What's Tasty at Sigona's Farmers Market

July 25, 2012

The Joys of Melon Season: Part I

The Joys of Melon Season: Part I

Nutritional Value and How to Select Them

By Robbie Sigona

I honestly love this time of year. The weather is warm and fantastic every day, the San Francisco Giants are battling for first place and the first melons of the season are arriving in our stores.

And let me just say this: they are tasting really, really good right now.

We get our melons from Turlock Fruit Company in, you guessed it, Turlock, CA. Owner and grower Don Smith is a second generation melon aficionado who decided to follow in his father’s footsteps. 94 years after his dad first started the company, the family business is as strong as ever. Heck, there’s even a third generation (Steve) and fourth generation (Alec) Smith continuing the legacy that started back in 1918.

We’re going to dig a little bit deeper in the unique history of Turlock Fruit Company – as well as their rare heirloom melons – in the next installment of our e-newsletter. For now, let’s focus on the deep nutritional value of melons and what to look for when you’re buying them the next time you visit Sigona’s Farmers Market.


Let’s start first with honeydew. Our honeydew that’s tasting magnificent right now is packed full of vitamin C, which of course is great for giving your immune system a turbo boost. This orange-fleshy goodness is a mighty anti-oxidant and provides your body with potassium (essential for proper cell function). You might be surprised to know that folks with high potassium levels typically have blood pressure lower than their peers, hence another reason to go melon crazy this summer.

My person favorite right now is the orange flesh honeydew. While it looks somewhat similar on the outside to typical honeydew, the inside color, taste and smell is actually more reminiscent of cantaloupe. Find one with a cream-colored rind and sugar-packed aromas and you’ll be enjoying yourself in no time.


If you’ve been disappointed with cantaloupe up until now you can’t miss with our current crop. This is truly the time of year to go for it.

Cantaloupes are a classic fruit loaded with vitamin A and C. The vitamin A will help you to keep your visor laser-sharp; for women who are pregnant, it will assist with developing and growing the little tike inside of you.

Cantaloupes are also a good source of:

  • Vitamin B6
  • Folate
  • Niacin
  • Fiber

Speaking of fiber, did you know that the average American only consumes around 14 grams per day? This falls far short of the recommended daily intake of 20-38 grams. With fiber so essential to digestion (and preventing not-so-fun issues such as constipation, hemorrhoids and inflammation of the digestive tract), why not get your daily dose through delicious and healthy tasting cantaloupes!

What to Look For

Something we see every now and again in the store are folks who aren’t exactly sure which honeydew or cantaloupe to select. They know these fruits and healthy. They know they taste sugary-delicious. But sometimes they all look pretty similar. If you don’t know what to look for, it can be like sticking your hand into a fish bowl, pulling out a random raffle ticket and hoping it’s a winner.

That’s why if you stick to these basic tips the next time you’re in the store, you’ll be going home with a prize every single time:

  • Melons should have just a slight give when you squeeze them. Are they hard as a bowling ball? Move on and look for another.
  • Look for ones that are as blemish-free as possible.
  • A sugary aroma should waft into your nostrils as you smell them.
  • Once home, run the melons over cold water to clean off any dirt.
  • It’s smart to store them in the fridge right away. Cover them in plastic and consume within three days.

With melon season looking so phenomenal right now, we’ll be talking in our next e-news about heirloom varieties you won’t find at just any grocery outlet. You’ll learn how Turlock Fruit Company has kept these amazing fruits popping out of the ground for decades on end and why you need to try them as soon as humanly possible.

In the meantime, don’t forget to try out our recipes for Sweet Local Orange flesh Honeydew with a Drizzle of Reduced Balsamic as well as Local Melon Red Wine. We’ll guarantee you’ll be in melon heaven!


May 30, 2012

Sexual Chocolate 2010: Just Enjoy It

Sexual Chocolate 2010: Just Enjoy It

by Andy Coffaro

An Interview with Marketing Guru Bo Silliman of SLO Down Wines

By now the story of Mark Zuckerberg’s creation of Facebook from his Harvard dorm is the stuff of legend and, literally, a movie. If marketing mastermind Bo Silliman and his cast of calculatingly brilliant juvenile cronies at SLO Down Wines continue their current meteoric rise, they just might find their own story appearing on the big screen someday.

