Issue 30

Taste the Nation

A country-wide guide to bringing the flavors of the mountains, prairies, and coasts to your kitchen

Traveling and Christmas shopping are two of my most enjoyable disposable income streams. I travel several times a year for fishing trips, concerts, a weekend getaway, or a reunion with good friends. Part of the joy of traveling is not only experiencing local fare, but also finding ways to bring that food to me. I’ve also never enjoyed giving gift certificates or the latest tech gadget, so several years ago I challenged myself to find foods all over the country to give to friends and family at Christmas. Below is a coast-to-coast guide of some of the foods I’ve explored online and in person, as well as a suggestion for a local product pairing.

Far West


Pike Place Fish Market has been slinging salmon since 1965. Their site offers an array of salmon and seafood that can be sent overnight for maximum freshness. If you wish to avoid heavy shipping costs, head over to one of Absolutely Fresh Seafood’s local locations in Omaha, pick up a fish and then coat it with any one of Pike Place’s excellent spice rubs.


I sampled the Packer Family’s jams at the Portland, Oregon farmers market last May and bought three jars on the spot. Their pear-sweetened flavors provide natural fruit sweetness without any added sugar. I’d pair it with a slice of your favorite bread from Great Harvest Bread Company for a breakfast treat.


My first trip to San Francisco in May was filled with seafood and sourdough. The dungeness crab san francisco is one of the city’s most popular seafood dishes and should certainly be tried by visitors. The Boudin Bread Company delivers with a firm crust and strong, yet not overpowering sour taste to excite your taste buds. Omahans are in luck as it’s sold in retail at Costco. Top it with salami or other creations from the Grey Plume Provisions store for a savory sandwich or snack.


A taste of the Alaskan wilderness is closer than you think. A box of Wild Berry jelly-center chocolates from Alaska Wild Berry Products gives you the fruity diversity of the Alaskan terrain. A 25-piece package has 10 flavors to enjoy. A quick visit for German roasted almonds from the Nut Hutte at the Omaha Farmers Market and a chocolate, fruity, nutty snack is all set.

Rocky Mountains


Montana has some of the most beautiful terrain in the country and also some of the healthiest red meat available to us. Rancho Picante raises and sells grass-fed bison products. If it’s short ribs or sausages, burgers or brats, or even a half or full bison, you can bring home the taste of the Montana range. Swing by Soaring Wings Vineyard in Springfield for a local wine to match your bison creation.!about/c1pek


Monkey Snacks hails from Laramie, Wyoming. They visit farmers markets in Southeast Wyoming, Northern Colorado and even Western Nebraska. If you’re not near their stands, you can order a wide variety of snacks and sizes of their granola. It’s convenient for a quick snack on the go or to snack on with yogurt or cereal. For a healthy, high energy compliment, find a Juice Stop location for a smoothie.


Big E’s High Country Kitchen’s Carolina BBQ Sauce makes cooking easy. I found it at a metro Denver farmers market two years back. Big E’s sauce is tangy, full of spices, and coats meat to perfection. A rack of baby back ribs from Harvest Valley Foods near Highway 75 and Platteview Road would make a flavor-packed, meaty main course.


New Mexico

At the time of publication we may still be able to acquire some hatch chile peppers from The Hatch Chile Store. The hatch chile is the perfect mix of heat, smokiness and has a rich flavor not found in other peppers. Keep this one simple and grab some fresh flour chips from Erick’s Enchilada’s at the farmers market, melt a lot of cheese and top it liberally with diced hatch chiles.


The Woody Candy Company in Oklahoma City started in 1927. They’re best known for their brittles, and if you’re a peanut, cashew, or pecan person, you can order a sweet treat that will not disappoint. When my brittle tin arrives this winter, I’ll head down to Fox Hollow Coffee near 112th and Blondo Streets for a hot cocoa and retire in front of a fire and Christmas tree for a holiday treat that takes me back in time.


