ramen and pickles

science, technology, and medicine served up with some tasty noodles

Sonoma Brinery Kosher Dills and Ozuké Citrus Kraut

So today, I’m going to review a couple of fermented pickles from some small production companies.  

Sonoma Brinery is located, surprisingly enough, in Sonoma County in Healdsburg.   Healdsburg is a lovely town with lots of vineyards and wineries around.  Their “Manhattan style” kosher dills are a nice, crunchy fermented dill.  I’m not sure it really tastes quite the same as the dill pickles from the kosher delis or pastramis places of Manhattan, although that might be a trick of my taste memory.  A lot of shops will sell full and half sours (more or less fermented), and I think the Sonoma Brinery pickles fall somewhat in-between.  They also seem to have a slight bit more of a peppery hotness to them then I associated with a Manhattan style kosher dill.  However, they are still really good and I would recommend them if this is the style of pickle you are looking for.  They have a nice crispness, a nice little hint of spiciness, with the fermented tang and a tiny bit of the effervescence on the tongue.  I’m looking forward to trying some of their other products.

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Ozuké is a brand from Boulder, Colorado.  Zuke is a Japanese word for pickle, and I really like the concept of what they are doing.  They are making traditional fermented foods in somewhat Asian style, with a sort of modern Western spin on them.  For example, the idea of fermented cabbage with some citrus and ginger flavor is very Japanese.  However, the more traditional version would be with napa cabbage flavored with yuzu.  Here they are using Western cabbage and lemon.    They produce a wide range of different interesting products which I have no tried yet.  They have a pickled cucumber with green tea.  They have a red cabbage kraut with orange calendula flowers with orange peel which sounds good and looks beautiful.    They have a kimchi made from kale and collard greens (so hipster compliant).  

At first I was a bit disappointed in this particular cabbage and lemon mixture, mainly because I was thinking of some of the really delicious napa/yuzu pickles that I have had in Japanese restaurants.  A lot of very Japanese sushi places around here will make there own home napa/yuzu pickles which are really exceptional.  Western cabbage and lemon is much less subtle and much more flavorful, at first a bit over-powering.  And the lemon after-taste is quite strong.  Also, the kraut seems quite acidic, even more so than regular cabbage kraut.  The flavors don’t blend together as well as I might have hoped, for example the lemon has such a strong note that it just sort of hits you early and then hangs out after the regular kraut flavor, which would be a mild acidity (fermented cabbage without the traditional Western flavorings like caraway and garlic is a bit bland and just acidic).   I would like to ramp down the lemon and maybe ramp up the ginger.  The cabbage had a nice chewiness to it.  However, this one is starting to grow on me with time as I get used to it.    It pair well with something like a grilled steak.   The lemon flavor wouldn’t probably go well with most sausages, but a salted steak or chicken breast might be a good match.  It would go well with a Japanese style grilled mackerel (saba shioyaki) and rice.  I was trying to imagine a good vegetarian pairing, and it might be something with fatty richness but not much acidity on its own.  Maybe olive oil marinated and grilled shitake mushrooms, something like that.



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