By Nina Subhas
In this new series, Nina Subhas takes us through some of her favorite snacks and pairings from Gjusta Grocer.
There is something irresistible about a pile of crackers, and savory preserves in good oil. When I get home after work all I want to do is pop open a couple of jars, lay out crackers and graze aimlessly while I process the day and decompress.
We have great crackers in the store. We have za’atar crackers, we have crackers that are totally packed with delicious seeds, but I am still a baker at heart and I can’t resist the Hayden Flour Mills heritage grain crackers. They make 4 heritage grain crackers and each one is the perfect expression of the grain. The red fife is nutty, with undertones of warming spice, the white sonora is malty and sweet, and the farro tastes like walnuts and earth. Not a bad choice in the bunch, in fact open them all so you can taste them side by side and really see how beautiful wheat can be when given the chance to shine.
I am also completely obsessed with the heather and chamomile smoked sprats from Fangst. They are based in Copenhagen and are making some of the most nuanced tinned fish I have tasted so far (and I have tasted a lot of tinned fish). These sprats in particular have such a sweet and floral kiss of smoke from the heather and chamomile. Sprats are small oily fish related to herring. They eat like sardines, but less fishy and much softer in texture. They practically melt in your mouth, the texture of the fins and tails is nearly the same as the meaty body of the fish. Fangst is working on a line of tinned bycatch, and I absolutely cannot wait to see what they come up with.
I could stop at crackers and sprats and be totally satisfied, but this seems like a party that would benefit from a little mustard. My favorite mustard in stock is the fermented mustard from Wise Goat Organics. It is perfectly spicy and tart and just the right texture.
I grabbed some wild artichokes. They are a classic snack in Calabria. Growing wild on the hillsides, and painstakingly cleaned to little acorn-sized perfect bites. They then get blanched in white wine vinegar, and preserved in extra virgin olive oil. Decadence at its finest.
I always keep a ramekin of finishing salt on the table and one next to the stove. This begins to explain the salt aisle at the Grocer. One of the very first products I knew I wanted to stock for the store was Monomit Wild salt. Each bottle is marked with the location and date of harvest. The seawater is harvested by hand in Cape Cod and evaporated with just the sun and wind in the summer months. In the winter they let the seawater freeze, which separates the salt in a process called brine rejection. It is one of the few products in my pantry that I am excited to finish so I can buy it again and taste the next batch.
Address: 105 Windward Ave, Venice, CA 90291
Phone: (310) 853-5088
Hours of Operation:
Mon - Sun 8am - 8pm