Shining the Spotlight on Our Pantry Workhorses

If you asked us how we at General Store Paso Robles spent our summer vacation, one of our answers would be “pouring over stacks of brilliant, just-released cookbooks to bring home to Paso!” It’s one of our passions, and it’s definitely helping to inspire us as we move into a new season.
One thing struck us as we perused piles and piles of cookbooks: vegetarian cooking has reached a new level of accessibility, culinary energy and variety. We picked more veggie books than we ever have before, and with the access people in Paso have to the best farm-fresh produce, we hope these books will jump start some plant-based experimentation in our neighbors’ kitchens.
We were also reminded that quality ingredients make an enormous impact with vegetarian cooking. When you are eating more simply and cleanly, the salt you sprinkle over your greens, or the vinegar you use for your romaine salad, are super impactful. Many cookbooks start off with a suggested list of items to stock in your pantry. (We’re especially fond of the list at the beginning of The Sprouted Kitchen: a tastier take on whole foods and in Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Easy .) We thought we’d share with you the workhorses of our General Store pantry; those items we reach for again and again and that make the biggest impact in our home cooking.
Olive Oil from Olivos de Oro 
Frank and Marti do a wonderful blend for us that we use on absolutely everything. We’re also one of the only places where you can get this quality of local olive oil sold in 1-liter tins. We wanted to make this crucial ingredient affordable to use for every day, so we buy by the barrel and pass the savings on to our customers.
Garlic Rosemary Salt from Le Z Ranch 
If you want to feel like a rock star when you walk into your home at the end of a long work day, sprinkle this over almost anything and throw it in the oven. The aroma of chicken roasted with garlic and crushed rosemary is ridiculous. Or try one of our all time faves: boil some baby potatoes from farmer’s market until they are tender. Smash them whole onto a cookie sheet, drizzle with some of that great olive oil we just mentioned, and then hit it with a schwack of g-rose, as we lovingly call it. Broil the potatoes until they are crispy on top. Boom.
Maldon Sea Salt Flakes 
No, this is not local. We know. But this salt is hand-harvested, the way it’s been harvested since 1882. The salt is in pyramid-shaped crystals that are easily smashed in your palm. It’s clean, crunchy and intense, and when we’re spreading avocado on a toast, this is the only salt that will do.
(And a little teaser…the other thing we did this summer was meet with local makers who are already creating wonderful holiday treats just for us. Can’t wait to share!)
– The General Store Team