Saturday, February 2, 2008

The trouble with being a super-taster.


Carol and Greg, we were in your town today (Loleta) on our way home from Eureka. The meat shop by the old railroad tracks (Loleta Meat market) is the only place that I can find "Fred’s Horseradish" anymore. I like Fred’s, because when it is fresh, it is never bitter.

If there are any of you who like good fresh sweet horseradish, try Fred’s Horseradish. The only place that I can find it anymore is Loleta.

I’m what they call a “super taster”. If anybody knows what that means, they know that I have too many taste buds on my tongue. A bitter Brussels Sprout can turn me wrong-side-out. That’s the down side. The good side is when something tastes good, it tastes oh-so-good.

When the store in Garberville got sucked up by Ray’s mega-corp. they dumped poor old Fred. I found an old bottle of Fred’s and I found a phone number on it. I called the number just for the heck of it, to see if I could find where to buy it.

I thought; this is going to be an exercise in futility! The phone rang for a while, and my mind wandered of into that fog that comes over me when I’m expecting to listen to some recording.

Then I hear on the other end of the line; “Fred here.” Aghast, I said, “Thee Fred???” Fred; “Yeah, this is Fred, who’s this?” …Me; “Thee Fred, who’s pictures is on the bottle of horseradish?” Fred; “Yeah that’s me!” Me, coming to my senses; “My hometown store stopped carrying your horseradish, and I need to know where to buy it”.

He gave me a list of the places that I could buy it. I asked him why his horseradish was so much better than all the other horseradishes. He told me that it was ground fresh and only had vinegar and salt in it and it had to be refrigerated, but otherwise it was just plain old fresh ground horseradish. He said that he sold some of the restaurants around fresh root stock for them to make their own, but it wasn’t special.

I asked him if it was organic. He got kinda’ suspicious, like he thought maybe that I was one of those government inspectors or something. He said “No, it’s not labeled organic, I don’t want to have to go to all the trouble to meet all those government regulations that a person has to go through to get a government “Organic” label just to sell a bottle of horseradish. I’m a small operation”. I asked him if he used any chemicals or anything on his crop. He said “No”. He started getting even more suspicious of my questions, and I understood that I was making him nervous. Finally I said; “Was your horseradish “Organic” before all of the new Government regulations?” He said “It sure was”. I asked him if he had changed anything outside of the fact that he didn’t want to jump through any more government hoops and he said “NOPE”.

We went on to chat about the weather and the soil were he lives, we talked for about a half an hour, and he sounds like the kind of person that it would be fun to go fishing with, or share a cup of coffee in a coffee shop before work.

If you like horseradish on anything, try Fred’s! Take the lid off, and it will have you at first sniff.

17 comments:

Kym said...

Ernie, Since your comment on my blog post, Baker's Dozen, I started looking for Fred's Horseradish. I found it at Eureka Natural Foods.

It is wonderful. Thank you. I love it.

When I was there ant ENF, I also found this new cream cheese. I think it is called Pacific Rim (I already ate it up so I don't have the container to check) but it uses Cypress Grove Goat cheese and wasabi. It is in the cheese deli case just as you walk in the door. Mmmmmm.

Fred said...

How cool that you actually called the guy that makes the stuff. I'm assuming he lives somewhere relatively close by if he's a one- man shop and sells the stuff locally?

Jennifer Savage said...

Mmmmm... I will look for this Fred's. My husband loves horseradish – thanks for the tip!

Kym, that cream cheese is from the Pacific Rim Noodle House in Arcata. Very yummy!

We have so much excellent local food.

Greg said...

There is a jar o' Fred's in our fridge, too. Loleta Meats was owned by three generations of Biondinis until recent years. Now Pixie Setterlund has the store and her brother runs Ferndale Meat Co. They probably have Fred's in Ferndale, too. Next time you are by, check out Pixie's freezer full of various sausages. Wow.

Fred said...

Fred: To know him is to love him, huh?

Ernie Branscomb said...

Fred, you’re close to right. He is located on highway 36, In Tehama county, halfway between Red Bluff and Chester, in a small town of 450 people. It’s called Paynes Creek. I would imagine that the soil is somewhat volcanic, because it is next to the Lassen volcano.

