Specialty Food Magazine


Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Page 102 of 139

retailer profile Because seven condominiums occupy the building's upper f loors, venting for a conventional stove was not possible. Instead, the cooks rely on a TurboChef. This rapid-cook oven handles the roasted potatoes for the raclette, the "grilled" cheese sandwiches, and any other hot dishes on the menu. Although Esopenko and Gugni both have restaurant back- grounds, Union Larder has a strategically limited menu. "It's not a place to come for a meal," says Esopenko. "You can put together a meal, for sure, but the idea was for people to stop in for a bite before or after dinner. Fast turnover, high ticket totals." Meat and Cheese Focus The selection rests heavily on charcuterie, salumi, and cheese— "what we love to eat when we're drinking wine," Esopenko explains. Cheese and charcuterie boards are the top sellers, with guests choosing from 100 mostly domestic cheeses and cured meats from Creminelli, Fra Mani, and La Quercia. Chef Ramon Siewert makes coppa, mortadella, bresaola, and lonza (pork tenderloin, also known as lomo) on-premise along with a small selection of mouss- es, rillettes, and pates. For the hot menu, Olympic Provisions supplies an unusual Austrian specialty called käsekrainer, a sausage made of fresh pork and Emmentaler. A Berkel hand-cranked slicer gets a workout on the cured meats. "People love watching the staff cut the meats, so it's a nice showpiece," Esopenko says. The shop's cheesemongers view themselves as cheese "som- meliers," who visit tables and guide diners in assembling an appealing cheese platter. Popular choices to date include L'Amuse Gouda, Camembert Fermier, Jasper Hill Harbison, Andante Dairy Tomme Dolce, and Chiriboga Blue. Accompanying the cheese is a house-made fruit compote or dollop of jam from a small-batch producer like Three Little Figs, Blue Chair, or Quince & Apple. Cheesemonger Kristi Bachman says she considers these pairings carefully; a current favorite is Quince & Apple's Figs and Black Tea Jam with Haystack Mountain Sunlight or Consider Bardwell 's Manchester, both aged goat cheeses. Although the customers make the cheese selections now, Esopenko says he expects to add more composed platters to the menu. Cooked cheese options include fondue (a blend of Gruyere, Emmentaler, Beecher's cheddar, and grüner veltliner), a Red Hawk BLT, and raclette prepared with Spring Brook Farm's Reading Raclette. The kitchen originally used Swiss raclette but, Bachman says, the Vermont cheese has more depth and a better consistency when melted. The retail offerings coincide with dining options. "If you like what you had, you can do the exact pairing at home for a party," Esopenko notes. Cheese, charcuterie, jam, and wine, "everything's available to go, so you can piece it together yourself." The innovation extends to Union Larder's beverage program, which is wine-focused and dominated by small producers such as Aldrich Browne and Copain. The printed menu includes 10 wines on tap, available by the glass or carafe, and another 15 to 20 bottles sold by the glass. Unusual offerings include Matthiasson Tendu, a white blend of California-grown vermentino, cortese, and arneis; and Massican Winery's Annia, a blend of Friulano (sauvignon vert), ribolla gialla, and chardonnay. All the shop's wine selections, about 175 labels total, are priced for on-site consumption, with a 25 percent discount on bottles to go. "We taste everything that goes on the shelf," Esopenko says. Price-to-taste ratio is the first consideration, with packaging not far behind. "We got known for our beautiful wall of goods at Little Vine," he adds. "Without a nice label, it's not going to sell." A Berkel hand-cranked slicer gets a workout on the cured meats. "It's a real showpiece," Esopenko says. PHOTO: 8INC 100 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com

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