Pickled. kitchen + pantry shares slow, local food with Eagle diners
Special to the Daily
Eagle got a little spicier this winter when Michael Joersz opened his newest food venture, Pickled. kitchen + pantry. The grab and go pantry is stocked with boutique food items from around the world such as Italian pastas and sauces, procured cheeses from around the world, darling canned fish varieties, rare deli meats such as Bresaola, Speck and Mortadella and more than 100 more items. An entire deli case is dedicated to vintage American sodas and rare international finds.
For the grab and go, look for a staple menu of two soups, oven-roasted tomato puree and a chef’s inspiration, a half-dozen salads, nearly a dozen hot and cold sandwiches including a peppered pastrami and pork belly Rueben, Philly cheesesteak, Monte “Mountain” Christo, tuna salad, curried chicken salad, Italian, and sides such as the quick pickle, fingerling potato salad and spicy bean slaw. The menu always has vegan, non-dairy and gluten-free items.
The global gourmet market and eclectic menu reflects Joersz’s storied history in the Vail Valley. His name is probably familiar to locals from his work at Golden Eagle for over a decade, the Sonnenalp Club in Edwards, Two Guys Catering and the Wolcott Yacht Club, just to name a few of his edible ventures.
Most recently, Joersz found himself parked in front of Boone’s Wine and Spirits on Market street in Eagle with his food truck serving cheesesteaks, Chicago-style hot dogs, and a growing local favorite, a crispy chicken slider with some fun, extravagant garnishes. However, after the lease on the food truck was up, the cheer and uniqueness of what it brought to the street disappeared.
But then, something changed. The angel on his shoulder tapped a little too hard.
“Beverly Barnes and her spouse, Don, owned the building for many years. There was a space next to her liquor store that had been vacant for the better part of the decade. She had been approached by various businesses, but she was really looking for something that complimented her store,” said Joersz.
They mutually agreed that a gourmet deli with upscale menu options and grocery items would be a great fit, especially given Eagle’s growing hunger for modernized food items: some new-ish favorites also include Color Coffee Roasters and more recent addition, the Roaming Gourmet food truck at Bonfire Brewing.
But like opening any new business, Pickled. faced challenges.
“I have aspirations, or maybe delusions, of what this place might bring to this town. We opened December 4, 2020, the height of another COVID wave. We couldn’t have the shared plates and salumi I had been envisioning. Al fresco dinning in winter sans liquor license and heaters wasn’t an option. I had to focus on what people would want to eat at home,” Joersz said.
Joersz started under the radar, with zero marketing or advertising, just word of mouth, an open sign and a grassroots social media campaign orchestrated by Miles, his son.
He stocked his freezers with frozen soups such as asparagus truffle, butternut squash coconut puree, black bean tequila, and more, progressively changing weekly. He prepared frozen family meals to go such as spicy Polidori sausage and spinach lasagna, a rotisserie chicken pot pie and beef bourguignon. And, soon, he will be able provide chef’s favorites such as foie gras, duck confit, and demi glace and house-made chicken stock.
“Looking forward to summer, I hope to add an array of sauces and compound butters for grilling season. I like cooking up small batch recipes like hummus, pesto, tabbouleh, etc. that we are playing with right now.”
The daily sandwich board included both the classics listed above and some vintage sandwiches that were new to many diners including the Louisville Hot Brown, The 312, a classic Chicago Italian hot beef with a twist, and Joersz’s version of a Monte Christo, which few people in the valley are serving.
Joersz has also brought a snippet of his favorites from along the road. There’s the mahi tacos with siracha aioli from the Yacht Club, his arugula and avocado from Balata, the Sonnenalp Club’s former restaurant, and the curried chicken salad from the Golden Eagle.
And, it’s not just the food that came along on the journey.
“From the beginning this has been a team effort. A much wiser man than myself once told me, ‘You find the right people and build everything around them.’ I’ve been blessed to have some pretty special relationships with some extremely talented front- and back-of-the-house players over the years. Miraculously, my general manager, Dave Strazan, became available and it was an instant no-brainer. He and I both have a common vision for this concept,” Joersz said.
On top of local staffing, Pickled. works to use local ingredients as well. The Bratwurst is Colorado-based, and products like local hot sauces, lavender caramels from Steamboat Springs round out offerings. As spring and summer approaches, Pickled. hopes to work with Knapp Ranch on sourcing local produce.
Families can find something for all ages at Pickled., too.
“The moms, they’re happy. We’ve got a fancy grilled cheese, ham and cheese, and already have a following for our grilled peanut butter sandwich with wild cherry jelly.”
And, to solve the pickle? How did Joersz come up with the name? He was watching “Jeopardy,” actually.
“We tried names with sheep, goat, cow and one night the category on the game show was pickled. It just made sense for a pickle to be next to a liquor store.”
And, yes, he hopes to add a pickling program this summer.
For more information, visit pickledkitchenpantry.com.