Think gourmet food store where all of the food products are freshly made on-premises daily. That’s Condiment, the Market’s newest vendor, which opened last month. Condiment’s co-owners Elizabeth Halen and Jason Wagner have done their homework and have yet to find another store like theirs anywhere in the country. If you’ve had trouble figuring out how best to access Condiment, we are going to fix that with this brief introduction to their products and services and how it all works.
At its most basic, Condiment is a place to buy fresh, high-quality versions of familiar foods like butter, mayonnaise, salad dressing, salsa, jams, cookie dough, and barbecue and dessert sauces to use in the usual ways. Says Halen: “We make them exactly the way you would make them if you had endless amounts of time, the way everyone made them years ago,” that is, from scratch without preservatives or artificial ingredients.
But it’s much more than that if you:
• Ask to see one of their product books. These contain ingredient lists as well as less-obvious ideas on what you can do with what they sell. That book suggests subbing their pistachio pesto for red sauce on pizza, and mixing it into scrambled eggs as well as putting it on pasta. Ice cream might be your first thought upon seeing their salted caramel sauce. But “the book” suggests it would also work well on a cheese plate, as a filling for cookies and cupcakes and as a topping for yogurt or pancakes.
• Look for the two recipes of the day previewed on their Instagram and Facebook pages but only posted at the stand. These feature the usual ingredient lists and instructions but also where in the Market you can get the (non-Condiment) ingredients. Neither of those current recipes appeal? Ask to see the archive of recipes from when Condiment first opened -- Buffalo chicken sandwiches, Italian stuffed- zucchini, pasta with spicy meatballs, and roasted broccoli cheddar soup, among them.
(FYI: The stand also sources its products from other Market merchants as much as possible, including, in some cases, sustainably repurposing waste. They use The Original Turkey carcasses to make their turkey stock, for instance.)
• Get a head start on your dinner prep by having Condiment marinate the meat, fish or chicken you buy from another Market merchant in one of their dressings or sauces. They will put both products in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag and store it in one of their refrigerators while you finish shopping.
• What you see in their refrigerator cases is not all they have. Condiment’s biscuit dough is stored in a freezer -- as are stocks and some jams and curds (to extend the availability of out-of-season fruits). Little signs atop the stand’s front window tell you what’s back there.
• Check out the fresh herb “mix-ins of the day” (listed on the window in the front of the stand). These allow you to customize their butter and mayonnaise and really just about anything they sell. (Garlic-thyme hummus? Why not?) In the case of butter, Condiment employees work the ingredients in on a refrigerated marble slab Cold Stone Creamery-style while you wait.
• Posted prices generally range between $3 and $8 per 8-ounce portion but you can buy as much or as little as you want (thus cutting down on waste and making the offerings affordable for singles and small families).
• Afraid their Sambal Oolek might be too hot? Ask for a taste. It’s expected, nay, encouraged.
• Having a game-day party? Halen suggests tossing some baked or fried chicken wings with their Buffalo, spicy sweet chili or Fra Diavolo sauces or serving one of their salsas or dips (hummus, pimento or their best-selling roasted eggplant) with their own crackers or chips from 12th Street Cantina or Jonathan Best.
• Condiment naturals for Thanksgiving include (the much-feared) turkey gravy, cranberry sauce, jam, and pie crusts (available already rolled out or in a ball).
Don’t have the time to shop more than one Market stand? Hang on. Condiment will eventually also offer meal kits of Market produce, protein and their own sauces and recipes, and, sometime even further in the future, precooked dishes that will simply require reheating.
Condiment is located at the west end of Center Court, and is open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun. 215-574-7698, www.condimentphl.com.
Carolyn Wyman is the Market's news correspondent and operator of the Reading Terminal's bi-weekly Taste of Philadelphia Food Tour (www.tasteofphillyfoodtour.com).