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Friends+Stories

A Chat with Laurie Crowell
Owner of Golden Fig Fine Foods + A Giveaway!

Laurie Crowell is one busy lady! The Golden Fig Fine Foods owner has been selling specialty foods since her early twenties when she worked at the well known East Hampton foodie destination, The Barefoot Contessa. Laurie’s passion for fine foods and great ingredients did not stop after leaving East Hampton, and a few important rules about food have helped to shape her career:  Keep it Simple, keep it local, and, keep it delicious. Following these rules has guided Laurie as she has built a career that began with her bottling and selling her own uniquely infused vinegar all over the Twin Cities, to eventually opening her popular fine foods store, The Golden Fig, which is located in the heart of Saint Paul, Minnesota’s premier shopping district on Grand Avenue.

Recently I caught up with Laurie to ask her a few questions about her background, her food philosophy, her favorite cookbooks, plus a few tips for busy moms and home cooks!


You launched your Golden Fig Line Products in 1996 with infused vinegar. Why did you decide that infused vinegar would be your brand’s starting point?
Many years ago I went to a vinegar making class with Harvey McLain and Pam Sherman from Turtle Bread Co. After the class Harvey said “those look great! Make some for the shop [McLain’s Bakery, Turtle Bread Co.]”. I did and the rest is history!

What tips do you offer people when they ask you how to use infused vinegar?
I say any recipe you have calling for oil, swap out one teaspoon of the oil for one teaspoon of the flavored vinegar. The oil coats your taste buds a little, so, replacing it with a flavor enhancer like vinegar is a great way to cut a few calories and boost your flavor tenfold.

Twenty years later your product line is huge, offering over 45 herb blends, seasoning salts, spices and beverage mixes. Where do you draw inspiration for these combinations?
Most of the products came out of buying something similar and getting home and being disappointed with what it actually tasted like. I thought “I can do this better!”

What makes Golden Fig Products different from the more mainstream spice blends and mixes that can be found at most super markets?
We blend and bottle them fresh every week so the flavor is quite superior to what you pick up in the grocery that many times is quite old when you buy it.

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After 10 Years of selling your products around the Twin Cities at places like The Saint Paul Farmers Market and The Turtle Bread Co., what compelled you to open your store?
I had been selling at the St. Paul Farmers Market for several years and realized outside of market season, there was really nowhere to buy many of those products. This was before many of the mainstream groceries started offering local, so there really was a blank space in the market.

In the beginning your mission was to focus on products created in Minnesota by Minnesotans, but it is now starting to shift. Can you explain this change?
Now that mainstream groceries have caught up with us on realizing the importance of supporting and offering local, we have found we can’t compete with them sometimes in the price department. They are ordering in much bigger quantities than our little shop so they often get better price points. We still remain heavily focused on local and instead of offering someone’s whole line, we now offer our very favorite of what that producer is making. Those spots of extra shelf space are now filled with other USA made goodies, many are items that don’t have anyone locally producing it so we aren’t overlooking the local producer, we are simply educating and introducing shoppers to some other great artisan producers and makers that are US based.

How do you decide which products make the cut and earn a spot on your shelves?
A LOT of effort goes into choosing every single items that ends up on our shelve…we factor in…taste, ingredients, and packaging. We don’t have anything in the shop that has hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, or, artificial flavors. We really try to seek out items in glass vs plastic. We consider the sustainability and necessity of the product.

Laurie, before we go I’m going to ask you a few quickfire questions, please share with us the first answers that comes to mind!

As a busy business owner, wife, and mother of two young boys what 3 meals do you recommend mastering for other busy mom’s who want to get dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less?

Chicken Picatta
Sausage and Parmesan Pasta
Grass Fed Burgers with Oven Fries

Recently President Obama visited your store (AMAZING!!)
What 3 Things Do You Remember Most From That Day?
How genuine he seemed
Our discussion on the importance of kids knowing where food comes from
The hello hug he gave me (WHAT!! I know right!!) PS – he smells great :)

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What are your 3 favorite cookbooks?
The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
Mark Bittman How To Cook Everything
Rose Levy Beranbaum Baking Bible

What are your 3 favorite items that you sell in the store?
Pumpkin Seed Salsa from American Spoon Foods
Raspberry Chambord Jam from Heath Glen Farms
Golden Fig Basil Balsamic.

