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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for October, 2007

WINE: Beauties From Calabria and Puglia

Last night we went to a tasting of Southern Italian wines from Winebow, an importer and distributer of premium wines from Italy, Spain and South America. You can pretty much never go wrong with a Winebow import. Company founder Leonardo LoCascio, who presented the wines, has the passion and palate to represent only well-made wines from family-owned properties. All of the wines were good, some memorable, and most were priced for everyday enjoyment at $10 to $15. We fell for two wines from grapes we never heard of (but like most people, we know little about the wines from this region). Gravello IGT* Val di Neto 2005 is a “Super Calabrian” wine, a new blend of 60% Gaglioppo, a grape indigenous to Calabria, and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, an expensive import from France that adds depth, character and cost (and the title “Super,” which began in the 1980s with the Super Tuscan blends). The wine is aged for three years, of which 18 to 24 months is spent in Allier barriques, the fine oak barrels used to age Bordeaux. Drinking beautifully now, this wine has serious plummy fruit and a finish that lasted for about 10 minutes. It’s worth every cent of the $32.00 retail. For almost a third the price and equally as impressive, the rustic-style Salice Salentino Rosso Riserva DOC 2003 from Puglia (the heel of Italy’s “boot”) was spicy, earthy and sensual. It’s a blend of Negroamaro and a small amount of Malvasia Nera. Five days of maceration with the skins has extracted beautiful color plus black cherry and dried fruits—prune, raisin—plus lead pencil nuances found in some great Bordeaux. In fact, the wine is aged for two years, and 20% of it is refined in French barriques of Allier, Nevers and Tronçais oak. It’s a beautiful food wine for roasted and grilled dishes, as well as pizza, for those of us who think that “pizza wine” should be as good as “filet mignon wine.” Both wines are available nationwide. At these prices, we’re buying a case of the Gravello and two of the Salice Salentino—which for $12 makes a great stocking stuffer.   Gravello Val di Neto
Gravello Val di Neto from Calabria: beautiful fruit, complexity and length.
*IGT, Indicazione Geografica Tipica, indicates a geopgraphic area but is not as strict as the DOC classification, which specifies permitted grape varieties, amonng other things. Many non-traditional wines such as the Super Tuscans fall into this category.

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REVIEW: Kool Freeze Kulfi Bars (Indian “Ice Cream”)

Kulfi Ice Cream
Kulfi is rich, creamy, and has less fat than ice cream.
  Kulfi, an Indian frozen dessert similar to ice cream but made without air (overrun), is now available in cool and refreshing ice cream bars. Made in California by Kool Freeze for American palates, they’re richer, creamier and less grainy than traditional kulfi. They’re also made with cow’s milk instead of water buffalo’s milk; so if you haven’t enjoyed kulfi you’ve had before, there’s a good chance you may like these bars. In exotic flavors like Chikoo, Faluda, Malai and Saffron, plus the more familiar Coconut, Mango, Pistachio and Strawberry, Kool Freeze Kulfi Bars are an experience in satisfying your sweet tooth, with a flair that transcends the typical frozen dairy bar. The bars seem very rich, despite the fact that kulfi doesn’t have high butterfat content like premium ice cream—the bars are 160 to 180 calories apiece. They’re also all-natural and certified kosher. Read the full review in THE NIBBLE online magazine. For more information on the different types of frozen desserts, read our Ice Cream Glossary.
 

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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Amano Artisan Chocolate

It takes passion, skill and guts to open a bean-to-bar chocolate factory with the goal of nationwide distribution. In this country, aside from large industrial producers, only three artisan companies have done so. The first two were Scharffen Berger, spearheaded by an entrepreneur who had launched and sold a successful Napa Valley winery to the owners of Pommery Champagne; and Seattle’s Theo Chocolate, begun by an experienced importer of cacao beans. Now, high in the Rockies, in Utah’s Wasatch Mountain range, two young men with no prior food experience are the third. Amano Artisan Chocolate is dedicated to creating some of the world’s finest chocolate bars.Most people who have dreamed of quitting their day jobs to make great chocolate would find the challenge daunting, the odds against success stacked as high as the Rocky Mountains. But, undaunted, Amano succeeded in its debut year, winning three gold medals at the 2007 San Francisco Chocolate Salon and a finalist trophy for Outstanding New Product at the Fancy Food Show. Read our full review of Amano Artisan Chocolate.   Amano Artisan Chocolate
Gold medalists.
 

