When the new Albertsons on Broadway asked me to be part of their current promotion, I proudly pronounced, “I’m your huckleberry” and dove right in.
Huckleberries are as native to Idaho as I am. In fact, they are the state fruit. And foragers are almost as protective, and secretive, about their huckleberry patches as morel hunters (and that’s saying something). So when I started asking employees about where the nearly 3000 pounds they secured came from, they were either being elusive or they truly didn’t know. All they would tell me is that they came from Idaho and they were going to go fast.
The gal restocking the display inside the front door, which had just been full 15 minutes ago, said there was a line of people at the front door waiting for the store to open on Tuesday when their huckleberry festival kicked off. The woman next to me, loading up her cart, piped in that there was a shortage of berries in McCall, a resort town 100 miles north of Boise, this year and when she heard about the Albertsons promotion she jumped in her car and drove down.
I have to say, finding these beauties at Albertsons is new for me. I’ve seen them at the farmer’s market maybe but I rarely find them fresh, and definitely not at a grocery store. It’s my understanding that huckleberries aren’t grown commercially which means all those pounds of berries were picked by hand, in the wild, where harvesters are competing not just with each other but with the bears. Yes. Bears. I’ve heard stories of people playing music or wearing bells when they go picking in an effort to avoid unintended encounters.
All the better reason just to go get them at Albertsons, I’m thinking.
Go sweet. Go savory.
And much like the Hatch Chile celebration a couple weeks back, the store is full of ways to get your huckleberry fix. There’s the sweet options that you might expect like donuts, truffles, danishes, croissants and muffins. And crisps made in-house that were still warm out of the oven.
But there’s lots of savory offerings as well. There’s beef short ribs done in a huckleberry BBQ sauce. That same sauce is the base for a pizza that’s topped with pork, cheese, berries, and arugula. There’s a kale salad that has fresh berries in it as well as a huckleberry vinaigrette and even a grab-and-go dinner with salmon and a huckleberry glaze.
There’s plenty of options for washing all this down too. Idaho breweries, Wallace Brewing and Laughing Dog Brewing both have huckleberry versions. Ste. Chapelle Winery has a sweet Soft Huckleberry Wine as well as Wild Huckleberry Wine Spritzers. For a non-alcoholic option check out Idaho Kombucha’s What the Huckleberry kombucha.
Meanwhile, up in the bar…
Definitely don’t miss out on the huckleberry margarita being served at the bar upstairs, Broadway on the Rocks. It doesn’t get more local than this with a huckleberry rimming salt made by Starlight Herb & Spice Company and real huckleberry syrup from Dorothy’s. They’re also serving up 44 North Huckleberry Vodka and lemonade.
What to make? What to make?
My mind was reeling with ideas of what I could make with these dark, little gems. Should I make something savory? Something sweet? Something boozy? Then I came across these beautiful tenderloin steaks from local Double R Ranch that were on a crazy sale. I circled back through the produce department and picked up a container of organic arugula and some lovely tiger striped figs. A plan was in place. Check back tomorrow for the recipe!
And Albertsons, I’ll be your huckleberry anytime. Thank you for this delicious opportunity.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Albertsons on Broadway. The opinions and text are all mine.