The Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival doesn’t just brew up bacteria for our health and taste buds. It’s also the breeding ground for new businesses, one of which will have a very splashy debut at the fourth annual event on July 19, serving as the fest’s official condiment station while also enhancing the dishes of both Sama Sama and Nimita’s that day. Welcome to Cultured & Saucy, the long-brewing idea of sisters Lauren Temkin and Simone Temkin-Wilcox.
The two — who first turned to fermentation for the prebiotic and probiotic benefits and to avoid food allergies — use what looks like a home-brewing setup, in which the fermenting food, be it onions or citrus or garlic, sits in a carboy with a bubbler atop. Natural yeasts ferment the food in this anaerobic process, essentially intensifying all that’s good in the fruit or vegetable to begin with. “It’s so addictive,” Simone said. “Now we really don’t season our food: We just open the jars and mix and match.”
Those jars now include such ’round-the-world flavors as Bombay Curry Chutney, Dill Dijon Mustard, Mandarin 5 Spice Chutney, Moroccan Saffron Relish (“technically chermoula,” said Simone, “but not enough people know what that is”), Sabrosa Salsa, and Herbes de Provence Relish. A little bit goes a long way, as the sauces can spice up a piece of fish or cheese, or punch up mayo for aioli or oil for a dressing, much like a nice vinegar. Lauren likes to think back to the day she threw some of their curry chutney on an otherwise un-spiced batch of rice and red lentils. “It was so good,” she recalled. “That was the moment for me — that something so tasteless on its own could be so good.”
Though fresh on the foodie scene, Cultured & Saucy has been cooking for some time. The Temkins even changed the name, from Cultured Cuisine to Cultured & Saucy, once they refined their fermented product line. “The original line would have been $15 a jar,” said Lauren. “So we had to work to come up with a good product at a reasonable price, and that took months.” Today, those six stimulating sauces are now just $8 a jar, and they’ve also added prime essential oils and their own Himalayan pink salt that boasts 84 minerals.
And the crowds are digging it, especially at a recent tasting event. “People went ape-shit for us,” said Lauren. “They were dragging people over to our table.” Added Simone, “People made us make little sample cups so they could take it home that night.” Just remember, warned Lauren, to keep that live bacteria in the fridge.
The 2014 Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival, featuring Cultured & Saucy (culturedandsaucy.com) among many other purveyors, is Saturday, July 19, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., at Fairview Gardens in Goleta. See sbfermentationfestival.com.