If you could offer 3 pieces of advice for home cooks what would they be?
Don’t use a lot of ingredients
Use good ingredients
The more you cook the better you will get

Feature Shot Photo Credit:  Unser Imagery
Additional Photos: Courtesy of Golden Fig Fine Foods


A GIVEAWAY WITH GOLDEN FIG FINE FOODS
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Because I think The Golden Fig is such a fabulous store, I want you to enjoy some of the great treats it has to offer. 2 lucky winners will get a set of Laurie’s favorite items that she shared with us in the interview. In order to be eligible to win these three items I need you to follow a couple of steps:

Leave a comment in the comments section below. THIS is how you will be entered into the drawing for the give away.

You have from Sunday, March 20, 2016 until Sunday, March 27, 2016 to put your name into the drawing, submissions close at Midnight on Monday, March 28, 2016.

Enter your email address when requested for it, this is how I will contact you if you win!

Winners will be contacted via email and shared on Social Media the week of March 28, 2016

Last request, please tell a friend about A Pinch of Lemon! This is of course not necessary to win, but it would be super awesome to have your help in introducing more readers to the blog! You can spread the word by sharing my Facebook Page, Tweeting, Instagramming, Pinning, and of course, a good old fashioned email works too!

Thank you for reading A Pinch of Lemon and thank you for sharing with your friends!!

Additional Terms and Conditions For The Golden Fig Giveaway

One comment per person – multiple entries will be discarded
Two winners will be chosen at random and notified via email the week of March 28, 2016
Winners will have two business days to claim their prizes, via email
Void where prohibited


TODAY Show Dreams!

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Friends! I am in a contest for a chance to cook on the TODAY Show! I sure could use your help to get there though! It is super simple! I just need your votes! If you think that I would be a fun segment on the show, and would have a great time hanging out with some of the most fun TV Hosts in America please vote! All you have to do is click on this link and click on the words “VOTE UP!” which are located just below the title! Thank you so much for supporting my dream to share my recipes on national TV! xo

 

 

 

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83 Comments

  • Reply Sandi March 20, 2016 at 7:59 am

    What a fantastic offer! The Golden Fig is truly a lovely shop!

  • Reply june March 20, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    Thanks for featuring Laurie and the Golden Fig. She is as genuine as her picture shows and her shop is
    divine. So fortunate to have her in the Twin Cities.

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 20, 2016 at 10:25 pm

      June, I couldn’t agree more!

  • Reply Shaun Norelius March 20, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    First off, I love your blog and what a great article about Laurie. So lucky to have The Golden Fig in St Paul!!

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 20, 2016 at 10:23 pm

      Shaun, thank you so much for reading! Yes, I couldn’t agree more. Laurie and “The Fig” are such great treasures!! I adore them both!!

  • Reply JoAnn Manthey March 21, 2016 at 7:13 am

    The Golden Fig is a super spot to get interesting ingredients to perk up my own menus but also to get a unique hostess, housewarming, new kitchen remodel, holiday of any kind gift. Thank you….

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 21, 2016 at 9:15 am

      Jo Ann! Yes it is! I am always struck by both the store’s edible treats and non-edibles!

  • Reply Shawn egli March 21, 2016 at 9:42 am

    Love to treat my wife with stuff from the golden fig

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 21, 2016 at 10:58 pm

      Lucky lady! :)

  • Reply Fayne Petersen March 21, 2016 at 9:47 am

    Love Golden Fig products. I have been using them for a long time. Will be following your blog from now on. It’s great.

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 21, 2016 at 10:58 pm

      So happy to see how many fans Laurie and The Fig have! Thank you for checking out the blog, I am loving it!! :)

  • Reply Nancy Donnelly March 21, 2016 at 10:09 am

    Never been to your store but Antigoni and her mom are long time friends. I want to visit your store as Antigoni says wonderful things about it. And probably lunch on Grand Avenue!

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 21, 2016 at 10:57 pm

      Nancy, you will LOVE it!! I can’t believe you haven’t been there yet! When you do make it down you, mom and I should all have lunch together on Grand!

  • Reply Deena Barker March 21, 2016 at 10:10 am

    One of my all time favorite places to browse on a lazy day. I always go home with inspiration and a full bag.

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 21, 2016 at 10:56 pm

      OMG! We should plan a lunch date to shop at The Fig and then go across the street to Brassa or Punch for lunch! What fun!!

  • Reply Debra Neu March 21, 2016 at 10:16 am

    Love the Golden Fig ~ wishing there was one in Bloomington (hint! hint!) – Love using her items in my recipes and of course, seeing both of you on Twin Cities Live :)

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 21, 2016 at 10:55 pm

      You will have to plan a fun afternoon on Grand Ave, with a long stop in the Golden Fig :) Thanks for supporting Laurie, and thanks for watching us on the show :)

  • Reply Carrie March 21, 2016 at 10:37 am

    Absolutely love Golden Fig!

