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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 September, 2008

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Real Wasabi Snack & Cocktail Nuts


Not just any mixed nuts—these have the
sizzle of real wasabi.
We never met a Real Wasabi product we didn’t like. With its new line of wasabi-flavored cocktail nuts, the company is tied with Palette Fine Foods for top honors, with most Top Picks Of The Week (three). The majority of people who eat sushi don’t realize that the wasabi served to them typically is not real wasabi (Wasabia japonica), but a far less expensive mixture of ordinary horseradish root and mustard. And, as with the finest craft brew versus a mass-market beer, there’s a big difference in taste. You can read more about real versus imitation wasabi in our review of authentic wasabi powder (you mix it with water to create the paste, just as they do at sushi bars) from Real Wasabi.

Now about those wasabi nuts. Available in six-ounce cans in Wasabi Almonds, Wasabi Cashews, Wasabi Pistachios and Wasabi Mixed Nuts, these elegantly “warm” (not fiery hot) nuts will wow with beer, cocktails or as garnishes—chopped or whole atop goat cheese canapés or tossed into a chicken salad, for example. They have just the right touch of wasabi: enough to assert itself, but not enough to cover up the excellent quality of the nuts. The cans make colorful stocking stuffers and a welcome addition to a gift basket.

We’d like to give a shout out to Doug Lambrecht, founder of Real Wasabi, for bringing real wasabi to more Americans beyond the handful who have experienced it fresh-grated in the country’s most elite sushi bars. Now do your part: Get to know all of the Real Wasabi products. See the delicious wasabi nut varieties close up in the full review. The nuts are all-natural and certified kosher by OU.

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RECIPE: Joe’s Seafood Dover Sole Recipe

Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab: Since 1913, Joe’s Stone Crab has been a legendary dining institution in Miami. In 2000, Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab debuted in Chicago. One of the restaurant’s signature dishes is Dover Sole, which is cooked whole and filleted at tableside. Chef Gary Baca says that leaving all elements of the fish intact while cooking—head, tail and bones—intensifies its natural richness and sweetness of this mild fish. So just by adding butter, salt and pepper, you’ll have a succulent delight. He does remove the skin before cooking, which adds a crispy texture. Here’s the simple recipe, which can be prepared at home:

Ingredients:

-1 Dover sole (skinned)
-1 sprinkle salt and pepper mix
-1 dusting of all-purpose flour
-4 ounces clarified butter
-2 butter pats
-Lemon
-1 pinch of chopped parsley
-1 pat of brown butter

Preparation:

1. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper, and then dust lightly with all-purpose flour.
2. Ladle 2 ounces of clarified butter and 1 butter pat onto a griddle. Place sole in the butter and sauté until golden.
3. Flip the fish and sauté in an additional 2 ounces of clarified butter and 1 butter pat.
4. Finish in a 450°F oven for 6 – 8 minutes and plate the fish on a warm platter. Garnish with lemon, parsley and brown butter.

Learn more about Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab at www.icon.com/joes.

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NEWS: Polling For America’s Favorite Dessert


Take a break from the Republicans and Democrats. The Pillsbury Campaign for a Sweeter America has announced that Cake and Brownies have received the people’s nomination to run for the nation’s favorite dessert. The announcement comes after a nine-city primary campaign tour with the Pillsbury Doughboy to Asheville, NC, Baltimore, Boston, Chicato, Columbus, OH, Troy, OH, Indianapolis, Pittsbugh and Washington, DC. Voters have been won over by Cake’s ability to make every occasion a celebration, but the chocolatey irresistibility of Brownies is certainly putting up a fight. You can cast your vote in the online election at www.pillsburybaking.com/campaign. And you can read about our favorites in THE NIBBLE’s Cakes & Brownies Section.
 

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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Fentimans Brewed Soda

Beverages are the fastest-growing category in specialty foods; in the carbonated category, to take just one segment, sales increased almost 12% in 2007 over the prior year and the store shelves are piled high. There are some great 21st century sodas, spanning the range from sparkling juice like Fizzy Lizzy, green tea like Steaz, “adult” sodas with reduced sugar like GuS and Dry Soda, and flavored club soda energy drinks like Hiball.