Bo, along with fellow vino lovers Brandon Allen and Chip Forsythe, started SLO Down Wines as a bootlegging operation on the campus of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo around eight years ago. As their reputation grew on campus as the go-to dudes for booze, they started to take the venture a bit more seriously and eventually mastered the magnificently decadent Sexual Chocolate 2010, which is now available at Sigona’s Farmers Market.

sexual chocolate 2010

Sexual Chocolate 2010’s wine labels, featuring No. 2 pencil writing, makes it to track down in the store

Sexual Chocolate 2010 is a blend of 75% old-vine Zinfandel from Napa’s Howell Mountain and 25% Santa Barbara Syrah. “It features really, really deep and dark fruit. It has a velvety mouth feel, is super smooth and pairs well with another bottle of Sexual Chocolate, which then pairs well with yet another bottle,” Bo joked with me over the phone this week. When I told him both my girlfriend and I were feeling pretty darn warm and fuzzy after only one glass this past Friday night, Bo said, “That tingling means it’s working!”

The god of wine himself, Bacchus, would be proud.

Standing Out Amongst the Grapes

The first thing you’ll probably notice in our store when you visit the Sexual Chocolate display is the bottle’s label. It looks as if it were written by hand with a number 2 pencil and features poetic prose such as, “We started making wine knowing it would be used for late night drinking, and that the French are annoying; We came up with this full-bodied red that pairs well with Wednesday nights and pizza.”

Spend just a few minutes on their company blog and you’ll instantly realize that these guys are all about having a good time, making people laugh, great wine and breaking down the preconceived notions of what it means to market in the wine industry. Even the name of the wine itself comes from the 1988 classic “Coming to America” featuring Eddie Murphy (you know, back when he was actually funny).

“Everything we do, whether it’s jokes on our website or the wine in the bottle, is very calculated. Combined we have over 15 years of branding, marketing and packaging experience. At the end of the day, we wanted to strip the intimidation factor off of the wine. We want people to be able to actually pronounce it.”

I could hear and feel Bo’s fierce passion flooding through the phone. “The wine is genuine. That’s why we don’t get lumped in with other gimmicky wines out there. We know what’s relevant, which is why the people that get it, love it!”

Getting Away with It

“The only reason we can do this kind of funny stuff is because the wine is good.” Bo couldn’t be more correct. (Or maybe he could. I don’t know. Sounds like it would take math to figure that out.)

Sexual Chocolate 2010 is a full-bodied red that practically makes your head explode with joy just by smelling it. The 14.5% alcohol content is by no means overpowering, but I can personally attest that when you reach the end of your first bottle you might weep with despair like an infant if another isn’t standing nearby for instant consumption.

What really impressed me while talking with Bo is that he doesn’t really seem to care about fancy adjectives and ridiculous alliterations to describe his wine. At one point he bluntly stated, “Punch it with a screwdriver and drink it while camping.”

This is the beauty of Sexual Chocolate 2010. One could very easily use fancy language to describe all the elements of this blend. But who cares. Order a pizza, snag some burgers, call up a few friends (or have it on-hand for date night) and just enjoy it. Save the bourgeois B.S. for pretentious and overpriced wine tours in Napa.

The “Oh Crap!” Moments

Before Bo and his close friends were slinging wine like bootleggers during Prohibition, he was studying premed at the University of Louisville. I asked him if he ever had any “Oh crap! What am I doing?” moments when he left school to swan dive directly into the epicenter of the wine universe.

bo with wine

Bo delivering wine to the thirsty masses

“Of course I did. I would be a complete fraud if I didn’t say I had those moments. But at the same time, Brandon and I were recently drinking beers with Dave Phinney [considered by many in the wine industry to be a total rock star] and he told us he loved our wine and that we’d be super successful with it. That helps to wash away those ‘What am I doing?’ moments.”

“Most of my friends are married. They’re having kids. They’re buying homes. But at the end of the day, I still don’t have that ‘Oh crap’ moment – probably because I’m drunk off my own wine, which is pretty cool!”

What’s on Tap

Bo said the 2010 Sexual Chocolate vintage is pretty close to selling out. Since there’s only 3-4 more months left of this wine, you might want to snag a bottle or three inside Sigona’s before it’s too late.

In terms of what’s on the horizon for Bo and his cast of SLO Down merry men, he said we can expect the 2011 Sexual Chocolate to hit the shelves possibly by this fall or early 2013 at the latest. He also mentioned that they’ve been doing some barrel sampling for a small production of a new cab blend called LoveHammer. “It pairs well with lamb and big cheeseburgers,” he said.

“We’ll also be rolling out a Chardonnay blend so be on the lookout for it. It’s going to be called …”

After telling me the name of this new white, but confessing that the moniker hadn’t been trademarked yet, Bo said while laughing, “Put that name in your article and I’ll punch you in the face!”

