Are you looking for the perfect addition to your charcuterie board? Does your sandwich or burger need the flavor and crunch of a crispy, sour pickles? The cure you are looking for may be Pickles and Cures, a local pantry store that sells canned meats, vegetables and fruits that chef Adrian Nicotra launched in November.
Originally from Buffalo, New York, Nicotra has lived in Alexandria since 1995 and has over ten years of culinary experience. His first job was to work at Bookbinders (now Columbia Firehouse) on South St. Asaph Street when he was a senior in high school. Since then, Nicotra has worked as a chef at some of the DMV area’s best restaurants, including some named top 100 by Washingtonian.
Nicotra took a break from the restaurant business for a while and started his own personal training business, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced him to shut it down and he started working in a local deli. It was there that he discovered an interest in cured food.
“It started with something as simple as’ Let’s start making our pickles from scratch, ” Oh hey, let’s make the sauerkraut from scratch. ‘I just did research and found it fascinating,'” Nicotra explained. ideas and decided to start his own company selling canned food, inspired by the traditional New York deli.
Nicotra currently sells pickled beets, za’atar spicy cucumbers, tomato confit and garlic confit. He also sells two kinds of pickles, a vinegar-preserved dill pickle and a New York deli style “lacto” fermented pickle that is cured with salt instead of vinegar. This process inhibits the growth of bad bacteria and allows healthy bacteria like lactobacillus to bloom (hence the name lacto.) He will also add a pastrami-preserved salmon and chicken, beef and vegetable funds, perfect for winter soups.
Nicotra recognizes that not everyone is familiar with how to use salted foods in their cooking. “It can be a little scary for people,” he said. “The site (picklesandcures.com) has suggestions and customers can contact me if they need any suggestions or help with what to do with the product after purchasing it.”
In addition to charcuterie and sandwiches, Nicotra’s creations can be used for a variety of dishes. Za’atar cucumbers are good in salads or cold fish dishes. The tomato or garlic jam will add flavor to any pasta, pizza or meat dish, and the garlic can be pureed into mashed potatoes.
As Pickles and Cures continues to grow, Nicotra will expand its offerings to include more canned vegetables such as lacto-fermented carrots curated with tarragon and citrus.
“Further down the line, I want to expand the charcuterie program,” he said. “I’m going to make a lot of charcuterie from scratch, although it’s going to be more of the unusual kind, the kind you really have to google and research in charcuterie to know at all. So it will not be salami and pepperoni, it will be unusual things that you usually find in a foreign country. ”
He also looks forward to working with local companies to create and share his products, such as using local honey in a special fermentation process. Last November, his pickles were shown at one of Holy Cow’s Burgers of The Moment, which was called “The P&C.”
When Nicotra is not experimenting with a new way of curing meat and producing at Frontier Kitchen, a commercial kitchen in Lorton, you can find him serving coffee at Swing’s Coffee Roasters or spending time around the Del Ray neighborhood, which he calls home. He hopes to start selling his products at local farmers markets in the spring and sometime along the way get into stores and possibly open his own store.
Nicotra’s products are available for local delivery in the city of Alexandria and parts of Fairfax County and Arlington and for shipment around the DMV. Find out more about Pickles and Cures at picklesandcures.com and at Instagram @pickles_and_cures.