Thursday, February 7, 2008

Corti Brothers Market

If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, this review will be too long to read. While the store is not visually sumptuous, everything they stock seems to be and I couldn't stop recording it all with my camera. Since it was appropriate to ask for permission to take the photographs, I was able to meet Mr. Corti and have to admit that his own quote is the perfect description of the store and it's philosophy, "We don't have everything that is good, but everything we have is good." Oh, better than good, Mr. Corti, much, much better!

Originally, Corti Brothers was going to be a quick stop for guanciale, during a visit to Sacramento. Having read through their somewhat disappointing website, I knew that they stocked it and a few other things of interest including olives and an exclusive, store brand of extra virgin olive oil. That was enough of a reason to go, and the last of my disappointments with this fine market.

Besides guanciale, they also stock domestic prosciutto "ends" that have always been appealing to me, for use in thicker proportions than slices can provide. I have seldom seen them for sale.

My foodie heart skipped a beat when I saw Halen Mon, Maldon, and Fleur de Sel all sitting side by side in the spice aisle. Then my eye wandered and found Murray River salt, in two sizes, mind you, along with some Italian and Japanese salts. This store must be Mecca for any person appreciating a great diversity of finishing salts. Even at this distance from San Francisco, a trip for salt alone would be worth the time and travel expense. I don't know of a single store in the city that carries even two of these. Heck, I traveled to Wales for my Halen Mon! It wasn't until I edited the photos that I discovered the spice aisle was full of Penzy's spices.

A wide variety of Italian imports and pantry staples were hard to miss. Several brands of panforte were available, along with pannetone, ceci (garbanzo) and semolina flours, pine nuts, polenta, and ceci beans and pasta, enough to fill an entire aisle.

But don't think this market is exclusively stocked with Italian items. it has everything you can imagine, soup to nuts. Speaking of soup, Campbell's sells in every super market in every city, but when was the last time you saw a can of Scotch Broth, Pepper Pot, or Bean and Bacon?

Most specialty stores don't even sell Burrata cheese, but Corti Brothers has two brands to choose from. When have you ever seen a can of Haggis in an American market? I don't even remember seeing it in Scotland! And there is even a vegetarian version.

The two photos above show just a small sample of the vinegars and wines available at the market. One in an etched bottle is from Sciabica Olive Oil company and I have never seen them sell it themselves at Ferry Plaza Market. It's made entirely of Arbequino olives, usually associated with Spanish olive oil.

Another wonderful thing about this market is their deli counter, bustling with activity all day long. Next visit should yield an entry about that alone, but there was no time to spend on it the first trip.

When asking the employee stocking wine if they had any dry, sparkling, Italian red wines, he suggested Lambrusco. Never having had a dry Lambrusco, I was surprised and told him I thought that might sweeter than I had wanted. He pointed to the 3 of 7 Lambruschi that were dry, not sweet....and we were not even standing in the Italian wine section! Their wine section deserves some exploring.

If spirits are your downfall, this is the place to pick up a Lost Weekend's worth. I have never seen so many brands of Scotch sitting in one place outside of Scotland, other than the Whiskey Store in San Francisco. They also stock more bitters than I have ever seen in one place. French aperitifs anyone?

(916) 736-3800
5810 Folsom Bl
Sacramento CA

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