Dully noted Bo. If anything, that will make for a hilarious scene in the SLO Down Wine movie that no doubt will be playing soon in a theater near you.

April 18, 2012

New for you: BlaQQat Banana Bread (with a cherry on top)

New for you: BlaQQat Banana Bread (with a cherry on top)

Fantastic flavor combinations flourish in our new, locally made banana breads topped with Sigona’s preserves. Get yours for free!

Gilbert Braddy, owner of BlaQQat Baked Goods, make fresh fruit preserve-topped banana breads worthy of the palates of the 21st century.

This isn’t your grandma’s banana bread. In fact, it’s different than any other banana bread you’ve ever had. That is unless you’re lucky enough to know Gilbert Braddy. If that’s the case, you’ve likely had a sample or been asked to taste test.

Gilbert recently started his own company, BlaQQat Baked Goods, and his star product is his Sigona’s fresh fruit preserves-topped, all-natural banana bread made with batter that’s swirled with other gastronomically delightful ingredients. What’s more is we’re offering the 6 oz. breads, topped with Sigona’s very own jams, for free this week (April 18-24) with your coupon and a purchase of $30 or more! Choose from:

  • Poppy seed banana bread topped with fig jam
  • Roasted cashew banana bread topped with apricot jam
  • Golden raisin banana bread topped with raspberry jam

Is your mouth watering like mine?

How It’s Different

Made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients with just the right amount of banana flavor – not too heavy and not too light – Gilbert says his 6 oz. loaves of BlaQQat (pronounced “Black Cat”) Baked Goods banana bread are made for palates seeking alternatives to regular ol’ banana bread.

“We like to think of the bread as making the statement, ‘It’s not your grandma’s recipe: banana bread is back, it’s better, it’s smaller so it’s almost guilt-free and it’s all new for the 21st century,’” said Gilbert. “We’ve just finalized our official logo and artwork for the 6 oz. bags with our slogan being, ‘Move over, cupcake!’”

Originally filled with fruit preserves, the latest rendition features Sigona’s fresh fruit preserves on top, giving the breads a more Danish-pastry presentation. “Now the color of the preserve can be seen through the package window, and I love how the orange-ness of the apricot is inviting and just pops in the bag,” said Gilbert.

New Local Vendor on the Block

Get your free 6 oz. loaf of Sigona's fresh fruit preserve-topped banana bread this week (April 18-24) with your coupon!

Gilbert, a longtime Redwood City resident, has always been entrepreneurial-minded. Among activities, co-owning a floral shop and developing inventions, he has even worked on a special, nontoxic concoction to help keep cut flowers alive longer. However, it was when he decided to take a baking break from inventions that his banana bread turned him into a culinary sensation, literally overnight.

“I’m not a trained baker, but I’ve tweaked my own banana bread recipe for about three years; the secret is all in the mashing,” said Gilbert. “I asked some floral customers to be taste testers, and the next day I received 50 orders. We bake for schools, fundraisers, holiday parties and the like, and now Sigona’s is our first retail store.”

As a Sigona’s shopper for 20 years, Gilbert says Sigona’s was naturally his first choice to approach with the idea of taking BlaQQat Baked Goods to the retail level.

“We are the first market to carry BlaQQat Baked Goods and are excited to add another new, local vendor to our ranks,” said John Nava, specialty foods buyer for Sigona’s. “At first bite I knew Gilbert’s banana bread would be a hit with our customers, so we discussed the option of using Sigona’s jams, which are locally made with fresh fruit and use little sugar. He took me up on it, and, well I’ll say it, the jams made the breads simply sublime.”

All in a Day’s Work

The company has come a long way since November, and Gilbert, as most small business owners, keeps himself busy wearing the hats of baker, delivery man, labeler and marketer, all while keeping up on his design work at the floral shop he co-owns with partner David Braddy.

BlaQQat (a name which came about during a game of Scrabble) has more flavor combinations on the horizon too. Think plum and poppy seed; pecans and strawberry rhubarb. The possibilities are endless!

Don’t miss out on your free loaf of BlaQQat Baked Goods banana bread this week. Remember your coupon and we’ll see you in the store!

Well Now, That’s a Pickle

Well Now, That’s a Pickle

You’ve never had a pickle like this before! Locally made Sonoma Brinery pickles are fresh, raw and free this week at Sigona’s.

Local vendor David Ehreth, owner of Sonoma Brinery, is passionate about pickles. He makes three varieties: a classic kosher, a bread & butter and a spicy bread & butter.

