The Best in East Bay Packaged Foods

From crunchy kale chips and puckery pickles to fiery sauces and artisan sweets, specialty foods are once again flourishing locally.


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Photo by Lori Eanes

Kanitha Matoury of Spice Monkey.

Monkey Around

Spice up fish, chicken, and vegetables with Spice Monkey epicurean rubs and dusts from Kanitha Matoury, the proprietress and spice mistress of Spice Monkey Restaurant & Bar. Her Southeast Asian-fusion inspired downtown eatery is popular for its bold flavors and eclectic spice combinations. The effervescent Matoury has long casually gifted her loose leaf teas and savory blends of rubs and dusts—great for pulled pork, sauces, dressings, even popcorn—and now you can get them, too. Matoury is expanding and expects to opening a new nearby market, Howden Market, the fall. The shelves in the market will stock the rubs, spices, and tea blends, plus produce, dry goods, grains, artisanal treats, and other offerings. Matoury may include recipes, too. Go ahead, monkey around with some new spices and loose leaf teas. Spice Monkey Restaurant & Bar, 1628 Webster St.; The Howden Market, 337 17th St.; 510-268-0170; www.SpiceMonkey.com.

—Judith M. Gallman

 

Groove on Granola

In a variety of flavors, Alameda’s Oat Cuisine granolas are a crumbly, crunchy way to enjoy your breakfast. Traditional rolled oats, blended with walnut halves, whole almonds, raisins, whole sunflower seeds, and more, tumble into the bowl in lightly sweet wholesome nuggets and flakes. The cranberry variety also has dried currants and whole almonds; ginger-pecan features the sprightly taste of ginger-spice and halved pecans, plus dried apples and molasses. Winter or summer, these flavors make a great base for cereal with milk, layered with yogurt for a parfait, or baked into cookies or pie using Oat Cuisine’s own recipes, which can be found online. Also available in ready-to-eat single-servings (in a bowl, with a spoon) at some retailers. Order online, or at Dan’s Fresh Produce, 2300 Central Ave., Alameda; P.O. Box 1066, Alameda, 510-562-8448, www.OatCuisine.com.

—Julia Park Tracey

 

Fire Things Up

Make a fiery stand in the fusion scene with Srirachup, a classic chili/garlic/vinegar/sugar/sea-salt sriracha sauce enriched with Early Girl tomatoes: About a pound of these juicy fruits, sourced from family-owned local farms, go into each jar. Founded by Chinese-born Lisa Murphy in 2012, Oakland-based Sosu Sauces uses organic, GMO-free ingredients (which include brown sugar, apple-cider vinegar, and neither high-fructose corn syrup, artificial preservatives nor tomato paste) to handcraft sweet, spicy, spank-your-butt Srirachup as well as a unique Sriracha sauce whose secret pepper formula is aged in wooden whiskey barrels for up to three months. A stint spent teaching English in Southeast Asia sparked Murphy’s passion for eye-poppingly incendiary condiments. Sosu Sauces are available at many Bay Area stores; visit www.SosuSauces.com for a complete list.

—Anneli Rufus

 

Hook Up With Artisan Sweets

Not your Girl Scouts’ marshmallows! Oakland’s Sugar Knife makes marshmallows in flavors so grown up, we had to check our ID first. S’mores will never be the same. Try Cookies and Cream marshmallows, made with Bailey’s Irish Cream, vanilla bean, and crushed chocolate cookies. Black Irish marshmallows made from Guinness stout and chocolate. Hella Frangelico marshmallows made with bourbon, vanilla bean, and Frangelico. You see where this is going. Each little pillow is softly smooshy and chewy at once, in sharp contrast to the crunch of the various beer and whiskey brittles Sugar Knife also makes. Bulleit bourbon, bacon, and pecans swirled together in a sugar base make Filthy Pig brittle. The Knob Creek whiskey-pistachio brittle (aka Town Biz) is burnt-sugar-licious. They’re taking holiday orders now, so get to it; visit the website to see all flavors. Available online: www.SugarKnife.com, or in limited quantities at Oaklandish and Oakland Supply Co.

—Julia Park Tracey

 

Linked In

Once you have the Boudin Blanc sausages from Taylor’s Sausage, you will never be the same. These house-made French-creole style rice-filled sausages are to die for. Owner Raymond Gee prides himself in not cutting corners when it comes to his version of these popular links or any of his other variety of sausages. The bodacious Boudin Blanc, which comes spicy or mild, is made of one-third seasoned rice, one-third vegetables, and one-third pork. With each delicious bite, one can’t help but indulge happily and freely knowing that the sausages have no nitrates, fillers, or preservatives and very little salt or fat. There’s just nothing scary in them. Period. After 30 years of making sausages, Gee has mastered the art, and he offers his specialty sausage for only $5.95 a pound. And if that’s not enough to hook you, know that these killer sausages present themselves beautifully on any occasion, during any season, any time of day. Taylor’s Sausages, 908 Washington St., Oakland, 510-832-6448, TaylorSausages.com,

—Gina Jaber

 

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