Ari's Top 5

I never feel more still than when I'm free.
—Adrianne Lenker

Charlie Frank holding the Zingerman's Candy Store sign

The Candy Manufactory Celebrates a Delicious Decade!

Ten years later—how sweet it is! 


One hundred and seventeen years ago this month, Rocco Disderide opened up his new grocery shop at the corner of Detroit and Kingsley streets. Ann Arbor at the time had a population of about 15,000, and Disderide’s store was located on the recently-installed trolley line, which ran from downtown to the train station on Depot St. (For more on Mr. Disderide and the history of the building, see the Preface in Part 4, The Power of Beliefs in Business.) Disderide’s shop sold all manner of goods, from savory grocery staples to two-cent, too-good-to-pass-up sweets. It’s not unlikely that he stocked a popular American confection of the era. It had been developed by brothers Oliver and Daniel Chase, inventors of the original Necco Wafers (back in 1847, when Daniel invented the first candy cutting machine). In 1866, after the end of the Civil War, they figured out how to print messages on their hard candy discs. The new inventions were called “Conversation Candies,” and they quickly became a prime form of social media and a confectionary contribution to the late-19th-century dating scene. I can imagine young neighborhood folks popping in to buy some at Disderide’s. Sales would have really ramped up, six months or so later, in February of 1903 when Rocco was able to introduce the new format—for Valentine’s Day in 1902, Conversation Candies had come out in the heart shapes we still know today, and they were all the rage!

Fast forwarding a century, Charlie Frank was working at the Bakehouse. Like Oliver Chase, Charlie had an idea, and like Chase, he chose to follow up on it. He started handcrafting candy bars in the back of the Bakehouse's pastry kitchen in 2000. In 2009 the Candy Manufactory gained formal recognition within the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses. Ten years later, the Zzang® Bar is a staple of Zingerman’s eating. If you like high-quality confectionary, the candy bar is for you! Homemade peanut butter and honey nougat and a Muscovado brown sugar caramel, tossed with big, butter-roasted Virginia Runner peanuts and a teeny touch of sea salt, all dipped into delicious dark chocolate. 

Next week marks the tenth anniversary of the formal kickoff of Zingerman’s Candy Manufactory. The classic Zzang® bar has evolved into a whole line of candy bars, brittles, and other creative confections, which we wholesale to shops around the country and retail here at our own spots as well. As of two years ago, we even have our own tiny, 100-square foot, chocolate-box of a shop that stocks over 200 different chocolates, candies, and other fascinating confectionaries. The Zzang®, Cashew Cow® and Cashew Brittle from the Candy Manufactory, to name a few. Chocolate bars from Missouri, Dubai, North Carolina, and California. Licorice from Sweden and Denmark. Gummies from Ohio. Toffee from California. Fruit jellies from France. Marzipan from Michigan. And on and on!

To celebrate the anniversary, the Candy Manufactory is going wild! This Saturday they’re having a host of activities out on Plaza Drive at the shop. Come to our candy store on that day to see candy making through our window into the kitchen, enjoy samples of our delicious handmade treats, and also from Marzipops Marzipan and Coco Doro Chocolate. Plus, 10% of the day's proceeds will be donated to Mott's Children's Hospital. And... 

  • Through August 18th, all the regular-size Candy Manufactory bars are on special—Buy one, get one FREE! 
  • All Zingerman's Candy Manufactory-made candy will be 10% off all month!
  • There’ll be opportunities throughout the day to meet Zingerman's candy cooks in person! 
  • Sign up for the Candy Manufactory’s e-news to be entered to win a $100 candy collection! 

Oh yeah, there’s a big candy jar in the store right now—come by and guess how many bars are in it for a chance to win the whole jar! 

Candy and generosity, it seems, are in our organizational blood and in our original building. In his great book, View of a Universe, about the history of Ann Arbor, Milo Ryan wrote about living in the Kerrytown neighborhood back when he was a kid. Of course, he went to Disderides. “More than once,” Ryan writes, Mr. Disderide “would slip in a jawbreaker or a piece of peanut brittle into the stack of groceries, or hand it to us with the change.” Kudos and congrats to Charlie and everyone at the Candy Manufactory for making Ann Arbor a bit sweeter of a place to be! Rocco Disderide, I’m pretty sure, would be proud! 

