If you’ve ever driven past the Hobbit House with the water wheel on High School Road, you may have noticed the tiny house near the road.
The pint-sized Hobbit House Gourmet is drawing attention for providing locally sourced treats such as rhubarb jam or pickled Brussels Sprouts from the glorified roadside stand.
This mini gourmet store is the creation of chef “Perky Paul” Siegel, who keeps the 24-hour, storybook shop stocked to the rafters with jams, sauces, salsas, pestos, pickled preserves and more that are all-natural and locally sourced. It’s a little culinary gem sought out by visitors who learn about it by word-of-mouth or social media.
Siegel has been living in the Hobbit House for 4½ years and said he started it to save his sanity, and the gourmet boutique has become a fun side hustle. About five years ago, he said he needed a project to improve his mental health after going through a divorce. “So, I started pickling everything and then I called it Paul’s Pickled Produce.”
One of his favorite items is the pickled Brussels Sprouts that have a little bit of spice, but a customer favorite that draws rave reviews is the Jalapeno Cilantro Pesto. One customer purchased $150 worth and left a review on Venmo, “your pesto is amazing!” Another customer recommends using it on popcorn and baked potatoes. “It’s got a lot of kick,” Seigel said.
People leave funny messages about their favorite products on the little blackboard at the pay station, “Pesto is crack” and “Pump up the jam!” Most items are $10 and payments are made through the honor system with cash, checks or Venmo.
The branding of his product label has gone through a few iterations from Perky Paul’s Produce to Paul’s Pickled to Paul’s Gourmet and finally settled on Perky Paul’s, which everyone seems to like.
There are also free takeaways to lighten your mood like: temporary tattoos for kids, “Stay Perky” stickers and cards that say, “Enjoy produce responsibly.”
Perky Paul has a sense of humor as he calls himself the head hobbit and distributes his products at Crimson Cove in Poulsbo and as far away as Stew Leonard’s in Connecticut. He enjoys giving funny names to products that make people laugh, like Radical Radishes.
One especially enlivening product is the Vanilla or Lemongrass Medicinal Air, which he developed after visiting a salt air mist park in Konstancin-Jeziorna, a health resort district near Warsaw, Poland.
“You head out to the park and just sit there, and every five minutes the whole park fills up with mist, and you just inhale it. It’s great for your skin, hair and sinuses.”