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 21, 2016 at 10:53 pm

      Me too :)

  • Reply Jenna March 21, 2016 at 10:37 am

    Do they have pizza seasoning at the Golden Fig? I’ve been trying to get my hands on a good one for awhile now! Not the seasoning for inside the dough but seasoning to add to the pizza sauce to give it a little oomph!

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 21, 2016 at 10:54 pm

      Jenna….with 45 different spice blends, I am certain that Laurie will have the perfect option for you! We will need to make an exploratory adventure over there one day soon to check it out!

    • Reply Laurie Crowell March 22, 2016 at 10:31 am

      I use our Mediterranean Herbs whenever we whip up pizzas.. it’s a yummy blend of oregano, basil, lemon zest, sun dried tomatoes etc. Stop in to the shop and check it out…we even have a bottle open for sniffs :)

      • Reply sanderantigoni March 22, 2016 at 1:39 pm

        Laurie that is EXACTLY what I told Jenna too!! :)

  • Reply Janet Beddow March 21, 2016 at 10:40 am

    Your variety of finishing salts are amazing. Chocolate is my absolute favorite!

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 21, 2016 at 10:52 pm

      I will have to try that one!!!!

  • Reply Jeanette March 21, 2016 at 10:43 am

    I watch both of you on TCL and always enjoy your recipes and tips tremendously.

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 21, 2016 at 10:52 pm

      Thank you so much, Jeanette! We love being part of the show :)

  • Reply Teri Carey March 21, 2016 at 11:35 am

    Love Golden Fig, only wish I lived closer!

  • Reply Melinda Bianchet March 21, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    This store sounds fabulous, I will have to make a trip!

  • Reply Heather Scavo March 21, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    I’m hooked on The Golden Fig and even though I no longer live in the area I still order online. I miss the market days too!

  • Reply Becky Egeland March 21, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    Thanks for sharing your favorite three cookbooks! Now I have to buy them. Cookbooks are my guilty pleasure – I have way more that I need – but I need them ALL. 😉

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 21, 2016 at 10:51 pm

      Becky, me too! Me too! I could buy a dozen a week if I was not careful!

  • Reply LoAnn Mockler March 21, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    Laurie and the Golden Fig are both faves! She’s a great supporter of local (especially women) entrepreneurs.

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 21, 2016 at 10:51 pm

      She is indeed! Such a cool lady!

  • Reply beth salzl March 21, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    What I love about golden fig is the things you find you didn’t know were made and then you get them home. You wonder how I did live without it.

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 21, 2016 at 10:50 pm

      The surprises in there are endless!

  • Reply Pete March 21, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    Great store and story.

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 21, 2016 at 10:49 pm

      :)

  • Reply Elizabeth Winkel March 21, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    I love your store and I have told many people about it, or have been asked where I got this, and I tell them, The Golden Fig on Grand. Thank you for all the fine items you provide. And you got to meet President Obama, I wish I had been in that day, lucky!!

  • Reply Erika white March 21, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    First time hearing of this! Sounds wonderful!!
    Can’t wait to try

  • Reply Lisa March 21, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    Truly a treasure! Love seeing appearances on TCL as well😊

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 21, 2016 at 10:48 pm

      It really is! And Laurie and I both LOVE being part of the TCL Team! It is so fun!

  • Reply Abbie Katrina March 21, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    This is the first time I’ve heard of Golden Fig. I’ll definitely have to check out the products! Fresh spices from a local company sound amazing!

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 21, 2016 at 10:48 pm

      I hope you do! They are fabulous!

  • Reply linda Melvin March 21, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    I love The Golden Fig! I love in Indiana, but anytime I get to St. paul, i make sure to get to The Golden Fig. Their Prairie Fire seasonings is amazing and makes the best chili”

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 21, 2016 at 10:47 pm

      I will have to try that spice blend, I’ve never used it! The store is dangerously close for me! Less than two miles :)

  • Reply Nicolle March 21, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    Great article, I love this store!

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 21, 2016 at 10:47 pm

      Me too! It is so great to see how many fans The Fig has!

  • Reply Britany @ Define Fettle March 22, 2016 at 8:46 am

    I’ve never heard of this store, but am ALL about minimally processed, quality and local foods. Cannot wait to check them out!

