Ari's Top 5

It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to.
—Jean-Luc Godard 

There are still a few seats for ZingTrain’s Creating a Vision of Greatness seminar on December 9 and 10. If you or someone you know is a bit stuck and trying to figure out what’s next in life—personally or professionally, individually or organizationally—this seminar is 100% guaranteed to help you get going in the right direction. Visioning, no joke, changed my life. Over the last 25 years, we’ve taught it to organizations of all sizes, and individuals of all backgrounds, in every industry, of all ages, here in Ann Arbor, around the country, and even overseas. The visioning process is always, always meaningfully impactful. Sign yourself up. Or make it an early life-altering gift for someone you care about! ZingTrain’s seminar sale runs all month—buy seats soon, save some money, and make the future into something special. As poet Marge Piercy wrote, “We are trying to live as if we were an experiment created by the future.” 


Parm and Bubbles at the Roadhouse on Tuesday evening, December 17th

A tasting of Parmigiano Reggiano and sparkling wine from bigLITTLE Wines


Looking for a little lively, early evening, culinary activity? Time to take your loved one out for a bit of high-quality sipping and savoring, learning, and laughing? Tuesday, December 17th, at the Roadhouse, I’m hosting a tasting of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and sparkling wine. Talk about great pairings! I asked my partner Tammie about the combination of the two since she has both a great palate, a proclivity for “bubbles,” and spent years working as a cheesemonger purveying artisan cheeses out in San Francisco. She smiled and said, "The pairing is so good! Most people wouldn't think of the two together because they're used to a drier parmesan. Once you taste it . . . with this quality level of Parmigiano Reggiano, you'll see how well they go together. With really great Parmigiano Reggiano like these, their creaminess is really a perfect pairing. What's better to wash down the King of Cheeses than the Queen of Effervescence—sparkling wine!"

I agree completely. While the combination of Parmigiano Reggiano and sparkling wine—two classics—may already sound good in your imagination, it’s even better in real life. Sip some sparkling wine, nibble a bit of a great piece of Parmigiano Reggiano, go back to the wine glass, sip, savor, take a deep breath . . . pause and appreciate the moment. As simple as it is, putting the two together like is, to me, a wonderful work of art, where the pairing is even better than the sum of the two already great individual parts. It’s a very special, and especially tasty, match. As painter, designer, and writer Bridget Watson Payne says, “Every fiber of your being—your senses, your intellect, your emotions, even your physical corpus—responds to works of art. So right there is pretty much the first magical property of art. It zings through you like a bolt of lightning.” 

At the event on the 17th at the Roadhouse, we’ll take this great culinary combination and make it the focus of a tasty and educational evening. For those who come to the tasting event, we’ll be sampling a series of different Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses—different dairies, different ages, different seasons. All will be excellent. Each will have its own story and unique flavor! With each cheese we’ll be pairing a wine from bigLITTLE Winery near Sutton’s Bay—the work of two Ann Arbor brothers who ended up Up North, making craft wine in small, select batches: “Big white wines. Little Leelanau Peninsula. Big brother. Little brother. Big passion. Little ego. Our goal is to make full-bodied, handcrafted wines that are expressions of both ourselves and our parents’ ten-acre vineyard in Lake Leelanau, Michigan.” Big flavors, but in very small quantities. Hence, the name, bigLITTLE. 

The excellence of the bigLITTLE wines belies the fact that neither brother is formally trained academically as a winemaker. Peter Laing, the little brother, studied industrial engineering. Michael Laing, the big brother, is a math teacher. They started going up north regularly as a family and ten years or so ago their parents planted a couple thousand vines on the family’s land. What else could a couple of good kids do other than learn to make world-class wine from the family’s grapes? The pair did their wine training hands-on, at nearby Mawby Winery; Larry Mawby, became a great friend and mentor and has coached them throughout. This tasting will mark the debut of bigLITTLE wines at the Roadhouse! Peter and Michael grew up eating at Zingerman’s, so we’re honored now to be pouring their wines!

The Parmigiano Reggiano and Sparkling Wine tasting on the 17th will turn an otherwise potentially ordinary Tuesday evening into something special. You’ll go home with a much better understanding of the nuances of world-class Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and a new relationship with one of the state’s up and coming craft wineries. Sign up soon—flavors will be big, but seats are limited!  

Reserve your seats before they sell out

P.S. Want to send some Parmigiano Reggiano to your relatives Rhode Island? We can make that happen!

