By John & Dorothy Salmon
We recently had the pleasure of dining at Heritage Eats with our pal, Tom Fuller. Heritage Eats screams “Dorothy!” It has the kind of food she loves and that John finds interesting and reminds him a little of the food he ate as a kid in Chicago! Once we found out that the owners (two, very cool, smart and nice guys) wrote their business plan in Goa, India, where our Monk friends from the Gyumed Monastery are located. We had an instantaneous bond and adopted the two owners, Benedict Koenig IV and Jason Kupper.
If you lived in Napa in 2000, you might remember that Dorothy and Diane Agaiki brought six Tibetan Monks from the Gyumed Monastery to Napa for the annual Town and Country Fair. With them came wonder, some controversy and amazingly beautiful sand mandalas, butter sculptures and genuine love and kindness. Heritage Eats felt like that when we walked in.
Heritage Eats is not your normal fast-food place. In fact, it’s nothing like that. When you drive through the Bel Aire Plaza in Napa, you can’t miss Heritage Eats with their huge celadon green signage across from Whole Foods and Copperfields book store and in between Yo Belle Yogurt and Sift.
Owners, Ben and Jason, are committed to incorporating global inspirations and philanthropy into all aspects of their business. An avid traveler, Ben spent a considerable portion of 2014 backpacking through the Middle East and Asia, tasting healthy and unique foods that inspired him to create the Heritage Eats brand. As so many young, outside-the-box thinkers, Ben has experience in the hospitality design with concept- firm AvroKO, serving as Assistant General Manager at The Thomas Restaurant in Napa. Prior to that, he worked at Goldman Sachs in New York City. A native of New Jersey, Koenig graduated with a degree in Economics from New York University.
Heritage Eats Co-Founder, Jason Kupper, is an advocate for small farms, blending local ingredients with global flavors in an approachable street-food style. Ben and Jason met when Jason was Chef de Cuisine at The Thomas in Napa where he gained experience working with heritage-bred animals. Jason is a fine-restaurant veteran, having worked at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in Yountville, Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg, and the Charlie Palmer at the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas.
Ben and Jason have created an out-of-the-box experience with fabulous, fresh, inventive, healthy food that is reasonably priced. Their signage is bold, easy to read, simple and direct, just like their food. We felt right away that they had a winner and it is very exciting to see two young entrepreneurs make it on their first try with this unique concept. Heritage Eats is expansive, upbeat, and friendly, and you can see what you are creating for lunch or dinner by watching or co-creating your meal with Heritage Eats friendly chefs. All food is locally-sourced and fresh and these guys really care about our local farmers and ranchers. Partnership IS their mantra and they have something on their menu for everyone!
We had so much fun talking with both Ben and Jason that we almost forgot that we came to try the food! So, we finally ordered our lunch. Dorothy ordered the Crispy Falafel Pita made with fresh pita bread, with crispy, chickpea falafel, crunchy cabbage slaw, hummus and lemon tahini sauce ($8.75) with a Thai iced tea ($3.75). John ordered the Jamaican Bao made with Jamaican jerk chicken on two steamed bao buns, with crunchy cabbage slaw, Asian pickle and pineapple habanero sauce ($9.95). The bao buns are amazing and made daily in house as are all their baked products except for a few other other breads that are sourced from local area bakeries.
We also ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala Wrap so that we had one more entrée that we could write about. The Chicken Tikka Masala Wrap is made with slow-cooked chicken in a sauce of tomato, coriander, yogurt and spices, in a warm, flour tortilla, stuffed with fire-grilled veggies, steamed rice and local greens ($9.95). To top off our tasting, we ordered the waffle fries ($3.75) and the sweet potato fries ($3.75) and came home with a lot of food. The waffle fries and the sweet potato fries are fabulous, as was all of the food that we tried.
Dorothy wanted to try the Vietnamese iced coffee with tapioca pearls ($5.50) because she thought it looked exotic. She loved it! That said, if you talk with her two boys, they would tell you that when they were growing up and went out to dinner at any restaurant, they would find the weirdest thing on the menu and bet that their Mom would order that!
