They may spend their evenings in toney salons, but come the wee hours of the morning, area gourmets are just as likely to be found standing over the kitchen sink, spooning peanut butter out of a jar.
We've reached that conclusion after noting the surprisingly large number of local food fans who have reminisced with us, over the past years, about visits to N.Y.C.'s Peanut Butter & Co. , a small Greenwich Village eatery specializing in sandwiches and sweets built around owner Lee Zalben's freshly made, all-natural, gourmet peanut butters.
Ranging from wonderful to wacky, the "classic" sandwich choices combine crunchy or smooth PB with anything from pickles to chocolate chips. Options get even more, uh, unique when they're made with the company's "flavored" peanut butters, which come in white chocolate, dark chocolate, cinnamon-raisin, and spicy Thai-style varieties. How does white-chocolate peanut butter with orange marmalade and almonds grab you? Or what about a chilled, grilled chicken breast with pineapple jam and spicy peanut butter? All sandwiches come with Mom-approved sides of carrot sticks and potato chips, of course; and yes, they'll even cut off the crusts for you.
Cleveland fans undoubtedly will be delighted to hear that Zalben's flavored products -- certified kosher, entirely vegan, and totally free of cholesterol, trans-fat, and hydrogenated oils -- will soon be available in the Nature's Basket section of most local Giant Eagle supermarkets. According to Zalben et al., a one-pound jar should set you back about $5.
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Small bites . . . He can cook, he can organize, and he can keep a secret: That's why chef-restaurateur Sergio Abramof won't spill the beans yet regarding the name and concept for his second restaurant, scheduled to debut this spring on Shaker Square, in the space formerly occupied by Brontë Bistro. All we could get out of him during a recent conversation was that it will be "different" from his Brazilian-themed Sergio's in University Circle (1903 Ford Drive) . . . Luckily, the owners of the Warehouse District's Mallorca and Brasa aren't so tight-lipped. They were more than happy to talk up Fresco, their new West Ninth Street wine-and-martini bar, scheduled for a Valentine's Day opening. Look for the spot, situated right next door to Mallorca, to feature a raw bar, a selection of tapas, and live entertainment aimed at the 30-plus crowd.