Let’s play the association game. What comes to mind when you think of pomegranates, black olives, roasted leeks, cardamon, lavender? First thing to pop into your head? COOKIES?!
Once you taste Andre Kreft’s savory shortbread cookie bites you may soon be thinking about some unusual ingredient and food pairings yourself. Kreft, a self taught artisan baker, launched SAVOR FINE FOODS only six months ago. He has created 12 flavors for his shortbread cookie bites that surprise and thrill with prominent flavors. Kreft lived in the San Francisco Bay area for 25 years working in creative arenas as artist, photographer, arts administrator and finally teacher. After returning to his hometown of Watertown, CT. he considered returning to baking, a job he had worked at while in college. He was clearly influenced by the vibrant food scene in the San Francisco area, where spices and flavors from Asia, Europe, South America, Latin America and the Pacific permeate the dining and market scenes. In the midst of his year long market research and experimentation, Kreft visited San Francisco and tasted some smoked onions at a farmers’ market.
The light bulb flashed and Kreft began working on onion cookie recipes with smoked, sweet, yellow onions from an organic farm in California. He now counts both his red and yellow roasted onion cookies as among his patrons’ favorites.
When I met Andre Kreft at the Westport farmers’ market, in the bright and warm shelter of one of Gilbertie’s greenhouses, I hung back to watch Kreft offer his unfamiliar cookie flavors to curious shoppers. He encouraged them to taste in order of intensity of flavors (wine tasting, cheese tasting, now cookie tasting !) When shoppers hesitated to taste some of the most unusual flavors, like roasted leek, he gleefully explained to them WHY they should try it. Having an adventurous palate, I was game to dive in. I loved listening to Andre’s suggestions of how to pair his cookies with other food and drink. He opened up my mind and palate and if that isn’t fun, I don’t know what is.
Try ROASTED LEEK cookies with a goblet of chilled Chardonnay. Savor the complexity of KRAKATOA, named because it reminded Kreft of the Indonesian volcanic island. Pair KRAKATOA’s intense chocolate cookie with hints of orange, cardamon and black pepper with a bottle of well rounded cab or roasted meats.
Here are some other flavors my tasters enjoyed: the COCONUT GINGER cookies were fragrant with tropical notes and flecked with chewy, spicy bits of ginger. This was one of the faves.
Try BLACK OLIVE cookies, merging sweet and salty Moroccan oil cured olives with the rich, buttery cookie that is the base of each flavor concoction.
COSMO: Just when you thought the pink drink trend had passed, you will taste it again in this refreshingly tart combo of pomegranate, lime and chipolte flavored black pepper.
ROASTED LEEK: Leeks sourced from Ct. farms combine with tequila, vanilla and grated lime zest for a savory bite. Makes me hanker for Thanksgiving turkey or barn yardy cheese with ripe pears.
CINNAMON ORANGE cookies brings dried orange peel, cinnamon and triple sec together for one of the sweeter cookies of the selection. Perfect with a steaming cup of mint, ginger or Earl Grey tea.
More great news for those seeking GLUTEN FREE items: Kreft makes both COCONUT GINGER and OLIVE cookies with garbanzo and fava bean flours. The texture varies slightly from the original but the flavors are just as big and scrumptious.
Kreft continues to search farmers’ markets imagining new flavors as he tastes local crops. He finds a spice, herb, or fruit with a distinctive flavor and enhances it with unexpected twists. He looks forward to using more local ingredients and mentioned plans for a maple sugar cookie and the return of his fragrant, sweet, lavender biscuit. My taste buds were jolted and thrilled by this baker’s flavor pairings. I can’t wait to taste what he conjures up next.
You may find Andre Kreft’s SAVOR COOKIES at local farmers’ markets, including Westport ‘s winter market at Gilbertie’s, on Thursdays, 10-2 and at Double L in Westport . You may also order on line at www.savorfinefoods.com.