You can order a Texas-sized feast from the Lone Star State from the comfort of your own home by checking out Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, Texas. Snow’s will ship vacuum sealed smoked brisket, pork, chicken, sausage and even turkey. If you need a sauce, they have a few. A trip to Wenninghoff’s market will have an array of fruits and vegetables to supplement your barbecue endeavor.



I refuse to confess how many beignets I ate from Café Du Monde when I went to New Orleans. Lucky for us, we can fly up boxes of their mix at anytime. Add water, roll them, cut them, and toss them into a batch of hot oil and be ready for an easy treat from the Crescent City. Douse liberally with powdered sugar and grab a cup of coffee from your favorite local coffee shop and you’ve got a breakfast or dessert sure to satisfy.


Hopefully you are better than I am at making biscuits from scratch. but if not, then the Loveless Café in Nashville has you covered. Their mix is easy to put together and is a buttermilk biscuit at its best. Pick up a jar of honey from It’s All About Bees at the Omaha Farmers market and you’ve got your day started off right!


The Simmonds Family Catfish farm In Yazoo City, Mississippi started to sell farm-raised, sustainable catfish in 1982. You can order fillets, whole fish, even hushpuppies. Few things go better with southern fried catfish than hot sauce, and you can find several satisfying flavors made locally by Crazy Gringa Hot Sauce.

West Virginia

West Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains are home to Greg and Veronica Stover’s Appalachian specialty food store. They make a variety of salad dressings, sauces, glazes, even a Bloody Mary mix. A bottle of their orange-berry basil salad dressing on a batch of fresh greens from Green Leaf Farms at our farmers market can combine fresh, local flavors with a touch of an Appalachian sunrise.

North Carolina

Scott’s Carolina BBQ sauce has been around for almost a century. If a spicy, vinegar based sauce is how you define barbecue, then Scott’s sauce is for you. Add it to a couple pounds of shredded barbecue pork from Harvest Valley Foods for an easy barbecue sandwich – be ready for the heat.


I was introduced to the Honeybell orange at a Florida farmers market this winter and bought six immediately. I returned home, shared my juicy treasure, then went online and bought another case from Dundee Groves. These oranges are amazing by themselves but, if you want a touch more flavor, then head to Savory Spice Shop in Rockbrook and sprinkle some chocolate, cinnamon or salt of your choice to top it off.


If you’re looking to experience the Georgia Peach in an excellent variety of ways, then check out Dickey Farms. You can choose from the peaches themselves (if in season) or their jellies, sauces, and cobbler mixes. Add their peach jelly to a bagel from the Bagel Bin for a grab and go breakfast.



My family’s been going to Minnesota for the last several years for an annual weekend getaway. We really enjoy going to the city of Minneapolis in particular, mainly because there are so many great things to do in Minneapolis. We always purchase several bottles of Minnestalgia’s strawberry syrup. It’s a thick syrup with big chunks of strawberries in it. If it’s possible to order Amato’s triple berry ricotta pancakes to go, then a bottle of Minnestalgia syrup would make a breakfast picnic at Stinson Park.


Most people think of Kansas City barbecue when they think Missouri fare, but I think of Fitz’s Root Beer in St. Louis. It’s rich, full of flavor and has a clean, lasting aftertaste. Pair it with some ice cream from Ted & Wally’s in the Old Market and you’ve got a perfect late summer treat!

Great Lakes


A lengthy airline delay last summer introduced me to the snacking sensation of Garrett’s Popcorn. Their caramel corn is the best I’ve ever had. One behemoth bag later, I kept myself company at Midway and made several friends and family members happy upon my return. I’d take a big bag with me to a Monday Movie at Midtown Crossing and make some friends!


The cheese choices in Wisconsin are vast, and my favorite is Henning’s Cheese factory between Milwaukee and Green Bay. If you like spreads, strings, slices, dips or curds, Henning’s has you covered. When your order arrives, head over to a Stoysich House of Sausage and create a custom meat and cheese plate for a top notch patio snack.