In 2003, Dave Ehreth, a former engineer, executive and consultant in the telecommunications industry, found himself in a pickle. Well, pickles. Real, edible pickles and lots of them.

And we’re so glad he did!

Dave has always had a thing for pickles. His father introduced him to a true barrel-fermented kosher pickle at the age of 13, and it was then that Dave developed a real passion around pickling.

Now officially retired from the telecommunications industry, Dave owns and operates Sonoma Brinery (formerly Alexander Valley Gourmet Foods) in Healdsburg, Calif., north of Santa Rosa, where he makes a living out of his pickling passion. To introduce you to his products, we’re offering a free 16 oz. container of his fresh bread & butter pickles next week (April 25 – May 1) with your coupon and a purchase of $30 or more.

What Makes Them Different

Dave makes three different varieties of fresh, raw pickles and just recently tried his hand at raw sauerkraut. His first pickle was his first love, the classic half-sour kosher, followed by two bread & butter style pickles, original and spicy.

Unlike most commercial picklers, Dave’s operation pickles 52 weeks a year. Many processors do a few large batches a year, and 99% of the processors cook those pickles to extend shelf life. Not Dave. Dave’s pickles are fresh and cold-processed. There is no heat cooking or pasteurization involved. This preserves the fresh cucumber flavor as the brining style used does not allow time for complete fermentation, making for a very lively, fresh and crisp pickle.

Using a no-cooking method also preserves the health benefits of the cucumber. What’s more is the Sonoma Brinery pickles are all-natural, gluten-free and are void of preservatives and additives. Dave uses only fresh, raw ingredients, save for the dried spices in the brine, including fresh onions, garlic, cucumbers, pure cane sugar and roasted bell peppers, and turmeric root is used as a coloring agent so there is no need for artificial dyes.

“I take advantage of the vast array of fresh veggies that can be pickled from our region,” said Dave. “We live in an area that’s privileged in more ways than one. I really enjoyed the tech industry and had great success there building and doing things I’m very proud of, but I really enjoy the food industry. I like the idea of making things that add to people’s quality of life.”

To Pickle a Cucumber

Did you know there are more than 280 varieties of pickling cucumbers? Many have been hybridized for different applications; some are grown to be gigantic and some are grown to be just the right size for a McDonald’s hamburger.

Sonoma Brinery’s eight-man crew works with a particular family of cucumbers, favoring the Miss Pickle and Cross Country varieties.

“When looking for cucumbers, I look for thic skin and a very solid build. They also have to be cosmetically attractive,” said Dave. “With the bread & butter pickles, for example, this is important because the pickle has to look good sliced. Half-sour kosher pickles aren’t sliced, but sliced or not, you still want it to look good.”

The Sonoma Brinery bread & butter pickles pair perfectly with BBQ'd meats and sandwiches.

Dave explained that a half-sour kosher pickle is named as such because they’re halfway through fermentation cycle. That’s really the art of a classic kosher. In this process, the cucumber is only partially fermented (or pickled) so it still maintains its cucumber flavor, yet has the tart and seasoned flavor of a pickle. Sonoma Brinery doesn’t stop fermentation completely; instead they slow the process to the perfect-pickle point through refrigeration.

For the Love of the Zing

“We all fantasize about having a second crack at what we wanted to do in life, so when I had an opportunity to change careers, I went for it,” said Dave. “While looking for something new to do, I decided the West Coast was missing a good kosher pickle. I’ve always made pickles from my summer garden cucumbers so it was one of those things that by the time I delivered my first product to market in 2005, I’d been making pickles for 30 years.”

Most pickle lovers, Dave included, can’t even dream of going pickle-less while eating a dish perfectly designed for that pickle zing. Heck, a “big kosher pickle” even gets a shout out in Jimmy Buffett’s Cheeseburger in Paradise.

“Eating a pastrami sandwich is an excuse to eat about four kosher pickles,” said Dave. “As for pulled pork sandwiches or other barbequed meat sandwiches, like a grilled chicken, I wouldn’t think about eating one without our bread & butter pickles.

“Ten years ago, if you wanted a good kosher, you’d have to fly to the East Coast to get one,” continued Dave. “What I see myself doing here is filling a culinary gap on the grocer’s shelf and bringing an invaluable food experience to the world. I think that’s a sensation shared by most small vendors – we’re doing something for the world.”

Be sure to come by our stores next week (April 25 – May 1) with your coupon to get your free container of Sonoma Brinery’s fresh bread & butter pickles. We have the other two varieties on our shelves too. Might as well pick up all the fixin’s for that pastrami sandwich or pulled pork slider while you’re at it!

