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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 February, 2008

GOURMET GIVEAWAY: Win Gourmet Honey Mustards

Like honey? Then you’ll want to try these three our gourmet honey mustard dips from award-winning specialty food producer Robert Rothschild. There’s Raspberry Honey Mustard Pretzel Dip, Blackberry Honey Mustard Pretzel Dip, Honey Chipotle Pretzel Dip and for “dessert,” a Raspberry Chocolate Pretzel Dip. Also included is a book of exciting recipes, in case you’d like to do more with your honey mustards than dip pretzels. (The dips are certified kosher.) Take the quiz and you’ll find out fun facts about honey. Take the quiz here—you don’t have to answer correctly to win. If you’re a trivia lover, all of the quizzes from our prior Gourmet Giveaways are available for your enjoyment.   Honey Mustard
You could this set of gourmet honey mustards/dips—correct answers not required.
 

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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Chocolate Mint Day

Chocolate Mint Brownies
We devoured our box of Chocolate Mint Brownies from Solomon’s Gourmet Cookies. They look great, taste great, and are kosher, too.
  February 19th is National Chocolate Mint Day. What is it with these government bodies that are holiday-granters? Didn’t they notice that last week, February 11th, was Peppermint Patty Day (the food, not Charlie Brown’s gal pal)? We love chocolate and peppermint…but why pile up all the wealth in the space of 8 days? Nevertheless, we’ll respond with recommendations for the best chocolate mint yummies:
– Make your own chocolate mint cocoa. Smash the stems of a few sprigs of fresh mint, and add them to the hot chocolate as it cooks. Strain before serving, and add a fresh sprig to garnish. If you don’t have fresh mint to infuse in the milk when you heat it, use a few drops of peppermint oil. You can stir your cocoa with a peppermint stick, too.
- Try Robert Lambert’s fabulous Mojito Mint Chocolate Sauce on vanilla ice cream, pound cake, or straight from the jar on a spoon. For a stronger mint infusion, try the Mint Chocolate Sauce from The King’s Cupboard.
– Indulge yourself with the Chocolate Mint Brownies from Solomon’s Gourmet Cookies (they’re kosher, too). Or, bake up your favorite brownie recipe and add mint oil to the batter, and/or mint chips.
– Try mint chocolate chip ice cream from an artisan creamery, like Boulder Ice Cream Company or its Colorado neighbor, Spotted Dog Creamery.
– Try the indulgent, layered Mint Symphony chocolate bar from Coco’s Chocolate Dreams. That’s dark chocolate with fudge mint shortbread and mint butter cookies and…be sure to order more than one. Or, try a straight but fabulous chocolate mint chocolate bar from Divine Chocolate, and support a great Fair Trade co-op of small cacao bean farmers in Africa.
– Try the great chocolate mint cookies from Sugar Flower Bakery. You’ll never eat another Girl Scout cookie again.
– Check out our favorite chocolate peppermint barks.
– Go retro with Chocolate Mint Whoopie Pies from Wicked Whoopie Pies.
– Bake up this recipe for a Chocolate Mint Lava Cake.
– Or, bake up a ready-to-heat-and-eat Chocolate Mint Soufflé from Heavenly Soufflé, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week (it’s heavenly and kosher, too).
– Have a box of bonbons filled with handmade mint ganache, from John & Kira’s.
– Enjoy the delicious Dark Chocolate Mint Coins from Lake Champlain Chocolates (also kosher).
– Prefer your chocolate to be organic? Dagoba’s Mint 59% cacao chocolate mint bar is organic and kosher, too.
– Try our favorite Holland Mints from Marich. They’re not only pretty, they’re kosher, too.
– Another temptation is the chocolate mint fudge from our favorite fudge maker, John Kelly Fudge (a NIBBLE Top Pick OF The Week, and kosher).
– Poco Dolce’s chocolate mint toffee squares with sea salt are the bomb.
– A calorie-free option is Once Upon a Tea, the caffeine-free blend of loose tea made of rooibos tea mixed with chocolate nibs, mint and vanilla. It’s from Serendiptea.
– End with a no-calorie treat, the Chocolate Mint lip balm from Ganache For Lips—made with Scharffen Berger Chocolate.
Hmm, maybe it’s not so bad having these back-to-back chocolate mint celebrations. We think we’ll celebrate with a Chocolate Mint Martini.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Gourmet Pot Luck

