Turning to sales of more shelf-stable groceries has been one way restaurants are riding out the pandemic, and now we're seeing some new and expanded offerings from two businesses in the local food industry.

Sesame Collective, the restaurant group that includes Mediterranean Exploration Company, Shalom Y'all, Yalla and Bless Your Heart Burgers, launched a line of ready-made snacks last week inspired by ingredients that hail from countries surrounding the intercontinental sea.

The initial offering of jarred dips and dressings includes a creamy and simple hummus made of only chickpeas, garlic, tahini and lemon; a Green S'hug hot sauce composed of Anaheim, jalapeño and serrano peppers; and a shakshuka base that's ready to pour into the pan with poached eggs.

Sesame Collective’s current snack lineup includes Green S’hug, Roasted Eggplant, Hummus, Shakshuka, Beet Tahina and Turkish Coffee Sugar.
Sesame Collective’s current snack lineup includes Green S’hug, Roasted Eggplant, Hummus, Shakshuka, Beet Tahina and Turkish Coffee Sugar.

For anyone who didn't end up mastering chef skills while in lockdown over the past year, chef Kasey Mills will begin filming cooking demonstrations using the products—at least one challenge he promises to tackle is preparing a whole meal out of eggplant dip. The clips will be uploaded to the restaurant group's Instagram and YouTube platforms. You can order the groceries online for pickup at the Shalom Y'all on Southeast Taylor Street.

Meanwhile, Kachka has used the last year or so to ramp up its baking program. After chef Bonnie Morales noticed the Portland area had a shortage of Eastern European-inspired baked goods, she began making traditional breads that weren't available fresh from the oven anywhere else in the city in 2019.

Now sous chef Sophia Jackson is leading the operation, which just rolled out Piroshki Boxes that include six pillowy buns in assorted flavors, both savory and sweet. You can also buy them individually or to take and bake at home from Kachka's website.

Assorted piroshki from Kachka Lavka. Photo by Caitlin Collins.
Assorted piroshki from Kachka Lavka. Photo by Caitlin Collins.