One hundred years ago, your options for a soda were much more limited. You’d go to the soda fountain at the local pharmacy for a cola, ginger ale, root beer or other flavor. The counter man would pump syrup into a glass, then jerk back the tap of carbonated water (hence, the title “soda jerk”) to create your soda. Bottled beverages for take-out didn’t appear until Prohibition.
 
Fentimans is ready to show you what
soda pop tasted like in the good old
days.
But across the pond in England, Fentimans Botanically Brewed Beverages were delivered door-to-door in stone jars. These, too, evolved into individual, capped bottles; today the line, in its Victorian trappings, is available in the U.S. as well. Curiosity Cola, Dandelion & Burdock, Ginger Beer, Mandarin & Seville Orange Jigger, Shandy (real shandy, brewed with beer) and Victorian Lemonade (each bottle containing the juice of 1-1/2 lemons) add charm and great natural taste to the 21st century menu. It’s an enchanting return to yesteryear, without the need to crank up the Model T and putter down to Whitman’s Drug Store. Learn more about Shandy, Jigger and the rest of the Victorian pop crew in the full review, and why it takes seven days to brew this soda. And take a look at more of our favorite all-natural sodas in our Soft Drinks Section.

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CONTEST: Win Dagoba Chocolate

Most people are familiar with mint chocolate. But how about chocolate with lavender? Rosemary?

Dagoba Organic Chocolate wants you to “Seed The Day” and invent a new flavor of bar. The company, which popularized chocolate bar flavors that include Lavender, Lemon-Ginger, Mint, Roseberry (raspberry and rose hips) and other fruits, wants you to create the next garden-inspired chocolate bar.

Flavor submissions are being accepted through October, 31 2008. By the end of December, five winners will be randomly selected to win a year’s worth of Dagoba Organic Chocolate. Winners will get twelve bars of Dagoba Organic Chocolate each month for the twelve months in the 2009 calendar year (approximate retail value, $415). But to us, the biggest honor is that one of the flavors submitted will be selected to be turned into a Dagoba chocolate bar, which will be released in Fall 2009. Your own Dagoba chocolate bar—that’s some holiday gift to give to one’s friends and family!

You can also sign up for free seed packets of favorite herbs found in Dagoba chocolate bars (like lavender, mint and rosemary), which will be mailed out next spring in time for planting season. Log on to www.dagobaseedtheday.com.

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RECIPES: Pomegranate Dinner Party

The pomegranate has sure been one busy fruit as of late. It has been cropping up in everything we’ve been eating—sorbet, salad, chicken, etc. This versatile fruit is definitely becoming a staple in the American diet, no doubt due to its health benefits. There is significant research to suggest that the antioxidants in pomegranates may prevent a slew of diseases, including prostate cancer and heart disease. We definitely have no problem jumping on the pom bandwagon and wanted to thank POM Wonderful for helping us plan this lovely fruit fiesta.

-How To Extract Pomegranate Arils

-Pomegranate Sangria

-Beets & Oranges With Warm Pomegranate Port Sauce

-Pomegranate Quinoa Tabouli

-Seared Scallop Salad With Pomegranate Soy-Ginger Dressing

-Citrus Pomegranate Tart With Crimson Pom Jelly

A themed dinner party can introduce
guests to new flavors and styles of
cooking—a pomegranate dinner party is
definitely one way to tout the benefits of
this super fruit to your friends.
 

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EVENTS: Halloween Star-Studded Spectacular

The market may be down, but the stars are out. If you have $150, put on your best Halloween costume, get a balcony seat for dinner and rub shoulders at the cocktail reception with food, fashion and Hollywood A-listers at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. On Friday, October 31, 2008, at the annual Hulaween benefit for Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project, more than 1,000 guests will be entertained by Gloria Estefan, the Miami Sound Machine and Emmy award-winning comedian Kathy Griffin (on the D-List and proud of it). American designer and “Project Runway” judge Michael Kors will pick winners from the crowd for the annual costume contest. Alice Waters, internationally acclaimed chef from Chez Panisse in Berkeley, will receive the “Wind Beneath My Wings” Award from Bette Middler for her pioneering advocacy for locally grown and sustainably harvested food that has become a model for restaurant and home cooking all over the world.

