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Archive for the ‘Product Stories’ Category

Last month, in our kitchen tour post, we showed you photos of Justin making rhubarb compote.  We didn’t identify it as such at the time, but we can tell you now: it was rhubarb compote and it was delicious.  It was so delicious that we snuck a few jars out of the R&D kitchen and took them down to Zingerman’s with us for a tasting we were scheduled to host.  We tasted our way through an array of classic American Spoon Preserves paired with Zingerman’s favorites and then served our rhubarb compote as the very last course, with a spoonful of whipped cream and a little square of graham cracker.  It was a big hit.  So big that the evening ended with one resounding request:  more rhubarb compote, please.

So we came home, scaled up the recipe, and bought all the local rhubarb we could find.  Then our kitchen staff got to work.  April, Jessica and Paul chopped up all the lovely red and green stalks, macerated the chopped chunks with sugar to soften and sweeten them, simmered the chunks and their pretty pink syrup gently in our copper kettles, and filled jars — 500 of them — with more rhubarb compote.

We’re happy to announce that Rhubarb Compote is now available in our retail stores. When you visit this summer, make sure you sample it on our tasting table.  Each jar is filled with soft, falling-apart chunks of  delightfully tart rhubarb preserved in a syrup that barely whispers of sweetness.   This compote is best served simply — with freshly whipped cream, spooned over Greek yogurt or ice cream, or my favorite way:  with nothing more than a spoon.

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In 1999, Justin and his family took a trip to Italy, where Justin fell in love with the smooth silkiness and intense flavor of gelato.  He found himself returning to gelaterias day after day to savor the simple pleasure of good, honest food enjoyed at a charming outdoor café.  The more gelaterias he visited and the more gelato he tasted, the more determined he grew to recreate this experience back home.  This dream percolated for almost a year before serendipity struck:  the space adjacent to our Petoskey store — on the edge of lovely Pennsylvania Park — became available.  Nine months and thousands of reclaimed bricks later, American Spoon Café & Gelato opened, serving 24 flavors of authentic Italian gelato produced from the bounty of Michigan’s Northern Fruitlands.
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In a few days my boyfriend and I will pack up our car and head down to the Chicago suburbs to spend Christmas with his family.  It’s a special visit — there’s no itinerary and no obligations, and it’s the only time all year that the entire family is together. Also, there’s brunch.  For as long as anyone can remember, my boyfriend’s mother Jill has made a lovely Christmas brunch.  The offerings have changed over time but the brunch has evolved into a beloved holiday tradition that always includes Jill’s delicious quiche and homemade granola, bacon, fresh fruit and moist, crumbly coffee cake.

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It’s that time of year again.  Snow blankets the sidewalks, the scent of pine hangs in the air, and shoppers bustle from store to store in search of the perfect gifts.  I helped one such holiday shopper in the  Petoskey store on Monday, answering her questions and opening jars for her to taste and suggesting some of my favorite combinations.  It was a simple thing, really, but it wasn’t until she hugged me — hugged me! — and thanked me for helping her select a gift that I was reminded of the spirit of the season.
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We promised you Heirloom Tomato Preserves.  In early Spring, tucked away on one of the very last pages of our catalog, we featured a photo of ten unlabeled jars in shades of orange and red and yellow and green, with a brief caption identifying those jars as Heirloom Tomato Preserves and indicating that they’d be available come Fall. It was a subtle promise, but a promise nonetheless, so we mailed our catalogs and set about keeping it.
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If you’d stepped into American Spoon’s kitchen last week, you would have been enveloped in the soft, delicate perfume of 5000 pounds of freshly picked Bartlett pears, spread out across the room in shallow trays to ripen to a fragrant golden yellow. And while you were busy breathing in that deliciously sweet scent and imagining some sort of  idyllic orchard scene, a far more practical person might have handed you a paring knife and set you to chopping, because 5000 pounds of pears demand a bit of attention.
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Last week, a berry-stained gentleman wandered into the American Spoon store in Petoskey.  He’d picked some wild blackberries in response to our ad and wasn’t quite sure where to take them.  This happens fairly often during the month or so that it takes summer to fade into fall, when blackberries grow like crazy in dense thorn-studded thickets along roadsides and abandoned railroad tracks, at the edges of fields and trails, in state parks and vacant lots, and in all sorts of wild and woodsy places.
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