Pickle lovers puckered up and delighted in an abundance of free sample and cheap eats at yesterdays 10th Annual Pickle Day festival in the Lower East Side. More than 40 vendors sold their goods and gave away tastes of pickled treats ranging from traditional kosher dills and pickled horseradish green beans to fruit chutneys and brined feta cheese.
My favorite tastes came from Divine Brine, an eight month old pickling company based on Long Island. “This is our first time here, and it’s been great!” said company president Robert Schaefer. “This is great exposure. We’ve been selling out of a lot of products.” Schaefer and his staff offered tastes of dill, horseradish, bread and butter, and wasabi dill pickles; peach, cranberry-apple, and blueberry-apple chutneys; and eggplant caponata, an Italian appetizer spread.
I worked my way through their products, switching from sour to sweet to avoid a vinegar overload. The wasabi pickles were a nice variation on the traditional dill, with the Japanese horseradish giving it a great spicy bite. As for the chutneys, the pure peach flavor was definitely the star. Schaefer told me that the peaches — as well as all their produce — come from local farms and are picked at the peak of freshness, which is evident in the taste.
My favorite product — and the one I bought! — was the caponata. I’m a sucker for anything with eggplant, and this tomatoey spread was a delicious savory chutney. Per Schaefer’s suggestion, I used the spread on a sandwich of fresh mozzarella and basil on crusty Italian bread. Oh man. It was so good I had two.