March 12, 2012

Central Coast Creamery Seascape Wins Best in Class at World Cheese Contest

Filed under: Local Vendors — Sigona's @ 12:00 pm

Central Coast Creamery Seascape Wins Best in Class at World Cheese Contest

Award-winning artisan cheese is available today at Sigona’s Farmers Market.


Come on it to Sigona's to try Central Coast Creamery's award-winning cheese, Seascape.

We have very exciting news to share from one of Sigona’s many talented vendors. Central Coast Creamery, makers of artisan cheeses aged to perfection, recently announced that they won the coveted Best in Class Award at the World Cheese Contest hosted in Madison, Wisconsin.

Seascape, a one-of-a-kind hand-crafted cheese comprised of cow and goat milk, was the big winner out of a whopping 2,313 entries. While all Central Coast Creamery cheeses submitted by the company scored well, Seascape took the top honors in the hard-mixed milk category with a blistering score of 98.70.

Hometown Heroes

Central Coast Creamery – Sigona’s friend to the south located in Paso Robles – is the brainchild of Reggie Jones. His company is dedicated to using only California milk from animals that are never treated with harmful hormones. Every product is made in small batches to provide fromage connoisseurs with an unrivaled and truly American cheese.

This dedication to perfection is demonstrated in the company’s award-winning Seascape cheese. The delicate blend of cow and goat milk creates a semi-soft cheese with a sleek, creamy texture and noticeable tanginess. A pure brushed rind aged for a minimum of four months provides the perfect home for a perfect cheese.

Where You Can Find It

Is Sigona’s Farmers Market currently carrying this best-in-class winner? You betcha!

But what’s really cool is that Reggie produces cheeses exclusively for our stores. Our Moo-Na Lisa, a creamy Gouda Gruyère, and the Moo-Ney, a mild and creamy white cheddar, can’t be found anywhere else. Each exclusive cheese is consistently among our top-10 sellers. Come on in today to taste these amazing delicacies for yourself.

March 7, 2012

New from Right Brain Kitchens: Emerald Isle Citrus Jam

New from Right Brain Kitchens: Emerald Isle Citrus Jam

Dollop on some green for St. Patty’s! Note: No leprechauns were harmed during the production of this jam.

You remember Joe Loewinsohn, maker of Right Brain Kitchens jams & marmalades. He’s also a Sigona’s employee and one of the most knowledgeable foodies around! To tempt your taste buds this St. Patrick’s Day, we enlisted Joe’s creativity to produce a green jam. What he came up with is stellar and absolutely perfect for a day of green. He calls it Emerald Isle Citrus Jam.

What’s more is you’ll get a jar of Emerald Isle Citrus Jam for free next week (March 14-20, 2012) with your coupon when you spend $30 or more!

How the Jam Came to be

Sometimes, says Joe, results of mistakes are better than what you were aiming for in the first place; this jam is one of those. He was trying to

make a lemon curd with no eggs or butter, but instead ended up with a lemon jam. However, after one taste Joe knew he had created something special in its own right.

One of the discoveries in all his experiments was all-natural food colorings. Not only is Joe dedicated to making the most delicious-tasting

treats, he is dedicated to making them with all-natural or organic ingredients, when possible, to keep them as good for you as possible. Joe found a supplier that makes all-natural and organic colors for food and confections from the extracts of fruits, vegetables and flowers. The best part? Most of those colorings don’t have a bitter or chemical taste, like those made with the Food, Drug & Cosmetic (FD&C) colors.

All-Natural and Organic

“Discovering this, I can now color jams and candies and they are even more delicious and beautiful,” said Joe. “I can also jazz up the natural

Local vendor Joe Loewinsohn is as local as we can get...he's a Sigona's crew member!

colors you lose when you cook the jams. I’m also able to list the all-natural and organic colors on our labels with pride.”

For example, the beta carotene used for the color orange tastes like the sweetest carrot juice you have ever tasted. Same goes for

the black carrot juice used for purple coloring. Joe also found that the floral-chlorophyll for green coloring was very sweet and carried an almost lime-like background flavor.

“When Sigona’s asked me to come up with a green jam for St. Patrick’s Day, I instantly thought of that wonderful forest green coloring with that great lime flavor, and Emerald Isle Citrus Jam was the end result,” said Joe. “In the jar it looks dark and mysterious, but once you spread it on something you see the amazing emerald green color with its soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture

and light, fresh lime-lemon flavor that complements a wide variety of foods.”