Come to our 10 year anniversary party on Saturday!
P.S. The Candy Store now has new hours! Sunday through Wednesday, 11 to 5; Thursday, Friday and Saturday 11 to 6. 
Tomatoes from Tamchop Farms

Roadhouse Special Dinner #241: From the Mission to the Mitten

Chef Craig Stoll comes east from Delfina and a tableful of Tamchop Farm heirloom tomatoes


I can’t remember when I first started dining at Delfina on 18th Street in San Francisco's Mission District. Could likely be that I was there for the Fancy Food Show sometime in the late ’90s and went down to visit Bi-Rite (one of the country’s best specialty food stores, for sure). I could easily have noticed this cool looking little Italian restaurant next door. I’ve been going back regularly ever since. In fact, my partner Tammie and I just had dinner there in June when I did my ZingTrain class on customer service at the Cheese School of San Francisco. (I’ll be back out there teaching a day of Managing Ourselves in September. Spread the word if you know folks who might be interested!) 

In the meantime, we’re bringing some of the best of the Mission District here to the Roadhouse. Craig Stoll, along with his wife, Annie, has owned and run Delfina for all these years now. He is flying this way to cook dinner at the Roadhouse on Tuesday, August 20. I could tell you, very truthfully, that Craig has won a lot of awards; I could tell you that the press regularly sings his praises. In a city where good restaurants can gain fame then flame out a few years later, Delfina remains on Eater’s top 38 list even now, entering its third decade. The restaurant, Eater reports, “continues to embody the Cal-Ital dining that has helped shaped both SF’s dining scene and its Mission neighborhood.” But I’ll also tell you that of all the great places I could eat when I’m in San Francisco, Delfina is always, definitely, on the top of the list. If you’re headed out that way, dine there. If you’re here in Ann Arbor (or anywhere within an hour’s drive) on Tuesday, August 20th and you like tomatoes, sign up soon for the dinner! 

What’s on the menu? It starts with a tomato bar—half a dozen different heirloom varietals from Tammie’s Tamchop Farms, all grown organically, all grown from seed, sliced and spread out with some very fine extra virgin olive oil, Tellicherry black pepper in a grinder, some fleur de sel, a bit of vinegar, and slices of the Creamery’s fresh mozzarella. That could be the whole meal, but it’s just the beginning. There’s Craig’s Insalata Caprese, with mozzarella di bufala, basil, and tomato. Smoked Eggplant-stuffed Casoncelli pasta with tomato-basil sauce and a bit of ricotta salata. There’s Wolf Ranch Quail with torpedo onion panzanella. And for dessert, Delfina’s Buttermilk Panna Cotta! 

And then there’s my co-adventurer Tammie, who’s growing so many heirloom tomatoes for the dinner. It so happens that when Tammie and I first met, she was working at Bi-Rite, next door to Delfina. All of which takes the dinner’s title— “Special Dinner #241: From the Mission to the Mitten”—to a second layer of meaning. When Tammie first started to visit Ann Arbor, she’d bring California produce with her for us to cook. Now, she’s growing her own! For the last few years, she’s actively engaged in being an organic farmer on a small piece of land behind Cornman Farms in Dexter, called, for her long-standing nickname, Tamchop Farms.

Tammie’s passion for tomatoes in particular (heavily, and happily, influenced by her loving and tomato-growing father and vegan mom), but also peppers—they’ve been on the menu at Miss Kim and the Roadhouse—squash, lemon cucumbers, arugula and more, has manifested in the form of a hoop house filled with nearly 1,000 plants. All are heirlooms, grown solely from seed, organically. I can say from daily first-hand eating experience over the last few weeks that they are excellent! Since nature will ultimately determine which varieties are available on Tuesday the 20th, I can’t guarantee what exactly will be on the table that evening. I can tell you that Tammie is growing Moldovan Green, Garden Peach, Kellogg's Breakfast, Gold Medal, and Cherokee Purple. At the dinner she’ll wax poetic about each, I’m sure!  

Like I said. Tomatoes. Great Italian cooking. Delfina! Tamchop Farms. Tuesday, August 20th. See you there! 

Get tickets for special dinner #241 before they sell out!
Pint of Watermelon Sorbet from Zingerman's Creamery

Whoa! We’re making Watermelon Sorbet Again

The Creamery has my favorite summer sorbet!


