During my first walk through Fairway in Harlem, I was in awe of the diverse and expansive array of merchandise lining the aisles throughout the store. I was looking for a bag of pretzels, and wow! Did I find pretzels — 30 different varieties. Fat-free, gluten-free, salt-free, and even among the vast array of specialty items, I found the brand I recognized and trusted: Rold Gold, — classically crunchy and salty.
Next, I needed something creamy…like a roasted pine nut hummus to dip my pretzels into. As I approached the back of the store, I came across the extensive selection of extra virgin olive oils, and couldn’t help but take advantage of the free bread that was calling my name, begging to be dipped into the assorted samples of olive oil. Who knew that olive oil could be spicy? I didn’t, until I felt a weirdly satisfying sting as it made its way down the back of my throat.
As I indulged in a sweeter, fruitier olive oil, Cabeco das Nogueiras, I overheard a man easily convince a woman to buy an item that she had been deliberating over. “Hands down, best specialty item that Fairway offers — ignore the price, it is worth every penny you’ll spend.” Those were the only words he said and, instead of grabbing one from the shelf, she took two. Like her, I was easily convinced and walked over to see what was worthy of such high regard. What I found was Cara Cucina.
It seemed creamy enough, so I took a bottle from the shelf and proceeded to check out. I opened it as soon as I returned to my desk and scooped up a heaping pretzelful. It was all over from there; I was addicted to this sinfully creamy, luxuriously smooth artichoke and garlic spread.
Fairway exclusively imports Cara Cucina from Piedmont, in northernmost Italy. It is there that freshly blended artichokes are mixed with pearly cloves of garlic, sea salt and high-quality olive oil… and that’s it! These simple, fresh ingredients combine to create amazing and subtly delicious flavors. Cara Cucina has groupies. Even Amanda Hesser sung its praises in The New York Times.
As I have continued to purchase Cara Cucina, I have begun to experiment a bit–smearing it over a warm crostini, prodding at it with a fresh carrot stick, or enjoy it with freshly sliced tomatoes or roasted peppers. Sometimes I will add a spoonful to a steaming bowl of penne pasta; the possibilities are endless.
I challenge you: come into Fairway and buy a jar! See all the ways you can find to create your own special experience with this Italian delicacy. You will not be disappointed.