Dab on a Dollop

Joe recommends adding a dollop to wilted bitter greens and says it is simply amazing on corned beef or ham. It is, of course, delightful on toast, crumpets & muffins, as well as in an afternoon tea cucumber sandwich. Its uses are seemingly endless!

This is a very limited production; only 40 cases were made, so when it’s gone, it’s gone…until next St. Patty’s Day, anyway!

February 22, 2012

Local, Gourmet Chocolate Just For You

Local, Gourmet Chocolate Just For You

Get three bars of Holy Chocolate for free this week with your coupon and a $30+ purchase.

Father Stan is the forumlator of Holy Chocolate drinking chocolate and single-origin bars.

Local vendor Father Stan Smith is an entrepreneur, an ordained Eastern-Syrian Orthodox priest in the Church of The East, a former QA beta program manager, a former developer for the standard paperwork management software for rocket scientists with the Department of Defense…the list goes on and on.

Of all his titles and hats the Rev. Fr. Stan Smith, Chorepiscopa, wears, we’re most excited to tell you about his chocolatiering hat; Father Stan is the formulator of Holy Chocolate and we’re giving it away for free this week with your coupon and a $30+ purchase.

We also like the idea of offering Holy Chocolate to kick off to the season of Lent; today is Ash Wednesday, after all, so we just hope you didn’t offer to give up chocolate this year…if that’s the case, you can gift the chocolate to a friend.

The outta-this-world chocolaty goodness that is the Holy Chocolate single-origin chocolate ingots, or chocolate bars, got their start about two years ago. Father Stan also makes a fantastic drinking hot chocolate (which we of course sell), so the idea for bars came about naturally. The last thing he wanted was to produce a so-so chocolate bar after his drinking chocolate was such a hit, so he spent quite a bit of time developing the recipe to create individual bars worthy barring the Holy Chocolate name.

Not to worry, Father Stan. Your chocolate bars are most definitely not so-so! Plus, ladies, correct me if I’m wrong, but how can you go wrong with a gourmet, single-origin bar that has only 125 calories in one large, satisfying portion?

Each Holy Chocolate variety we carry has its own characteristics because the cacao used is sourced from a single region. Growing regions and farming practices greatly influence the cacao bean’s flavor – not unlike the differences in flavor of coffee beans or wine grapes grown in different regions; they’re terrior-specific, if you will, a term commonly used in the wine industry.

The flavors of the cacao beans from various growing regions are so interesting and individual, “just how God made them,” that Father Stan names the bars simply after the region in which the bean was grown.

More about Holy Chocolate and single-origin products from Father Stan.

We carry six different single-origin bars (note: higher the percentage, the darker the chocolate): Hawaiian (38%), Columbia (65%), Ecuador (65%), Madagascar (65%), Venezuela (65%) and Midnight (91%). Come in today with your coupon to get yours for free!

Father Stan has six chocolate bars to choose from, and no two taste alike: Hawaiian 38% (milk chocolate), Columbia 65% (dark chocolate), Ecuador 65% (dark chocolate), Madagascar 65% (dark chocolate), Venezuela 65% (dark chocolate) and Midnight 91%, a dark, bittersweet artisan blend chocolate.

December 14, 2011

Little Chocolate Miracles

Little Chocolate Miracles

These gluten free, dairy free and preservative free chocolate chewies are melt-in-your-mouth delicious and are yours free next week with your coupon!

By Carmelo Sigona

Baba Joon's Chocolate Chewies (14 count package)

Google “chocolate chewies” and you’ll find a plethora of recipes, recommendations and testimonials for the cookies. What you won’t find the recipe for Baba Joon’s Chocolate Chewies, the all natural, melt in your mouth, little chocolate miracles that are free of gluten, dairy and preservatives.

You can find them at Sigona’s! These delicate little morsels are made by A. Agah, one of our new local vendors from San Jose and the creator of Baba Joon’s Chocolate Chewies. We carry several different varieties and as our free gift to you next week (Dec. 21 – 27, 2011) you can get a free 14-count package with your coupon and a purchase of $30 or more.

The Baba Joon’s Chocolate Chewies are really a testament to the benefits of keeping things simple, short and sweet. Only a handful of ingredients go into the cookies, with most featuring a combination of powdered sugar, fruits, nuts, egg whites and cocoa.

“I really should write the recipe down; it’s all in my head,” chuckles Agah. “My secret is in the way the ingredients are processed. If they don’t come together a certain way, they’ll be too hard or too soft. I also don’t overcompensate with sugar for the lack of flour, and the chewies are packed with real fruit and nuts.”

