John Gallagher is a pretzel perfectionist. “I just love pretzels,” he says. “I love the way they taste and I love the way they smell.”
Dissatisfied with the state of mass produced soft pretzels, the Rockville Centre resident set out to roll and bake the best pretzel he’d ever tasted. Gallagher’s do-it-yourself spirit inspired him to create the South Shore Pretzel Company. Now, he’s rolling pretzels on weeknights and selling his creations on weekends at local farmers markets.
It took time for Gallagher to come up with a winning recipe wrapped in a perfectly shaped pretzel. He played with temperature, procedures and ratios. “It was about two-and-a-half years of tinkering,” he says.
The South Shore Pretzel Company offers traditional German-style pretzel rolls, known as Laugenbrotchen, in varieties that include Sea Salt, Sea Salt & Sesame, Baked Mustard & Poppy and Cinnamon & Brown Sugar. Gallagher’s more inventive savory varieties are topped with Basil Pesto, Parmesan and Oregano, Pepperoni Mozzarella and Bacon Cheddar.
Gallagher says part of a pretzel’s appeal is visual. South Shore Pretzels are a handful, and feature three substantial twists at the center. “It should look chewy and worth grabbing,” he says. “It should look like something you can wrestle with.”
These days, Gallagher hand twists more than 1,500 pretzels a month. Craving the perfect accompaniment, he also invented a handcrafted line of Farmers Market Mustards – Original Grain and Yellow Beer Mustard.
What goes better with pretzels than mustard?” asks Gallagher.
He admits to indulging in a bit of “self-sampling” as he develops new varieties. “Everything I put out is what I would eat,” he says. “That’s what keeps me going. That’s part of the joy of it.”
South Short Pretzel Company
Rockville Centre, NY
T.W. Barritt blogs at culinarytypes.blogspot.com.