Heidrun Meadery was opened in 1997 by Gordon Hull, a geologist and former brewer who began making mead, the ancient honey-based fermented beverage, like Champagne, with a second fermentation in the bottle. Originally based in Arcata, in Northern California, 10 years ago he moved his operation and established his own hives further south, in Point Reyes Station, Calif., near San Francisco. His varietal sparkling meads use honeys close to home and farther afield (Marin County Wildflower and Hawaiian Lehua Blossom, for example), each resulting in distinct aromas and flavors, just the way Champagnes are distinguished by terroir and cuvée. Now, to encourage small beekeepers worldwide, he and Michael Zilber, his managing director, have introduced the World Honey Initiative Collection, three new international sparkling meads in partnership with the World Honey Exchange, an organization that helps honey cooperatives. The Ethiopian Geteme Blossom sparkling mead is pale and floral, slightly bitter, with a honeyed aftertaste. Chilean Ulmo Blosson is a deeper gold, with hints of spice and mellow richness. Tanzanian Miombo Wildflower is amber, full-bodied with an alluring smokiness, making it a fine partner for cheese.
Heidrun Meadery World Honey Initiative sparkling meads, $65 each for 750 milliliters, $175 for all three, heidrunmeadery.com.
‘Masa,’ a Biography of the Tortilla From Start to Finish
Jorge Gaviria begins “Masa,” his book on corn, corn flour and Mexico’s shape-shifting staple, the tortilla, with how he started his California company, Masienda, selling high-quality Mexican ingredients. He covers the staple corn itself; the history, culture and modernization of masa and tortilla-making; and its recent return to ancient traditions in the hands of serious chefs. Nixtamalization, grinding the corn, equipment, shaping and cooking tortillas are covered in detail, followed by an illustrated glossary with recipes of the many applications for masa, from arepas to totopos (tortilla chips) and on to modern variations like the chef Alex Stupak’s masa tempura batter. It’s a compelling read, even if all the tortillas you’ll ever consume will be from a restaurant or shop.
“Masa: Techniques, Recipes and Reflections on a Timeless Staple” by Jorge Gaviria (Chronicle Books, $35), masienda.com.
Cardamom Extract Adds Another Note to Winter Spice
Vanilla and almond extracts are probably the most commonly used flavors in baked goods, drinks and more, but cardamom extract, popular in Nordic cooking, can also be used. Now Burlap & Barrel, the sustainable spice company in Queens, New York, has introduced its own, from green Guatemalan cloud forest cardamom and made in connection with Bittercube Bitters from Milwaukee. Pale greenish, sharp and bitter but fragrant, it can add a spicy, aromatic note to tea or coffee, cocktails and custards. Embellish Irish coffee with a few finishing drops but use it sparingly as it has the potential to overpower.
Burlap & Barrel Cloud Forest Cardamom Extract, five ounces, $15.99, burlapandbarrel.com.
Danish Smoked Salmon Worthy of the First Course
A Scandinavian smoked salmon, emphasis on the smoked, is an appealing variation from Acme Smoked Fish bearing their Spence & Co. label. Sustainably farmed Norwegian salmon is cured with salt, then double-smoked (twice as long as typical for cold-smoked salmon) over beech in Outrup, Denmark. The result is silky and alluringly smoky. Serve it as a first course on a plate with accouterments like capers and onions instead of burying it in a bagel with cream cheese. The salmon comes sliced in four-ounce packages.
Spence & Co. Danish Double-Smoked Salmon, $11.99 for four ounces, Whole Foods.
Nick Cave Plates Suit Any Occasion
The extravagant assemblages and costumes by Nick Cave, on display at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum through April 10, can decorate your dinner table. Brightly patterned oversize bone china plates show six of the artist’s “Soundsuits”: Buttons, Twig, Toys, Crocheted, Hair and Wire. The plates are 11 inches in diameter, large enough to set as chargers, to use for serving, as dinner plates or even to display as wall décor.
Nick Cave “Soundsuits” plates, $70 each, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum gift shop, guggenheimstore.org.
Pantry Staples From Eleven Madison Park Now Available Nationwide
Eleven Madison Home, the division of Eleven Madison Park that sells packaged foods and other items, now ships nationwide (Alaska and Hawaii excluded), so a taste of the plant-based Michelin three-star restaurant can be enjoyed as easily in Montana as in Manhattan. Some highlights among the available items are the Farm Trio ($78) with jars of pickled vegetables from the restaurant’s farm: grated carrots with jalapeños, pale spears of marinated fairytale eggplant and chunks of pickled beets. The breakfast box ($68) holds a sack of apple-cranberry granola, a jar of almost wine-y mixed-berry jam, excellent earthy buckwheat pancake mix to which milk is to be added (they suggest plant-based but I used whole) and tasty peanut butter that has the consistency of fudge sauce — spoon it on the pancakes.
Eleven Madison Home, elevenmadisonhome.com.