Everything goes upscale eventually. Mustard long ago moved from yellow and Dijon to an array of artisan flavors. Ketchup, however, has remained mostly moribund, with only the variety of a few brand names to distinguish between otherwise indistinguishable squeezable red pastes.
Now some Bay Area boys, who are currently split between Menlo Park and New York City, are making a choice available in the form of Sir Kensington's Gourmet Scooping Ketchup. The ketchup comes in squared-off jam jars in two flavors; classic and spiced.
I love a product where you can read the ingredient label and understand everything on it. This is one. The ketchups use real sugar (raw), no high-fructose corn syrup, actual spices and apple cider vinegar: all good stuff. The boys do a comparison on their site to market leader Heinz where you can see the significantly lower levels of salt and sugar, but for all the "less" the flavor is all about "more," and they go as far as they need to to achieve it.
"We cook the ketchup with tomatoes from Northern California, and it's jarred in Amish country PA," co-founder Scott Norton tells me. "We're pretty spread out to find the best of the best."
The ketchups are chunky and thick, better for spooning than squirting, and modestly reminiscent of salsa.
The classic has a thick, fresh, tomato flavor. It's lightly sweet, with small pieces of onion.
The spiced version has a bit of heat from jalapenos, not overpowering, but clearly noticeable.
Sir Kensington's can be purchased at Bi-Rite Market and Williams-Sonoma in San Francisco, and on the Peninsula at Sigona's and Draeger's for about $6 a jar, or directly online for $25 for a four-pack (two of each flavor).