Summertime is fast approaching, but you can reel it in a little quicker with a jaunt to the islands. Hoist the sails, fire up the puddle-jumper, and head to warmer climes, where the living’s easy and time moves slow. Sand and surf turn us reptilian. We bask and broil in the heat, only letting loose when the sun sinks past the breakers. Minimal effort, maximum payoff, that’s the beach bum’s MO. Thus the beauty of island cooking: humble ingredients with easy flair; a simple spark of life, whether it’s the lime in your beer or the scotch bonnet kick to your curry. This month’s crate brims with those delights: a taste of paradise, whether you’re beach-bound or not.
Jerk Sauce // Jule’s Gourmet // New York, NY
Jule’s Jamaican jerk sauce first brought its Rasta flair to ’80s Manhattan at her mother’s famous chicken joints. Now this bottled taste of Trenchtown — ginger, scallions, spices, and, that infamous Jamaican trademark, the scotch bonnet pepper’s long-lingering fruity burn — can lively up everything from drumsticks (marinate overnight) to mellow old mayo (stir in a spoonful).
Pineapple Gum Syrup // Liber & Co. // Austin, CA
Corner-store colas and over-sweetened juices won’t cut it in quality cocktails. That’s why most bars worth their rim salt make their own mixers, like this old-school gum syrup. Where canned juice is tongue-numbing sharp, this syrup is a smooth island breeze of tropical flavor, thanks to real-deal gum arabic, a natural tree resin and the secret to a true Barbados rum punch’s creamy feel, no matter how many limes you add.
Candied Ginger // Reed’s // Los Angeles, CA
In the Caribbean, locals turn the root into fiery homebrewed hooch, but if you lack a backyard brewery, these candies are the next best thing: a stomach-settling snack (ginger’s health benefits are legendary) or, if you have any left on the bar-bites tray by happy hour, a garnish. World’s apart from corn-syrup-sweet soda, a stick (or two) makes the perfect spicy accent to any cocktail.
Pistach-A-Colada // Granola Jones // Independence, MO
For us bacon-and-eggers, healthy hippie breakfasts seem best only when slept through: muesli mush, plain-old oats. Pack your bowl with this instead. Granola, sure (all natural grains, brown-sugar-sweetened, mother-earth-approved), but mixed with nuts and honey, cardamom and coconut — sweet, savory, spiced. A sliced banana and drizzle of Pineapple Gum Syrup turns morning into cocktail hour — and who’d want to sleep through that?
Black Peppah Macadamia Nuts // Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company // Waimea, HI
Hawaii’s first macadamia tree was planted two centuries ago, and — legend has it — it’s still growing, somewhere on the verdant coast for which this company’s named. The island’s mac nut trade is still just as old-school: small producers, private farms, local families. Tradition you can taste (even when dusted in cracked pepper and sea salt). Savor them solo or grind up a handful with lemon and olive oil for a luau-ready crust on baked snapper.
Island Teriyaki Pork Jerky // Fusion Jerky // San Francisco, CA
Fed up — and under-fed — with cardboardy bland or overly sweet energy bars while climbing Kilimanjaro, Fusion’s founder KaiYen Mai decided to make her own, the caveman way. Real meat, and little else. American-raised, Asia-infused, these soy-soaked pork strips are soft, chewy, paleo protein; the perfect boost for a summit push, or post-hike hammock reward.