    PS — Being visited by the President… this lady is doing BIG things:)

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 22, 2016 at 9:24 am

      Britany! It is so great you will love it! And she carries yummy grassfeed meats and things that I know you would love! PS – I LOVE you blog :)

  • Reply Wendi Zelkin Rosenstein March 22, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    Hi Tig! Love all of the great foodie things you do and I am thrilled to jump in on the giveaway! Why have I never visited the Golden Fig??? I must go, whether or not I win!
    Happy Easter to you, your Mom and the rest of the fam!
    Love, W

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 23, 2016 at 8:43 am

      Hi Wendi! Thank you for keeping up with me/us! You will have come down with your mom soon!
      Love to you, your mom and rest of the family!! xoxo

  • Reply TBehr March 22, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    Golden Fig is right around the corner from me! Love stopping in and chatting with the great people who work there!

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 23, 2016 at 8:42 am

      They are genuinely ALL so nice there!!

  • Reply Teresa T March 22, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    Fun to read about TGF. I enjoy shopping for gifts at The Golden Fig as well as receiving gifts from this unique shop. I look forward to the next pinch of lemon:)

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 23, 2016 at 8:41 am

      Thanks for reading! Best of luck with the giveaway :)

  • Reply Kris Green March 22, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    I have seen The Golden Fig on Grand Ave but have never had the chance to stop. After reading this article, I will definitely be stopping there. And, would love to win some of their items to try!

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 23, 2016 at 8:41 am

      I hope you do! It is such a great way to spend a half an hour!! You will have a tough time deciding what to buy :)

  • Reply Holly March 22, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    Her 3 favorites sound amazing, but I’m always up for jam in particular 😉

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 23, 2016 at 8:40 am

      Ha ha ha! Good thing there is a jam in there :)

  • Reply Rita Forte March 23, 2016 at 6:50 am

    What a great story about an awesome business! Thank you for a great opportunity!

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 23, 2016 at 8:40 am

      Thanks for reading! Good luck :)

  • Reply Rachel March 23, 2016 at 6:50 am

    I love their basil lemonade. Perfect to mix into a summer cocktail.

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 23, 2016 at 8:39 am

      I agree! It is SO refreshing!!

  • Reply Marilyn Heroff March 23, 2016 at 9:34 am

    Golden Figs if the BEST gourmet food store in the Twin Cities!

  • Reply Laura Rapacz March 23, 2016 at 11:22 am

    Love the Golden Fig! I was just there yesterday and picked up some fun Easter goodies!

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 23, 2016 at 2:38 pm

      Yay!!!

  • Reply Jackie Flaherty March 23, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    Oops dip mix. For everything.

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 23, 2016 at 2:40 pm

      So yummy!!!

  • Reply Vunda V March 25, 2016 at 7:25 am

    what a cute store! I would love to try the spices

  • Reply Annette Cook March 26, 2016 at 8:16 am

    I hadn’t heard of your shop but it sounds lovely and I will have to stop in since I work in Saint Paul. I hope you get your chance to cook on the Today show. What an opportunity! !! Good luck to you and thanks for the info on your shop! I love to cook and explore new things.

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 26, 2016 at 9:13 am

      Annette! Good luck in the giveaway! And thank you for voting for the TODAY show!! I hope you enjoy your visit to The Fig! It’s such a delight!!!

  • Reply Annette Cook March 26, 2016 at 8:16 am

    Oops, please add me to mailing list…

  • Reply Brie Hoban March 26, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    This blog is awesome!! Light and fun to read :)

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 26, 2016 at 5:53 pm

      Thank you SO much! I am so delighted that you are enjoying it!! Good luck in the giveaway!

  • Reply Sarah P March 26, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    Thanks so much for this fun story on The Golden Fig. I absolutely love this shop and its assortment of special items. It is a weekly stop for me as my family is addicted to the Thousand Hills meat sticks!

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 26, 2016 at 5:53 pm

      Sarah! Me too! I LOVE Those meat sticks! It’s sure hard to go in there for just one thing though, I must admit!! Glad you enjoyed the story :)

  • Reply Lisa McCann March 26, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    Fig and Tig. I feel like there should be a cookbook. Ladies?

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 27, 2016 at 1:30 am

      Ooo! Now there is an idea Lisa! Good one!! :)

  • Reply Michelle Gralish March 26, 2016 at 10:14 pm

    I love The Golden Fig. Stopped by earlier this month.

  • Reply deb March 27, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    Love the Golden Fig; have known Laurie many years & was her doula when she had Connor. I love visiting her at the St. Paul & Woodbury farmer’s markets, as well as in the store. It’s always my first stop for MN foodie gifts!

    • Reply sanderantigoni March 27, 2016 at 11:15 pm

      That is SO cool!!! :)

  • Reply Cynthia Scherer March 27, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    Love The Golden Fig! I really enjoy seeing you on TCL and can’t wait to visit the store again!

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