"Good things come to those who wait" is the unofficial motto at many California boutique wineries. For rare bottlings like those from Hargrave and Screaming Eagle, fans are willing to bow, scrape and mortgage their homes--and that's just to get their names on the list for the 2020 vintage. But elite wines aren't the only elusive objects of desire. Many exceptional foods are in such high demand and short supply that their producers simply unplug the phone when the inventory runs out. While some would-be buyers rattle around the Web or give up in frustration, connoisseurs persist, knowing that the thrill of the hunt makes the victory even sweeter.
We know from experience. We run a small mail-order catalog of foods that are hard to find if you live outside the South. Once, our best pickler, Mrs. Sassard, put up a few cases of pickled peaches, a heavenly sweet-and-sour creation that our customers snapped up immediately. When we tried to reorder--Double, and rush it!--she told us we'd have to wait until next year. She explained: the local peach season had just ended and she refuses to use anything but South Carolina clingstone peaches, which are sweet and dense enough to hold up through the pickling process. Would she consider using Georgia peaches? We were stupid to even ask.
And though we felt frustrated, we did agree with Mrs. Sassard--flavor should not be compromised for expediency. Most of our customers lined up willingly. "I've waited 25 years to taste a pickled peach like my grandma made," one said, "what's another year?"