It may be August, but the summer fun is a long way from over!
And nothing can make or break your summer fantasy faster than the right condiments. (No, seriously. Hear me out.)
Summer provides an amazing bounty of fresh, delicious foods and an endless variety of opportunities to gather.
But whether it is your famous potato salad, legendary burgers or your epic pool party, the thing that holds them all together and makes them nothing less than extraordinary is the perfect chosen condiment. (Come on, you know I’m right!)
And if you think you’ve been having fun up until now, just wait until you give the 6 American-made, artisanal standouts below a try. (Hold on to your Speedo! Your summer is about to go into overdrive.)
American Spoon Foods - Made in Petoskey, Michigan
Story: American Spoon Foods founders Justin Rashid and Larry Forigone met when Justin was supplying wild and farm-raised Michigan foodstuffs to Larry’s NY restaurant. Before long the two were business partners using Larry’s recipes and Justin’s expertise about Michigan’s bounty to create an exceptional line of preserves.
Over the past 30 years, the Company has grown from a two copper kettle operation in the basement of a downtown Petoskey candy shop to a nine-kettle location of their own on the edge of town. What has not changed is their passion and devotion to their craft and their commitment to Michigan produce and the farmers who grow it.
Description: A bright, fresh relish of dill, capers, lemon, and parsley
Uses: Compliments fresh fish and makes a dynamite tartar sauce when stirred into mayo. You will also want to try American Spoon Foods’ own recipes.
Flavors: Red Pepper Relish, Portabello Mushroom Relish, and Farmhouse Tomato Relish, as well as an exciting variety of jams/jellies, sauces, vinaigrettes, salsas, preserves/marmalades, spoon fruit, fruit butter, fruit perfect/brandied fruit.
Price: $9.95/8oz jar (shown above)
Empire Mayonnaise Co. – Made in Brooklyn, New York
Gourmet mayo may sound like an oxymoron, but Empire Mayonnaise will convince you otherwise. (I realize my fellow Southerners will take much less convincing since they have been brought up (dare I say, correctly) to revere the eggy-sauce.)
Story: Founded in 2011 by chef Sam Mason and designer Elizabeth Valleau, Empire Mayonnaise uses natural and organic eggs and a variety of inventive spices to create the best tasting and most interesting mayonnaise on the market. The pair are constantly experimenting with flavor combinations and often offer short-runs of these “experiments” as additions to their product line.
Description: Mayonnaise for grown-ups. (What more do you need to know?)
Uses: Top your sandwiches/burgers, steak, chicken, tofu, salads, baked potatoes and tacos; mix with your rice and steamed veggies; and/or dip your pretzels, chips and fries.
Price: $6 or $8/4 oz jar (depending on flavor); NYC mix (shown above) featuring 1 jar each of Smoked Paprika, Black Garlic and Lime Pickle, $18/set.
Let’s Be Frank Dogs – Made in San Francisco, California
You may have heard the old Irish proverb, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.” Well, the Irish obviously never met Let’s Be Frank’s Devil Sauce because this is one devil you will definitely want to get to know.
Story: Let’s Be Frank was founded by Sue Moore and Larry Bain, both veterans of the culinary world with impressive pedigrees. Sue and Larry were committed to the idea that the much-loved and much-maligned hot dog could be part of healthy diet. As a result, Let’s Be Frank’s products are made with ingredients purchased from family farmers and ranchers who practice humane, conscientious and sustainable practices and use no hormones, steroids or antibiotics. Additionally, their products are free of nitrates and nitrites.
Description: A sauce fit for the best hot dog made (Let’s Be Frank Brand, of course!). The ingredients include California-grown spicy peppers, garlic, ginger, and an array of hand-toasted spices and bring a devilish kick to your dog.
Uses: Hot dogs. (Duh!) But you can also drizzle it over your eggs, avocados, or fish; mix it your into chicken/tuna salad, cold beans, or ramen; or you can try one of Let’s Be Frank’s recipes.
Price: $9.50/9 oz jar (shown above)
Sir Kensington’s Gourmet Scooping Ketchup – Made in New York, New York
Story: Sir Kensington was educated at both Oxford and Cambridge. He was knighted for his “remarkable achievements in philanthropy, industry, and commerce, notably the creation of Reinsurance” and soon became a socialite/salon-host. It was in this rarefied air that he happened to be dining with Catherine the Great one evening. The Empress requested ketchup for her Kobe and when none could be found Sir Kensington set out to fill this void. (If you believe this, I have a some swamp land I would like to show you.)
Though the legend on the bottle of Sir Kensington is entertaining, it is really no less fantastic than the creativity and entrepreneurship shown by the Company’s real founders, Brown University classmates Mark Ramadan, Scott Norton and Win Bennett who bravely entered the Heinz-domintated ketchup arena.
Description: Made of vine-ripened pear tomato purée; sweetened with agave nectar, honey and raw brown sugar; flavored with apple cider vinegar, coriander, lime juice, allspice and whole onions and packaged in a jar with a mouth wide enough to allow you to use a spoon. (How refined!)
Uses: French fries, burgers, hot dogs, meat loaf, eggs and in Sir Kensington’s own recipes.
Price: $7/11 oz jar (shown above); 11 oz jars also available in 4 packs for $21
The Jam Stand – Made in Brooklyn, New York
Story: Longtime friends Sabrina Valle and Jessica Quon didn’t set out to start a jam company. The adventurous duo simply set out to get their hands sticky. But the results were so well received that they soon had new full-time jobs as jam goddesses. What sets their small-batch jams apart are the irreverent, mouth-watering flavor combinations of locally grown ingredients with wacky names (like Drunken Monkey) that are the result of the ladies’ unstudied notions about what jam can/should be. (Oh! and it doesn’t hurt that most of their flavors have a bit of booze in them.)
Description: A delectable spread of sugar-coated bananas, a splash of rum and a dash of lime.
Uses: Spread it on your toast (plain or French), pancakes or waffles; use it instead of the banal grape in your PB&J for a sandwich Elvis would adore; or scoop it on ice cream for a gourmet ending to the meal/day.
Price: $8.50/8 oz jar (shown above); also available 3-pack for $20 and the Signature 4-pack for $25
Tin Mustard - Made in Brooklyn, New York
Story: Tin Dizdarevic has worked for Tom Colicchio and Akhtar Nawab and was the executive chef of Carolina’s Restaurant in Charleston, SC. He is a serious chef. In fact, he is so serious about food that as a hobby he began experimenting with recipes for mustard. He had only 3 requirements — 1) that it be natural (cannot imagine what he has against yellow dye!) 2) that it be flavorful and 3) that it be memorable. A feat he achieved and turned into a business with the help of friends, David Ostroff and Jan Dizdarevic.
Description: “The caviar of mustards.” Unground seeds pop in your mouth.
Uses: Slather it on steaks, hot dogs, pork chops, ribs, sandwiches; use it prepare vinaigrettes or marinades; and/or try one of Tin’s own recipes.
Price: $7/10 oz jar (shown above)
Got your own favorite all-American condiment? Share it. We’d love to know about it.
Thanks for reading. As always, I hope you enjoy.