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

PRODUCT REVIEW: Scharffen Berger Chocolate


The Scharffen Berger logo features an
ibex mountain goat and three stars.
In 1996, winemaker John Scharffenberger and physician Robert Steinberg made a mark in the history of chocolate, shaping the current trend of “micro” (small-batch) chocolate bar production in the U.S. and, as a result, decentralizing the production of fine chocolate bars in Europe. Their fine artisan chocolate grew so popular with consumers and pastry chefs that, in less than 10 years, they helped build a great demand for artisan chocolate in America and were purchased by the country’s largest chocolate maker, Hershey. The line is certified kosher by OU.

Buying a gourmet chocolate bar used to be as simple as choosing from a slender selection of milk, dark or the occasional white chocolate bars (See Peter Rot’s review of the world’s best white chocolate bars), some embellished with nuts or dried fruits. Dark chocolate might be labeled “semisweet” or “bittersweet,” without any other indication.

A lot has changed in the last ten years, as more people have become focused on learning about chocolate (and all categories of fine food). Today, there is an amazing diversity of chocolate for the asking, thanks to consumer interest and to passionate chocolate makers who produce couverture and bars from raw cacao beans. (See Peter Rot’s choices of the best microbatch chocolate makers in America—individuals or tiny companies that produce great bars.)

Read the full review on TheNibble.com.

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PRODUCT REVIEW: BELA-Olhão Gourmet Canned Sardines

While we’re getting the recommended eight hours of sleep each night, the folks at BELA-Olhão are putting us to shame. They manage to catch, smoke and can their sardines in Olhão, Portugal, all within the span of those 480 minutes. BELA-Olhão sardines are lightly smoked and packed in olive oil. They are available plain (regular or boneless) or flavored with cayenne, lemon or tomato. Packaged in convenient pop-top tins, these meaty sardines are perfect for eating any time of day, anywhere. They don’t have a fishy aroma; co-workers won’t know you’re eating fish. Full of protein, vitamins and minerals, they’re certified kosher by OU.

Fish are a healthy food—this much we know. But we also know that they’re not always the most convenient food to cook or eat. Many canned fish are “fishy” and either too dry or too oily; some are also pretty flavorless. But BELA-Olhão has perfected the art of canning sardines. Plump, meaty and pretty, too—their silvery skins shimmer on the plate—these are gourmet sardines.

Read the full review on TheNibble.com.


Silvery sardines make a beautiful first
course or a light lunch.

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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Food Should Taste Good Tortilla Chips

 
Food Should Taste Good makes a
rainbow of flavors. Above, Jalapeño and
the barely sweet Chocolate tortilla chips,
which can be enjoyed with sweet dips,
hot chocolate, even ice cream.
Sometimes, you take certain foods for granted, without appreciating how good they are. We’ve been nibbling away on Food Should Taste Good tortilla chips for almost two years, but only recently were struck by a blinding revelation of the obvious: This is a great line!

The brand name is itself a mouthful, and might better be called Great Healthy Food. The wholesome, all-natural, gluten-free chips have no cholesterol or trans fats, no GMOs, are lower in sodium than many chips and a good source of dietary fiber. Yummy flavors include Buffalo (as in wings), a barely sweet Chocolate, Jalapeño, Multigrain, Olive, Sweet Potato and The Works! (exclamation point included). The flavors are evenly baked in, not powder sprinkled on top. Each is a winner and will enchant your family and guests, not only with the taste but with the different shapes and colors, too—brown, orange, yellow, coral, circle, diamond, fan, hexagon, oval, rectangle, triangle. The line is gluten-free and certified kosher by OU.

Start planning for party season! Just don’t expect anything like your typical tortilla chips. While made from a base of stone ground white corn, these chips don’t deliver pure corn taste. Instead, enjoy the great complexity of flavors that makes these, truly, chips of a different color. Except for Jalapeño and Multigrain, we’d serve dips other than traditional red or green salsa (see the full review). They can also substitute as tasty crackers with soup and salad—even as a base for canapés. Read more about Food Should Taste Good tortilla chips, and how to have fun pairing them with different dips, in the full review. And take a look at more chips and crunchy snacks in our Gourmet Snacks Section.

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Holidays: Honey Cake For Rosh Hashanah

Celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, with a delicious honey cake from The Exceptional Brownie. Claire Sauerhoff bakes her cakes with premium honey, heart healthy canola oil and dancing spices. Certified kosher (OU Pareve), the very  moist cakes are available in a mini loaf (8 ounces) and a large loaf (serves 12, 24 ounces), packaged in beautiful gold and brown molds. Your choice: the package with four mini loaf cakes and rich custom-ground French Roast coffee  (reg. or decaf); or the two large loaf cake packages with coffee. Four mini loaves or one large loaf are packaged with a pound of regular or decaf ground French Roast coffee for $40.00. Purchase at ExceptionalBrownie.com. They’re not just for the holidays—buy them for yourself or as gifts any time. And treat yourself to some brownies, too. Read our review.

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RECIPES: Favorite Gin Cocktails


The Piccadilly cocktail, above, substitutes
gin for Tequila in the popular Tequila
Sunrise. Gin is a versatile spirit that can
be enjoyed in cocktails far beyond the
Gin and Tonic or Martini.
  The Gin & Tonic is the archetypal British cocktail, but gin is as adaptable to different recipes as any other spirit. For your next cocktail party, offer guests a menu of gin cocktails. Here are some favorites from Beefeater Gin.

Beefeater, named after a slang term for the Yeomen Warders who guard the Tower of London (shown on Beefeater Gin’s bottle label, below), is the only international gin still distilled in London. Its recipe, developed in the early 1860s, includes botanicals such as juniper, angelica roots and seeds, coriander seeds, licorice, almonds, orris root, Seville oranges and lemon peel. Each gin has its own recipe and distinctive flavor. Beefeater has a floral palate with hints of citrus. Learn how each botanical contributes to the blend at BeefeaterGin.com.

