DLM Dreams of Sushi Are a Reality

If you haven’t seen the film “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” I recommend you do, preferably with a cold beer and a beautiful platter of sushi. A few of us at DLM have had the opportunity to eat sushi at the famous fish market Tsukiji in Japan where Jiro sources his fish, and it really is a lifetime experience. We’ve also had excellent sushi in supermarkets in Japan, such as from our friends the Ishido family of Keihoku Supermarkets. Fortunately, it’s also become commonplace in American supermarkets as our food psyche is eager to embrace foods from around the world. Authentic sushi is an art form and we decided to perfect how we do it at DLM.

It begins with the chef. Given the exact same ingredients, the experience you would have from a sushi master is on a completely different level than from a novice. When you then supply such an expert with gorgeous fish and perfect rice, the results are extraordinary. We have such talent now in our Sushi department. I marvel at their knife skills and gentle hand in crafting every piece and roll. Thanks to this team, we’re now achieving a level of sushi that we had only once dreamed possible.

In addition to the top talent in our Sushi department, we also are relentless in the sourcing of quality fish, rice, and other ingredients. Our VP of Meat & Seafood and Food Service Jack Gridley finds great fish like no one else I know. He has fishing friends in places like Alaska, Boston, and Scotland, which makes it no surprise that we have such outstanding fish for not only our Seafood department, but for the Sushi department as well.

Indeed, we are proud to offer you an exceptional level of sushi excellence at DLM, one more like what you would have in a fine sushi restaurant. Check out our increased variety, more artistic appearance, and best of all—superior eating experience!

DLM Sushi is so good, we’re attracting many customers of Japanese and Korean origin, the countries with the greatest sushi traditions. I was raised as an Ohio farm boy, yet even I eat our sushi at least two to three times per week as it’s such an easy, healthy pleasure. Our sushi chefs are happy to accommodate your special requests, including eye-popping sushi trays for your next party or a custom roll for your next meal. Give DLM Sushi a try and eat it soon and often. It’s the stuff dreams are made of.

DLM Food Explorer Viva Italia

On my first trip to Italy some years ago, I was surprised to learn that Tuscans largely ignore balsamic vinegar, and Milanese favor rice over pasta. And right in between Milan and Tuscany you find many recognizable delicacies from lasagna to Prosciutto di Parma to balsamic vinegar in the region of Reggio Emilia. Hazelnuts are a big deal in the north and hot peppers in the south.

You learn that when speaking of Italy’s great food culture, it’s impossible to describe it without putting it in a regional context. Maybe it’s the Italian connection to the land, a long culinary history, or simply local pride. In any case, discovering the regional foods of Italy is both educational and incredibly fun. Over the years, so many of us at DLM have traveled to Italy to discover its food treasures, and we’ve made it a point to bring a number of those back to you.

You see Italy’s influence at DLM in the Italian products themselves, like our Vera Jane’s Extra-Virgin Olive Oil hailing from the hills of Tuscany or our Parmigiano-Reggiano from Modena. Other times, you’ll find its reach in the form of a technique we’ve learned from studying with Italian masters that we then replicate here, such as our DLM Handmade Mozzarella, Naples-Style Pizza, and Tuscan butcher-inspired specialty prepared meats, to name a few. As you can imagine, we could write a book on our passion for Italian food, but for the purpose of giving some focus, we are spotlighting a few regions of Italy that have inspired us the most: Tuscany, Campania, Emilia-Romagna, and Southern Italy, mainly Calabria and Sicily.

We’ll be celebrating Italy all month culminating with our Food Explorer Day taking place May 18. Join us for great fun and good Italian eating on our next stop as Food Explorers…buon appetito!

TUSCANY

FOOD

Vera Jane’s Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (GROCERY), Pane Toscano (BAKERY), Pecorino Toscano (THE DLM CHEESE SHOP), Italian Oven-Ready Meats (MEAT)

WINE

CAPPONE CHIANTI CLASSICO – Count Sebastiano Capponi is a dear friend to DLM, hailing from his lovely Tuscan estate that’s been in his family since 1524! This young-vine Chianti is named for the first ancestor of Sebastiano. It’s 100% Sangiovese, brimming with beautiful fruit and richness.

