Schoolhouse Kitchen are light years away from these items and flavorful and intricate enough to make a convert out of the most staunch skeptic in the condiment department.
New Amsterdam Market during the Hudson Valley Harvest event, where I was able to taste several of them (one of the great perks of the market is that the vendors allow you to try before you buy). The flavor and complexity of the Cherry Blackberry Sage & Clove spreadable fruit and Horseradish-Dill Mustard lingered happily on my palate and remained in the foodie sensors of my brain the entire way through our market tour. Unfortunately, I neglected to pick up a couple of jars to enjoy at home. The next Sunday, I went downtown as soon as I could break free from my errands and bought some as one of my first vendor stops.
Schoolhouse Kitchen kindly offered to meet with me to talk to me about her company and its philosophy. Yesterday, I traveled from Manhattan out to the Old American Can Factory in Gowanus, Brooklyn, where she keeps her office. Started in upstate New York in a kitchen, her mother, an avid cook who is still involved in developing new ideas for flavors, began by making these products to sell at local fairs and fundraisers, the profits going to educational causes, as they still do today.
With the encouragement of her friends and family and armed with recipes that they'd shared with her over the years, Patsy Smith launched Schoolhouse Kitchen as a business. Her daughter, Wendy, now runs the company, and the labels on the jars are designed by her son, Christopher. This is a not only a family business but also a real community enterprise, something Wendy continues to promote through her involvement in their with their charitable work with The Farm-Based Education Association as well as her participation in local food-oriented projects.
The quality and attention to detail in developing these food items is something that is apparent from the moment you open the jar. The vibrant colors and aromas that waft up your nasal passages indicate that you are about to taste something special. Wendy and I talked about this and about how that is the goal, to develop products that are unique and that awaken a whole new world of possibilities for enjoying food. We went back to the idea of these products as being similar to good wines that build upon the taste points on your tongue with each sip (or in this case bite) to bring out the best of whatever you decide to eat with or on it. If I had had these items in my parents' fridge when I was younger, I wouldn't have battled to keep them off of my sandwiches.
recipes for their site and offered to let me have a sample of two of their chutneys: Squadrilla and Bardshar. I had already thought about what else I could do with the flavors that I'd tried previously, so I jumped at the chance to play with something new. As I walked back to the subway, my mind was just exploding with all kinds of great ideas for what I could do with these food items. My train on the way back home got stuck (why do people unnecessarily pull the emergency break?), so I had ample opportunity to write down mini-recipes and combinations for the chutneys. Stopping by Union Square to hit the Monday Greenmarket on my way back uptown, I unfolded my plan.
website for some recipes), but I'm really hoping just to instill some lunchbox envy at the next few brownbag meetings I have to attend.
Where to find:
Schoolhouse Kitchen's products are available at many stores and speciality shops. There is a helpful map on the website to locate them in your area. You can also visit their stand at the New Amsterdam Market to try some samples and to pick up your favorites or order from them on line. If you can't decide on what to buy, they also offer gift packs of several flavors, which I'd recommend so that you can get a chance to experiment with as many of these wonderful items as possible. I've definitely got these products on my gift list for this year, whether to receive them (hint, hint) or to give them to the other food lovers in my life.