risk of buds coming out too soon. This cooler micro-climate allows for later harvests as early frosts are held back, deep lake-effect snow helps to insulate the vines in the winter, and early budding is rare because of the chill off the lake in the spring. All this helps to create clean, fresh wines, which rival those grown in hotter regions. My friend Justin Rashid from American Spoon Foods calls it, “One of the premier microclimates in the world!”

In case you needed further persuasion, the trip happens to take place on the Autumn Equinox. The sun should, if I understand the science, be shining directly over the equator. You, on the other hand, can mark this special day by being up in Traverse City eating great food, drinking delicious wine, and having a grand old time. The vernal equinox is the day that there’s roughly the same amount of sun and dark. If you’ve been working hard, or if you didn’t quite get in that long summer vacation you were going to take (or even if you did), this is a great way to rebalance and re-center. It could be the ideal opportunity to get a few days away, learn, laugh, eat and drink well.

Book today before this special little culinary field trip fills up!
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Three loaves of country miche

Country Miche from the Bakehouse

Marvelously Beautiful, Terrifically Tasty New Bread

My favorite new bread—no, one of my favorite new foods, period—in years. This is the sort of bread I believe in. It fits down to a “T” Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat’s statement in her extensive History of Food, that “Really good bread makes you feel happy just to smell it, look at it, bite, chew and swallow it.”

The Bakehouse’s Country Miche is old school all the way. Big, 4 lb loaves (which taste significantly better than smaller loaves of the same exact dough); nice, dark crust (which is so, so, so much more flavorful than light crusts—ask any traditional baker and every one of them will tell you that they always choose dark crusted loaves!); a blend of grains (True North wheat from the Leelanau peninsula up north—spelt, buckwheat and rye come together to make for a complex, compelling set of flavors). The loaves look so good I feel like tucking one under my arm and walking around town with it just to create meaningful culinary conversations. In fact, I just might do it to see what happens!

The Miche is so exceptionally marvelous it would be wholly at home in a top-notch French country bakery circa 1880. It would, I’m pretty confident, be appreciated and applauded in the countryside almost anywhere in Europe. If your grandparents grew up somewhere with a big rustic bread tradition, this just might bring tears to their eyes. While the majority of the world will likely stay with the soft white loaves to which they’ve become accustomed, serious bread lovers will be eating and enjoying thick slices of this marvelous Miche for many years to come.

The Country Miche is really an exceptional work of baking art. Beautiful, chestnut colored crumb, lovely big holes (which artisan bakers are always working to make happen), lovely light flecks of buckwheat. The aroma is lively, lightly sour, substantial but not strong, sturdy and comforting. The bread’s flavor is big, almost meaty, very wheaty, complex, and fascinatingly full. I love it simply as is, toasted with great olive oil (the Poggio Lamentano below is perfect). Or fry a slice in olive oil ‘til it’s almost like eating a steak. As Angelo Pelligrini wrote in his fabulous mid-20th century book, An Unprejudiced Palate, “…I prefer good bread and cheese to an elaborate dinner prepared with perverse imagination.”

Being naturally leavened (nearly 20 hours of rise time), the Country Miche stays moist for days. You can buy a quarter, half or a whole loaf. At our house, with two bread-loving people, we go through a half loaf in about three days, but I’ve kept loaves all week and continued to work them down. The flavor actually develops as the bread matures. All of which also makes it perfect for Mail Order shipping or for taking to cottages or on cross-country drives.  

For me, the Country Miche is incredibly comforting.  I often carry a long—maybe 15 inches across—slice with me in my shoulder bag to nibble on when my tension level rises during difficult meetings. As Cervantes once said, “All sorrows are less with bread.”

Carry a loaf of Country Miche around like Ari!
PS: The Bakehouse has a small stand at the Westside Farmer’s Market on Thursdays where they’re selling the Country Miche, along with other work from our new Grain Commission project—Turkey Red Wheat bread with walnuts, Margaret’s Sweet Wheat bread (made with 100% Michigan whole wheat), a rhubarb pie with a crust made from Michigan wheat, and more.
4

Poggio Lamentano — Terrific Olive Oil from Tuscany

Terrific Tuscan Oil Arrives in Ann Arbor

Many of my own beliefs have changed in the course of my work. One of those is in the Epilogue, the closing piece of the book, A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to the Power of Beliefs in Business. In it, I write about my new belief that business and life are both, ultimately, art. That a great business, or life, is designed with the same elegance and balance, integrity, and beauty that goes into a masterpiece painting.

