With four days to go, piq chocolates needs less than $500 to successfully fund a $25,000 Kickstarter campaign to make custom chocolates. If you've always wanted to be immortalized in chocolate, they can do it. The Austin-based company lets customers design squares, bars and small 3D chocolates online and then produces them for delivery around the country. They plan to get chocolates to backers by mid-December so this is a chance to create a holiday card that no one would ever toss. Because they can eat it!
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If you gave Brian Fredericksen a spoonful of one of his varietal honeys, he could tell you what kind of flowers the bees were pollinating when they produced it, in what season and in what kind of weather. To most people, it would just taste delicious—as different from squeeze-bottle honey as an heirloom tomato in August is from a supermarket one in January. Read more >
In 2011, Jean Devine and Kate Suhr, who met volunteering for a New York City nonprofit, began hosting monthly supper clubs at Devine's apartment in Brooklyn. One night, the menu included butternut squash bisque, mushrooms stuffed with brioche and root-vegetable pot pie, everything served on rustic clay dishes that Devine had made herself. But what the guests were still talking about weeks later was the parting gift—a little bag of homemade granola, from a recipe Suhr liked to tinker with in pursuit of breakfast perfection. Read more >
The country's most talented artisans are turning out better versions of kitchen basics like granola, honey and sea salt.
Ben Jacobsen discovered great salt when he traveled abroad after college, buying it everywhere from Denmark to South Africa. "It transformed everything I put it on," he says. In 2009, a couple years after returning home to Oregon, he set out to make his own salt: "I figured that if Maldon comes from the UK, which has a similar climate to the Pacific Northwest, this had to be possible."
Jacobsen spent the next two-and-a-half years testing seawater in dozens of spots. "The taste and salinity of the salt varied incredibly," he says. "It was the same way that terroir affects wine." He finally settled on Netarts Bay, 80 miles west of Portland, hand-pumping seawater into plastic drums that he would transport to a commercial kitchen in the city, then painstakingly collecting flakes of salt by hand with a custom-made strainer.
Within a couple of years, Jacobsen had gone from producing three pounds of salt a week to 300, and his customer list had grown to include big-name chefs like Chris Cosentino, Thomas Keller and Paul Kahan. Recently, Jacobsen Salt Co. moved its seven employees into a 3,500-square-foot workspace on the Oregon coast. But its owner has no plans to alter his low-tech production methods. "The quality has to be there," he says. "That's why we're here." $3.50 for 0.2 oz; jacobsensalt.com
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