Tom and Maribeth Harrison met in 1980 while both were in the wine business in Southern California. Shortly afterward, they began to conduct monthly wine tastings, with complementing cuisine, at the wine shop/deli that Maribeth managed. Soon the tastings blossomed into requests for catering. The tastings and caterings often included Tom’s own pickled vegetables, preserves and sauces.
In 1984, the couple opened the first of their two restaurants, The Black Sheep Bistro, in Orange County, California. With Tom as Chef and Maribeth (MB to friends) overseeing the dining room, the Bistro flourished, as it does to this day under current owners, Rick and Diana Boufford.
After several years at Lake Tahoe and Carson City; and, after selling their Black Sheep Café near Virginia City, Nevada, Tom & Maribeth wound up back in the wine business in Temecula, California. There they were introduced to, and became addicted to, a delicious pickled mushroom made in Mexico. While lamenting the fact that said mushroom was not available north of the border, MB said those famous words to Tom, “Hey, Mr. Chef, I think you can make these yourself.” He succeeded, even improving on them (omitting the oil, enhancing the flavors) and began trying them out on friends.
Frog Balls come to pass
Soon Tom and MB had requests from friends to purchase cases of the mushrooms. They took this new goodie to the local farmer’s market, and to Hart Winery to test market them. Folks bought them again and again. Then one customer asked if Tom could dill pickle some Brussels Sprouts for her, and he did. The Brussels Sprouts proved popular, but they needed a proper, interesting name. Well….Tom’s little sister, Bonnie, decided when she was about six years old, that those odd green things on her dinner plate were green like a frog and round like a meatball, therefore they must be “frog balls.” Atomic Frog Balls were born. Wine-with-fruit preserves, sauces and premium stuffed olives round out Black Sheep’s line.
Long time friend and travel wizard, Bob Singh, founder and CEO of Pinnacle Travel Service, gently but persistently urged Tom and MB to grow with these and other new products. Now a Black Sheep partner, Bob serves Black Sheep well as financial advisor, sounding board, constructive critic, fellow food-a-holic and treasured friend. Thanks go to MB’s close childhood friend, Marlene (Bob’s wife) for introducing all of us way back when!
Let us serve your needs
For any and all of your travel needs, from specialty cruises to total travel packages, be sure to visit Pinnacle Travel Service’s very user-friendly site at this link. www.pintrav.com
For tasty gourmet treats, recipes and wine suggestions, please continue on to our on-line store and our constantly growing recipe section. If you have, or think up, a recipe or usage idea, please share with us! A great number of our listed ideas are from customers and friends. We have tried them all and recommend them highly. We offer shipping for yourself, gift giving, including free gift cards, corporate gifts to multiple addresses and more. Call us for your custom needs, or with questions about recipes, wines, food in general or just to chat. Bon Appetit, et Bon Voyage! Tom, MB, Bob & "Leeni"