P.P.S. If you’re into tasting good food and learning, I’m also teaching a “Best of 2019” at the Deli on Tuesday evening, December 10th! 

Spicy Tunisian Spaghetti with Seafood

Spicy Tunisian Spaghetti with Seafood

An evening meal I could eat every week! 


I ate this meal a bunch of times on my two trips to Tunisia over ten years ago. And I enjoy it as much now as when I first experienced it in a restaurant in Tunis with my friend Majid Mahjoub, maker of amazing hand-rolled couscous, great organic extra virgin olive oil, and the incredibly good harissa (that helps make this dish so special). A few months ago, another friend, Allison Arevalo, just put a formal recipe for it in her new book, Pasta Friday! If you like pasta, a bit of spice, and love seafood, this spaghetti with seafood is a wonderful way to go.

While complex in flavor, it’s easy to make. Essentially, the dish is spaghetti tossed with harissa-spiked tomato sauce and a selection of whatever fish or seafood you’re in the mood to stick in. Shrimp, squid, scallops, octopus, and various bits of fresh fish seemed to be the things that showed up most in my Tunisian restaurant experiences. I’ve been making it over the years at home with all of those, and then some. Really, whatever looks good at Monahan’s. I’ve done it, too, with tinned sardines. The other night I used slices of fresh squid and some jarred yellowfin tuna from the Ortiz family. All those options are excellent. 

I don’t know that the dish itself really has much of a fancy or formal history, but remember that Sicily is right across the water from Tunisia. (The Tunisian coast is actually closer to Sicily than Sicily is to Rome!) Tunisians certainly seem to eat it a lot—it’s one of Majid’s favorite meals. “What I like,” he told me, “is the subtle combination between the very high-quality ingredients and healthy products. This dish—like couscous—summarizes all the healthy Mediterranean culinary art!” 

The recipe:

  • Start with good pasta (Martelli spaghetti, Mancini spaghettini, or the Primo Grano chitarra are the ones I’ve been using of late), in well-salted, rapidly boiling water until it’s cooked very al dente.
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat up some tomato sauce. If it were summer, I’d recommend making your own, but given that it's now December, I’d use one of the really good jarred offerings we stock at the Deli.
  • Add in a bit of the Mahjoubs preserved lemon—diced up small so it adds depth but doesn’t dominate.
  • Add a little chopped roasted red pepper (I love the Piquillo Peppers from the Basque Country) if you like.
  • Add the fish a couple of minutes before the pasta is done, and spoon in some of the sun-dried Moulin Mahjoub harissa—how much you put in is of course up to you. I like a lot—you can decide for yourself.
  • Drain the pasta and add to the pan with sauce. Toss well and cook another minute or two so the pasta absorbs the sauce.
Very fast to make, and very, very good to eat! Serve with some extra harissa and olive oil on the side for folks to add to their bowls before they eat.
Stock up on ingredients at Zingerman's Mail Order
Esterházy Torta from the Bakehouse

Esterházy Torta from the Bakehouse

Hard to pronounce, easy to eat, traditional Hungarian pastry 


Nearly all of the food we work with here at Zingerman’s is, in its roots, "poor peoples’ food". Even some of our most expensive items—the above-mentioned Parmigiano Reggiano, extra virgin olive oil, dry cured hams, corned beef, pastrami and smoked meat . . . though relatively costly by modern-day industrial standards, all got their start as staples in country kitchens that couldn’t afford fancier food. The exceptions? Balsamic vinegar; fine chocolate (which could only be made where producers had the capital to pay for fancy equipment); and this now famous, mid-19th-century Esterházy Torta

It was developed in honor of Prince Esterházy, Paul III Anton, who lived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Stephens Cabot Abbott, who authored books about Napoleon Bonaparte, the American Civil War, Frederick the Great and Daniel Boone, wrote in the middle of the 19th century,

[In Hungary,] the feudal system still exists in all its ancient barbaric splendor. Prince Esterhazy, a Hungarian baron, is probably the richest man, who is not seated on a throne, in the world. He lives in the highest style of earthly grandeur. One of his four magnificent palaces contains three hundred and sixty rooms for guests, and a theater. His estates embrace one hundred and thirty villages, forty towns, and thirty-four castles . . . He has quite a little band of troops in his pay, and moves with military pomp and gorgeous retinue from palace to palace.