In his 1894 novel, Pudd'nHead Wilson, Mark Twain wrote of watermelon, “It is the chief of this world's luxuries, king by the grace of God over all the fruits of the earth. When one has tasted it, he knows what the angels eat.” (Aside from the beautiful statement about one of my favorite fruits of summer, the book is one that ought to be top of reading lists right now for its social relevance.) If you’re aware of any angels who might be stopping in Ann Arbor in the next few weeks, send them over to the Cream Top Shop, Next Door Café, or Roadhouse to try some of this wonderful watermelon sorbet. Or, if you know an angel who lives too far from here to bop by in person, you can send them some sorbet by calling Zingerman’s Mail Order

The watermelon sorbet has become an annual rite of summer at the Creamery. The crew waits for local watermelons to be ripe and sweet, and then turns the fruit into a purée. Add in some cane sugar, the skills of the staff, and a fast working freezer to do the rest. Every spoonful brings the satisfaction of a cool slice of watermelon in a scoop—minus the seeds! The Creamery staff says, “Try the sorbet paired with a gin and tonic for a refreshing cocktail.” I say stick a scoop on a bowl of fresh fruit salad for breakfast or dessert just before you serve. Put it in a bowl next to a scoop of the Creamery’s vanilla gelato for a watermelon Dreamsicle. Or just eat it as is. Terrifically refreshing! 

By the way, in case you missed it, this past Saturday, August 3, was National Watermelon Day! I think it’s fine if you keep celebrating all month! Available now for a limited time until the watermelon season ends!


Watermelon Sorbet at the Cream Top Shop
Neuske bacon being sampled at Camp Bacon

A Great Bacon to Buy for B.L.T. Season!

Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Bacon from northern Wisconsin


If you want a big-time testimonial about this bacon, take it from the late and great writer, R.W. Apple, who put in print in the New York Times that Nueske’s was, “the beluga of bacon, the Rolls-Royce of rashers.” I’ll just say that its flavor is meaty, subtly sweet, moderately smoky, and so good that we’ve been cooking it—and enjoying it—every single morning at the Deli for over thirty-seven years now.  

Tanya Nueske, granddaughter of the founder, Robert Nueske, is as passionate about her product as you’re going to get. She took over the firm when her father, Bob Nueske, passed away very sadly and unexpectedly in 2015. She’s a great testimonial for living a bacon-based existence: “I eat bacon so much,” she told me. “I eat it plain all the time. Basically,” she added, stating the almost obvious, “we use bacon with everything!” Tanya’s high energy comes across as what it is—the sincere love of, and passion for, her product. “What we do is a very old tradition,” she told me. “My grandfather started up selling the bacon in 1933. He started out smoking over applewood. And he had a way of doing it and a style that came from his grandparents.” That would be Wilhelm and Wilhelmina Nueske who came to Wisconsin from Prussia in 1882, exactly 100 years before we opened the Deli in Rocco Disderide’s building.  

It’ll come as no surprise that bacon this good starts with special pork. Nueske’s works with higher quality hogs, crossbred with Pietrain pigs because of the latter’s excellent lean-to-fat ratio. They cure their fresh slabs of bacon in brine for at least 24 hours, hang them to dry for a day or so, and then smoke them for at least another 24 hours. “We still use actual applewood logs,” Tanya told me. “People should know that ‘applewood smoke’ can mean almost anything these days—apple juice, apple smoke flavoring, liquid smoke . . . . But we only use real logs of Wisconsin applewood.” 

Without question, over all these years, Nueske’s has proven one of the most popular foods we’ve got for sale anywhere in our organization. Its flavor is on the mellower side, with soft sweetness from the applewood that I think amplifies the natural sweetness in the high-quality pork the family goes to such lengths to source. We sell loads of Nueske’s for folks to take home to cook in their own kitchens, and we also use it extensively here. The Deli features it on a dozen different sandwiches and breakfast plates. Try it on a #400 Renee’s Kitchen Magic: Applewood-smoked bacon, two eggs, and Cabot Vermont cheddar cheese on a toasted sesame bagel from the Bakehouse. It’s also become a big hit on what the Roadhouse calls the 24-7 Burger (one of Katie Frank from ZingTrain’s favorites)—the bacon, having been smoked for 24 hours, sitting astride a couple slices of 7-year-old Wisconsin cheddar which in turn has been melted over a burger freshly ground from Niman Ranch beef. 

