Robyn Samra loves pickles. What started in 1995 as a small pickling business has grown into a large mail order, farmers market and brick and mortar store known as Pickle Licious. Samra knows customers by name along with their pickle preferences and can size up a new pickle customer pretty quickly, nimbly directing him to the appropriate samples to suit taste buds with a hankering for spicy and hot. For Samra, it’s all about loving what she does, keeping her product’s quality consistent and making sure customers are happy. She seems to be getting high marks on all fronts.
While you can find Picklelicious pickled products at multiple NY and NJ farmers markets and the products can be shipped anywhere, in my view nothing beats visiting the Teaneck shop to personally sample items. The shop has the widest array of products available for sampling, more so than what you would find at a farmers market. That’s how I discovered Sweet Horseradish Chips ($5 pint) which is a flavor I dream about: a subtle hint of sweetness which balances an assertive horseradish punch, delivered in a crunchy half-inch thick chip. I love pickles and am equally happy with new, half or full sour pickles.
I found Picklelicious years ago when I lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and Robyn and her first husband and partner had a storefront on Amsterdam Avenue. The shop closed years ago, but like its current Teaneck sister, had an old world feel, with shelves groaning with mustards, chocolates, candy and pretzels. The Teaneck store has all this plus an expanded array of house made goodies, ranging from multiple creamy flavored hummus varieties to delicious tapenades (think olive paste with a hint of garlic, perfect for tossing with pasta or spreading on a baguette before layering on cheese, meats and veggies.) Pickled condiments like mushrooms, chopped celery, giardiniera and several varieties of peppers, tomatoes and of course, sauerkraut are on their own worth a visit to the shop, pickles aside. (But of course, you wouldn’t want to miss out on the pickles.)
In business for 18 years, Samra is self-taught in the school of pickling, starting the business after years of waitressing and wanting to provide a top-rate product that she could produce year-round. She now goes through tens of thousands of pickles each month, manning the operation with her team of equally customer satisfaction obsessed staffers and the occasional help of her second husband Ray and her two grown daughters. This is a local business I encourage you to patronize, not only because the products are top-rate, but because it is woman-owned and the real deal. Samra’s brine is spices and garlic. Her approach to brining produces pickles that have a deeply authentic flavor and crunch and her non-pickle products are equally delicious.
My suggestion to those looking to give meaningful hostess gifts? Give pickles. Skip the bottle of wine or fancy flowers and consider a trip to Pickle Licious for a walk down memory lane. (Pickles are low calorie and pickle juice is known to be a coach’s favorite for treating athletes’ leg cramps.)
Pickle Licious is at 384 Cedar Lane, Teaneck, NJ. 201-833-0100. www.picklelicious.com Visit the website for a listing of farmers markets, shoppes and restaurants where the products are sold. The store in Teaneck is closed Saturdays, but open Sunday through Friday.