VILLA CALCINAIA CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA – 100% Sangiovese from the best blocks of old vines near Greve in Chianti. It’s a well-structured wine that’s full of rich black fruits, leather, spice, cigar box notes, and supple tannins.

FONTALEONI VERNACCIA DI SAN GIMIGNANO – A wonderfully dry, minerally, and extremely pleasing white wine from the surrounding vineyards of the hilltop town of San Gimignano.

CAMPANIA

FOOD

Naples-Style Pizza (DLM WASHINGTON SQUARE & SPRINGBORO), San Marzano Tomatoes D.O.P. (GROCERY), DLM Handmade Mozzarella (THE DLM CHEESE SHOP)

WINE

COLLI DI LAPIO ROMANO CLELIA FIANO DI AVELLINO – A white wine from the Avellino province and a varietal the Romans called Vitis Apiana, vine beloved of bees. It’s dry, lovely, and has hints of pear and hazelnut, floral tones, and a hint of minerality.

EMILIA-ROMAGNA

FOOD

Prosciutto di Parma (DELI), Mortadella (DELI), DLM Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena (GROCERY), Lasagna (GOURMET TAKEAWAY), Parmigiano-Reggiano (THE DLM CHEESE SHOP)

WINE

CASALI ROSA DI ROSA RED SPARKLING WINE – Perfect chilled with a plate of charcuterie enjoyed al fresco with its bright raspberry/blueberry fruit and soft bubbles.

LO DUCA LAMBRUSCO REGGIANO – Lambrusco does not exactly excite most after we’ve suffered so many terrible mass-produced and exported representations of this wine. However, Lo Duca is bright, semi-sweet, and has a naturally carbonated essence. Try it in a cocktail.

SOUTHERN ITALY (CALABRIA + SICILY)

FOOD

Cannoli (BAKERY), DLM Gelato (FROZEN), Scalia Anchovies (GROCERY), Marinated Anchovies (SEAFOOD BAR)

WINE

VILLA POZZI NERO D’AVOLA – The Pozzi family is a fifth-generation winemaking family located on the island of Sicily.

DONNAFUGATA ANTHILIA BIANCO – An amazingly crisp, minerally, and vibrant white wine blend from Sicily that’s perfect for light seafood dishes, salad, or poultry.

 

Savoring Every Bite of Emilia-Romagna

Modena is one of my favorite cities in Europe, a land of fast cars and big flavors. A few years ago, we spent an afternoon with Maria Livia Manicardi touring her family’s estate where they produce their wonderful balsamic vinegars. She makes our DLM Balsamic Vinegars, including Aunt Angie’s Balsamic Vinegar, which is great for everyday use. Best of all, Maria creates our DLM Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. It’s a blend that we chose on site with Maria and we’re extremely proud to put our name on it. We think you will love its richness, depth, and complexity.

Maria Livia Manicardi produces our DLM Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. On a visit, she offered us a sample directly from the barrel where it ages.

Just outside of Modena are the rolling hills where the Minelli family’s cows quietly graze. Modena is known not only for its balsamic vinegar and Prosciutto di Parma, but also for its Parmigiano-Reggiano, named after the provinces Parma and Reggio-Emilia. For more than a decade, we’ve been buying this cheese from the same family, brothers Valerio and Giovanni Minelli, and Giovanni’s son Carlo. As we toured their operation, Giovanni said something I’ve never heard before from a farmer. We were visiting the barn where the cows were eating fragrant hay, and he whispered “Look into their eyes. They are happy.” And we’re happy to enjoy so many wonderful foods from Reggio-Emilia!

Several of us spent a memorable afternoon enjoying food company, wine, and Parmigiano-Reggiano at the Minelli estate, overlooking the hills of Modena. This family produces our Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Edmond Fallot’s Mustard Paradise

There are few condiments as tantalizing as mustard. I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t like it for that matter. Smothered on a brat with sauerkraut, slathered on pastrami and rye, incorporated into a sauce and drizzled on asparagus … its tangy flavor makes your nose tingle and taste buds want more.

