BarkPorch Market in Grass Valley rivals any “big-city” deli
NOTHING BEATS THE SIERRA LIFESTYLE hiking, biking and fishing is right at your doorstep. But it can mean giving up the creature comforts of big-city living, including speciality food and wine selections.
Enter Bryan Frost and Debra Hynson, who opened the Back Porch Market in Grass Valley three years ago. This pair of gourmands is bringing artisan cheeses, fresh pasta, a charcuterie, exceptional wines and gourmet take-home meals to the foothills.
The Back Porch is the one of the foothill’s most complete speciality food and wine markets and kitchens, rivaling the best big-city speciality delis.
“We have things for cooks, as well as for people who don’t like to cook,” as Brian puts it.
You can find saffron, serrano ham from Spain, Israeli couscous, Italian tomatoes, French mustards, black truffle oil and fresh semolina pasta, among other specialty items.
Asian cooking items include hoisin, plum and jade peanut sauces.
The store sells more than 40 kinds of artisan cheeses, from France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Australia and Switzerland, as well as U.S. producers such as Cowgirl, Cypress Grove and others.
Best of all: You can sample any cheese before buying it. The store also keeps a box of index cards for customers—a “cheese tracker”—where you can jot down your favorites, just in case you forget the name for next time.
The charcuterie includes Prosciutto di Parma, Molinari and Fra’mani Salume, Spanish Chorizo, Pancetta and Diestel Farms smoked turkey breast.
The store’s taste-tested wines come from the United States, France, Italy, Spain, Australia and South America. “We always search out bargains that satisfy and don’t drain the bank,” is the store’s motto.
The Back Porch’s take-home meals are delicious: examples that change daily include pork tenderloin with mission figs and balsamic, Tri-tip and salmon filet .
The store offers comfort food, too: lasagnas, chicken pot pie, pizza dough and meatballs.
It’s reasonable, too. The big home-made meatballs—which can go on top of with the store’s fresh pasta and sauces—cost $1.50 each.
The food is cooked in a kitchen that Debra and Bryan built from scratch and was meant to be visible from throughout the store.
Customers appreciate the open design. “It’s sort of like hanging around the kitchen at a dinner party,” Debra says.
The couple helped launch the Back Porch at the Nevada County Growers
Market—an increasingly common practice for the area’s speciality food merchants.
People were gobbling up more than 60 pounds of their fresh pasta every Saturday.
For their storefront, Brian and Debra settled on a handsome building on Colfax Avenue in Grass Valley, whose benefits include parking and a bright window display that is updated regularly.
The breadth of the store’s selection comes from the couple’s own passion for food, as well as their customer’s suggestions.
“Lots of people who go on vacation visit art galleries,” says Debra. “We check out food, wine and cheese shops.”