Local Food Picks by Little Island Kitchen

Guest post by Little Island Kitchen, one of our favorite recent discoveries. This online shop is a haven for foodies everywhere and a great resource for creative gifts. Run by Carroll Gardens residents Matthew Pugliese and Tom O’Connor, it opened for business last November.

We get a lot of inspiration from creative and passionate food makers who seem to be everywhere in Brooklyn. There’s a nice mix of people starting new ventures and others carrying on generations-old traditions in specialty shops and markets. We always try to feature a few Brooklyn products in both our gift boxes and in our online shop. It’s a great way to give our customers from other parts of the country a taste of Brooklyn’s burgeoning small batch food movement. Here’s a short list of our favorites, in the shop and in the neighborhood:

Anarchy in a JarAnarchy In a Jar makes delicious jams, bursting with flavor, that truly taste home made. We first met Laena, the jam queen, at Smorgasburg where she always has jars and spoons lined up and ready for tasting. She makes her jams using fresh produce from small farms and an old-school, long-maceration process that really intensifies the flavor. Our current fave is Spiced Beer Jelly, made with fresh apples, black cardamom and dark ale from local brewer, Sixpoint Craft Ales. Try this: line up some crostini with slices of a good aged cheddar, top them with a dollop of the spiced beer jam, and you have a delicious way to kick start happy hour.

Empire MayonnaiseChef Sam Mason at Empire Mayo reinvents mayonnaise with a dynamic assortment of mind-blowing flavors. His creations open all sorts of possibilities in the kitchen for chefs, food lovers, and even the average sandwich maker. Putting rosemary mayo on a Thanksgiving Day leftover sandwich was a genius call and turned us into real fans. Since then, we’ve tried the smoked paprika flavor in deviled eggs (fantastic); chicken salad with the madras curry blend of Vahdoovan (outrageous); and a burger with white cheddar blend (so much flavor, you won’t need to add cheese).

Nunu Chocolates
We love Nunu Chocolates (529 Atlantic Ave) because they are wonderfully delicious and because we agree with their basic philosophy that “the world is better place when chocolate is involved.” Their caramel creations are fantastic and it’s always interesting to stop into the storefront shop to see the big trays filled with freshly made chocolates. Making it even harder to resist is a well-curated selection of beers on tap in their cozy tasting lounge. Sit back and enjoy the beautiful worlds of chocolate and beer colliding.

Our new obsession is the fresh Burrata from Caputo’s Fine Foods (460 Court Street) in Carroll Gardens. Burrata means “buttery” in Italian and this cheese is a specialty from the Southern Puglia region. The burrata is essentially a thin mozzarella skin surrounding a soft center that is made from fresh cream and soft stringy bits of curd, leftovers from the mozzarella making, sometimes called “ritagli” or rags. We like serving it on fresh bread with a little prosciutto.

Panelle at Ferdinando's Focacceria
Last, but not least, is the incredible Panelle Sandwich at Ferdinando’s Focacceria, the 100-year-old South Brooklyn institution (151 Union Street). This delicious one-of-a-kind sandwich consists of thin patties made from fried chickpea flour topped with ricotta and shaved parmigiano. Simple and delicious and the pride of the neighborhood.

Check out Little Island Kitchen’s awesome selection of food, gift boxes and tableware: http://www.littleislandkitchen.com