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REVIEW: Devya Indian Gourmet Simmer Sauces

Tandoori Chicken
Gourmet Indian in a flash.
  If you’ve wanted to do some Indian cooking but were intimidated by the thought of Indian sauce recipes, Devya Indian Gourmet has the solution. Three simmer sauces—Butter Chicken, Channa Masala and Vegetable Curry—plus a Tandoori Chicken marinade, offer quick-and-easy preparation of Indian favorites. The spice level is authentic but appealing to Westerners. Devya is currently the only organic Indian sauce line on the market, and is also gluten-free. We’re thrilled to add Indian to our home cooking repertoire with these high-quality sauces. Read the full review in THE NIBBLE online magazine. Read about other Indian and global gourmet products in the International Section of THE NIBBLE.
 

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REVIEW: Wings Of Nature Bars

Wings Of Nature Energy BarsWe’ve tasted a lot of energy bars, but Wings Of Nature is the first line we’ve chosen to write about. Does that make it the best energy bar? Well, it sure tastes good, and it’s made of the right stuff. Gluten free, cholesterol free, trans fat free, non GMO, vegan, certified kosher and organic, the one thing these bars are full of is good taste. Four flavors have roasted coffee beans, four have dried fruits. Enjoy them for snacks and energy boosters, crumble them as dessert toppings and be creative. The only fly in the ointment is all but one of eight the bars have peanuts in the mix. While many people can have no nuts of any kind, enough people need to avoid peanuts in particular that Wings Of Nature might want to consider offering more peanut-free or nut-free varieties. Read the full review in THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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CONTEST: Brownie Gourmet Giveaway

Brownies
Win these brownies and cookies!
  You could purchase brownies like the ones in the post below. Or you could take our Brownie Trivia Quiz for a chance to win the brownie and cookie gift box at the left, in our weekly Gourmet Giveaway. You don’t have to answer the trivia questions correctly to win; but win or not, you’ll pick up some great brownie trivia. We love the prize, Solomon’s cookies and brownies—read our review. They’re even kosher. So trivia fans and brownie fans: Head on over to THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet Giveaway, take the Brownie Trivia Quiz and check out the upcoming trivia quizzes. There’s a new one each week.
 

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PRODUCT WATCH: Do-Good Brownies

Now there’s a socially-responsible reason to buy a dozen tempting brownies. When you buy them from Greyston Bakery, you can indulge both your sweet tooth and your good will—you’ll be supporting this inner-city bakery in Southwest Yonkers, New York. Profits go to community development initiatives, including low-income housing, childcare, health services and technology education, and the business provides jobs in an area where there is a high concentration of hard-to-employ individuals.   Brownie A La Mode
Ben & Jerry’s is a big supporter: The ice cream titan, known for its support of social causes, serves Greyston brownies exclusively. The delicious brownies and blondies can be ordered online at GreystonBakery.com. One dozen brownies (Blondie, Chocolate Fudge, Espresso and/or Walnut, available in individual flavors or as an assortment) are $32. The brownies, made of top-quality ingredients, are sweet and buttery. We especially enjoyed the blondies.

