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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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