Struggling with digestive health concerns, Hope Mendrin discovered that sourdough is beneficial to gut health and began baking it in her home kitchen, one loaf at a time. In October 2018, the West Valley resident started peddling her breads at a local farmers market and would sell out in half an hour, she says. Mendrin and her husband, Jacob, soon opened a storefront bakery in Litchfield Park. Her hand-crafted, organic sourdough lineup is impressive: classic, jalapeño cheddar, garlic and peppercorn, cinnamon swirl, Parmesan thyme and more. Most sourdough is dense, but Mendrin’s has a soft, moist interior while maintaining a crackling crust. She also bakes non-sourdough cookies, muffins, pastries and savory quiches. Her clientele travels from all over the Valley to buy her additive- and yeast-free baked goods. “By the end of the day, everything is sold out,” she says. “We love our customers.”
Hope’s Artisan Bread
13331 W. Indian School Rd., Litchfield Park
Malted Rice Crisp Chocolate
Denae Hostetler spent much of her 20s traveling through Central America and Mexico, where she sipped hot chocolate made from ground cacao as an alternative to coffee. Years later, Hostetler dabbled in making chocolate, selling to family and friends. “Eventually, we converted our guest house into a chocolate factory,” she says. Today, Hostetler produces small-batch bean-to-bar chocolates ($6.50), sipping chocolate ($12.50), brewing cacao ($12.50) and other cacao products under her DNA Chocolate label. Hostetler sources beans directly from farmers in Chiapas, Belize and Haiti and shepherds them through all phases of production, from roasting and shelling to milling and tempering. Her newest bar, Haitian Malted Rice Milk Crispies, is rich and velvety with a hint of crunch. DNA Chocolate has no additives or preservatives. Find it at Uptown Farmers Market and other Valley locations.
Before going pro, Valley cocktail fans Courtney and Chris Marks experimented with making vinegar-based mixers, also known as shrubs, using a combination of ripe fruits, fresh botanicals and whole spices. These complex acidulated beverages were once popular in colonial America as a way to to preserve fruit after harvest, Chris says. Launching their cocktail-mixer company, Shrubwell, the husband-and-wife team developed five year-round and three rotating seasonal flavors ($10, 4 oz.; $24, 16 oz.), incorporating local ingredients whenever possible. Popular flavors include cucumber ginger rose, watermelon fennel lime and grapefruit sage hibiscus. Since shrubs are made with less sugar than typical mixers, they’re tart-forward and make for a balanced cocktail, Chris says. The mixers are highly concentrated, and you only need 1 ounce to make a multi-layered cocktail or mocktail. Find Shrubwell at Uptown Farmers Market and online.
Shrubwell Tart + Fruity Drink Mixers