THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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Archive for February, 2008

CONTEST: Hot Sauce Gourmet Giveaway

Serrano Chile
Looks pretty…but don’t take a bite, even though the serrano chile is just “medium heat.” Serranos are used in milder hot sauces.
  How hot is hot? You’ll find out if you’re the winner in THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet Giveaway this week. Just answer a few trivia questions about hot sauce—you don’t even have to answer them correctly. Everyone who enters has an equal chance of winning. The prize: A hot sauce sampler from award-winning Dave’s Gourmet, providing you with a variety of flavors and heat levels. You’ll get bottles of Original Dave’s Insanity Sauce, Dave’s Hurtin’ Habañero, Dave’s Ultimate Insanity, Dave’s Cool Cayenne and Dave’s Crazy Caribbean. All are made with the best natural ingredients. Learn more about the different types of chiles and heat levels in the Chile Glossary in THE NIBBLE online magazine. NOTE: Even after the Gourmet Giveaway is over, you can still take the quiz and learn more about hot sauce. After all, learning is its own reward.
 

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TRENDS: Olive Oil Tasting Bars

We’ve tasted hundreds of olive oils, and know that among the basic styles—mild, buttery, herbal, fruity, peppery, earthy—we like herbal and fruity flavors, but tend to avoid those cough-inducing peppery styles. Others may go straight for the pepper. But when you’re staring down a shelf of two dozen or more olive oils, you haven’t a clue as to which tastes like what. And you probably don’t have THE NIBBLE’s review of 90+ extra virgin olive oils with you. So, plunk down $15 or so, and hope for the best. But if you live in St. Louis, or other towns where olive oil tasting bars are popping up, you actually can try before you buy. Extra Virgin, an olive oil boutique that opened in October 2007, stocks 25 to 30 oils from Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Chile, Australia and the United States.   Olive Oil Tasting Bar
Now, you can try before you buy, and select the olive oil that pleases your particular palate.
The oils range from light, fruity and delicate to pungent—and you can taste each one of them to decide your personal style, pumping an amount into a paper cup or plastic spoon (23 grams, or two tablespoons daily, may reduce the risk of coronary disease…and some of these oils are so delicious, you can drink them from a spoon like a treat if you don’t like to enjoy them on salad, pasta or vegetables). The store is the second career of a retired pathologist with an undergraduate degree in nutrition and food science, who understands the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil. She also saw, while taking an olive oil sensory evaluation course at the University of California-Davis, how much different olive oils can influence dishes, from boiled potatoes and white beans to chicken and beef. Located in Clayton, Missouri, a St. Louis suburb, the store also features bulk olives from Spain, Italy, Greece and France, related specialty foods (vinegars, tapenades, pasta sauces) and gifts with olive patterns and themes (aprons, potholders, candles). If you pass by Extra Virgin or any other olive oil boutique, do stop in—not only for your own edification, but to help these wonderful ventures thrive. Give gift certificates as as gifts. Don’t forget to check out Extra Virgin’s website. E-commerce isn’t up yet, but there are recipes for granola and lemon banana bread that use EVOO. (If you haven’t had rustic cakes made with olive oil, in the Italian and Greek fashion, they’re wonderful—especially with fresh herbs like basil, thyme or rosemary added to the batter.)
– See the different flavors of olive oil on TheNibble.com.
– See how the flavors and aromas come together with this olive oil wheel.
– Clarify specific terms in our olive oil glossary.
– Read about our favorite olive oils in the Oil & Vinegar Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.
– Check out our mega-review of 90 extra virgin olive oils.

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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Tortilla Chip Day

blackbeansoup_230L

Tortilla chips are made with yellow, white
and blue corn. Riding the whole grain
nutrition wave, they’re also made in
multigrain blends. Photo courtesy Garden
of Eatin’.

 

On the heels (perhaps too close on the heels) of National Corn Chip Day (January 29th), February 24th honors one of America’s favorite snack foods, the tortilla chip.

Surprisingly, tortilla chips are not a traditional Mexican food. They were first popularized and mass produced in southwestern Los Angeles in the late 1940s by Rebecca Webb Carranza, who, with her husband, owned a Mexican deli and tortilla factory.

Misshapen tortillas were rejected from the tortilla manufacturing machine, and she turned them into chips—cutting them into triangles, frying them and selling them in snack-size bags.

Needless to say, they sold well, and became a popular appetizer in Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants in California. They expanded beyond California in a big way in the late 1970s, with the growth of Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants, replacing corn chips like Fritos as America’s favorite corn chip snack.

As we mentioned in our post on corn chips, the main difference between the two types of chip is that a tortilla chip is cut from a whole tortilla, and a corn chip is corn meal processed into a particular shape.

 

  • See our favorite gourmet tortilla chips.
  • Make this tortilla soup recipe—a favorite Mexican dish, blending chicken, corn and tortilla chips.
  • Enjoy one of our favorite guacamoles with your chips, Yucatan Guacamole—not only delicious, but organic and kosher.
  • Find our favorite salsas in the Salsas and Dips section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.
  • Before they were tortilla chips, they were tortillas. Read about our favorite tortillas, from Tumaro’s.
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    TIP OF THE DAY: “Diet” Oscars

    It’s too easy to pile on the calories over a long evening of watching the Oscars. So eschew the nachos and feature some healthy snacks. For a “diet” menu, start with crudités and a nonfat yogurt and spinach dip (mix thawed, drained frozen spinach with dry vegetable or onion soup for seasoning). Move to chicken skewers with lots of mushrooms, peppers and onions. For dessert, get a jumbo fruit basket from Edible Arrangements: it’s great taste and glamour, all-in-one. Read our review of Edible Arrangements, and find other gourmet diet products in the Diet Nibbles section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.   Fruit Basket - Edible ArrangementsAn Edible Arrangements fruit basket.
     

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    ENTERTAINING: Academy Award Nominee Cookies

    Academy Award CookiesWho wouldn’t want to take a bite out of Johnny Depp?   Invite the Best Actor and Best Actress nominees to your Oscar party—at least, in cookie effigy. Every year, we spring for these cookies from Eleni’s, a New York City bakery that specializes in hand-decorated cookies in every conceivable design. They outdo themselves with their Academy Award cookies, creating a set of Best Actor and Best Actress cookies with great likenesses of the performers. The only downside: 16 of these cookies are about $60, plus shipping. But, sometimes fun doesn’t come cheap. Read our review of Eleni’s Cookies, and find our other favorite cookies and brownies in THE NIBBLE online magazine.
     

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