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Food Books to Discover

book about food that make great giftGrowing up I enjoyed going to both specialty food stores and bookstores, both endangered species now. Like many specialty food retailers, our store shelves includes some notable books. We like Chelsea Market Baskets to be a place of discovery where you find things that you didn’t know you were looking for and wouldn’t find elsewhere. When we buy books for the store we tend to look for new books that have some reference to New York and food. We also think that books about food make wonderful gifts. The three books below are currently on our shelves and I wanted to share why we think each is special:

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David’s Travel to England & Ireland

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Just about every year I attend the Speciality & Fine Food Fair, a large trade show that takes place the first weekend in September, our labor-day weekend. The timing for this show is very helpful in that I can go and see different and new products and order them in time for selling during the busy holiday season. At this time of year we ship frequently, building up our inventory for the holiday season. It takes about 3 weeks to get product from the facilities in the UK to our warehouse. This year with the dollar friendly exchange rate, the opportunities are better than usual. It is also a time to visit our current vendors and possibly check out their production. As well as a chance to take time off for two days or get my labor day back, on the way home.

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A Taste of the South – Charming Southern Specialty Foods

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Hospitality, cooking and deep roots are entwined in the South. In the languid summer, slower is better, an idea foreign to Yankee sensibility though we’d do well to embrace it. Borne from  pride of history and place, the locavore and artisanal food movement is thriving below the Mason-Dixon.

When we exhibited at the Atlanta Gift Show we got to know the following makers and their products, all now featured in our store and on our website. [click to continue…]

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What’s My Line? – Barbecue Sauce Edition

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Over the years Chelsea Market Baskets has carried a range of barbecue sauces in the store, carefully curated based on taste. Barbecue is always a popular summer category here. As with everything we carry, we make it a point to know the small producers behind the products.

For a food and activity most associated with holidays, family and friends, barbecue is serious business. Connoisseurs and cooks are fiercely loyal to their recipes and methods.

This year, rather than categorizing the sauces by their geographical influence or base ingredients, we thought it would be fun to know who makes the brands we carry by playing What’s My Line! (Young ‘uns – What’s My Line? was a TV game show that ran from 1950-1967 in which four panelists attempted to determine the occupation of a guest – View Youtube video of Groucho on What’s My Line!)

Creating and branding a barbecue sauce in a crowded field is born from passion and is rarely a first career. As with all things barbecue, it is an act of love and often a lifestyle.

Below are five barbecue sauce makers. Guess who is behind each brand. (Answers at bottom)

  1. I am a hot sauce fanatic and graphic designer who lives on Long Beach Island, New Jersey. Our spicy barbecue sauce was based on the recipe of a Prohibition-era rum runner, Danger McKay, who was lost at sea but whose secret recipe was revealed when a bottle washed ashore in 2013. Or so the story goes…
  2. We are orthopedic surgeons from Texas whose shared love and experience on the competitive barbecue circuit – a combined 60 years – inspired us to create our own line of boldly-flavored sauces and rubs. The collection has been well-received since it was introduced but we haven’t quit our day jobs.
  3. I am formally trained chef who has worked in some of Chicago’s best restaurants. Despite my northern location, I’ve kept my great-grandmother’s recipes for regional barbecue across the south close to my heart and opened a barbecue joint and in her honor to maintain barbecue’s deep traditions.
  4. I am from South Africa, a country with its own rich grilling tradition and created a fruity, spirit vinegar-based sauce flavored with nutmeg, cinnamon and cayenne to import to the United States.
  5. We are Korean immigrants based in Brooklyn and have done our part to maintain and further the popularity of Korean BBQ by creating a sauce that is teriyaki-based. In addition to honoring our heritage, we employ survivors of trafficking and donate a portion of proceeds to organizations that help victims rebuild their lives.

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Kalk Bay is just outside Cape Town, at the southern tip of South Africa or the Cape of Good Hope, which in earlier times was the gateway to the East. Cape Town was a major port on the sea route to India where spices traveled on their way back to Europe. That tradition continued in South Africa with its multicultural people after the Dutch helped to settle it in the 1600’s and developed domestic spice and herb companies. The land is large and fertile, so spice and seasonings are grown domestically and they continue to trade in spice. [click to continue…]

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