Invite food-loving friends to a fun, “pot luck” brunch, cocktails or coffee klatsch. Ask everyone to bring a favorite specialty food or beverage appropriate to the occasion, that the other guests would enjoy tasting. They’ll also need to bring the accoutrement(s) required to serve their food (e.g., bread or crackers for spreads, crudités for dips and dressings). For brunch, for example, guests might bring quince preserves, sun-dried tomato peanut butter, Swedish flatbread and guava nectar—foods most guests haven’t experienced. Or, they could bring their favorite brand of artisan sausage. Set the foods on a sideboard, cart or other “tasting bar” along with cards that indicate who chose them and where they can be purchased. We’d probably pick something from our Top Pick Of The Week foods—the 52 best products we taste each year. You can have the Top Picks emailed to you, or sent via RSS.   Wine Cellar SorbetsWe’d bring Wine Cellar Sorbets, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week. We find them irresistible.
 

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NEWS: Guide Michelin Says The Best Food City In The World Is NOT Paris

Tokyo - Shibuy
The best restaurant city in the world has no Eiffel Tower. Photo of Tokyo by Yoichiro Nishimura | SXC.
  Zut alors! By a huge margin, Guide Michelin, the French-owned restaurant-rating bible, has declared the finest food city in the world to be not Paris, not New York, not San Francisco…but Tokyo. Gastrotourists, get ready. It’s more than twice as long a flight, but if you want to eat the best, head east. Way east. Seven out of 10 foreign tourists in Japan say the food is the primary reason for their visit. But only a portion of the cuisine is Japanese. Michelin’s rating system is taken so seriously (and the stars are so good for business) that chefs spend their entire careers and fortunes chasing three Michelin stars. One of France’s most famous chefs, Bernard Loiseau of La Côte d’Or restaurant (in the Côte-d’Or region of Burgundy), committed suicide in 2005 following a downgrade by the Gault Millau guide and believing he was about to lose his third Michelin star (which, sadly, proved to be an erroneous supposition; the restaurant still has its three stars).
Tokyo has eight three-star restaurants. Five of them serve Japanese cuisine, three are French. You won’t be surprised if you watch Iron Chef, but one and two stars were bestowed on restaurants that serve Chinese, Italian, Spanish and steakhouse cuisine. The commonality with the top spots in Paris and New York is that you must reserve a month in advance and expect to pay a minimum of $200 per person. Do the math and you won’t be surprised why Tokyo has the most Michelin-starred restaurants. Michelin counted 160,000 restaurants in Tokyo (191 Michelin stars), compared with about 20,000 in Paris (98 Michelin stars) and 23,000 in New York (54 Michelin stars). Read the full story in the Washington Post.

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NEWS: New Butter Convenience From Land O Lakes

