As the youngest of seven kids, Elizabeth Osterman-Brown jokes that she learned to love vegetables early on because they were usually what was left at the dinner table after her siblings elbowed her out of the way to get their pick of everything else.
That hard-won passion served her well later in life when she started Last of Seven, a pickle company, a year ago, naming it appropriately enough, Last of Seven.
It also provided her the last laugh, when her Last of Seven LO7 Original Pickled Carrots won a 2022 Good Food Award.
Her company, based in San Francisco and Santa Barbara, sources California-grown carrots, asparagus and other veggies, then bathes them in distilled vinegar plus herbs and spices. The pickles are gluten-free and certified kosher, too.
These snappy, crunchy pickles are tangy but not wincingly puckery, as I found when I tried samples recently.
Girly yet sophisticated, it fairly bursts with bright strawberries and raspberries with just a twinge of ginger on the finish. Crisp and zingy with plenty of acidity, it’s a blend of 65 percent Pinot Noir and 35 percent Chardonnay.
This nonvintage sparkling wine, of which I received a sample, is right at home, be it at a romantic holiday dinner or a casual backyard get-together. It’s sure to make any occasion feel that much more festive.
Cheers: Did you know that La Crema was founded in 1979 in Sonoma County, when most wineries in California were focusing on Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, and turning a blind eye to Pinot Noir? It took the late-great winemaker Jess Jackson and his wife Barbara Banke, founders of Kendall-Jackson Winery, to shine a spotlight on Burgundian-style Pinot Noir with a cool climate, single-vineyard focus with their La Crema wines.
Lagunitas Hoppy Refresher
What has hops, brewer’s yeast, but no alcohol? And isn’t beer or even non-alcoholic beer?
This uncanny, clear beverage pours with a thick foamy head just like beer, as I found when trying sample bottles. But it doesn’t try to mimic the taste of beer whatsoever.
Instead, it is its own thing — akin to sparkling water in texture and weight on the palate. It’s quenching and refreshingly dry, with a moderate hoppy bitterness on the finish and unexpected bursts of mango, orange and grapefruit on the palate.
Sure, back in the day, Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
But today’s more learned Peter Piper would surely pick a peck of pickled apples instead.
Especially in the form of these additive “Quick Bread-And-Butter Apple Pickles” that are made with Pazazz apples, that brilliantly ruby red variety with flashes of yellow-green, an arresting crunch, and a burst of sweet, tangy juiciness.
This snappy, late-season apple that’s descended from the popular Honeycrisp, is at its flavor peak now through June. Lucky for you, Pazazz apples are easy to find at Albertsons, Safeway, and Vons.
February is an especially appropriate time to indulge in them, too, because it’s National Cancer Prevention Month. Pazazz has partnered with the American Institute of Cancer Research to promote the benefits of a diet rich in foods high in fiber and antioxidants such as fresh apples that are thought to reduce the risk of certain cancers.
When enjoying apples, don’t toss the peel, a valuable prebiotic that induces the growth of good-for-you microorganisms to ensure a healthy gut.
Indeed, the flesh and peel star in this easy-as-it-gets pickled apple recipe. When I received a sample of Pazazz, I wouldn’t wait to highlight them in this genius recipe by Amy Traverso, food editor of Yankee Magazine.
Creamy cheddar flavored with everything from espresso to bourbon, and porcini to Earl Grey tea. If that doesn’t perk up your cheese board or grilled cheese game, nothing will.
Those imaginative products and more are the handiwork of Beehive Cheese, an award-winning creamery that gets its name from Utah’s nickname, the Beehive State (who knew?), and its creativity from founders Tim Welsh and his brother-in-law Pat Ford.
The two guys went all in on cheese-making after the dot-com collapse did a number on their former software and real estate businesses. They had little cheese-making experience at the time, but didn’t let that stop them, getting help from the Western Dairy Center, a leading cheese research institute. They also had the good sense to partner with fourth-generation dairy, Wadeland South, which raises Holstein and Jersey cows for their rich tasting milk.
Because the two were learning as they went, they had no fear when it came to experimenting with what a cheese could be.
The results are unique and delicious cheddar flavors, as I found when I received samples recently.
All the cheddars are creamy and semi-firm, so they’re easy to cut into neat slices for nibbling or stacking atop a sandwich.
Silky on the palate, and redolent of cassis, black cherries, lavender and a hint of graphite, the 2019 Barra Pinot Noir ($24) from Mendocino is food-friendly yet delightful enough to sip all on its own to unwind after a long day.
Aged 14 months in 20 percent new French oak, it has a subtle vanilla note and an elegant, smooth finish, as evidenced in the sample bottle I received.
The late Charlie Barra founded his namesake winery, planting his first vineyards in Mendocino in 1955. He is considered the godfather of Mendocino grape-growing for his leadership in pioneering more efficient and sustainable methods, and for promoting organic practices.
The legacy of his 350-acre estate continues under the management of his widow Martha Barra, who just celebrated her 80th birthday last year.
Pick up a bottle from the winery’s online store or Wine.com.
Cheers: Celebrating the Year of the Tiger with Peking duck with hoisin sauce? This wine will ensure it’s a harmonious one.
2020 Biltmore Estate Albarino
A visit to Asheville, NC isn’t complete without touring the historic Biltmore Estate, a sprawling 250-room French renaissance chateau built by the Vanderbilt family in 1889. Its 8,000-acre grounds and gardens were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, considered the father of landscape architecture who designed New York City’s Central Park.
This storied estate is also home to a winery, built on the site of what was once a dairy. It’s where visitors can now enjoy tastings, as well as behind-the-scenes tours.