The word “larder”—a space for storing food—may be a phrase from medieval times, but right now it couldn’t feel more modern.
Although making pantry items from scratch is a centuries-old practice, lately restaurants have been taking it the next level, fashioning their own ingredients both to add an edge to their menu items as well as to expand to-go offerings.
At the “friendsgiving” dinner Oakland chef Charlie Parker hosted at Haven, shelves were stocked with everything from vanilla- and lavender-scented sugars to pickled Jimmy Nardello peppers and green tomatoes to homemade dried pastas like spaghetti and curvy rigati. At the progressive American restaurant, all of the items, along with jams, infused oils, and hot sauces, are on hand for customers to buy and take home.
“Haven is unique in its concept: it brings guests hyper-seasonal foods from local farms, and we take “house made” to the forefront,” says Ryan Sillers, the restaurant’s captain. “Everything—from our breads to cocktails and liqueurs—are made in house.”
Various kitchens across the country are doing something similar. Cochon Butcher, Donald Link’s sandwich shop in New Orleans, greets diners with an assortment of sausages, spreads, honeys, and even Cochon Butcher serving ware. On the other side of the country, Charleston’s Two Boroughs Larder keeps things fresh with constantly-rotating assortment of new items on its shelves: think local farm eggs, stone-ground grits, and pure maple syrup. Healdsburg SHED, a café, bar, venue, and market in Northern California’s wine country, counts smoked trout, pickled eggs, pâtés, and terrines among its bestselling items.
“People recognize these foods are tasty, healthy, and a great way to preserve the seasonal harvests,” explains Cindy Daniel, SHED’s co-owner. “Many of the items found in our pantry and larder are foundational ingredients for the home cook. There is something very satisfying about foods that have been preserved, or put away, and the idea of a well-stocked kitchen is very comforting.”
Want to learn more? Stock up on larder items at any of the shops above, or learn how to build your pantry with some of our favorite pickling recipes.