How To Stock A Southern Pantry + The Best Cinnamon Chili Chocolate Ever

Cooking Southern cuisine? Here are must-have pantry items!
"What do you like to cook?" At first glance it's a pretty easy question, asking a casual cook to share which dishes he or she prefers to make most. For me, the answers are pretty typically "anything baked" and "healthy versions of indulgent comfort food." But more often than not, the question is a reminder for me to get out of my cooking comfort zone and dabble in the foods I want to learn to make.

Case in point: Southern cuisine. Shrimp and grits. Collard greens. Moon Pies. Small batch pickles. Now these are the age-old, passed down from generation-to-generation recipes I'd love to try. But where do I to start and, way more importantly, where the heck can I get authentic Southern ingredients?

Bon Appetit Magazine must have been reading my mind. The February issue is solely dedicated to the Southern Recipe Revival, sharing mouth-watering photos and recipes -- think chocolate oatmeal Moon Pies and redeye-glazed pork tenderloin with black-eyed peas -- proving that the South "isn't all fried chicken and biscuits anymore." Recipes aside, the food-minded mag also provides a detailed list on how to stock a Southern Pantry including sources for Dixie staples (e.g. milled grits, sugared pecans, Cackalacky hot sauce) as well as the lesser-known cowpeas, sorghum syrup and small-batch pickles of the region.

Olive and Sinclair's Mexican Style Cinnamon Chili Chocolate
As fate would have it, after reading the pantry article I randomly stumbled across one of the items in Simply Seattle's Chocolate BoxOlive and Sinclair's Southern Artisan Stone Ground Chocolate. The chocolate comes in Buttermilk White, Salt and Pepper, Smoked Nib Brittle and my must-have flavor: Cinnamon Chili Mexican chocolate. At $5.99 for a 2.75 ounce bar it's not exactly the most economical treat, but forget about the price. Seriously. I'm not a huge chocolate fan and I 100% admit I bought it out of sheer curiosity. However, once I bit into a tiny piece of the chocolate, I was undeniably hooked. So were the four friends I (reluctantly) shared it with. Olive and Sinclair's website describes the chocolate as "explosive with floral spices... a granular melt and a steady progression from organic Ceylon cinnamon to deep, salt-driven chocolate with a subtle smoky warmth." Whatever. All I know is it's hands-down fantastic. Get it now from their website.

Olive and Sinclair's Southern Artisan Chocolate
Phone: 615.262.3007

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