Combine this innate human need for mustard with our love for French food and you can understand why we were so excited to visit the home of one of the world’s great mustard traditions in the fabled wine and gastronomy region of Burgundy, France. The address: La Moutarderie Edmond Fallot, in the town of Beaune. The charming Fallot Mustard factory is just a stone’s throw from the Hospices de Beaune where aficionados, collectors, and wine geeks from around the globe gather annually in November for the famous wine auction and festival.

I first got to know Marc Désarménien nearly 20 years ago at the International Fancy Food Show in New York. Ever since, we’ve carried his family’s mustard, and I’ve always been a huge fan. Marc’s grandfather, Edmond Fallot, bought this mustard factory in 1928, which had been established since 1840. I asked Marc if he came from a long line of Burgundians, and he quipped non with his definitive French accent.

He shared that Edmond grew up in an unremarkable town in the east part of France, but loved good food as a young man, so moved to Beaune for the simple reason that he wanted to eat well—my kind of guy!

Edmond moved to Beaune and began to work in the town’s little mustard factory in the 1920s. He eventually took over the business, made it his own, and prospered. Edmond’s son-in-law Roger took the reins right after WWII and Edmond’s grandson Marc has headed up the firm since 1994.

As we toured his sparkling clean factory and tasted some extraordinary mustard, Marc and his colleague Caroline explained some amazing facts about mustard. While Dijon is capital of France’s famous Burgundy region and the namesake of the famous mustard, “Dijon mustard” today simply refers to a recipe. Interestingly, most of the world’s mustard seeds come from Canada and the U.S.

Dijon mustard indeed was created in the city bearing its name. Legend has it that Jean Naigeon replaced the usual ingredient of vinegar in the recipe with verjuice, the acidic juice of unripe grapes, which was a plentiful and inexpensive (at the time) leftover from the wine harvest. The use of verjuice gave the mustard a better flavor. Although verjuice is ideal as a liquid base for mustard, many Dijon mustards today, however, are made with inexpensive vinegar.

With a nod to tradition, Marc is resurrecting the glory days of Burgundian mustard by using French grown mustard seeds and white wine from Burgundy in his Burgundy Mustard IGP (IGP translates as Protected Geographical Indication). This is the single most balanced and pleasurable taste of mustard I’ve ever had!

Speaking of taste, the varieties of Fallot mustard will never leave you wanting. At the tasting room, you’ll see a wall covered with photos of many of France’s great chefs, both upcoming and famous. Mark has collaborated with many of them to create pairings and flavors of his mustards.

Try our Chicken Fricassee recipe featuring Edmond Fallot Tarragon Dijon Mustard!

We have chosen several including my favorites the Burgundy IGP, Tarragon, and Blackcurrant. My wife, who is a great cook, also loves the Walnut and standard Dijon. She incorporates these mustards in vinaigrettes, sauces, and other ways several times a week … and I’m a happy consumer of these sublime flavors! For good eating at home these cold winter months, make Edmond Fallot Mustards a regular feature at your table.

 

HONEY & BALSAMIC. A hit on Heavenly Ham®!

BURGUNDY IGP. The king of them all! Try this with any recipe calling for mustard.

WALNUT. Serve on winter meats, such as lamb shanks, roasts, and prime rib.

BLACKCURRANT. Excellent with duck, especialy pan-seared duck breast.

BASIL. Use a teaspoon in a vinaigrette for a Caprese salad or tossed with sliced ripe tomatoes.

TARRAGON. Perfect accompaniment to DLM Chicken Thighs.

DIJON. Superb on a DLM Baguette with French ham and butter.

GREEN PEPPERCORN. Try glazed on duBreton pork loin.

PROVENÇAL. Brush liberally on salmon just as you finish grilling.

 

Making Sense of Balsamic Vinegar

There are many areas in the store where lots of variety is fun: chocolate bars, cheeses, and craft beers come to mind. Sometimes, however, too many choices can be positively confounding. Balsamic vinegar, I think, is an example of the latter, with varying sizes, shapes, and price points ranging from a few dollars a bottle to well over one hundred. You may wonder, “How much money should I spend?” “How many years should the vinegar be aged?” Then you have to navigate Italian terms such as “tradizionale” and “aceto”…mamma mia! Not to worry. Once you make some sense of it all, a little knowledge equips you to buy the right balsamic and the ticket to enjoying one of world’s great condiments. It’s health giving. It’s flavorful. And it’s a part of every well-stocked pantry. When it comes to classifying balsamic vinegar, you can think in three general categories: at the top end you have tradizionale, at the bottom end commerciale, and then there’s a huge middle ground with blends of varying degrees of the first two.

