Guilty Pleasures

Danzeisen Dairy Makes and Sells Fresh, Flavored Butters - And We Tried Them All

The Guilty Pleasure: Fresh butter
Where to Get It: Danzeisen Dairy
Price: $6.99
What it Really Costs: Nothing at all. Butter is a health food, right?

Is there a more essential and desirable ingredient than butter? Okay - maybe salt. But, butter: It can turn an average meal into a lush masterpiece. It can transform a veggie into something melting and ethereal. It powers ultra-rich French sauces, its chemical structure causes it to literally melt in your mouth, and its richness has been known to provoke almost unreasonable levels of joy. Butter is what people talk about when they say that "food is love."

If jumbo margarine tubs or supermarket butter bars don't cut it for you, the Danzeisen Dairy Store in Laveen offers freshly made butter, which is sold in the dairy cases along with the dairy's popular glass-bottled milk. The butter is more expensive than your average supermarket butter, but worth the splurge if you're looking for something a little fresher. There are three types of butters, including a basic salted butter, and two compound butters, all of them sold in small jars that are packed tightly with the smooth, dense flavor-giving stuff.

Does it taste better than the average supermarket butter? The proof comes when you melt it onto slice of grilled or toasted bread, and it's wonderful. The salted butter is little nutty, and the dairy's rosemary garlic butter has the sweet, deep richness of garlic butter, but with a fragrant, herbal lift from the rosemary.

Then there's the cinnamon brown sugar butter, which, at first glance, may remind you of the thick, cloyingly sweet stuff smeared on shopping mall food court cinnamon buns. It's not - this butter is lightly spiced with cinnamon, and the sugar factor is kept under control. In fact, you may want the sweetness to be a little more pronounced. But it more than does the job when you're craving a softly sweet butter on your morning toast.

During lean times, or hard times, there's something about keeping a jar of fresh butter in the kitchen that can make you feel well-off, in every sense of the word. And at least for a moment, as the smooth unctuous butter slides across your palate, making everything in its path taste deeper and richer, you will be.
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Patricia Escárcega was Phoenix New Times' food critic.