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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,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for January, 2009

PRODUCT REVIEW: Silver Creek Jerky Snack Strips

For portion control and convenient packaging, these 50-calorie, one-ounce snack strips can’t be beat.

-Beef Sirloin With Cranberries & Blueberries has excellent beef flavor with a nice natural sweetness from the dried fruit. There’s a light pepperiness. The nutrition label: calories from fat, 15; total fat 2g; saturated fat .5g; trans fat 0g; cholesterol 15mg; sodium 286 mg (12% DV); total carb 4g; sugars 2g; protein 10g; vitamin A, 0% DV, vitamin C, 0% DV; iron 2% DV.

-Skinless Chicken Breast With Black Bean Salsa & Wisconsin Cheddar has real black bean flavor and heat from the “salsa” component, although there’s no prominent flavor of Cheddar—not that it’s needed. The nutrition label: calories from fat, 10; total fat 1g; saturated fat 0g; trans fat 0g; cholesterol 20mg; sodium 340 mg (14% DV); total carb 1g; sugars 0g; protein 12g; vitamin A, 4% DV, vitamin C, 2% DV; calcium 2% DV; iron 2% DV.

Jerky snack strips, an apple and a can of sparkling
juice are an easily portable and nutritious snack.
-Chicken Breast With Italian Seasoning & Romano Cheese started out meaty and cheesy, as if it belonged on an Italian antipasto platter. (There’s some red bell pepper for flavoring, too.) Then the black pepper kicked in, and sustained a long, fresh-ground peppery finish. The nutrition label: calories from fat, 10; total fat 1g; saturated fat 0g; trans fat 0g; cholesterol 20mg; sodium 290 mg (12% DV); total carb 1g; sugars 0g; protein 12g; vitamin A, 15% DV, vitamin C, 60% DV; calcium 4% DV; iron 2% DV.

Read THE NIBBLE’s article on the best gourmet jerky.


PRODUCTS: Everything Old Is New Again

Le Creuset Gourmet cookware manufacturer Le Creuset has launched its new color for 2009: White. Our thoughts: This looks like all the white, enameled cookware we got rid of when we traded up to Le Creuset years ago. We prefer jubilant colors in our kitchen, such as Le Creuset’s red, yellow and blue cookware, which also look great at the table. But then, we weren’t in the focus groups that voted for white! You can find Le Creuset at Sur La Table and other fine stores. Le Creuset has been making enameled cast iron cookware since 1925. The factory is located in the north of France, in Fresnoy-Le-Grand, not far from the border with Belgium. Cast iron is a favorite of chefs because it most evenly conducts and retains heat—it’s the original slow cooker. It’s also very heavy, so you build your “kitchen muscles.”


PRODUCT REVIEW: Go Appetít Cool Soup

A new alternative for healthy eating on-the-go, Cool Soup makes soup “drinkable” from a bottle at room temperature or chilled. It’s a new way to fruit and vegetables without having to chop and cook. The portable plastic bottle has a nine-month shelf life. As a snack or meal replacement, it’s high in vitamins and antioxidants, low in calories and 100% natural.

Go Appetít is “taking soup to new places” with Cool Soup, a new category in specialty convenience foods, Drinkable Soup. The company calls its products “souperfood.” Now, when you need something nutritious on the go, and want more than a piece of fruit, yogurt or an energy bar, you can have some yummy comfort food—soup! No spoon needed, just twist the cap and drink from the 8-ounce, single serve bottle. If you want a soup and sandwich or soup and salad combo, it couldn’t be easier.

Cool Soup is low in calories and 100% natural with no preservatives, artificial colors or artificial flavors. While it is ideal to consume the soup chilled for enhanced flavor, no refrigeration is required, and they taste just fine at room temperature. We toted them our purse and backpack, the latter with an ice pack, the former without, and didn’t feel any loss of quality drinking them unchilled.

Read the full review.

An easy way to eat your fruits and veggies on the
go: soup that you drink from the bottle. Above:
Rich Vegetable Gazpacho.


TRENDS: Top Chefs Go For Burgers

Read our Tips For A Better Burger article to learn
how to cook perfect burgers at home.
Following our posting of the CBS report on the Heart Attack Grill in Chandler, Arizona (or perhaps despite it), burgers are big in 2009. As reported recently in the trade magazine Restaurant Hospitality, top chefs are in the game. Bobby Flay launched Bobby’s Burger Palace, Laurent Tourondel has BLT Burger, Marcus Samuelsson started Marc Burger. Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack in New York is about to have an Upper West Side sibling, Hubert Keller is expanding his kingdom of Burger Bars and Govind Armstrong turned his L.A. Eatery, Table 8, into 8 Oz. Burger Bar. And everyone is awaiting the opening of Thomas Keller’s Burgers and Half-Bottles in Yountville, California and Las Vegas.

You can get in the game buy buying a franchise of Virginia-based Elevation Burger, which serves organic, grass-fed, free-range beef with fries cooked in hearth-healthy olive oil…in LEED-certified green buildings. Or, at the other end of the spectrum, you could own your local franchise of the Heart Attack Grill, the “Taste Worth Dying For.” We’d opt for the former.


NEW PRODUCT: Obama Inauguration Tea

One of our favorite tea purveyors, SerendipiTea, has developed a tea commemorating our 44th president: Obama 44 ~ Inaugural Blend. Says the blender: “Enjoy a brisk, clear cup of straight-forward Kenyan Black blended with a taste of All-American Apple Pie & a hint of Hawaii (Apples, go-Mango & Cinnamon). For the maverick lurking within, add a drop of milk or soy….then settle in to observe or jump for joy. A four-ounce box of loose tea, which makes approximately 50 cups, is $10.00. Obama 44 is available through the company’s website, or by phone, 1.888.832.5433.

-Read our review of SerendipiTea artisan tea blends.

-Read SerendipiTea’s tea and food pairings.

Obama Tea Blend


TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Ayala’s Herbal Water

Organic-certified flavored water, infused with
herbs, spices and some citrus, are a smash!
Several years ago we had an idea for a line of waters flavored with herbs and spices. We sought advice from a couple of bottled water experts, and were told that we’d never get such a product to market—the segment was too tiny, retailers wouldn’t make space for it, and so forth. We were thus truly delighted to run into Ayala’s Herbal Water at a food show last summer. Ayala either had better advisors, or didn’t listen to anyone at all.

Ayala’s infuses organic garden herbs, blended with spices and citrus peel, into purified water—with dazzling results. Innovative in flavor profile, it is the first nationally available, organically certified, flavored water. If you like unsweetened fruit-flavored waters, herb and spice flavors open up an exciting new perspective. If you don’t like fruit flavors, herbs are far more sophisticated.

Flavors include Cinnamon Orange Peel, Clove Cardamom Cinnamon, Ginger Lemon Peel, Jasmine Vanilla, Lavender Mint Lemongrass Thyme and Lemongrass Mint Vanilla. While the names are a mouthful, the mouthful is calorie-free, sodium-free, healthy, hydrating and wonderfully fragrant and flavorful.

Ayala’s Herbal Water is a refreshment, but it also pairs well with food. Thus, it’s a boon to people seeking an alternative to wine, beer or cocktails, who want to cut calories in general, or who simply want a more interesting water with their food. Give a case as a New Year’s gift to anyone embarking on a weight loss mission, or as a Valentine gift to people who’d be be better off if you didn’t give them chocolate.

There’s a store locator on the company website, and major retailers have embraced herbal water, proving our original naysayers wrong. You can also buy Ayala’s online with free ground shipping. And, to sweeten the deal, for a limited time there’s $5 off on your order if you sign up for the company newsletter. That makes a case of 12 bottles just $19. How can you resist? Read the full review.


NEW PRODUCT: So Delicious Ice Cream Sandwiches

Coconut lover? Vegan? Kosher? Organic? You’re in luck: Purely Decadent, a brand of coconut milk-based frozen desserts, has launched So Delicious Mini Ice Cream Sandwiches, “the world’s first ice cream sandwiches made with non-dairy coconut milk ice cream.” At 2.3 ounces, the frozen treats weigh in at 100 calories per serving and are sweetened with organic agave nectar, a low-glycemic sweetener that does not alter blood sugar as dramatically as conventional sugar. The sandwiches are available in Coconut (our favorite) and Banana Split, a combination of chocolate, strawberry and banana ice cream. So Delicious Ice Cream

Coconut milk is a non-dairy product, but has a richness similar to cream. While the flavor of coconut lingers in the milk, it pairs naturally with flavors like vanilla and chocolate (and of course, coconut). Eugene, Oregon-based Turtle Mountain makes the dairy-free ice creams and frozen novelties.

So Delicious Coconut Milk Mini Sandwiches are available nationally in Whole Foods Markets and select other retailers. The suggested retail price is $4.99 for a box of eight 2.3-ounce sandwiches. For more information, visit


RECIPE: Low-Calorie Creamy Dip

Creamy Low-Fat Dip

With those New Year’s resolutions that include “lose weight,” substituting mustard for mayonnaise wherever possible is an easy switch. French’s claims that, simply by substituting mustard for mayonnaise on your sandwiches three times a week, you could lose a minimum of four pounds per year. To that, we’d add, try Dijon mustard instead of sugar-laden ketchup as a dip for fries and on burgers. Mustard has no fat, no carbohydrates, is gluten-free and has as few as 5 calories per teaspoon (honey mustard has more). Ketchup has about the same calories (15 per tablespoon), but it’s mostly sugar, and thus 4-5g of carbs, compared to 0g for the mustard.

Mustard is an extremely versatile ingredient. Dijon is often used to add flavor to vinaigrettes, soups, sauces, as well as dips. You can vary the flavors with horseradish mustard, walnut mustard, spicy mustard: the mustard at your specialty food store is a gourmet paradise, and even the supermarket has a lot of choice. Here’s a tasty cucumber dip recipe from French’s—at 45 calories per 2-tablespoon serving, it compares quite nicely to mayo-based dips that start at 100 calories a tablespoon.

Cool & Creamy Cucumber Dressing

Prep Time: 15 minutes


1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream or nonfat yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill weed or 2 teaspoons dried dill weed
2 tablespoons honey Dijon mustard or spicy brown mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper


1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Cover; process until well blended. Transfer to covered container; chill in refrigerator.
2. Serve over mixed salad greens or with crudites. Makes 1-1/3 cups dressing.

Nutritional amount per 2 tablespoon serving: 45 calories, 4g fat, 2g saturated fat, 1g protein,
2g carbohydrates, 0g dietary fiber, 2g net carbs, 8mg cholesterol, 61mg sodium.


NEWS: What Happened To The Chesapeake Blue Crab

Maryland’s iconic blue crab is on the list of the Top 25 Things Vanishing From America according to In 2007, the Chesapeake Bay saw the lowest harvest since 1945, just 22 million pounds; 40 years ago the harvest was 96 million pounds. There are only about 120 million crabs in the Bay, and officials estimate that 200 million are needed for a sustainable population. Overfishing, pollution, invasive species and global warming are the culprits. The federal government granted the state $20 million to combat the problem, although, as the post notes, legislators were more worried about helping save jobs for the crabbers than the disappearing species. But in this economy, who’s shelling out $200 for a bucket of blues? Read the full story. crab - blue crabs in pot

Only the males have blue claws; but both males and females end up the same color—orange—when cooked. Photo by Michael Thompson | IST.

- Learn more about the different grades of crabmeat.
– See the different types of crab in our Crab Glossary.


RESTAURANTS: The Heart Attack Grill

Those whose New Year’s resolutions don’t include healthy eating should high-tail to Chandler, Arizona for a feast at the Heart Attack Grill. Yes, that’s the name, and the sign on the door of this burger bar says, < Caution! This establishment is BAD for your health! > How bad?

– The hamburger buns are coated in lard
– There’s no lettuce on the burgers
– There’s no salad bar, but a fries bar, with as many fries as you want, fried in lard and laden with all the cheese sauce you want
– There’s no diet soda or light beer
You get the picture…and you’ll get much more when you watch the video.

Watch CBS Videos Online.


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