TRADIZIONALE AT THE TOP

Let’s start with the top, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena. Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale* is Italian for Traditional Balsamic Vinegar. Now then, why would you ever spend over $100 for a few ounces for any condiment? Indeed, why is it so expensive? For one reason, you could say, you are buying a little slice of history when you buy a bottle. Let me briefly describe how it’s made. The grapes, usually trebbiano, are harvested then crushed into juice called “must,” and put into vats. At the first signs of fermentation, the must is filtered and then boiled in copper pots until its volume is reduced by about 50%. This concentrated sugary liquid is put into large wooden barrels to begin its fermentation. A small amount of “mother vinegar” is introduced and its yeast aids in turning must into vinegar instead of wine.
After a couple of years aging in large wine size barrels, the vinegar is now ready for aging in a battery of five handcrafted wooden casks of descending sizes. The types of wood used in the five barrels may vary as well, contributing different characteristics to the vinegar. A producer may, for example, use chestnut for color, juniper for aroma, cherry wood for sweetness, etc. Barrel filling takes place in the winter since the cold weather causes slow alcohol fermentation; thus, the brew is allowed to settle which clarifies the vinegar. In turn, the hot summer months contribute to evaporation and concentration of the vinegar. Once a year, they top off the casks to 4/5 full by replenishing the smallest cask with liquid from the second smallest, the second smallest with liquid from the next largest…and so on, down the line. Only the largest cask of the five casks is replenished with liquid that has been outside the series of five.
After a minimum of 12 years of aging, a small amount is drawn off of the smallest barrel for bottling. To receive the tradizionale designation, the vinegar has to undergo rigorous production examinations, and finally pass blind-taste testing by master tasters of the official consortium, ie cooperative. If the vinegar fulfills all the requirements, the consortium (not the producer) bottles and seals it. Additionally, if the vinegar is aged 25 years and passes all the tests, it can be labeled as extra vecchio (extra-old). You can see why tradizionale is so costly when you see how the producer has invested so much money, not to mention many years nurturing it to maturity.

COMMERCIALE BALSAMIC

If you just get to the first stage described above, you essentially have the entry level balsamic, at least with the best producers. (On the other hand, beware of some cheap vinegars that contain added coloring and flavor.) Our producer, the respected Manicardi family of Modena, does things the right way for their entry level vinegar. That is, they use only cooked must that has been aged for 2 years in wooden barrels. We’ve offered this very product for many years now under our own label as “Aunt Angie’s Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.” We named it after my Dad’s oldest sister, whose father Frank emigrated from Italy. Aunt Angie was always proud of her Italian heritage, so we named this vinegar in her honor. We sell it for only $7.99 for a 500ml bottle. Although we have a couple of other lower priced balsamics on our shelves, our Aunt Angie’s is by far the best we offer in this category.

NEW! DLM AGED BALSAMIC VINEGAR OF MODENA

Having defined the top end and entry levels, there are a myriad of possible blends in between. When you mix some of the vinegar from the five cask sets and some of the vinegar from the larger wine size barrels, you get some of the best qualities of the top tier and entry levels. Specifically, vinegars in this range can have more viscosity and complexity similar to the tradizionale but for less money. As you can imagine, you find enormous variety in this middle range, depending on the percentages used in the blend, the producer’s palate and many other variables. In this category, prices can range from around $20 to up around $60 and more.
A couple years ago, several of us took a trip to Europe to visit suppliers and Modena was one of our stops. We spent an afternoon with Maria Livia Manicardi touring her family’s estate where they produce their wonderful balsamic vinegars ranging from their Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena to our own Aunt Angie’s Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. One of our goals was to taste various blends with the goal of bottling a mid-range blend that we could be proud to put our name on.