Not the words that spring to mind when someone says “salsa,” so when Traverse Bay Farms offered to send me a sample pack of their salsas, I had some reservations. (Okay, my hesitation lasted about 30 seconds, and then I was all WOO FREE FOOD about it.)
Traverse Bay sent along no less than SIX full-sized jars of salsa, one each of their different varieties. Although they’re all said to be “medium-hot,” I found the level of heat varied quite a bit from jar, which you’ll see in a minute.
So… is it good? Overall, yes. Each salsa was as good or better than a premium (read: non-Tostitos) shelf-stable salsa, although I liked some mush more than others.
Here’s my official ranking of the six different salsas:
#1: Pineapple. I was the most uncertain about this one, but I assure you, this was possibly the best salsa I’ve ever eaten. Distinctly fiery and sweet and tart, without one overwhelming the others — like the greatest sweet-and-sour Chinese food goo on earth, but even better by making it spicy. It was the first one to get polished off and the one I missed the most once it was gone. If you’re only going to try one of these salsas, the pineapple one should be it.
#2: Cherry. I really had my doubts about cherry salsa, but Traverse Bay won me over. Cherry anything can often be sickly sweet (or worse, cough medicine-ish) but this was only slightly sweeter and less tart than the pineapple salsa, and probably as close to fresh cherries as a jarred salsa could get.
#3: Red Raspberry. Very hot and very sweet. It was honestly a little too much on its own, but I after combined most of the jar with an 8-ounce block of cream cheese, it became an absolutely incredible spread for crackers (or celery or, um, a spoon).
#4: Peach. I admit, I’ve never been a fan of peach salsa. My husband really liked this one, but it was just too… peachy for me. I think it would have paired really well with pork, but someone finished off the jar before I could find out.
#5: Corn. Much milder than I expected, the least spicy of the six, so a bit more like a corn relish than a salsa. The corn was was crisp and sweet but had a little of that odd canned corn taste going on. Not bad, but not my favorite either.
#6: Black Bean. I dunno, this one just didn’t really do it for me. Maybe it was because the others were so great, but the black bean one was a bit bland and only kind of better than a store brand.
Traverse Bay Farms Salsas (as well as a variety of other cherry- and fruit-based products) can be purchased through their site or through other online retailers.
I’m loving these buckets of jam from the Russian specialty store (Food Palace, on Broadway and W189th) near me. It’s a pretty tiny store; more than five people in there and it gets almost impossible to navigate. They also have excellent pickles.
The photo doesn’t really give a good idea of the scale of these containers: that one is slightly bigger than a pint of sour cream, and that’s the smaller of the two sizes they sell. The other one is about the size of big tub of yogurt.
The sheer volume of preserves you get really allows you to lavish it on —- and to start rooting through your cabinets, thinking, what else can I eat this on? So far, this cherry jam (and its mixed berry predecessor) has made it on to various toasts and English muffins, been paired with that awesome sharp Cheddar, and even been stirred into cups of strong tea instead of sugar.
The downside to this jam: I’m trying to limit myself to one at a time (and I’m really ready to move on to apricot or plum next). So… suggestions?
Years ago, I saw a PBS documentary called, quite simply, A Hot Dog Program. Since then, I’ve seen it several more times (it’s also available on Netflix, I think) because that’s how much I love hot dogs. It borders on unnatural.
In this documentary, one of the segments is about a Cleveland hot dog specialty, Stadium Mustard. Now, I mean no offense to any of my readers from Ohio — presuming I even have any — but Cleveland is a part of the world I don’t intend to visit, oh, ever. Thus, I assumed Stadium Mustard’s charms would be lost to me forever.
But then, there was that trip to Big Lots…
Here is sentence I never thought I would ever write: this mustard is, in short, a delight. It’s got a nice vinegary tang, and it’s just a little sharp without being painful or overwhelming. I’m seriously considering taking it with me the next time I go to Gray’s Papaya… which could be at any time. Seriously.
I’ve never really liked honey.
I’ve always felt it was okay for certain situations — in tea when you’re sick, mostly. So, when I ran out recently, I wasn’t in any great rush to buy more, seeing as I’m not due to get a cold for another couple months at least.
Still, when I saw honey at my neighborhood Greenmarket, I figured, oh, what the hell; it’s only $2.50, and bought this:
In short, I love it. I don’t know what it is — maybe because it’s buckwheat instead of clover honey? — but the taste is different enough that I’m eating it on whatever I can think of.
Also, I love that it’s packed by Paul and Barb.
Good ol’ Paul and Barb, with their bees, just hanging out, putting honey into jars.
Now the question part: I need a better way of dispensing this honey. I like these bottom dispensing ones, but the Amazon reviews for it are less than stellar. I admit I am intrigued by this bee-shaped one, although it looks like it would make a tremendous mess.