While many of us can aspire to make this reality come true, Michael Zyw lives it out every single day. He’s a Tuscan painter who makes olive oil. Or maybe he’s a Tuscan olive farmer who paints. His art is internationally acclaimed. As is his olive oil. Most mornings Michael’s in the studio, doing water colors and glass work. In the afternoons, more often than not, he’s out in fields—pruning, picking, and working the land—on his small farm near the picturesque Tuscan coast. If you want to see Michael’s watercolors or his work with Murano glass, go to http://www.michaelzyw.com.

Michael’s trees are the typical Tuscan varietals—Leccino, Moriaolo, Frantoio and Pendolino. Poggio Lamentano has long been known for its excellence. Michael’s parents—particularly his mother—were pioneers in the export of single estate extra virgin olive oils. Poggio Lamentano was already winning acclaim back in the early ’60s, an era when extra virgin olive was still only a gleam in the eye of most of the world’s gourmets. The famous food writers of that era, crafting their views on the aesthetics of great food long before there was a Food Network or Facebook, fell in love with it. Elizabeth David called it, “One of the supreme pleasures of my life.” MFK Fisher was a big fan as well: “Excellent in every way and exactly to my taste.” The oil is peppery, green, big, beautiful, delicious, radically well-rounded.

Half a century later, the oil is delicious as ever. This year’s harvest? Here are Michael’s notes: “We started to pick the olives on October 6th and we finished on October 27th, so pretty early to obtain the best quality! The year started out with a drought which was fortunately relieved at the beginning of the autumn with some rain! The oil is of very high quality aided by the hot summer, and the Poggio Lamentano taste is intense—has grassy notes and great ‘amaro’ and some pepper in the aftertaste; the single variety Moraiolo has notes of artichoke, is slightly more mellow, and has a great peppery finish!” I agree! It’s excellent!

I’ve been eating it a lot, simply on toast—the aroma when the oil hits the hot bread is terrific. Or using it to dress pasta, topped simply with Parmigiano Reggiano (I’m particularly high on the wheel the Deli has open from the Roncadella dairy right now) and a lot of the great Tellicherry black pepper we’re getting from the equally artistic folks at Epices de Cru in Montreal. Great, too, on a steak—drizzle it on right before you eat it. Or on full-flavored fish like bluefish. As the fresh vegetables start coming in with the season it will, of course, be great on salads! For dessert, try putting some of the oil on a plate, put a spoonful of one of the Deli’s great varietal honeys (see below) in the middle of it and then scoop the two together with some warm Paesano bread. All will be delicious. Your day, and your life, will, I guarantee, be a bit more artistically oriented and rewarding for it.

Taste the art of olive oil
5

Cardoon Honey is here

Exceptional offering from the island of Sardinia

I love this honey. We haven’t had it in for years. So when I saw it on the shelves at the Deli the other day, I was totally thrilled. I bought a jar immediately, and it’s already nearly half gone. Seriously, this is one of my favorite honeys of all time!  

Miele de Cardo, or cardoon honey, is an ancient honey—it’s on the Slow Food Ark of Taste, which is essentially like being inducted into a culinary Hall of Fame. Its induction speaks to its rarity—the Ark takes on old, traditional foods that are essentially endangered in order to promote and preserve them, so you know from that act alone that the Cardoon Honey is something special.  

Cardoon honey is made only, to my knowledge, on Sardinia and Sicily, and a bit in the southern Italian region of Calabria and the island of Elba. It’s a terrific, totally Sardinian in its character, honey (along with the bitter, not sweet at all, Corbezzelo honey). The Cardoon honey, like the people who make the island’s unique culture what it is, is a bit wild, rugged, a big personality, unique, forward, opinionated, excellent. Sardinia, and its honey, are both marvelously memorable.

