Mayor Kevin Johnson recently proclaimed Sacramento the nation's "farm to fork capital" but Peter Potter Weber already knew that.
A year ago, he opened Potter's Crackers on 12th Street on the edge of downtown and began baking fresh, organic and seriously good crackers precisely for that reason. Nearly all of the ingredients to make great crackers are available a short drive away.
The onions, the olives, the rosemary they're all local. The premium flour is from Giusto's in San Francisco. Even the pumpkins were roasted in-house and used in the seasonal pumpkin- flavored cracker.
"A lot of crackers are over-processed," Weber said during a break at the bakery. "We're not quite perfect yet. We can't source every ingredient from within a hundred miles, but we're pretty darn close, and we'll get there."
How good are the crackers? Corti Brothers, known as a key tastemaker throughout the region, tried some samples and signed up to stock several varieties.
"We taste a lot of things, and we can't be everything to everybody, but this is a very good product," said Rick Minderman, store director at Corti Brothers. "This is a good cracker to have with cheese and it's a very good cracker to have with spreads."
Minderman sees these crackers filling a niche market for the discerning food, wine and beer enthusiast. He said the two gluten-free flavors roasted garlic and toasted oat were perhaps the best gluten-free products he's ever tasted.
"There is this ongoing renaissance we've been experiencing in food and drink," he said. "Knowledge of food and drink allows you to entertain. This cracker fits in that groove of, 'Wow! Maybe I'm not going to buy them every week, but I'm going to buy them for special occasions.' "
A small package of Potter's Crackers retails for $4 to $8, depending on the retail outlet, and Weber himself realizes they're not for everyone.
"We're definitely making the specialty stuff," he said. "For people who are drinking that $40 bottle of wine with a nice block of cheese, we want to make sure there's a cracker that matches that."
Potter's Crackers has eight employees in Sacramento and, though it is not now hiring, hopes to expand to 15. The original Potter's Crackers in Milwaukee started five years ago when Potter was still an undergraduate, and is now run by his mother, Nancy Potter.
Weber, 29, earned his MBA last year at UC Davis and soon determined there was a market for a Northern California version of his gourmet crackers.
"We opened the cracker kitchen here because we saw a disconnect," he said. "There were all these great wines and great cheeses, but I didn't really see great organic crackers."
In addition to Corti Brothers, the crackers are sold at Nugget Markets, Taylor's Market, Compton's Market, the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op and the Davis Food Co-op.
The best-seller is the caramelized onion cracker. There are 11 other varieties, including toasted sesame, six seed, California olive and orange graham. Nearly all of the cracker flavors are made with 100 percent whole wheat stone-ground flour.