Paynes Creek is a small former timber town that has recently turned to “Agriculture”. (Sound familiar?) They have a total Volunteer Fire Department. Something sticks in my brain that the area was the site of a bad wildfire a few years ago that took out a bunch of houses.

Kym, We had things to do all over Eureka and Fortuna yesterday, and top on my wife’s list was to stop at Eureka Health Foods. Somehow we found ourselves way past the store before I remembered. So we blew that one.

I’m not big on that goat cheese stuff. But the wasabi sounds great!

robin shelley said...

We're horseradish lovers here, too, Ernie, & will now be looking for Fred's in Oregon. Thanks for the tip!
And thanks to Kym, too, for all the great genealogy links & info!

robin shelley said...

P.S. Too bad Jimmy the Sissy didn't know about Fred when he lived in Greenville... of course, horseradish probably isn't on Jimmy's list of favorite foods! He apparently didn't inherit your "super taster tongue".

Carol said...

Great horse radish - nothing quite like it!

robin shelley said...

Found this on the 'net:

Horseradish (prepared) This pungent condiment goes well with meats and fish, and it’s a key ingredient in cocktail sauce. It’s best to buy horseradish in small amounts and store it in the refrigerator—it turns dark and loses much of its bite after a few months. Look for it in the deli case.
Varieties: The most common is white horseradish, which is made with vinegar.
Creamed horseradish = cream-style horseradish has a little mayonnaise and/or sour cream added; horseradish sauce has a lot.
Red horseradish = beet horseradish is made with beet juice.
To make your own: When exposed to air, the flesh of the horseradish root begins an enzymatic reaction that causes it to become increasingly pungent within the first few minutes, and then milder after that. Adding a sour liquid stops the reaction and locks in the heat for several months.
If you’re making your own white horseradish, make sure your kitchen is well ventilated, wear rubber gloves, and avoid touching your eyes.
Begin by preparing a sour liquid solution of one cup vinegar and one teaspoon salt. Next, peel a horseradish root, chop it into small pieces, and grind it in a blender, adding just enough water to enable the blade to turn freely.
To make a mild sauce, immediately mix in ½ cup of the vinegar solution for each cup of grated horseradish root. To make the sauce hotter, add the solution after a few minutes when the pungency is peaking.
Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use. Substitutes: grated horseradish root OR wasabi (This Japanese condiment comes in green paste or powder.) OR wasabi cream sauce OR grated wasabi root (This is hard to find in American markets.)

Ernie Branscomb said...

Thanks Robin. That’s good info for the recipe box. People like us can use that kind of stuff!

EkoVox said...

My fun horseradish story. My company dinner at the Scotia Inn. Everyone is having fun, the conversation is flowing along with cocktails and I reach for the sour cream to put into my baked potato.

More laughing, more conversation. I dig a giant portion of baked potato with sour cream out of the skin and place it in my mouth. My eyes light up...I start coughing...almost spewing across the table...grabbing my napkin. My senses took a 180 degree turn.

I had put horseradish instead of sour cream into my baked potato.

kaivalya said...

Thanks for sharing such a superb find Ernie! and just in time for passover! Say, you don't think it's as Kosher as it is Organic, do ya? (just joking)

Anonymous said...

McKris sez (I forgot my password and am too lazy to find it.)

It isn't all that difficult to make it yourself, but you must be aware of the gas that forms in the blender which will blow your face off if you aren't careful when opening the lid.

It grows real well here, too, at least when I lived in Westhaven it did. Our steer really liked the leaves and since we rototilled the entire garden every year we had it growing all over the place so there was plenty for them.

btw, you're on a roll this new year, Ernie.

Carson Park Ranger said...

"I had put horseradish instead of sour cream into my baked potato."

Mmmmm. That sounds good.
I'm the opposite of Ernie. My taste buds are dull and diminished, so I tend to pour on the hot and flavorful condiments.

meh said...

Where can we find Fred's near San Francisco? I was just emptying out a bottle I've had for a year and googled it to find this blog!

Ernie Branscomb said...

MEH, If you still have the bottle, it has Freds phone number on it. When I called him he actually answered the phone himself.

I'll post again when I'm near a bottle of it.