The McClure Family put their great-grandmother’s pickle recipe into production almost ten years ago. They use as much local Michigan produce as possible for their pickle spears, slices and relish. These pickles are not short on flavor, so be ready for a mix of spicy, sweet and crunchy goodness. A crafty Cuban sandwich could be made with pork from Just Good Meats, mustard from the Denison Mustard Company, bread from Le Quartier and a jar of McClure Pickles.


Skyline Chili has been a Cincinnati staple since 1949. You can order the chili by the can so their family recipe is just a hot bowl away from being ready for a rainy weekday or a Saturday tailgate special. Once it’s hot, top it with Jisa’s Farmstead Cheese from Brainerd, NE and your comfort classic is all set.


Washington D.C.

Half smokes are a popular half pork/half beef sausage from the Washington D.C. area. We can order them by going to Ben’s Chili Bowl, a D.C. chili institution since the late 1950’s. A small dab of Denison Mustard Company mustard on a grilled half smoke gives you a sausage of Capitol quality.


Scrapple isn’t a board game, it’s a wildly popular meat product in Delaware that’s now available in several variations. The folks at Rapa Scrapple have been making it since the 1920’s. It can be served as part of a breakfast, lunch, or dinner, so I’d grab a pack of fresh pita bread from the Parthenon at the Omaha farmers market and create an early or late day Delaware delight.

New York

Would you like the New York deli experience without having to travel to the city that never sleeps? You can taste it by ordering pastrami and the complimentary mustard from the Carnegie Deli in New York City. A two-pound batch of Carnegie pastrami and a six-pack of ciabatta bread from Le Quartier bakery is deli done right!


Rhode Island

Johnny Cakes are a pancake-style treat made with stoneground white corn meal. Kenyon’s grist mill has been in operation since 1696. Today you can order a variety of corn meals and mixes to make your own Johnny Cakes. Pair it with Fuller’s Maple Syrup from New Hampshire.

New Hampshire

Fuller’s Sugar House in Lancaster, New Hampshire produces over 4,000 gallons of maple syrup each year. They have jugs and jars of all shapes, sizes and grades. They also carry maple sugars and creams for your baking needs. It’s the perfect complement to a Johnny Cake from Kenyon’s Grist Mill.


We’re coming up on cranberry harvest season and bogs in Massachusetts will be busy. If you’d like them in salads, muffins or a side unto themselves, check out Cape Cod Select cranberries for a three-pound wooden crate delivered to your door. Track down some chicken or even a turkey from Plum Creek Farms in Burchard, Nebraska to compliment your cranberry crate.


The Harbor Fish Market in Portland, Maine is happy to ship the seafood of the North Atlantic waters. From swordfish to shellfish – even live lobsters, the Harbor Fish Market brings the harbor feel to your mid-western table. A couple deep fried cod fillets with a vinegar variety from Old World Oil and Vinegar in Rockbrook is a flavorful fish and chip feast.

Kent Cisar

Kent Cisar

Kent Cisar searches the local and national scene for unique ingredients and flavors to bring to the table here in Omaha. He'll catch his own fish from Florida, ship farmer's market shrimp from Louisiana, stash jams from the Pacific Northwest, or find the best cut of meat from a Nebraska farmer. Kent believes that regardless of where the it comes from, good food is meant to be shared.

Related Articles

The Supper Club: Old Market Progressive Dinner

Publisher’s Note: Omega Omega Omega (Tri Omega), the culinary fraternity at the Institute for the Culinary Arts at Metropolitan Community

Beer & Food Pairings: Delighting the Senses

For some of you, the perfect food to pair up with a can of your favorite suds would likely be

Snack Island

Editor’s Note: Omaha has developed a reputation as a ‘music town’ around the nation, so we figured a good way

No comments

Write a comment
No Comments Yet! You can be first to comment this post!

Only registered users can comment.