Our friends with little kids tell us that their kids love Heritage Eats. Introducing kids to healthy, fresh, and interesting food from all over the world is a great thing to do early on. All kid meals are only $4.00. If you bring little kids to Heritage Eats, you can order a PBJ on a Dutch Crunch Roll, made with organic peanut butter and jelly! Their Grilled Cheese is also on a Dutch Crunch Roll, or kids can choose a choice of meat, toppings, and sauce or a single taco, bao bun, salad or rice bowl. For $1.00 more, you can add a fruit cup, yogurt or fries, and an apple juice or 2% milk. For a night out with kids, your friends’ kids, your grandkids, or any combination of the above; this place is reasonable and fun. Of course, if it’s not enough, there is also Yo Belle Frozen Yogurt and Sift for pies and cupcakes on either side of Heritage Eats!
We love Heritage Eats and the two, wonderful, young guys who created it. They are committed to the Napa community and to raising $25,000 for “No Kid Hungry.”
Here’s to Napa’s entrepreneurs in the restaurant business who come up with creative, unique, affordable, healthy food. Try it! You can’t miss the big green sign, and inside you will find a wonderful place with healthy food and a great atmosphere!
Potato & Pea Samosas with Cilantro-Mint Chutney
Jason Kupper | Chef and Co-Founder of Heritage Eats
8 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (Substitute Vegetable Oil for Vegan Friendly)
3 Cups All Purpose Flour
½ Teaspoon Salt
12 Tablespoons Warm Water
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the butter and work into the flour until it resembles granola or little pea size breadcrumbs. Next, add the water and mix together until the dough starts to take shape. Remove from bowl and knead it by hand until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for a minimum of one hour in the refrigerator. I often make mine ahead of time and let it chill overnight.
When ready to use the dough; lightly flour the table and shape it into small balls. It’s important to cover them with a damp towel or plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out. Roll the balls into a 6” round and then cut them in half. Pull the straight sides of the half round together to form a cone shape. Add a touch of water to the seam to help seal the cone and add the potato and pea filling (See Recipe Below). Add a touch of water to the top of the cone and fold it over to close it up entirely. At this point you can either leave it the way it is or fold the edges of the dough over into uniform pleats.
Potato & Pea Filling
8 ea Waxy Potatoes
1 Cup Fresh or Frozen Peas (Fresh in the Spring / Frozen in the Winter)
2 Tablespoons Minced Garlic
3 Tablespoons Ginger (Peeled and Finley Chopped)
1 Teaspoon Jeera Powder*
2 Tablespoons Garam Masala**
1 Teaspoon Amchur **
1 Tablespoon Ground Turmeric
1/8 Teaspoon Cayenne Chili Pepper
1 cup Finely Chopped Cilantro
1 Tablespoon Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
2 Each Red Jalapeno
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
Sea Salt to Taste As Needed
Boil potatoes in salted water until slightly soft but still firm in the center. Peel and chill in the refrigerator. Cut the potatoes into ¼ inch cubes and reserve. In a large sauté pan sweat the onion with the vegetable oil until soft and translucent. Add the ginger, garlic, jalapeno and spices. Continue to cook over low heat for 10 minutes stirring frequently. Add the potatoes, peas, and lemon juice. Continue to cook for 5 minutes or until the potatoes are heated through. Finish with the fresh chopped cilantro, cool and reserve.
¾ Cup Plain Yogurt
2 Cup Finely Chopped Garden Mint
2 Cups Finely Chopped Cilantro
2 ½ Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
½ Teaspoon Jeera Powder*
1 Pinch Black Salt To Taste****
1 Each Green Jalapeno
TIPS: *Jeera Powder is found in Indian markets and specialty ethnic shops. It is a blend of powdered cumin seed and coriander seed. If you can’t find it then mix the 2 spices together in equal parts.
**Garam Masala – Garam “hot” and Masala “a mixture of spices” is a blend of spice common in North Indian cusine. It should be easy to find but if not you can always mix together coriander, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, caraway, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg.
***Amchur is unripe or green mango fruits which have been sliced and sundried. It is sometimes seasoned with turmeric. For this recipe you’ll want to use the ground version.
*Black salt is also known as Kala Namak and is usually found in Indian markets. It starts out as Himalayan Pink salt which is heated to extremely high temperatures and mixed with Indian herbs and spices. If you can’t find it then use a good quality sea salt in its place.