Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Charles Street Gourmet Chutney: Good as it Gets

Here is a new local Baltimore Maryland product that's a must for Christmas giving. Whether as a stocking stuffer or for whomever hosts the next party, this green tomato, apple, and raisin chutney is a certain winner. What was dished out on the plate above for the picture was consumed on the spot immediately after a 7 a.m photo shoot. Never mind that it's meant to be combined with cream cheese and crackers, used as a sandwich spread, or as an accompaniment to a myriad main dishes. One taste, and no way we were willing to wait.

I first encountered Charles Street Gourmet's Green Tomato, Apple & Raisin Chutney at Baltimore's downtown Sunday morning farmer's market. You should be able to find it there up until the finale on Christmas Eve. Otherwise, the Nut Farm in Green Spring Station and a couple other scattered stores should have some. The surest way bet is to go the CSG website. It wouldn't surprise me if the proprietor herself, Susan Boro, were to personally deliver your order.

That's the way it is in the specialty food business at the grass roots start-up level, which anyone with any experience in the trade knows. Charles Street Gourmet's chuntey evolved from a recipe that a neighbor shared with Mrs. Boro (Susan Price in those days) over a quarter of a century ago. Ever since, for the Holidays, she's made up jars of it in her kitchen, tweaking from time to time for the enjoyment of family and friends. Ultimately, Susan realized that she was on to something worthy of sharing on a wider scale.

Particularly fortunate is that unlike so many recipes, the one for Charles Street Gourmet's chutney lends itself to commercial production in a way that retains an addictive taste and flavor profile while remaining as healthful as when fresh. The small company is able to accomplish this by accessing the facilities of Mama Vida, Inc. in Randallstown, which has been packing many of America's best specialty condiments for more than a decade.

As a former specialty food entrepreneur (Denzer's Soups and Chowders), it is truly a pleasure for me finally to contribute a post relating to this niche of the food business. If you remember the Unique Culinary Adventures post from this Summer's International Fancy Food Show in New York, you may recall some of the excitement expressed about ultimately covering the kinds of products that were there. But then, so many other things came up. Now, finally!!