There’s a new vendor at Haile’s Saturday Market— LEJ Pretzels—and maybe it’s my Pennsylvania heritage (80% of America’s pretzels are made in PA) that made me try their product.
I like a good soft pretzel and I don’t care whether it’s claimed to be Bavarian-style or not. The last soft pretzel was an act bordering on being a pretzel-sin. I was in Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station and I purchased a pretzel from a franchise vendor. Like other franchise products it was enough to satisfy my hunger after an overnight train ride but its flavor was mostly derived from the yellow (not dark) mustard dispensed from small single serve packets. Dry and bland best describe the pretzel.
I took one of LEJ’s full-sized “Bavarian-Style Pretzels with me when I left the Market, eschewing on-the-spot consumption using their squeeze bottle of commercial yellow mustard. To their credit, the people of LEJ happily directed customers toward Nana Pat’s mustard; a few spaces further south. Because Nana Pat is a “cottage food operation” her mustard cannot be offered by LEJ, yet. It was the presence of some Fat Tire in my refrigerator at home that clinched my decision to try a pretzel.
When I got home I put the pretzel in its brown paper bag in the oven, turned it to warm and began making a salad using some of the greens I’d gotten. By the time the oven pre-heated to 170 my salad was ready and the pretzel was at a proper overeating temperature. I added some of Nana Pat’s Fat Tire mustard and ate. One of the problems with most commercial, mall pretzels is that they are pale imitations lacking in flavor. One of the strengths of LEJ’s pretzel is its abundance of the right flavors which are derived from two sources; the basic dough that is neither too sweet nor too salty and the properly darkened “skin. “ Without the skin, a result of the Maillard reaction which turns sugars into much deeper, more complex flavors, a pretzel is little more than a piece of dough. These pretzels make the grade with the addition of mustard enhancing the flavor rather than being it.
Score a big one for LEJ Pretzels.