If you use salted butter, Land O Lakes has some new packaging that may make your life easier—or at least, keep your butter fresher. Butter is a very delicate product, and picks up flavors and scents adrift in your refrigerator. If you’re not a big butter user, and have a stick unwrapped for a couple of weeks, you’ve no doubt detected it. Contrary to what refrigerator designers might think, you should not leave your stick of butter unwrapped on that tray in your “butter compartment.” It needs to be wrapped tightly in the paper or foil it came in. If you’re not going to use all of the sticks you bought, freeze the extra until you need it, in the carton or packaging it came in (but to protect it from absorbing freezer odors, place the carton in double plastic freezer bags). For more advice on giving your butter the TLC it needs, read our Butter Tips.   Land O Lakes Half Butter Sticks
The new “Half Stick” in the front, compared to full butter stick at rear.
But back to Land O Lakes: Now, you’ll be able to buy a 1-pound package of Land O Lakes salted butter that contains eight 2-ounce/one-quarter cup “Half Sticks” (a half-pound package of Half Sticks has been available since 2006, and only Land O Lakes offers this smaller-size stick). The original pound package with four full-length, quarter-pound sticks is still available, but the Half Sticks provide the convenience of not having to cut or rewrap partially used sticks for recipes, or to keep the butter fresher in the refrigerator. Initially, Half Sticks will be available in 21 states along the Eastern Seaboard and Southeastern portions of the U.S. The products are only available in the salted variety because America prefers salted to unsalted butter by 4:1. Not us!! We use unsalted butter exclusively, and when we want to serve salted butter, we top it with sea salt crystals—tastier, prettier and better for you because of the nutrients in sea salts. (Learn more about sea salts.)Learn more about butter:
– See almost 100 butter terms in our Butter Glossary. If you’re looking for the difference between Danish-style butter and European-style butter, or the difference between Bercy butter and beurre blanc, this is the place.
– Check out the History Of Butter, from the beginning to present. Recorded use of butter dates to 2,000 years before Christ. The word butter comes from bou-tyron, which means “cow cheese” in Greek.Visit the Butter Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine for our favorite artisan butters, butter competition winners and recipes for flavored butter.

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NEWS: Award-Winning Cheesemaker Buys Cannabis Cave

Fermo Jaeckle, CEO of award-winning Wisconsin cheese-maker Roth Käse, has purchased a 6,000-square-foot underground cave in Dixon Springs, Tennessee that was the center of a marijuana-growing operation. The cave was purchased in a state auction in December for $250,000. It was bought not by the cheese company, but privately by Jaeckle and other investors. The new owners plan to turn the subterranean cave into a cheese aging and curing facility and an agritourism destination. Located about 40 miles northeast of Nashville, the cave made national headlines in 2005 after a Drug Enforcement Task Force busted an elaborate cannabis-growing operation there. Besides a massive cannabis growing room, parts of which are 20 feet high, the cave was also outfitted with a ventilation system, elaborate lighting, offices, a kitchen, bedrooms, restrooms and an escape hatch. However interesting that sounds, Roth Käse’s headquarters in southern Wisconsin were built to resemble a Swiss chalet (after the country’s Swiss heritage) with some of the most impressive high-tech equipment you can imagine.   Roth Kase Gran Queso Cheese
Roth Käse’s GranQueso, a versatile Manchego-style cheese, has won many awards, including a First Place Award at the 2004 American Cheese Society Competition and a Gold Medal at the 2005 World Cheese Awards in London.
The cave’s natural, consistent temperature, which ranges from from 57° to 59° Fahrenheit year round, is perfect for aging cheeses. Because the cave is on a steep grade and not on a city sewer line, it is not ideally situated for cheese-making. Instead, the owners will partner with local producers to age and cure their cheeses. The owners intend to form a partnership with Roth Käse to distribute products processed at the property.

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REVIEWS: Baking Up A Storm

Elizabeth Falkner, Demolition Desserts
Elizabeth Falkner proposes everything from
The Real McCoy Ice Cream Sandwich to Blueberry Paper.
  We put an ace baker to work, finding the best new baking cookbooks. After baking up a storm, here’s Part I of her recommendations (Part II arrives next month):

- Classic Stars Desserts, by Emily Luchetti, executive pastry chef at Jeremiah Tower’s pioneering San Francisco restaurant, Stars
Elizabeth Falkner’s Demolition Desserts, recipes from the famed San Francisco sweet spot, Citizen Cake
-The Greyston Bakery Cookbook, by Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan, featuring recipes from a community bakery in The Bronx whose brownies are used by Ben & Jerry’s
Pure Dessert, by Alice Medrich, one of the Bay Area’s legendary bakers, called “The First Lady of Chocolate”If you’d rather buy a great dessert than bake one, check out the Cookies and Desserts & Ice Cream sections of THE NIBBLE online magazine.
 