Classic Gin & Tonic

Beefeater Basil-Berry Gimlet

London Lemonade

The Piccadilly

Royal Garden

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News: Diet At The Cheesecake Factory

Our favorite chain restaurant, The Cheesecake Factory, has added to its popular Weight Management menu category with the addition of a Weight Management Grilled Chicken, a lightly-pounded chicken breast, charbroiled and topped with a tomato and arugula salad. The plate is garnished with steamed white rice (tell them to hold the rice—too bad they didn’t make it brown rice, since white rice is largely empty calories) and asparagus. The Grilled Chicken entrée is less than 590 total calories, making it the perfect light summer fare. The piece of limited-edition 30th Anniversary Chocolate Cake Cheesecake you can have for dessert will easily match those calories. The four-layer anniversary cheesecake combines two layers of Original Cheesecake and two layers of Chocolate Fudge Cake, filled with chocolate cream and finished with crunchy pearls of Valrhona chocolate. Share a piece with two or three friends. The first Cheesecake Factory restaurant opened in Beverly Hills, California in 1978.  
Cheesecake Factory’s limited-edition
30th Anniversary Chocolate Cake
Cheesecake.
Read more about cheesecake in THE NIBBLE‘s Gourmet Cakes & Cupcakes section.

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Fun & Learning: Measure Your Carbon Footprint


Start your day with a bowl of organic
breakfast cereal
. Organic food
production does not create greenhouse
gases. If every American converted 10%
of our foods to organic, it would be the
equivalent of taking 2 million car off the
road each year.
  Measure your carbon footprint with the Ecological Footprint Calculator. It’s eye-opening—and fun. Earth Day Network has created the tool to combat climate change. You create your three-dimensional avatar and tour your virtual neighborhood as you answer a series of questions about your eating habits, energy use, mode of transportation, type of residence, recycling commitment and consumer consumption. The Foodprint Calculator then tells you how many “planets” would be necessary to sustain human life if everyone lived just like you, and how many acres of land and tons of carbon necessary to sustain your lifestyle. If you want, you can find out how to reduce your carbon footprint. We were shocked at our results: We don’t eat meat, don’t own a car and take public transportation a short distance to work, although we do take a few airplane trips a year. Our result: It takes 4.3 planet Earths to sustain just one of us!

You have to supply an email address to start the quiz, but it’s well worth it. Take the next step at http://www.earthday.net/footprint/index.html. (Note: The Footprint Calculator currently has measures for the United States and Australia only, but expects to have more countries by the end of the year.)

 

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New Product: Can Chocolate Predict The New President?

Some people look to the Gallup, Zogby and Harris polls to gauge the presidential preference of the American public. But chocolatier B.T. McElrath is measuring public opinion on a “gut” level: chocolate sales. “Campaign Buttons,” round dark chocolate melt-a-ways that have been selling like—hotcakes?—since early June. They feature cocoa butter images of Democrat or Republican vintage campaign buttons. They’re available at specialty food and gift retailers nationwide, as well as directly available at www.btmcelrath.com. Since August 15, the company has begun issuing weekly postings on the political temperament of the country based on chocolate sales. The current numbers have the Democrats with a slight lead, 51% to 49%. However, this is a poll where you can vote as many times as you like! Five pieces in 60% cacao semisweet chocolate are $10.70.

Read more about chocolate in THE NIBBLE‘s Chocolate section.


B.T. McElrath’s democratic chocolate
buttons.

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PRODUCT REVIEW: Kaboom Infinite Energy & Infinite Wellness Juice


Juice-based organic drinks deliver
energy, vitamins, antioxidants…and
great flavor.
  Kaboom’s two lines, Infinite Energy Juices and Infinite Wellness Juices, are made with all natural, FDA-certified organic ingredients. All products provide at least 50% of the daily requirement of the complete B complex as well as a day’s worth of Vitamin C and half a day’s requirement of folate. While the energy juices are fortified with guarana and green tea extracts, the wellness juices pump you up with antioxidants rather than caffeine. That’s why Kaboom’s energy drinks make our hearts go “boom boom boom”—not with caffeine-induced speed, but with excitement over delicious, juicy flavors. The line is also certified kosher. We don’t review many energy drinks because we don’t like the taste. In fact, this is just our second (the first, Hiball, is an energy drink in the form of club soda).

Read the full review on TheNibble.com.

 

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PRODUCT REVIEW: True North Nut Snacks

One of the fun finds of the season, the only problem with the True North line of nut snacks is that we can’t stop eating them. Our excuse is that each serving has 5g of protein. The nut clusters and nut crunches are terrific tossed into salads as well. The products are all natural, certified kosher, vegan and GMO free. Most are gluten free and wheat free as well.

Frito-Lay must be commended for its True North line of nut snacks. The mass-marketing giant has produced a line of crispy, crunchy snacks that taste like fine specialty food products. And they’re all natural: no preservatives, no artificial flavors, no added colors, no trans fats. Each contains 5g of protein per serving. More good news: Most varieties are gluten free, wheat free; all are vegan and kosher. Now the bad news: They’re positively addictive, and portion control is a serious problem. We want to eat the entire bag. What do you mean,“Servings Per Container About 6?”


Delicious, nutritious and fun: True North
nut snacks.
While many people know the term “true north” as magnetic north, the direction of the North Pole as found on a compass, the term has been adapted by business to refer to an all-consuming passion. The folks at Frito-Lay evidently found their true north in creating these nut snacks—and we’re glad they did. Read the full review at TheNibble.com.

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