Agah perfected the recipe for his Chocolate Chewies as owner & operator of Our Daily Bread, formerly one of San Jose’s most popular French-style bakeries. If you lived in San Jose from 1984 – 1997, you likely sat in one of the themed rooms, nibbling on a freshly baked croissant, scone or even a chocolate chewie. Our Daily Bread even franchised, opening in four South Bay locations at one point.

Agah has worked many jobs and owned many businesses, he’s on his sixteenth, to be exact. He has printed maps, sold office supplies, drove taxis, roasted coffee, opened a juice bar and even owned an organic produce shop, but it seems that pastries always had a stronghold on his heart.

Agah, the creator of Baba Joon's, developed his recipe while he owned & operated his French-style bakery, Our Daily Bread, in San Jose.

“I lived on the East Coast for a few years where I discovered the America pastries were nothing like Persian pastries from,” said Agah. “A friend and I had the idea to open a French or Persian bakery, but we didn’t get a chance before I moved back to the West Coast.”

Back on the West Coast, Agah found inspiration again to open a bakery after speaking with a manager at a local bakery. “I was selling office supplies at the time, but my wife and I walked out of that bakery that day and decided to open our own.”

After a few years with Our Daily Bread, Agah decided to develop something that was wheat free. I, for one, being gluten-intolerant, am thankful he did. The holidays can be hard on someone like me, with all the baked goods being exchanged; I’ve loved having Agah’s cookies for a sweet treat.

“My wife is gluten intolerant, but that’s not necessarily the reason I made them,” said Agah. “These chewies are good for those who have celiac disease, children with autism or even for those who have specific dietary needs. We would sell out daily at the bakery, and only the good Lord knows how many times in my life I’ve said ‘no flour, no preservatives.’ They really are little chocolate miracles.”

The chewies are low in calories, too. In fact, the apricot, a best-seller made with dried, California-grown, heirloom Blenheim apricots, only packs 36 calories a cookie!

Our Daily Bread closed in 1997, but Agah carried on with the cookies. In December 2006, Agah secured some investors, started corporation and began making two flavors of the cookies available to individuals nationwide. He branded them Baba Joon’s because that’s what he’s called by his family. In Farsi, the Persian language, ‘Baba’ is used for father or grandfather, and ‘Joon’ is a term of endearment for a friend or loved one.

Between 2006 and now, Agah moved to Eugene, Ore., but is now back in the Bay Area to be closer to family. Along the way, developed 21 flavors, including orange almond, coconut almond, Mexicali and ginger almond, to name a few, and is now selling to retail outlets, such as Sigona’s.

“We started with the walnut and the apricot, but one of the better sellers now is the orange almond,” said Agah. “I bake them myself in the kitchen at C’est Si Bon Bakery on Blossom Hill Road in San Jose, and I’m very thankful for the use of their space.”

Sigona’s was the first Bay Area store to carry the cookies once Agah resettled in the Bay Area. It was a former employee who introduced him to John Nava, our specialty foods buyer.

“I had secretly sworn not to bring in any more cookie vendors this year,” said Nava. “The market is flooded with cookies, but with one bite of Agah’s cookies I knew we had to bring him in. I’ve never tasted anything gluten free that’s so flavorful, delicate and unique; you can taste the freshness of the ingredients in every bite, and they really do melt in your mouth.”

We’re excited to offer you your very own taste of Baba Joon’s Chocolate Chewies for free the week of Dec. 21 – 27, 2011, with your coupon. It’s just in time for the holidays, too! They make perfect stocking stuffers, treats for Santa, gifts for neighbors, or even a late night snack for yourself as you finish wrapping gifts or addressing cards.

November 30, 2011

Talk of the Party: New Dips from Happiness Within

Pictured: Herbed Fava Bean dip from Happiness Within makes an awesome crudite dip or spread for warm bread.

Talk of the Party: New Dips from Happiness Within

Think you’ve found the perfect Hummus? Think again! Just wait until you try the new handmade hummus and other dips from Happiness Within

You already know her baklava….that heavenly sweet, delicate and handmade treat created from 50 layers of paper-thin pastry sheets and drizzled with a from-scratch simple syrup. You can taste the goodness and artisan touch in each piece. The same goes for her new dips, which we’re proud to introduce to you today!

Our local vendor Heba Badran of Happiness Within has created a couple new and sensationally delicious dips, including Hummus and Herbed Fava Bean, that are sure to be talk of any party. Plus, you can get one free the week of Dec. 7-13, 2011, with your coupon and a purchase of $30 or more! Free makes for a better party, right?