Esterházy’s holdings were so vast that at one point he’s said to have had 2,500 shepherds on his staff! Esterhazy’s cake followed in his financial footsteps—exceptionally rich, elegant, and far more luxurious than an average 18th century Hungarian would ever have eaten. It was developed in the second half of the 20th century and became—along with Dobos Torta and Rigó Jansci—one of the most popular baked goods in the cake-crazy city of Budapest. Fortunately, times have changed, and while Esterházy Torta is not exactly inexpensive, given all the work and great ingredients that go into it, the Torta at the Bakehouse is pretty reasonably priced. 

All that background aside, what you’ll likely most want to know is that the Esterházy Torta tastes terrific. And it’s beautiful! Layers of toasted walnut cake filled with a magnificent mixture of vanilla bean pastry cream, fresh whipped cream and more toasted walnuts, lovingly decorated with vanilla and dark chocolate poured fondant in a distinctive wave design used specifically for Esterházy cakes. Not all that sweet, just terrifically tasty. Complex layers of flavor; beautiful, delicate, and most definitely delicious.  

I can’t say that I admire the Prince or his politics. But I long ago decided not to hold ideas responsible for the behavior of the person who had them, or to hold a book responsible for the behavior of the author. In this case, I’m going to extend that and say that I don’t want to hold this elegant and delicious cake responsible for the behavior of the prince for whom it was invented. On top of which, the prince and his purview have long since passed, while the cake is still going strong. Today it’s commonly eaten in the cafes of Budapest by Hungarians of all walks of life. So stop by the Bakehouse or the Next Door Café, buy a slice, and make a mental toast to positive social change and great cake! As Amy and Frank wrote in Zingerman’s Bakehouse, the Esterházy is “pure elegance—petite and beautiful to look at, refined and balanced in flavor, with a perfect level of sweetness—and it’s satisfying in delicate-sized pieces. Esterházy could end up being your hallmark dessert, the perfect finish to an inspired meal.”

Call the Bakeshop to reserve an Esterházy Torta for your next gathering!

P.S. You can learn to make the Esterházy Torta at home, too. Come take a class at BAKE! 

P.P.S. Looking for more local tastes of Hungary? The Bakehouse and the Roadhouse will be joining forces to host a very special Hungarian dinner. Sign up for the Roadhouse's enews for the announcement! 

P.P.P.S. In love with Hungary and want to explore in person? Join us for the Hungary Food Tour!

Turkish Delight

Turkish Delight with Double Roasted Pistachios

A traditional taste from modern Turkey

Over the years I’ve been far more familiar with the name Turkish Delight than I’ve been with the sweet itself. If you’re in the same boat I was, Turkish Delight is a confection, hundreds of years old, which came to its greatest fame in Turkey, hence the name. It’s made in many other spots as well—Greece (where it’s known as “lokum”), all over the Balkans, and in much of the Middle East. Essentially, it’s a blend of sugar, water, and starch that requires hours of slow cooking to get right. Turkish Delight is as common in Istanbul as chocolates in Belgium or patisserie in Paris—food writer Felicity Cloake wrote in The Guardian, “On a recent trip to Istanbul, I was in seventh heaven. Lokum was everywhere I looked: great colourful pyramids of the stuff.” 

While it’s not hard to find Turkish Delight these days, the challenge (as usual) is to find one that’s truly made in a traditional way: handcrafted, using great ingredients, and eschewing industrial shortcuts. At Zingerman’s we’ve spent nearly 40 years now doing just that. This Turkish Delight, under the label NAR Gourmet, fills that bill perfectly. The company was started about a decade ago by wealthy Turkish-American scientist, Dr. Yalcin Ayaslin. Having made a good bit of money in science and product development, Dr. Ayaslin decided to dedicate his resources to the preservation of the traditional culture he loved so much. He started the Turkish Cultural Foundation, which holds the world’s most extensive collection of natural dye plants, dye insects, and natural organic pigments. (For more fascinating food for thought on the subject of colors and dyes, check out The Secret Life of Colors.) The lab at the Foundation, the world’s largest natural dyestuff resource, has over 600 natural dye insects and plants, some of them extremely rare.

NAR is the word in Turkish for pomegranate . . . chosen for its historical representation of abundance, and also as an acronym for “natural and regional” which is representative of the sorts of traditional foods the company works with. It’s essentially an interactive, business-focused Turkish version of Slow Food. The firm’s focus in all its work is on regional specialties, produced in ways that are true to form, all the while respecting people, village culture, and environmental sustainability and socially responsible ventures. They’ve done a lot of work with the Community Volunteers Foundation’s Young Women's Fund to help young Turkish women find sustainable and safe work in business. They even built a mobile olive press that could be brought to remote villages in the mountains to help small farmers process their olives on-site with the help of modern technology. 