A special committee of celebrity chefs will honor Waters by making their signature appetizers for the cocktail party, including: April Bloomfield (The Spotted Pig and The John Dory); David Chang (Momofuku Noodle Bar), Tom Colicchio (Craft); Lisa Fernandes (Mai House); Kurt Gutenbrunner (Wallse, Café Sabarsky and Blaue Gann); Jonathan Waxman (Barbuto); and Andrew Zimmern (SuperTarget Meal Adventure Guide and Host of “Bizarre Foods” on The Travel Channel).

For tickets and information about Hulaween, call (914) 579-1000 or visit www.nyrp.org.

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FREEBIES: Free Drinks

It’s over in San Francisco, but if you live in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia or Seattle, you can still catch a free Campari cocktail as The House of Campari and SWINDLE magazine present “The Art of Cocktailing.” At bars and lounges, the project also presents silkscreens by artist David Weidman, as part of Campari’s century-long commitment to the arts. Campari, a bitter aperitif, was invented in Italy by Gaspare Campari in 1860; the original recipe is still in use today, although many countries have shifted to an artificial red colorant from the original natural carmine cochineal coloring derived from insect shells. The chairman of GruppoCampari is the only person in the world who knows the entire formula for the recipe, which includes quinine and other bitter herbs, rhubarb, spices, ginseng, bergamot oil and orange peel. It is often mixed with soda, and two popular Campari-based cocktails, the Negroni and the Americano, have been emjoyed by historical and fictional figures, including Ernest Hemingway and James Bond.

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CONTEST: Compose A New Chant For Beans


Cannellini beans, also known as white
kidney beans, are one of the many
nutritious, delicious beans that are also
beautiful.
Do you remember the classic schoolyard chant, “Beans, beans the musical fruit?”* For years, children have recited variations of this memorable chant, even though beans are a vegetable, not a fruit. (But then, what rhymes with vegetable?) Now, you can right this wrong, win $5,000, a trip to New York City and a meeting with Drew Lachey (recording artist and “Dancing With The Stars” winner). Sponsored by Bush’s Beans, you’ll need to compose a chant and upload a video of yourself performing it. Visit BeanChant.com for details, and you and three pals may be in Times Square with Drew, as you perform your winning number. Here’s the chant Drew wrote to kick off the challenge:

Beans, beans have protein to spare
Call them a fruit? I won’t even dare
They’re a veggie that makes you grow up big and strong
And with beans on the table, your meal can’t go wrong
Beans have more protein and fiber than any other vegetable, You don’t have to struggle with kids to eat their veggies: 4 out 5 like beans (according to a 2007 survey conducted by Impulse Research on behalf of the makers of Bush’s Beans). With 30 varieties of beans, from kidney and garbanzo to black and pinto, a family can try a different kind each week. Read more about them in THE NIBBLE’s Glossary of Beans & Grains. Visit VegetableWithMore.com for 1,000 delicious bean recipes.

The contest closes closes December 12, 2008.

*Beans, beans the musical fruit
The more you eat, the more you toot
The more you toot, the better you feel
So eat your beans with every meal!

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New Product: Annie’s Homegrown Organic Snacks

Parents who want more organic snacks for their kids—or grownups who indulge in guilty gummi pleasures—will be glad to know that Bernie the Rabbit, mascot of Annie’s Homegrown organic foods, has morphed into gummi-type “fruit snacks” and crispy crackers. The Bunny Fruit Snacks, rabbit-shaped in Berry Patch and Tropical Treat, are vegan, made with real fruit juice, and contain 100% daily value of vitamin C. Bunny Classics basked organic crackers are made in Buttery Rich, Cheddar and Saltines, in a variety of leaping rabbit, rabbit face and heart shapes. Both products are USDA-certified organic and contain “no icky additives or pesky preservatives.”  

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