Thursday, December 12, 2013
One of the most popular items at Po’ Boys & Pickles on Forest Avenue is their homemade coconut macaroons.
They are big, dome-shaped cookies that are incredibly moist on the inside, and chewy on the outside.
Over the past three years, Po’ Boys owner Peter Zinn and his staff have made more than 15,000 of them.
Many’s the time I’ve been waiting for my take-out order when another customer has approached the counter to inquire about the empty cookie display. When told all the coconut macaroons have been sold for the day, the customer’s face droops like he’s just been told there’s no Santa.
Once, a woman was so effusive about the macaroons – she said she’d lived in New Orleans, and by golly these were the best coconut macaroons she’d ever had in her life – I thought for a minute she might bow and kiss Zinn’s feet.
Well, come this spring customers won’t have to wait until their next trip to the restaurant to get their coconut macaroon fix. Zinn has decided to bring them to a wider audience by manufacturing them for local grocery stores.
The macaroons will be getting a little bit of a makeover. They’ll be a bit smaller, for one thing. They’ll be disk-shaped instead of domes. And they’ll have a brand name: Choomi. (Chew-Me. Get it?)
Zinn said the coconut macaroons, which will be called “Desert Island Coconut” on grocers’ shelves, originated at a restaurant he worked at in New York City. The cookies were used as petit fours after dinner. Zinn modified the recipe by changing some proportions and cook times. The cookies are gluten-gree, GMO-free, and contain no preservatives, artificial flavors or colors, trans fats or high-fructose corn syrup.
If the coconut macaroons do well, Zinn plans to add another flavor and eventually build a whole line of cookies around the Choomi brand. He’ll make the cookies himself at Po’ Boys & Pickles to start, and if demand increases he’ll move to a separate production facility.
If you’d like to follow Zinn’s progress bringing the macaroons to market, Choomi’s Facebook page is here.
Meredith Goad has harvested oysters on the Chesapeake Bay, eaten reindeer in Finland and sipped hot chai in the Himalayas. She writes the weekly Soup to Nuts column and enjoys a good cocktail.
Susan Axelrod's food writing career began in the kitchen; she owned a restaurant and catering business before turning to journalism more than a decade ago. To relax, she bakes, gardens and hikes with her husband and their two dogs. A newcomer to Portland, she is an online content producer for the Press Herald.
Susan can be contacted at 791-6310 or saxelrod [at] pressherald.com.
On Twitter: @susansaxelrod