About once a month I travel “down the mountain” to Greenville, South Carolina to appear on Your Carolina (WSPA-TV) . Before driving back to Asheville I stop to see my friends at Swamp Rabbit Café located next to the Swamp Rabbit Trail in downtown Greenville. I’ve know Jac Oliver and Mary Walsh, the owners of Swamp Rabbit Café, for a few years now and have watched their small shop and restaurant steadily grow . At their store they emphasize local produce and products so often Jac and I will compare notes and share contacts on new local and regional products and vendors. I’ve told her about new vendors that I think will do well at their shop and she often reciprocates. On a recent trip we walked around the store together and Jac picked up several items to show me. One was Postre Caramel sauce. When I first saw the tube my reaction was , “That looks like hand lotion!”. Jac laughed and said, “Yes, but it is really the best sea salt caramel sauce…I can’t believe you haven’t tried it… It’s made in Asheville!”. Fast-forward and a few months later Ingles Markets welcomed Postre Caramel as another local vendor to our stores in Western North Carolina. Soon I’d met owner Joe Scott and interviewed him on “Ingles Information Aisle” (WWNC News Radio 570am Saturday mornings at 8amET) and heard the story of how he’d gone from being a geologist “working in a cubicle” to attending cooking school in Colorado. Eventually he and his wife, Jamie Sastre, who trained as a pastry chef, owned a restaurant in Washington State. Joe recounted that one of the more popular dessert items on the restaurant menu featured Jamie’s sea salt caramel sauce. After selling their restaurant and moving to Asheville to be closer to family, Joe and Jamie decided to focus on the caramel sauce as a business venture.
|Tube of Postre Sea Salt Caramel Sauce|
I thought it would be interesting to watch the caramel sauce being made so I arranged with Joe to stop by on a day they were in production. Postre Caramel’s office and production facility is in a modest office park in Woodfin . As soon as I walked through the door I could smell the sweet aroma of sugar and butter cooking. Joe led me into the back room where Jamie was stirring the mixture with a wooden paddle in a large copper kettle.
|Jamie Sastre stirring caramel mixture in copper pot|
Joe explained that the ingredients for the caramel sauce are very simple: organic sugar, organic cream, organic cultured butter and sea salt. If there is a “trick” in making caramel sauce it is definitely patience. As I stood and talked to Jamie and Joe about their business they were gradually adding cream and butter, continuously stirring the mixture and carefully watching the temperature. If the sauce isn’t stirred enough crystals will quickly form and the sauce will be ruined. If the temperature gets too high the sauce will become scorched.
|Organic cultured butter ready to be added to caramel sauce|
|Boxes of Postre Sea Salt Caramel Sauce awaiting shipment|
Once the tubes are filled with caramel sauce, sealed and packed; they are shipped out all over the country or delivered to gourmet shops, markets and retailers like Ingles Markets. Postre’s Sales Manager, Mitchell Simpson, works hard to make connections with local and regional businesses and events that might be able to use or showcase the caramel sauce. Joe and Jamie and I discussed different ways that the caramel sauce could be used from a squeeze in coffee, on ice cream or apple slices to topping a piece of cake but savory applications are also not out of the question. Joe talked being able to use their caramel sauce the “…same way you’d use honey in a recipe so on pork or in a stir fry.”
The future for Postre Caramel is sure to be sweet for Joe and Jamie, they are expecting their first child but they also are looking at other ways to introduce their caramel sauce to more customers. They’ve already partnered with local breweries like Hi Wire to feature a Chocolate Caramel Porter but ideas abound from candy to creating different flavors by adding to the caramel . No matter what they come up with Joe said with certainty, “…we will always be caramel dominant and keep the focus on the caramel.”
Note: Look for Postre Caramels at “Taste of Local” events at Ingles stores in Western NC!
|Mitchel Simpson (Sales) and Postre Caramels owners Jamie Sastre & Joe Scott