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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

April Mantry Review....FINALLY!

Hey guys!

I know I gave you plenty of warning that April's MANTRY review was going to be quite delayed due to Justin being gone for the last 7 weeks. Well...he came home yesterday!!! Naturally, one of the first things I made him do was open the damn crate. It had been staring at me in my office for 3 weeks! How in the world I didn't open the thing, we will never know! Even Justin was surprised that everything was still wrapped & tucked away inside the wooden box! Without making you wait any longer, here are the contents of the APRIL 2013 MANTRY, the modern man's pantry, of course.

This months cast of characters. 
AWARDS NIGHT
6 Products from 5 OUTSTANDING Restaurants in America
In May, The James Beard Awards (aka. the Oscars for food) showcases some of the top chefs & restaurants in America. Mantry brings you six can't miss products from past winners & nominees. 

Buttermilk & Sage Brined Fried Chicken Mix $14 (Walden TN)
According to MANTRY's literature this month; Blackberry Farm has a butchery, a brewery, a creamery, several gardens & two restaurants on site. It is a culinary compound in the foothills of Tennessee's Smoky Mountains. I spent a summer volunteering with SCA in the Big South For River & Recreation Area which neighbors the Smoky's, if only I had known that Blackberry Farm was in existence I probably would of given up my back-country living for fried chicken, then again probably not...I was a strict vegetarian back then. Justin & I have talked about taking the kids back to where I spent a summer clearing trail & writing dozens of poems about rain, river water & mountains full of lush beauty....looks like we will have to add Blackberry Farms to our list on the adventure. Until then we will be making fried chicken with this mix.

Sweet Potato Habanero Sauce $8.50 (New Orleans LA)
Chefs Donals Link & Stephen Stryjewski have the Louisiana culinary scene covered from gumbo to crawfish pie...why haven't I packed up the family & moved to the South yet? Seriously. This is a unique sauce with a sweet potato heat. We have added it to our current hot sauce collection which will soon be moved into our travel trailer for summer camping adventures. Until then this flaming pig will have us wonder what happens when you mix sweet potatoes & habanero???

SOM Drinking Vinegar $15 (Portland TN)
Justin's reaction when he opened this was perfect! He read the label, handed it to me & said "here this one is all yours." Considering that I use straight white vinegar as a salad dressing...he's probably right. I had to do a little research into what tamarind was though. It is the fruit of a tropical evergreen tree that once only grew in West Africa. Now it can be found in South-East Asia, India & the West Indies. The pods of the fruit have a bittersweet pulp that is used to make sauces, chutneys & jams. It's in Worcestershire! I'm still going to have to find a recipe for a cocktail to use this in, our camping trips are going to be quite hip this summer. If tamarind isn't your thing they also have raspberry, pineapple, pomegranate & other more conventional flavors. 

 Smoked Onion Jam $13 (Walden TN)
MANTRY returned to Blackberry Farms for this addition to the April box. Six products, 5 outstanding restaurants...remember? This jam is made with a slow cooked combo of smoked Georgia vidalia onions, sherry vinegar & benne seeds(sesame seeds). Even though it is a jam, it is a perfect condiment for burgers & grilling out this summer.

Pork Rub-Hastings Creations $12 (Birmingham TN
"Chef Chris Hastings is celebrated for bringing modern refinement to Southern ingredients." He won the 2012 JB Award for Best Chef South, due in part to his collaboration working with local farmers & gulf fisherman. This is his house blend rub that has a smoky flavor perfect for ribs, fish tacos & so on... We actually do not eat a ton of pork, but when we do this will be our go to.

Acorn Borsellino Salami $11 (Norwalk IA)
MANTRY introduced this dry cured salami with this- Paul Kahan, a five time James Beard Outstanding Chef nominee and the man behind the likes of Chicago's Avec, Blackbird and the Publican shares one of his favorite artisan meat producers in America.
"La Quercia is simply the best American cured ham. I met Herb Eckhouse before he was selling commercially at a farmers market in Iowa and have been supporting him ever since. He uses the finest raw ingredients to make the best cured ham." -Paul Kahan
I wanted to share what exactly was featured in the MANTRY literature this month because it really gives a good background for the selection of this salami for this month's collection & also, it gave me an infusion of inspiration for my own restaurant concept & where I want to be with it in 5 years. If someone can go from selling his goods at a farmers market to being a contender for a James Beard Award & being featured in a MANTRY collection, I can get there too. :) 

There you have it! April 2013 MANTRY. If you are interested in receiving your own box of culinary excitement each month head over to MANTRY. Ladies, it may be called the modern man's pantry,  that doesn't mean it's gender exclusive. Anyone with a passion for food & an interest in expanding their taste buds will love this subscription service. It is $75 a month & all the products come in a wooden crate. You want one. Just think of all of the pinterest projects you can accomplish with a collection of wooden crates & empty hot sauce bottles. ;) 

MANTRY & Blackberry Farms are doing a giveaway for a $6,000 luxury stay at Blackberry Farm. Including; 3 night stay in the award winning hotel & tuition for 2 at their renowned cooking school! If you want to enter just go to www.mantry.com/giveaway  I'm not sure how long it is open for, but I do know that you can get extra entries for liking MANTRY & Blackberry Farm on Facebook. :)