Most importantly, in the context of tomato season, Nueske’s is a marvelous start around which to build a BLT. Using some great bread from the Bakehouse—I'm pretty partial to the Roadhouse bread, or if you want to go slightly more mainstream (what one young customer a few weeks ago called “normal bread”), try out the terrific, but little known, Bakehouse White for some toast! 

Speaking of the Bakehouse, the much-loved Peppered Bacon Farm bread will be out for a special bake next weekend, August 16 and 17. Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon and Zingerman’s 5-Star Black Pepper blend in a beautiful loaf of our Farm bread is a pretty good way to go. Call ahead to reserve yours at the Bakeshop, Deli or Roadhouse. Or ship some to your cousin in California (maybe they live in the Mission!). A lot of regulars buy at least two loaves—one to eat in the car on the way home and the other for . . . whatever they’re supposed to have bought it for in the first place. Peppered Bacon Farm makes a mean fried egg sandwich, great for grilled cheese, and you can turn it into what might be some of the most aromatic morning toast in America.

Neuske's Applewood Smoked Bacon at the Deli
P.S. Know a bacon lover who doesn’t live in town? Or even one who does? We have a plethora of powerfully good bacon gifts to ship!

Violet Mustard from the folks at Domaine des Terre Rouge

Superb French mustard with roots in the 15th century


Back in the days when there were no candy shops, and no one in Europe had ever even heard of chocolate (let alone eaten it), the two primary sweeteners available to cooks were either honey from the hive or juice from grapes. This exceptional mustard goes back to a time, many centuries ago, when local mustard seed was lightly crushed and then sweetened with grape must. It was probably a big hit back when some, now anonymous, mustard-maker had the original idea. And it’s just as tasty today—I took a jar home from the Deli a few weeks ago and I had a hard time not eating the whole thing in a single sitting. 

All of the mustards we get from Domaine de Terre Rouge are pretty magical. They’re made by the Denoix family, who’ve been at it since 1839 (four years after Mark Twain was born in Missouri). The walnut, the cognac, the mushroom, the absinthe, and this very wonderful, purple-hued violet mustard are all amazing. In the 19th century, violet mustard was all the rage! But trends come and go and it gradually became less of a “thing,” until, by the 1950s, it seems to have essentially died out. Thanks to the Denoix family, it’s back! In 1986, a few years after we’d opened the Deli, they found one elderly local woman who was still making it at home. The family figured out how to make it, and happily for you and me, today we get to reap—and eat—the benefits of their good work! 

The mustard is made each autumn by blending freshly pressed red grape juice with just-ground mustard seed, so you get this naturally sweet-spicy combination that's ideal for serving with meats or cheeses of all sorts. The mustard has a coarse, caviar-like texture that makes it eminently edible, even by the spoonful and it turns the color of deep purple violets. Every bite brings a series of small flavor explosions to your palate. If you pay close attention when you eat it, you’ll notice a hint of clove and cinnamon—highly exotic in Europe back in medieval times when the mustard was first made. You can serve the violet mustard with meats of any sort, with pâté, with mountain cheeses, with sausages, or put it in salad dressings. Slices of Comté cheese with a generous spreading of violet mustard, grilled on two thick slices of the 2-kilo Country Miche bread is fantastic. The other evening, I stuck some on the side of my salad—arugula and tomatoes (from Tamchop Farms, of course), slices of fresh peach, crumbled up bits of Parmigiano Reggiano, and some toasted walnuts. You can just eat it as it is, right out of the jar. Put some on a hot slice of toast. Or try it with a bit of the Georgia Grinders hazelnut butter we have at the Deli—it’s a surprising and superb sandwich. It’s that good! 

Ask for a taste next time you’re in the Deli. Or order a jar online.

Violet Mustard at the Deli

3 More Quick Things!

The Ann Arbor Blues Fest is coming up August 16-18. Book your seats soon! Third Man Records just released an amazing 50thanniversary album of recordings from the original Blues Fest held here in town back in 1969.  
I’m going to be doing a book event in Oxford, Mississippi on Sunday evening August 18. John T. Edge, amazing author, fine human being, and head of the Southern Foodways Alliance, will be interviewing in front of the audience. If you know anyone down that way, send 'em over! We’ll have the new “Going into Business with Emma Goldman” pamphlet and the other books on hand for sale!
And if Mississippi isn’t exotic enough for you I’m going to be doing a day of ZingTrain in Dublin in October!!  
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