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Archive for February, 2009

VALENTINE’S DAY GIFTS: VDay Minus 3 ~ Chocolate For Your God Or Goddess

Chocolate Buddha

Is your Valentine a god or goddess? Show your admiration with a chocolate representation of the deity he/she most resembles: Venus of Willendorf, the Venus of Laussel (Earth Mother) or Divine Mother for the ladies; Buddha, Krishna or the Indian god Ganesh for the gents. There are 30 choices overall; head over to to see them all.

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RECIPE: Valentine Beer “Cocktail”

If your guy or gal would rather have a good beer than a box of chocolates, here’s a special Valentine creation from the folks at O’Hara’s Irish Stout (named the World’s Number One Stout above 74 competing products at the world’s most prestigious beer competition, the Millennium Brewing Industry’s International Awards).

For your Valentine quaffing pleasure, mixologists combined O’Hara’s with Früli Strawberry Beer, a gold medal winner at the International Beer Competition in 2004. Made with high quality Belgian white beer and natural strawberry juice, Früli Strawberry Beer is a new, easy-drinking style of premium fruit beer,  more “accessible” than traditional lambic fruit beers. It has sweet, rather than sour, beer characteristics.


Combine 3 Parts O’Hara’s Irish Stout and 1 Part Früli Strawberry Beer in a handsome glass.
Garnish with a fresh strawberry.
Serve with a kiss.
Optional side dish: chocolate-covered strawberries.

– Learn more about the different types of beers in our Beer Glossary.

– Check out our Beer & Cheese Pairings.

Stout Beer



VALENTINE’S DAY GIFTS: VDay Minus 4 ~ Chocolate For Your Conquering Hero

Chocolate Alexander The Great Is your man (or woman) a Master Of The Universe? Give him/her Alexander the Great, sculpted in 78% cacao chocolate. This gourmet chocolate gift includes two busts encased in a handsome volume that includes a map of Alexander the Great’s empire, a brief history of this great leader, and a guide called “How to Taste Chocolate Like a Connoisseur.” Aside from all of the hyperbole written on this website, we’d love to take a bite out of Alexander The Great—a personal hero of ours, as well.

– Conquer your gift challenge at Alexander’s Chocolate Classics.

– You don’t have to buy this gift to learn how to taste chocolate. Read our article.

Buy Imported Patchi Chocolate


CONTEST: Create A Cheesecake At

Celebrate The Cheesecake Factory’s 30th anniversary by choosing the next cheesecake flavor. Through February 28, you can create your fantasy cheesecake flavor online and watch it be virtually “baked.” Submissions can be accompanied by a video, song, poem or photo, and the most creative submission could win a trip for two to the original Cheesecake Factory location in Beverly Hills, Calif., to sample the winning creation—which will be added to the menu.

You also can:

– Send an “e-slice” of cheesecake to a friend
– Take the “Flavor Match” survey to learn the cheesecake flavor that best fits your personality

Five finalists will be chosen on March 15 and their entries will be posted on the company’s website for a public vote. The winner will be announced April 1. The company plans to donate 25 cents from the sale of every slice of the winning cheesecake to Feeding America, a national food bank network.

Through February 14, or while supplies last, diners can earn a guest card good for a free slice of cheesecake for every $30 spent on their next visit. The cards can be redeemed from February 18 through March 31, Sundays through Thursdays. Guests will receive a complimentary slice of cheesecake and receive a second guest card to share with a friend.

– Want to bake at home? See THE NIBBLE’s favorite cheesecake recipes.

– For those who like crème brulee and cheesecake, a Burnt Caramel Cheesecake Brulee from Michael Recchiuti.

– Check out the amazing cheesecakes of Elegant Cheesecakes, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.

– Don’t like sweets? Try Savory Secrets Cheesecake, another Top Pick Of The Week.

– Take our Cheesecake Trivia Quiz.



VALENTINE’S DAY GIFTS: VDay Minus 5 ~ Painter Girl Chocolates

If your Valentine is artistic, or simply likes a good animal print, there’s a wealth of riches here. Painter Girl makes chocolate palettes, paint tubes and a tablet of the great Mexican painter Frieda Kahlo (in Mexican-spiced chocolate). For generalists, there’s a box of fuschia-wrapped bonbons with dried cherry centers and wild, wild animal print chocolate bars. How can anyone say no? Visit Frida Kahlo Chocolate


PRODUCT REVIEW: Cheese of the Week ~ Langres

Langres Cheese

Langres cheese is available on

This week’s cheese recommendation is from guest blogger Dana Romero, proprietor of La Fromagerie D’Acadiana in Lafayette, Louisiana.

With Valentine’s Day upon us, bottles of bubbly will be popped all over the world. Our cheese of the week pairs well with Champagne, and hails from the same area where real bubbly is made, the Champagne-Ardenne region of France (in the northeast of the country, bordering Belgium). Langres dates back to the 18th century; its name and origin come from the main market town of the time, Langres, in the French départment (similar to a county) of the Haute Marne. While its origins are old, it did not gain A.O.C. status until May 1991. The cheese can only be made in the three regions: Cote-d’Or, Haute Marne and Vosges.

Langres (pronounced LAHNG-gruh) is a cow’s milk cheese, cylindrical in shape, weighing about 180g (6.3 ounces). It is a vigorous cheese with a pronounced odor, although it is a less pungent cheese than Époisses de Bourgogne, its neighbor and the local competition. (It’s from the same cheese family as Epoisses and Muenster.)

