HEADS UP: The 2016 International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York is now in the history books as of 8 March. As always, it was a feast for the senses, especially the tastebuds. To that end, over the next few Wednesdays, we will be bringing to your attention news of some noteworthy, new and newish food and drink products that are nutritious, delicious and crafted with care. Week 2: Brooklyn Whatever; Sukhadia’s Indian Flavours Samosas.
AT Brooklyn Whatever, they can keep you in shnacks for the foreseeable future. Want some Shpickles?
“We do broccoli and green beans and carrots,” co-owner Rachel Shamah is spieling; she is effortlessly on message as she holds forth in her booth at the 2016 International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York. “We pickle kale, even, and cauliflower, jalepenos and sprouts. And for people from the South, we do okra”.
Guess what RS and her son and business partner, Abe Shamah, don’t pickle? Cucumbers! “We also don’t use dill,” she says.
“When we started this company we knew that we did not have to be necessarily better, but we wanted to be different,” hence no pickles, for instance.
And no steel spoons – wood instead – because steel engages with the vinegar, creating too much acidity. And no sugar “whatsoever.” And no preservatives.
“When we were doing the pickling process, the food police and the food scientists, they all really insisted that I put some type of preservative and I refused to do that,” RS recalls. “I only wanted to put ingredients that – for instance, in the Brussels sprouts, the ingredients are water, vinegar, Brussels sprouts, salt, spices, period.
RS and AB were adamant that they would eschew any ingredients “that you can’t pronounce.” Consequently, they had to work longer and harder to produce the pickled vegetables that now hit myriad nutritional high notes: “vegan, soy free, gluten free, sugar free without any added preservatives, all natural and kosher.”
Shpickles began arriving on shelves all over Brooklyn and in spots in Manhattan about six months ago.
Speaking of shelves. The shelflife of Shpickles is about 18 months, according to RS. Shorten that to a month or so once they have been opened. “But if they last that long, there’s something wrong because you are going to finish them faster than that.”
Rachel and Abe Shamah are mother and son and business partners in Brooklyn Whatever. Photo from Brooklyn Whatever Facebook page.
That brings the conversation around to another shnack in the Brooklyn Whatever line: Shnuts. “The epitome of what we do are shnuts,” raves RS. “Everybody laughs when they hear shnuts, but our shnuts are very, very addictive.”
Not pickled and excluding peanuts, shnuts is a mixture of almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts. The Brooklyn Whatever Website states that they are made with high-quality brown sugar and herbs and spices, producing a flavor profile that is sweet and savory.
Before RS embarked on the sweet and savory odyssey that is Brooklyn Whatever, she worked in the human services sector in a role she describes as “doing God’s work. It was beautiful work, helping kids.” But she would burn out; lose her passion. “And I am a strong believer in loving your life and not wasting any time with it, so I quit.”
Brooklyn Whatever Brussels sprouts contain water, vinegar, Brussels sprouts, salt and spices. Photo from Brooklyn Whatever Facebook page.
In good time, she was without anything to do. Is that even possible in New York? In any case, during this fallow period AS lost a chef job. Then, RS got a spark, a bright idea, an inspiration! “It just came to me, ‘Let’s go in the shpickle business. We know how to pickle.’ I am of a Mediterranean background and, you know, it comes naturally to me.”
And the world is a better place … Have a taste for Shmolives, the last product in the Brooklyn Whatever line?
This “is a very, very unique item,” RS explains with pride “because with our olives, we pack them without any brine, so that keeps them really juicy and they don’t get soggy.”
The shmolives are also made with a special recipe that AS, aka “Olive King,” created in culinary school. Like all of the products at Brooklyn Whatever, RS says smolives are made with love.
Rachel Shamah serves up shpickles at the 2016 International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York. Photo by V.W.
“Our thing is that everything is handmade. It’s artisanal. It’s made in Brooklyn. It’s Brooklyn-based. We are Brooklyn people.”
And Brooklyn Whatever wants to continue to spread the love, RS asserts. “We’re ready to move beyond Brooklyn and share Brooklyn Whatever with the rest of the world.”
Visit http://www.brooklynwhatever.com/ to learn more about Brooklyn Whatever.
Delightful Samosas From Sukhadia’s Indian Flavours Three of the newer samoas offerings from Sukhadia’s Indian Flavours. Photo by V.W.
IT’S a tricky proposition when you’re at a food tradeshow surrounded by edibles and you are particular about what you eat. Not all is up to your standard. Some is downright unhealthy.
You are hungry, yet wary, because you are trying to avoid GMO products, trans fats, copious amounts of salt and sugar and overly processed foods in general. It’s a jungle out there, and you are the prey. You must look alive – or else!
So, it is with extreme caution that this reporter approaches the Sukhadia’s Indian Flavours booth, right next door to Brooklyn Whatever. I’d just finished an animated and appetizing chat with Rachel Shamah (see article above).
Though I’d feasted on Brooklyn Whatever Shnuts and Shpickles – green beans, Brussels sprouts, kale and okra, I was still peckish. The samosas warming on the grill were beckoning, wreaking havoc on my olfactory senses with seductive aromas, promising deliciousness and satiation.
But my imagination was also galloping away with me, conjuring up ingredients like enriched flour, massive amounts of salt, myriad tongue-twisting scientific names ... It was a tug of war, then a compromise. I asked the company rep for an ingredient list. A few moments laters, I was sighing with relief.
Some of the ingredients: wheat flour, peas, edible oil, mint leaves, black salt … no tongue-twisters. Sukhadia promises high-quality ingredients in its entire product line. The Veggie Samosa could be mine.
Sukhadia’s Indian Flavours ships its classic Indian foods around the world. Photo by V.W.
Do note, however, that the salt content is a bit high for anyone with hypertension. While the veggie samosa is sold frozen, it tastes quite fresh. And it is delicious, flavorful. Ditto for the Cheese Samosa. And the Chicken Samosa.
On its Web site which is a bit unwieldy, Sukhadia exhorts visitors to, “Be healthy, eat healthy, Eat fresh @ Sukhadia’s.” With locations in India, New Jersey, greater Chicago and soon Texas, the company does a significant amount of business in the catering trade, for weddings, anniversaries, special dinners and other special occasions. Continental Airlines is a customer.
It offers hundreds of classic Indian food products such as curry dishes, chutneys, Tandoori bread, sweets and nuts. They come frozen, refrigerated and at room temperature. Practically all can be shipped around the world.
Visit http://www.sukhadia.com/ to learn more about Sukhadia’s Indian Flavours.