Heba says she was encouraged to bring her dips to Sigona’s when friends commented on how light tasting and flavorful it is, and especially after its success at the Palo Alto Farmers’ Market.

“My family hummus recipe has no added oils, not a drop, yet it’s still really creamy, and I use fresh ingredients, giving an airy and much more flavorful taste,” said Heba. “It excites me to hear, from people who’ve tasted many types of Hummus, that mine is the most flavorful. But I can’t take the credit for it; I’m really grateful for all the naturally talented cooks in my family. They’ve inspired me, and sometimes told me downright how to do it!”

We’ve been sampling Heba’s dips in our stores, and they’ve already seen much success, particularly among families with children because the hummus is not over garlicky or spicy. “You can taste the goodness and know she cooks from the heart,” said John Nava, Sigona’s specialty foods buyer.

Of her Herbed Fava Bean Dip, Heba says it offers a totally new mix of ingredients previously unknown locally. “I like to think my recipe is a symphony of flavors, because I cook the beans with fresh herbs, fresh onions, fresh garlic, spices and olive oil. It totally transforms the mild-tasting beans, creating a flavor explosion.”

Heba and her delicious creations have been featured in the Palo Alto Weekly.

Heba says sampling has helped convert people who never used to like fava beans, because they now taste the flavor they missed. We agree – you’ve got to try it to believe it – it’s perfect as a crudite dip or as a spread warm bread.

Heba is amazed with the reception of her dips, which she reports have also landed her a feature in the Palo Alto Weekly. Don’t forget you get to try one of the dips free the week of Dec.7-13, 2011, with your coupon. While you’re at the store, remember to pick up some pita and veggies to go with it!

November 2, 2011

New from Right Brain Kitchens: Pineapple Upside-Down Jam

New from Right Brain Kitchens: Pineapple Upside-Down Jam

Joe's Pineapple Upside-Down Jam was made as a tribute to his late mother, who was a "wizard in the kitchen."

Try the latest addition to our Right Brains Kitchen line-up free Nov. 9-15, 2011 with your coupon. This jam will knock your socks off!

And it tastes just like it sounds! Local vendor Joe Loewinsohn, creator and cookery genius of Right Brain Kitchens in Redwood City, did it again with his third jam now available at Sigona’s. Made with only the best all-natural ingredients, including gold pineapples, natural cane sugar, Madagascar vanilla bean, dried Montmorency cherries and more, Joe’s Pineapple Upside-Down Jam, is a culinary creation like no other.

Try it free Nov. 9 – 15, 2011, with your coupon and a purchase of $30 or more! This latest flavor joins the likes of Joe’s Summertime Watermelon Marmalade and Strawberry Fields Forever Jam, now on sale in our stores.

How it came to be

Joe, one of our own Sigona’s crew members, created his all-natural Pineapple Upside-Down Jam as a tribute to his mom and as a tribute to one of his all-time favorite desserts.

“My mom was a very special woman; most guys can say they know how to shoot a gun, fix a car, ride a motorcycle, catch fish, throw a baseball accurately, and even build a tree house, but most guys WON’T say ‘my mom taught me all that,’ but I can,” said Joe.

“My mom drove a ‘65 gun metal blue GTO — usually like she just stole it — always dressed to the nines, and was a wizard in the kitchen,” continued Joe. “One of my favorite things she’d make was pineapple upside-down cake in a cast iron skillet. The cast iron would caramelize the super dark brown sugar she used, so you’d have this really dark, super delicious, mildly sweet, tangy moist cake, and it was unlike anyone else’s mom’s pineapple upside-down cake, pretty much like my mom wasn’t like anyone else’s mom.”

Local vendor Joe Loewinsohn is as local as we can get...he's a Sigona's crew member!

How to use it

Joe recommends using this as a glaze for ham (he prefers the dry-cured ham, with no water added). He says it’s also REALLY good if you add some heat, like chopped jalapeno or habanero, and use it as a finishing glaze for chicken. It’s wonderful as a waffle topping, or simply stirred into plain yogurt for a nice morning change of pace.

Pineapple Upside-Down Jam joins two other flavors we carry: Summertime Watermelon Marmalade and Strawberry Fields Forever Jam. There are more flavors to come, so keep an eye out!

Also, remember 20% of all sales of Right Brain Kitchens jams and marmalades (effective Oct. 12 – Jan 12) will be donated to the Russell Bede School in San Mateo, Calif., in support of their dedication to teaching students with learning disabilities.

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