The taste of salt is present, making the flavor of the cheese distinct without being aggressive, and an aftertaste some have described as soaked in honey and truffles. The rind of the cheese is sticky and shiny, showing off a magnificent natural orange color. The paste is soft, creamy in color and slightly crumbly; it has a bloomy white penicillium candidum rind.

During the maturing period, the cheeses are placed in humid cellars, where ripening usually takes 5 to 6 weeks. The cheeses are regularly rubbed with brine, either by hand or with a damp cloth. A red dye extracted from annatto seeds is also applied, which gives the cheese an orange color. The form of the cheese is a cylinder with a well on the top, which is called the fontaine or cuvette in French (think of the depression on the top of a mini cheesecake). This depression is intentional; you can pour Champagne or Marc de Champagne in it to further flavor the cheese. Enjoy it on the cheese board or with a salad; if you don’t like Champagne, a red Burgundy will do nicely.



VALENTINE’S DAY GIFTS: VDay Minus 6 ~ Aphrodisiac Caramels From Theo Chocolate

Is rose an aphrodisiac? Saffron? Ghost chile? We can’t vouch for it, but these bittersweet caramels from Theo Chocolate definitely turn us on! Give them to a caramel connoisseur, who is sure to love you in return. Theo is America’s only producer of organic and Fair Trade chocolate. You can visit the factory in Seattle, or just purchase it on, under “Gift Ideas” in the shop.

– Read our review of Theo Chocolate, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.

The ghost chile, a.k.a. naga jolokia, is a pepper that grows primarily in the Assam state of India. It is from the same species, but a different variety, of the chile used by Tabasco sauce. When ripe, it measures two inches long and a half inch wide with an orange color, similar in appearance to the habañero chile. It has gained notoriety as “the hottest chile in the world” with a reported 855,000 SHUs, besting the previous record holder, the red savina habañero. However, there was no independent verification of the first test.

Theo Caramels
– Read all about the different chiles in our Chile Glossary.


TRENDS: Valentine’s Day Chocolate Statistics

Marcolini Chocolate

Raspberry Chocolate Hearts from Pierre Marcolini.

According to The Nielsen Company:

– Consumers are expected to purchase more than $345 million in chocolate candy during Valentine’s week, accounting for 5.1% of annual sales in the chocolate candy category. Consumers will purchase more than $448 million worth of total candy during Valentine’s week.

– More than 58 million pounds of chocolate candy will be sold during Valentine’s week. But the big winner is Halloween week, where nearly 90 million pounds of chocolate candy is sold. We’d like to think that the overall quality of the Valentine chocolate is somewhat better.

– Lovebirds aren’t necessarily early birds, says Nielsen; they don’t plan ahead. February 13, the day before Valentine’s Day, is the top candy- and chocolate candy-buying day in February.

– Bargain shoppers are out the day after Valentine’s Day. February 15 is the second most important chocolate candy-buying day in February. In the current economy, it makes even more sense to save on your favorite chocolate—who cares if it’s in Valentine packaging? But in this down economy, you may have to fight even more bargain-hunters!

How about the bubbly?

– Valentine’s week is one of the top weeks for sparkling wine sales, with more than $8.6 million in sales. More than 881,000 bottles of sparkling wine will be sold during the holiday week. Only Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s have higher sales.

– Does love make consumers blind to price tags? People are willing to spend more for sparkling wine, including Champagne, during the Valentine holiday week—about 5% more than other peak sales weeks.

As reports of job losses mount, more consumers will be financially challenged this Valentine’s Day. But a single cupcake and a handmade card, along with a romantic candle-lit dinner at home instead of a fancy restaurant meal, will mean as much as any pricey celebration.

Valentine's Day Gifts


VALENTINE’S DAY GIFTS: VDay Minus 7 ~ Seduction Cookies From Ruby et Violette

Prepare to be seduced by these deep chocolate cookies with big chunks of Callebaut chocolate. Nine different flavors, from comfort food to cutting edge. In fact, crystallized ginger and curry were our two favorite flavors—but we wouldn’t turn any away, including cream cheese, mint and caramel. Resistance is futile!

You can choose your flavors and drop-dead-gorgeous packaging options. At

– Read our full review of Ruby et Violette’s Seduction Cookies, a Nibble Top Pick Of The Week.

– Ruby et Violette specializes in more than 100 flavors of chocolate chunk cookies. Read our review of the regular line of Ruby et Violette cookies.

Chocolate Cookies

Creamy Seduction: A fusion of chocolate chunk
cookie and cheesecake.

25% off any order over $100.00 - Code: 1%gei86n


RECIPES: Soup Garnishes

It doesn’t take much to turn a bowl of carrot
soup into something glamorous. Here, a swirl of
heavy cream, a parsley sprig and some gourmet
flatbread from Top Pick Of The Week Rustic
do the trick.

Take a minute to garnish, and a bowl of soup will never be “just a bowl of soup” again. Just use one or more of these garnish groups, mixing and matching as appropriate for the recipe:

Bread: Artisan bread, crackers, croutons, flatbread, pita, toast

Dairy: Crème fraîche, grated/shaved cheese, heavy cream, sour cream, yogurt, quark

Herbs & Spices: Fresh herbs taste best, but dried herbs as a backup

Fruit: Apple slices, dried berries and cherries, fresh berries, grapes, lemon and lime slices, melon balls, pear slices, diced pineapple

Vegetables: Cooked or raw to match the soup, e.g. a broccoli floret or carrot slice atop broccoli or carrot soup

Read the full article, with suggestions for 21 different soups.

Find garnish ideas for other types of food in our article, Garnish Glamour.

Shirataki Noodles


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