Top 10 Los Angeles Artisan Food Producers
|Brassica & Brine|
|Laio & His Four Thieves Kraut|
Jordan "Uri" Laio's Brassica and Brine website describes his products as "organic, traditional, wild-fermented foods." Read on, and promises of the health benefits with each life-altering spoonful follow the buzzwords. But strip away the health claims, and this is simply exceptionally good, naturally fermented sauerkraut -- "brassica" is the Latin term for sauerkraut. Laio is skilled at merging traditional pickling techniques with unexpected flavors (a talent he shares with Farmhouse Culture's Kathryn Lukas up in Santa Cruz). We also love the pay-it-forward model to which so many artisans -- particularly fermenters, it seems -- adhere. Laio offers classes throughout the year to explore your own lacto-fermentation potential.
Flavors vary depending on what organic produce is available. Currently, Liao makes a "Four Thieves" kraut with a mix of lavender, sage, rosemary and thyme (the traditional European mixture was believed to ward off the plague), a caraway and juniper berry-spiced sauerkraut based on the German classic, and his take on kimchi. The contents bubble and burp as you open them -- a reminder of the naturally fermented work that went into each jar. Available at the Altadena Urban Farmers Market and Farmshop.
3. Michel Cordon Bleu Smoked Fish
jgarbee Michel Blanchet's Smoked Fish At His Leimert Park Production Kitchen
We've already gone on a (tiny) kitchen tour of the Michel Cordon Bleu factory, and we've crowned Michel Blanchet's smoked fish the best. But when even the most notoriously picky chefs like Joël Robuchon regularly order Blanchet's fish, we can't leave him off the list simple because we've already praised his Idaho trout with just enough fresh dill to balance the hickory-smoked flavor. You'll find the chef at his small Leimert Park fish factory every morning, lining up Coho salmon filets in a slicer. "You can't get them this thin if you slice it by hand," he says, holding up an almost tissue paper-thin slice.
The fish comes in nondescript packaging that is hardly Etsy worthy, likely the reason Blanchet's wares rarely show up in glossy magazine pages. But taste that delicately smoked salmon again; there's a fresh flavor that belies those hours spent in the smoker. There is clearly a chef behind these artisan stoves. Michel Cordon Bleu smoked fish is available at Surfas and McCall's Meat and Fish.