This one is taken from the hives of bees that are feeding on the blossoms of the galactite tomentosa variety of cardoon, which grows on the mountains in the national park of Mount Arci. This is where Luigi Manias’ bees feed on the blossom and return to the hives to make honey. Luigi has about 200 hives, a quarter of which are given over to cardoon. I haven’t yet met Luigi Manias (known as Licu in Sardinian dialect) but he’s on my list. Beatrice Ughi, who imports his honey (and also the Fiore del Sale I wrote about last week) says, “He is obsessed about sustainability, traditions and the environment: he makes his honey in a construction of 40,000 bricks made of mud, as his ancestors would have.” He is looked up to by beekeepers all over the world (along with Andrea Paternoster of Miele Thun, whose honeys I also love) and has written a book—The Dictionary of Nomadic Honeys—to tell the story of this ancient craft, the various varietal honeys and the bees who produce them.   

In fact, while you’re reading this enews, the new season’s Cardoon honey will just have come in from the hives. I’m drafting this piece on the very day—June 24th—that Luigi goes out to gather it. It’s the day—the same every year—on which Luigi always gathers the honey, the day that the ancient Sardinians long ago selected for the purpose. If you aren’t familiar with the Catholic calendar, the 24th is St. John the Baptist day (San Giovanni Battista in Italian). This week is also, it turns out, exactly twenty years since I first fell in love with Cardoon honey—I tasted some from another Sardinian beekeeper and couldn’t get it out of my mind. Clearly, the stars—and the bees and Luigi Manias—have conspired to get this honey here to us this week!

Cardoons are in the thistle family along with artichoke. In Italy, watch for them (permanent readiness for the marvelous, right?) in the markets when they’re fresh, four or five months later, in the fall.  

The honey itself is lovely—the color of caramel, or maybe butterscotch. It crystallizes naturally a few months after it’s taken from the hive—what we have in now is all fully crystallized, which I think makes for a marvelous eating experience. A bit sweet but far less so than many honeys, a touch of beautiful bitterness at the end. 

What do you do with such a special honey? Eat it! I eat it by the spoonful—it’s a great, easy, low-everything, super-delicious dessert. I also like to eat a spoonful before I head out to run—I love having the flavor of the honey in my mouth for an hour like that. It lingers long! It’s really great with cheese – wonderful with Parmigiano Reggiano, really good with a pecorino. Really, really good with ricotta. Put it out on a board with dried fruit and plenty of almonds and walnuts, maybe some hazelnuts, as well. Beatrice says to “Heat some fresh milk to 150°, add salt to taste and dissolve the honey in it until texture becomes like creamy toffee, spoon on slices of pear and banana, or any fruit. They’ll love it!”  Put it on your morning toast. The aroma will awaken your senses and please your palate. It is, once again, a call to stay with Suzanne Cesaire’s “permanent readiness for the marvelous.”
 

Marvelous Honey is ready now!
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this enews and you know someone else who might like it, please pass it along. Have questions about Zingerman’s? Write us at info@zingermans.com.
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Ari

5 Other Things to Know

  1. This coming Saturday, I’ll be speaking at Ann Arbor’s permaculture convergence. It’s put on by the Great Rovers and Lakes Permaculture Institute. I’ve gotten ever more interested in permaculture over the last few years and have been working hard to be able to bring its principles into our daily operations. I’m looking forward to learning a lot. See you there?
     
  2. Wednesday is June 27th, which also happens to be Emma Goldman’s birthday! To read more about Emma’s influence on my thinking and on our business see Secret #43.5 in Part 4 of The Guide to Good Leading: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to the Power of Beliefs in Business.
     
  3. Thanks to all the speakers, sponsors, staff, vendors and volunteers who helped make our 9th annual Camp Bacon such a success. As Rolando Beramendi (author or Autentico! and importer of Rustichella pasta and much more) wrote after making his annual pilgrimage: “Zingerman’s is my Jerusalem, and Camp Bacon is my Via Dolorosa.” We’re meeting at the end of this week to start working on next year’s Camp line up. Mark your calendars now for the first weekend in June, 2019!
     
  4. Speaking of pork, on Monday, July 9th, we’ll be doing our first ever monthly Suckling Pig Supper at Miss Kim. Mark this special eating event on your calendar now!
     
  5. Gabrielle Langholtz will be at the Roadhouse a month from now, on Wednesday, July 25th, as the guest speaker at an All-American dinner featuring her incredible cookbook, America: The Cookbook. Someone you know wrote the essay about Michigan…Gabrielle is great and the meal will be marvelous—a reflection of this country’s diverse culinary and cultural heritage. Book now!
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