The Life of Spice

Michael Laiskonis – Recolte Desert Bar

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It’s been 3(!) years since we last caught up with our friend Michael Laiskonis. His newest venture is a dessert bar on the Upper West Side at Récolte.

© Hon Tung

1. Congrats on opening the dessert bar at Récolte, can you let us know a little bit more about the concept?

Thank you! I’ve always loved working in the medium of fine dining level plated desserts, and although some of the consulting projects I’ve been involved after leaving Le Bernardin touch that world, I liked the idea of getting back into the scene and doing it under my own name. We’re essentially turning the retail space over in the evening after the bakery closes, creating a different atmosphere for a seated three-course dessert experience. We wanted to offer a high-level product in the plate, but in a relaxed, casual environment. Most of all, it gives me a fun opportunity to both play with new ideas and to bring back some personal favorites from my past repertoire.

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Primonition and Primo’s Peppers

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Troy and Kara are the duo behind Primo’s Peppers, creators of the 7 Pot Primo pepper and Primonition, a new verde style hot sauce made using La Boîte spices.

© Romero & Romero Photography

We’re excited to talk with you as you’re the first hot sauce maker we’ve supplied spices to. What had you choose us?

Several years ago my wife and I had the pleasure of meeting Lior here in Lafayette, Louisiana. In the 11th hour, our friend Toby Rodriguez (Lache Pas Boucherie, “Cajun Country” No Reservations, “Mardi Gras” Parts Unknown, etc.) asked if he could bring thirteen or so folks and a film crew to our backyard for a pepper garden show and tell. You see, Toby is an absolute torchbearer for Cajun culture, and also somewhat of a Cajun matchmaker…he’s great at identifying the strengths, passions, and expertise of various “personalities” in Acadiana and sharing them with would be outsiders looking in. Since I’m known around here as the “local pepper aficionado,” I got pulled into the party…and the next day I ended up talking peppers and passion with a world famous Manhattan spice guru and executives from Tabasco and Popeyes Fried Chicken! Everyone hit it off….My wife and I were invited to the beautiful McIlhenny Avery Island Marsh House for dinner. The Popeyes folks were having a spice research and development retreat at this site. Toby and a few local friends cooked up some great Cajun-influenced chicken dishes…Louie and Andre Michot (Lost Bayou Ramblers) played Cajun classics on the fiddle and accordion…NOLA’s Poppy Tooker held court….the drinks flowed like the Mississippi!

With a mutual admiration and love for each other’s products and expertise, Lior and I have kept in touch ever since. Over the years we’ve sent our hot sauce and pepper jellies to New York, and he has sent his wonderful spice books, spice blends, and even a great Espelette pepper ristra from the Basque region….still one of the coolest gifts I’ve ever received. The short answer to your questions is: There is no one in our opinion that knows more about quality spices than La Boite…..Besides, when you know the folks running the company are also outstanding human beings, the choice for us is a simple one.

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Custom Abe Fisher Spices

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It’s been 2 1/2 years since we last caught up with Yehuda Sichel, executive chef and partner at Philadelphia’s Abe Fisher. Since then Lior and Yehuda have cooked together at the inaugural Maccabi games culinary competition, and we’ve produced a line of spices just for Abe Fisher.

© Alexandra Hawkins

Thanks for taking the time to talk with us and share a couple recipes. Can you first let us know about the three blends and the inspiration behind them?

Of course! The Pastrami spice was inspired by our signature dish at Abe Fisher, the Montreal Smoked Short Ribs. We wanted to make a simple spice for making any smoked meat taste like pastrami. As for the the Goulash, that spice is three types of paprika and dried tomato. It’s actually kind of funny – I never ate goulash growing up. But when Mike, Steve and I went to Hungary back in 2011, goulash was everywhere. I took the experience to heart and started to incorporate that flavor into the dishes that I make here as soon as we got home and haven’t looked back. And then Everything Bagel spice – the “everything bagel” is the king of bagels. It’s the pepperoni pizza of bagels. We use it as everyday seasoning, and actually most often for seasoning fish.

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Brodo Spices!

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It’s been almost two years since the last time we spoke with Marco. Brodo is bigger and better than ever, and we’re happy to announce that our custom blends that flavor his creations are now available at retail.

Hi Marco, thank you for taking the time to sit down and talk this month. Can you give us a quick recap of what’s changed over the last two years?

We’ve expanded from one shop to four shops (East Village, West Village, SoHo and UWS) and we’ve launched broth on tap.  We offer reusable glass jars full of delicious broth so you can always have this staple in your fridge. We also now offer free shipping to the west coast. We’re very happy to now produce your blends in retail packaging (currently available in store and later online) so that customers can replicate some of the Brodo experience at home.

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Dominique Ansel’s Christmas Morning Cereal

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This month we sit down with our friend Dominique Ansel to share an annual holiday tradition and ask a few other fun questions.

Thank you for taking the time Dominique, let’s start with the tradition. Can you tell us a bit more about your Christmas Morning Cereal, where the idea came from, and why you’d like to continue doing it every year?

We started making Christmas Morning Cereal in 2013 at the Bakery in Soho. Christmas Morning is such a cherished moment for so many people, when they wake up and enjoy breakfast together with the people that they love. So we wanted to start a tradition with our own cereal blend – it’s made with Valrhona Caramelia (caramelized milk chocolate) covered puffed rice, smoked cinnamon mini meringues, and whole caramelized hazelnuts. I eat it by the handful. And now, it’s become a tradition for people across the country and around the world too – people who buy it every year and give it to their friends and family or to enjoy at home. I wake up every Christmas morning and see photos from people all over the world on Instagram who are eating the cereal for breakfast.

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