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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: John & Kira’s Chocolate Fig Confections

Chocolate Pumpkins - John & Kira’s
Little figs filled, with clove ganache and enrobed in chocolate.
  Halloween is just days away. While there may be some who hanker for the miniature candy bars of youth, we have a much better recommendation. One of the delights we look forward to each fall is a box of chocolate-covered figs from John & Kira’s, one of our favorite artisan chocolatiers. John & Kira’s makes two variations of these confections, using sweet, fragile calabacita figs from Spain. The Fig Pumpkins, are dipped in a thin layer of white chocolate and tinted a perfect shade of pumpkin. They’re a seasonal special, but Dark Chocolate Figs are available year-round. The Fig Pumpkins are filled with a delectable whiskey clove ganache, the Dark Chocolate Figs with a pure dark chocolate ganache.
We flip for these little figgies. Putting one at each place setting at Halloween or Thanksgiving, serving them with after-dinner coffee or bringing a box to your host(ess) is certain to delight. And don’t forget to send a box to that bewitching someone special. Read the full review.

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RESTAURANTS: Bon Appétit Café Pops Up In NYC

Bon Appetit Supper Club & Cafe
Our goat cheese Caesar salad by Uber Chef Michel
Richard was memorable…but the room by David
Rockwell Associates made it even more so.
  Lunch fun, anyone? Through November 2nd, everyone in the Big Apple can take ephemeral joy in the pop-up restaurant concept from Bon Appétit magazine. Featuring fine casual cuisine from some of the nation’s top chefs, who also participate in daily demos and tastings, it’s a foodie vacation. Get to work early and break for a long lunch; watch the presentations as you enjoy your soup, salad and dessert. Or, just pop in for a quick sandwich or a cup of coffee and a brownie, and catch one 15-minute demo. Come back the next day for a completely different experience. If you can’t stay to watch, you can get your food to go.
The Café enables food enthusiasts to taste the casual fare of great chefs, see them give demos in an intimate arena, get up-close with Q&As and book signings. (The Supper Club portion is booked for private evening events). Each day, there’s a selection of noteworthy fare from chefs Govind Armstrong, Cat Cora, Emeril Lagasse, Giada De Laurentiis, Michael Mina, Michel Richard, and pastry chefs Claudia Fleming, Wil Goldfarb and Pichet Ong. There’s a free walk-around tasting on the balcony overlooking the room: Woodbridge Winery is pouring its current releases, Häagen-Dazs is sampling its excellent Reserve ice creams and Ghirardelli chocolate is offering Intense Dark chocolate line samples that go nicely with the Woodbridge reds. We had a great first day, and hope to get back as often as we can before the Café disappears into memory at the end of lunch on November 2nd. Pop in at 221 West 57th Street between Seventh Avenue and Broadway, weekdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Warning: the Daily Specials were sold out by 1 p.m., so earlier is better. For more information and a schedule of events, visit BASupperClubandCafe.com.

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PRODUCT WATCH: Périgord Truffles

Feeling rich or reckless? Hankering to buy a voluptuous gift for yourself or your BFF (best foodie friend)? The French truffle season opens the last week of November. In the Périgord, the world’s greatest black truffle region, pigs, dogs and trufflers (human truffle hunters) will beating the bushes (or more literally, the forests of great oak and chestnut trees) for the precious fungus. While most connoisseurs pledge their troth to the white Alba truffle of Italy, we have always loved cooking with the Périgord truffle (the white truffle can’t be cooked, just grated over food).   Truffle Pig
Two Périgord truffle hunters: man and pig.
QuelObjet.com flies fresh black truffles directly to the U.S. from the Périgord, and will overnight express them to your doorstep. But orders must be placed in advance: They only import what has been ordered. To learn more about truffles, read our overview article, complete with a Truffle Glossary, recipes and some beautiful truffle photos. Truffles are found four to five inches underground, growing on the roots of oaks and a few other trees. Since they can’t be seen, they need to be sniffed out. Pigs have great noses for locating truffles and will naturally root them out. But pigs love truffles as much as we do, and will swallow them on the spot if they are not restrained (and as you can see from the size, it takes a tough man to restrain a large pig). Dogs, which can be trained to find truffles, but have no interest in eating them, are the preferred scout of most trufflers. P.S. If you plan a truffle feast…please invite us.

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