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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Almond Day

Go nuts—it’s National Almond Day. This versatile nut is not just a snack or baking ingredient but a flavor-enhancer in sandwiches and salads—and of course, slivered on green beans. Almonds can purchased whole, slivered, chopped and in stick form (we like the elegance of slivers). Try smoked almonds, too: They really perk up egg, tuna, chicken and green salads. Almonds are high in vitamin E, magnesium and manganese. Our favorite foods with almonds:- Almondina low-calorie cookies
Enstrom’s Almond Toffee, our favorite toffee (it’s kosher, and also available in sugar-free)
Lake Champlain Almond Buttercrunch (also kosher)
Dolcielo’s Amureo Brownies, made with apricots marinated with Amaretto Di Saronno plus large chunks of almonds
Frontier Soups Asparagus Almond Soup
Minnie Beasley’s Lace Cookies- Natasha’s Health Nut Cookies, made with almond flour, low carb, low cal, gluten free
  Almond Brownie - Dolcielo
Dolcielo’s Amureo Brownie
, laden with
Amaretto-marinated apricots and large chunks of almonds.
- Pariya Foods Almond Nougat, our favorite nougat
Peeled Snacks Fig-Sated, our favorite healthy snack with figs, dates, almonds and pistachios
Poco Dolce Almond and Coconut Almond Chocolate Tiles with sea salt
Recchiuti Burnt Caramel Almonds
Vosges Chocolate Barcelona Bar, dark milk chocolate, roasted almonds and sea salt
Sophia’s Sweets Panforte, gluten free
Terra Medi Green Olive and Almond Bruschetta

Recipes:
- Almond Biscotti recipe from Mario Batali
Almond Hummus
- Chocolate Almond Beet Torte from Michael Recchiuti
Mulled Wine With Almonds

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ARTICLE: Gouda, Holland’s Most Famous Cheese

Gouda
Most people are familiar with small, red-waxed Goudas from the supermarket. We’ve found glorious Goudas that will change your mind about this cheese.
  As with neckties, politics and diets, various cheeses go in and out of fashion. The best-known cheese from The Netherlands, Gouda’s reputation has been in decline for some time. Some connoisseurs sniff that it’s a bland cheese with no character. It’s true that most Goudas are milder cheeses, smooth-textured and even buttery. Mass-produced Goudas, which are the only kind most Americans have experienced, can indeed be lackluster and dull. But there’s a whole little world of small creameries out there, producing Goudas in more varieties than you knew existed. And aged Goudas, which too few Americans have tasted, are a thing of beauty, with crunchy, tyrosine crystals and the taste of caramel. By the way, Holland is a southern region of The Netherlands, where Gouda originated. Since Gouda was never name protected, cheese called Gouda can be made anywhere in the world. Some fine artisan Goudas are made in the U.S., as you’ll discover in this article. Go Gouda—read all about it. Discover many other fine cheeses, and learn a lot about cheese, in the Cheese Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.
 

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TIP OF THE DAY: Low-Calorie Fruit Kabobs

If you’re ready to switch gears after chocolate-filled Valentine’s Day festivities, fruit kabobs with yogurt dip are a sweet transition—low-calorie and healthy, too. For a snack or light dessert, simply skewer pineapple chunks, melon balls, berries, grapes, orange segments—whatever catches your eye in the produce section—in interesting patterns (or, serve them as fruit salad). You can make an easy yogurt dip from one cup of vanilla yogurt, 2 tablespoons of honey and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. The diet dip version substitutes plain, fat-free yogurt and 2 packets of sweetener—hold the honey. Our favorite plain, fat-free yogurt, FAGE Total, is so delicious, we’re happy with the fat-free version. Read our review of FAGE Total Yogurt. Find more low-calorie foods in the Diet Nibbles Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.   Yogurt
Make fruit kabobs with berries, grapes, pineapple, etc.; or just enjoy this delicious and healthy snack as a fruit salad with yogurt topping.
 

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