"We're making couture for your insides," Spread owner Andrew Schiff responds with total commitment. It's a good, quotable answer: Spread is place to pamper your digestive system. But it's not the answer we came for. In the few weeks since Spread opened on Melrose, we've become increasingly convinced that it is a sex food shop. The little jars of spread, which are the only items sold in the shop, are meant to be eaten off your partner's body during sexy times, right? We're looking for confirmation. And in case he answers to the affirmative, a high five.
Consider the evidence. First, it's called Spread. In noun form it can be something to put on toast, like Vegemite; in verb form, something you do with your legs in intimate situations. Second, the phrase "edible innuendo," is printed across the window (in a bold white font not unlike that at Thread, the hair removal salon two doors down). From the Latin innuendum, meaning to hint, it's most commonly coupled with "sexual," referring to dirty double talk. (Naming your body butter shop "Spread" would be a good example of this.)
Schiff is unphased by the facts. He's a pro. The kind of guy who makes tag lines sound conversational and never goes off book. He explains that Spread is the name of the restaurant and private dining club he and his wife Robin own in San Diego. That Tyler Florence gushed about a certain creamy white chocolate pretzel spread of theirs on the Food Network's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Nutty." That he has many high end clients, including actors and actresses, business executives and chefs. And that outside of their San Diego location and the internet, the L.A. pop up is the only other place you can get their signature spreads.
Schiff uses phrases like "internal landscaping" and "culinary conscious revolution" with complete earnestness while simultaneously opening a few of his small 4 oz. jars labeled with hot pink lettering. He offers tiny spoonfuls of spread and says, "If you don't like it, it's you." Luckily, we do like it. It's like peanut butter plus.
Actually, it is peanut butter plus. Every spread is 92% peanut or almond, with a bit of something different added to each. There are more than 130 flavors of spread in total, including dark-chocolate-curry peanut spread, "Cannabis Kissed" chocolate peanut spread, butterscotch-almond butter, and gold and dark chocolate peanut spread, which is made with 23K edible gold. All are hand-mashed and organic.
Still, it's hard to imagine these spreads used like conventional peanut or almond butter, paired with jelly and bread or packed into celery boats and topped with raisins, especially at $10 per 4 oz. jar. Schiff shows us the little gold spoons he's thinking about adding to shop's inventory. "It's about conditioning people to enjoy bites of excellence," he says. A tiny spoon offers a certain kind of perspective that can resonate beyond your diet and into your world view. It invites questions about what is essential and what isn't, and how much we really need.
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But wait, did he just say these are nut spreads?! We cut the double talk. How exactly do you use it? "The uses," Schiff says, "are up for liberal interpretation." Message received: Spread on the nut butter and enjoy! In moderation.
Spread: 7350 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036