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Eclectic gourmet grocer: Sacramento's Corti Bros.

July 31, 2008 |  7:00 pm

I just got my copy of Corti Brothers summer newsletter in the mail --as in snail mail. It's a simple 7-page missive in black-and-white and old-fashioned typeface. And, unlike the rest of my mail, I opened it immediately to see what uber-grocer Darrell Corti had found this time. For years, Corti, who runs his family’s Sacramento grocery store that was founded in the '40s, has been culling the world of artisanal food products. Every year he makes Capitol marmalade from the bitter orange trees that line the streets of Sacramento. He was one of the first to sell real aceto balsamico -- the kind that pours like crude oil -- oh, a couple of decades ago.
This newsletter proposes olivasecca, a new pitted dry olive “perfect for nibbling on” from Maurice Penna, who Corti describes as “California’s most innovative olive processor.” The store also has in pizzuta d’Avola, a rarely seen Sicilian almond used in pastries which has, as Corti describes it, an “intense milky flavor with a light pleasant bitter note.” If this means I can replicate the taste of Sicilian pastries, I'm there.

For a long time too he’s offered Ardoino Biancardo, a very late-harvest olive oil from Liguria, when it’s available. (It’s not possible to make the silky smooth oil every year.) But what most interests me at the moment is his Consorcio tuna. The filetti (loins) are ideal for making a salade Niçoise or an Italian-style salad of tuna and beans. We’re talking tinned tuna, not fresh, and major flavor.
See for yourself what Corti Brothers has to offer. All I know is that Darrell Corti is one of the most erudite people I have ever met, and when he says something is top quality, he knows what he’s talking about.
Corti Brothers, P.O. Box 191358, 5810 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95819; (916) 736-3800; www.cortibros.biz.

-- S. Irene Virbila