How We Met: Figs and Walnuts
So many yummy things can come together for a great appetizer. And since appetizers and wine make a great cross promotion in grocery, we’re always on the lookout for brands that fit the bill.
Last month, we met a new nut — literally and figuratively — and got good news from a long-standing fruit … fruit contact, anyway. And it all happened in the space of just a few days surrounding Expo West 2016.
First up, figs. Figs are classy. Figs are exotic. Figs can elevate a lot of dishes. So years ago, when we met the nice lady at Valley Fig Growers, we were excited! Especially when she quickly understood the value of teaming with a wine.
Then, she sort of broke our hearts. As it turns out, many of their figs are sold under a big-name brand that didn’t see wine as a fit. So we promised to stay in touch, and I would stop by her booth at numerous food shows throughout the years (five, we think) and just say “hey.” It was a classic unrequited relationship if ever there was one.
On a recent Southwest flight from Kansas City to home in southern California, I was lucky enough to have delightful seatmates. Both Ms. Center Seat and Mr. Window Seat asked my destination, and I asked theirs. Turns out they were headed to Expo West. Turns out they sell walnuts. Hand-harvested, wild black walnuts. Hammons Black Walnuts. And this walnut is one with a really cool story. The harvesting of Black Walnuts is a Midwestern tradition spanning generations, involving thousands of people gathering fallen nuts from lawns, fields and pastures every fall. The crop is almost fully collected from the wild and then taken to central hulling stations. Hammons Walnuts then takes them to market. Organic. Wild. Delicious.
We started thinking wine again — and they got the picture. Brand magic was happening and we weren’t even at the show.
A couple days later at Expo West, I dutifully stopped by to say hi to Fig Lady. As always, I vowed someday we’d pair her with one of our wines. “Oh, good news,” she says. Turns out policy had shifted; the figs are ready for their wine close-up!
The moral of the story? Investing in long-term relationships is always pleasant, and sometimes even fruitful. Hey, meeting fellow extroverts on an airplane can take nutty to a whole new level. We should know.