What’s so good about this particular Turkish Delight? For starters, it’s significantly less sweet than most commercial options. It’s laced with twice-roasted Turkish pistachios from the Gaziantep region (well known here at Zingerman’s for its Marash and Isot red peppers.) The confection inside the tin is hand-made and hand-cut, then covered, as is common, with confectionary sugar to keep the squares of Turkish Delight from sticking together. If you want a second opinion, The Wall Street Journal wrote that “NAR Gourmet’s nutty, salty-sweet version is the most bewitching real-life version [of Turkish delight] that we know. " If you know someone who loves Turkish Delight, a tin of this one would make a memorable and marvelous gift! 

Available to ship anywhere in the country, or pick it up locally at the Deli and the Candy Store.

Stop by the Candy Store for a Sample!
Evalon Goat Cheese

Evalon Goat Cheese from Wisconsin

Exceptional handcrafted aged goat cheese by the Hedrich family


Evalon is one of my favorite new cheeses of the last ten years or so. And the wheel we have in house right now at the Cream Top Shop tastes better than ever! 

The cheese is crafted by Katie Hedrich—she’s doing marvelous work, as is her whole family! Parents and siblings are all working together to manage the family herd of 200 goats, the milking, the cheesemaking, the wholesale business, and their onsite café and retail shop as well. LaClare Farms is located near the small town of Malone, northeast of Fond du Lac on the shores of Lake Winnebago. It’s the Holyland region of Wisconsin, which was settled by German Catholics in the late 19th century and is still home to a large number of churches to this day. (Malone, itself, is so small that the highlight of its Wikipedia listing says, “It is home to a post office.” If you’re intrigued like I am—there’s always magic in the seemingly mundane—the post office was built all the way back in 1877. Which happens to be the same year that John Jossi, an immigrant from Switzerland, invented the now-classic, Wisconsin Brick Cheese!) 

LaClare Farms dates back to 1978 when Larry and Clara—get it? “LaClare”—Hedrich bought this particular plot of land. This tradition of combining names goes back a ways. When Larry’s grandparents settled on a Wisconsin farm in the early 20th century, they decided to call it “Chandoka” after their children—Charmaine, Ann, Donna and Kathy. Evalon, the cheese, is named, in turn, after Larry’s grandmother! Forty years and a whole lot of hard work after buying the land, LaClare Farms has become the source of some of the best artisan cheese in the country. They now have a mixed herd of La Mancha, Toggenburg, Saanen, Alpine, and Nubian goats. The quality of the milk clearly carries through to the clean, complex flavors of the cheese. 

The wheels of Evalon at the Cream Top Shop right now are nicely aged—about nine to ten months old. Firm-textured, almost akin to an aged Piave from Italy. It’s clear from a taste or two why the cheese has won so many awards in the last few years. With its full, but mellow flavor and clean finish, I'm confident that Evalon will win kudos from cheese aficionados and novices alike. Milky, with a nice salty tang, it’s a bit like a cross between an aged goat Gouda and a parmesan. I’ve been eating it mostly just as is, but I can easily imagine a bit of it grated onto a salad with apples and some of those red walnuts. A nice pairing with the Bakehouse’s Chestnut Baguette, the Country Miche, or the Walnut Sage bread. Like the Parmigiano Reggiano above, Evalon would be an excellent pairing with sparkling wine. Also great with fruity Belgian beers. And it makes a happy match with great varietal honey as well! 

Stop by the Cream Top Shop and pick up a piece today!

Want to help support important work to reduce the negative impact of opioids? Painless: The Opioid Musical is a musical telling of real-life stories of opioid addiction. Painless was created to educate high school students about the risks of the misuse of opioids.

Written By Current School of Music, Theatre, and Dance student Jacob Ryan Smith and alums Noah Kieserman and Peter Scattini, it was developed with Department of Musical Theatre Chair Vincent Cardinal and Michigan Medicine faculty Dr. Chad Brummett, Co-Director of the Michigan OPEN (Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network).

When: Saturday, December 7, 2019

Time: 7:30PM

Location: Newman Studio in the Walgreen Drama Center (directions)

Cost:  Free. This is a private showing.

Please RSVP.

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
Share Share
Tweet Tweet
Forward Forward
(Your friends can sign up, too!)
Zingerman's Community of Businesses
Copyright © 2019 Zingerman's Community of Businesses, All rights reserved.
Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp