Just returned from an amazing tour of Melissa’s Produce in LA; you may recognize the name, or the logo, if you buy any fruits or vegetables, and especially if you’re a discerning buyer and adventurous cook who likes to experiment with the newest items to hit the produce market. Founded in 1984, Melissa’s is a family-owned company based in LA that has grown to become the leading distributor of specialty fruits and vegetables. The opportunity to tour the Melissa’s facility was arranged by a organization of Orange County food lovers, eaters, and writers called OC Bites. The tour was interesting, fun, educational, and of course, delicious!
We were stymied when our host, Director of Public Relations, Robert Schueller threw out questions like “Do you know what’s different about the Ojai Pixie Tangerine?“, “What fruit has no seeds?” and “How many varieties of coconuts are available in the U.S?“. Needless to say, we left knowing a few more little-known facts about fruits and vegetables and now refer to him as the King of Produce. Think you know the answer (s)? Leave it in a comment 🙂
We were introduced to several new varieties of fruits and produce items that Melissa’s will begin distributing this year, such as Feijoa from New Zealand.
We saw first-hand the care and attention to detail that Melissa’s practices in receiving, sorting, packaging, and distribution of the hundreds of varieties of organic and specialty produce they ship. They also own some very state-of-the-art technology that is keenly protected from the public eye, so no photography is ever allowed in the warehouse.
And naturally, we were prepared a bountiful feast by two of their corporate chefs, thank you Tom and Ida. I’ll share some pics here, but I should have smuggled a bagful of these Cheddar-Thyme Crisps to have with a glass of wine right now! Fortunately, the recipe is in their cookbook, Melissa’s Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce, and they’re so easy to make that I’m going to stop writing and start baking. But this won’t be my last post about my tour of Melissa’s, so I hope you come back to read more.
From Melissa’s Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce | Yield: About 50 Crisps
2 ½ ounces white cheddar cheese (about 3½ cups), grated
3 ounces Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons), grated
2 ounces shelled, roasted, salted pistachio nuts (about ½ cup), coarsely chopped
(pine nuts were substituted here with great success)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. You will need to use new parchment paper with each batch.
2. Combine cheeses in small bowl. Drop the mixture by rounded teaspoonfuls onto lined baking sheets, leaving about 1½ inches between them. Add a small portion of pistachios to each pile. Flatten each pile slightly with back of spoon. Add a little thyme to each.
3. Bake 5 minutes or until crisps are bubbling and edges are golden. Allow to stand for several minutes, then slide off paper with a thin metal spatula. Blot crisps gently with paper towels and serve at room temperature.