Artisanal food fever has been consuming the West. Taste our favorite products made here
Amber Balakian’s heirloom-tomato sauces from Reedley, California, come in transcendent flavors like Green Zebra, Yellow Roman, and Pink Oxheart. “They taste like you’ve just squeezed a ripe tomato into your mouth.” From $10 for 16 oz.; balakianfarms.com
“Super-crunchy and salty-sweet” with a “serrano chile kick,” Sonoma Brinery’s pickles are fresh-packed, not heat-processed, so they still taste like cucumbers. $4.49 for 16 oz.; sonomabrinery.com for stores.
Sonoma Syrup’s extract contains “actual seeds from a fresh vanilla pod, so you don’t have to decide between vanilla beans
and extract when you bake.” In a face-off with cookies made with a regular extract, it won every time. From $12 for 4 oz.; sonomasyrup.com
So what really goes into a $150 bottle of traditional aceto balsamico? The juice of 200 pounds of organic grapes, evaporated and “aged in wooden casks for at least 12 years, just like in Italy”—except it’s produced in the high desert of New Mexico. “Each sweet, silky drop explodes with flavor.” $150 for 4.5 oz.; organicbalsamic.com
“Forget the neon maraschinos of the past.” These plump, all-natural Bada Bing cherries from Oregon have the right balance
of tart and sweet, and make your cocktail or banana split taste like summer. $6.99 for 13.5 oz.; tillenfarms.com
Rich, buttery, alderwood-smoked salmon from Seattle’s Pure Food Fish Market is moist and tinged with a caramel sweetness.
“It’s expensive, but sustainably caught, with a flavor as wide and deep as the ocean itself.” 2 lbs. for $90, including shipping; freshseafood.com
The makers of Ridge Absinthe in Montana researched recipes from the 1880s before creating this warm, not-too-sweet version. The aromatic balance of herbs, seeds, and roots “only gets better over ice.” Sold in Montana and California or by mail order (from $66 for 750 ml.; catskillcellars.com).
These tender layered cakes from Los Angeles have “just the right amount of white chocolate coating and hints of passion fruit and rose petal.” An artful, grown-up petit four. $50 for 1 dozen; valerieconfections.com
Some cream-of-the-crop products from Western cheesemakers:
The number of chocolatiers in the West boggles the mind, and chocolate just keeps getting better, from fair trade, organic,
and single-origin beans to bonbons emblazoned in jewel tones. Here’s a taste:
Nothing really beats fresh fruit captured at its peak of ripeness and slathered on a piece of buttery toast. With a focus
on heirloom fruits, small-batch recipes, and local, local, local (often the fruit comes from the yard out back), the jams
here blow our minds. Grab a spoon.
Really good extra-virgin olive oil has never been cheap (it’s called liquid gold for a reason), even when made in California.
But thanks to a new way of planting trees—trained close together on trellises—great, affordable olive oil is here. We love
the buttery, faintly spicy blend from California Olive Ranch. From $10 for 500 ml.; at stores and californiaoliveranch.com