In this issue, we spotlight Ambition Bistro and the Jay Street Marketplace of Schenectady small businesses. The Mission of Taste of Schenectady® is to inspire people to support family owned and independent restaurants and gourmet food and lifestyle businesses—as well as our local community, and ALL of its people!
Photography By Patrick Ray Gourmet Pickling and Natural Foods The DillyBean Open at Schenectady’s Jay Street Marketplace Downtown Schenectady’s Jay Street Pedestrian Mall and Marketplace has a new gourmet shop-- The DillyBean, located at 133 Jay Street. Abby Rockmacher, a Niskayuna resident, is a health food artisan, who while working toward a bachelor’s degree, started pickling. Abby worked in the hospitality and restaurant industry through college, learning the daily operation of a gourmet food business. Her mom, Stephanie Rockmacher, attended culinary school, and taught her daughter how to cook from an early age. The gourmand passion and family tradition is infused into the flavor of the fresh made products at The DillyBean. It’s an artisan goumet specialty retail shop with locally made organic foods---as well as Abby’s own gourmet pickled products and to-go meals. You’ll also find Kombucha tea here! Like many of the artisan and entrepreneur shops on Jay Street’s Marketplace, The DillyBean adds to the eclectic taste of groovy gourmet food, specialty coffee shops, fresh-squeezed juice and tea shops, bakery, breakfast and lunch hotspots, delicatessens, Irish imported goods, vintage dinette and homewares stores. Jay Street expounds much more---offering everything from Indian clothing, and jewelry---to vinyl antiques, massage and salons, records, tattoos, and books at the local bookstore, The Open Door Bookstore! Abby derived her business name from her great uncle’s dilly beans---a pickled green bean. She learned how to pickle using a natural process called lacto fermentation. I know some people are turned off by the word “fermented”…well, fermentation is the process used to make MAGNIFICENT gourmet foods like craft beers, pickles, sauerkraut, and more! Long before refrigeration, people cured their foods by fermentation. Following this colonial and culinary method---using only salt, vegetables and water (and her own secret recipe of spices), Abby creates healthy pickled green beans, cucumbers, sauerkraut, and more at The DillyBean. The store also sells a plethora of hard-to-find herbs, sauces, bulk spices, spreads, as well as loose teas. All around the shop you will discover fresh baked organic products and delectable granola, nuts, and sweets. While perusing The DillyBean’s counters and shelves of gourmet foods and refrigerated products, I came across a case of cured and smoked natural bacon, charcuterie, and cheeses...Just then, Greek Nick, Downtown’s most friendly and hospitable police officer, came in the shop to check on Abby. Nick told me that I had to buy the uncured pepperoni. Nick’s a foodie and married with a large family, so I trust his judgment when it comes to food. 24 Taste of Schenectady® and Beyond • www.tasteofschenectady.com • Vol. 4 • No. 1
After Nick made his rounds, I asked Abby whether or not she had ever gone to Picklefest in Rosendale, New York (Catskill Mountains, now in its 23rd year, near my cabin), and she said, “Yes, I entered my pickled foods as a contestant there.” I had to buy a quart of her half-sour pickles! Abby gave me a sample of her healthy half-sours before I bought any and I was hooked! The DillyBean sells a quart with six fresh made artisan pickles in juice for just $5. The dilly beans and sauerkraut are reasonably priced as well. Rockmacher is hoping the shop will grow and help other local producers grow. “Everything in the store is from New York State or Vermont,” Rockmacher said. There’s Empty Pockets cage free organic eggs, olive oil from the Evergreen Olive Oil Co., goat milk lotion and soaps from Shady Acre Homestead, crackers from Saratoga Crackers, chocolate from Saratoga Chocolate Co., and sauce from Vital Eats among other products. And of course, Abby has her own gourmet pickled products at The Dilly Bean. The DillyBeans lunch specials to-go change weekly. Recently, customers raved on Facebook about The DillyBean’s Carrot, Ginger Soup with anti-inflammatory Turmeric---and the Spinach and White Bean Soup. Other weekly lunch specials may include; egg salad and/or tuna salad sandwiches, or on a bed of fresh greens---and of course dilly beans, pickles and sauerkraut! Using lacto-fermentation, Abby Rockmacher has turned her great uncle’s recipe for pickled fresh green beans into a culinary love of customers who shop at the store several times a week for the dilly beans, cucumbers and sauerkraut. It can take anywhere from a day to two weeks to pickle the various fresh products made into gourmet delicacies on the premises. “As local produce becomes available I’m going to pickle anything and everything I can get my hands on,” Rockmacher said. She also plans to expand to making other scrumptious homemade and natural foods. “Come find us on the Pedestrian Mall section of Jay Street between Proctors Theater and City Hall,” Abby says. THE DILLYBEAN 133 Jay Street ∙ Schenectady NY 12305 Monday: Closed Tuesday: Closed Wednesday: 10AM–6PM Thursday: 10AM–6PM Friday: 10AM–6PM Saturday: 10AM–6PM Sunday: 10AM–3PM (518) 894-7911 shopthedillybean.com facebook.com/ShopTheDillyBean Taste of Schenectady® and Beyond • www.tasteofschenectady.com • Vol. 4 • No. 1 25