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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 May, 2009

PRODUCT: Sunkist Naturals Smoothies

There used to be a time where smoothies could only be had fresh out of a blender at home. Then, beginning with the iconic Orange Julius, chains like Smoothie King, Jamba Juice and Robek’s began popping up all over the place. Now, we have become a nation of smoothie drinkers.

We recently tasted Sunkist Naturals’ line of premium, all-natural smoothies, featuring fruit juices sourced from small regional farms—juicy Marion berries from Oregon and Michigan, sweet strawberries from coastal California and legendary Alphonso mangoes. They have no added sugar, preservatives or any artificial ingredients and are laden with antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients. Flavors include Berry Blue Bountiful, Berry Cherry Bountiful, Glorious Greens, Golden Mango, Orange Cream, Pomegranate Sunshine, Strawberry Dream and 100% Valencia Orange.

Sunkist Naturals are not as thick as smoothies from Odwalla and Naked Juice, and as a result, a few fewer calories. We liked them all (like ice cream, has there ever been a smoothie flavor anyone didn’t like?) With eight delicious flavors we’re sure you’ll find one to call your own. Suggested retail price is for $2.79 for 15.2 ounce bottle and $3.99 for 1 liter.

Sunkist Naturals

Sunkist Naturals’ smoothies. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

See our recipes for healthy homemade smoothies.

– Check out super juice from China.

– Discover the many benefits of natural fruit juices.

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PRODUCT: You Say “Goodbye,” We Say Hello!

Goodbye Yellow Brickle Road

Ben & Jerry’s limited-edition tribute

Ben and Jerry’s, the socially concerned Vermont ice cream titan that created such hits as “Cherry Garcia” and “One Sweet Whirled,” has done it again. The company is now helping the world-renowned Elton John AIDS Foundation by reviving Sir Elton’s signature tribute flavor, “Goodbye Yellow Brickle Road.” This mix of chocolate ice cream, peanut butter cookie dough, butter brickle (similar to toffee) and white chocolate chunks will blast you off like a “Rocket Man,” with no “Sacrifice” of flavor. You’ll be “Restless.” It’s “Madness.” “Are You Ready For Love?” Because “It’s the Greatest Discovery.” You’ll feel no guilt with every spoonful, because a portion of the sales from this creamy, chunky “Return to Paradise” treat benefits a great cause. So, buy a pint or three, because “That’s What Friends Are For.”
Take it from us, after the sugar rush has left you and you’re finally out of Elton John song references, gazing into the bottom of the pint, “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word.” Oh wait, we’ve got one—“The Batch is Back!”

-See our Gourmet Ice Cream section for reviews of our favorite ice cream.
-Read The History of Ice Cream.
-What’s the difference between ice cream, gelato, sorbet and frozen yogurt? Learn the definitions.

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CONTEST: The Kettle Brand “Create-a-Chip Challenge”

Concocting the next “it” potato chip flavor: right up there with professional baseball watching and test-driving Ferraris as far as our dream jobs go. Now, thanks to Kettle Brand, you can buy your very own flavor factory and live a day in the life with four bags of “blank canvas” plain Kettle Chips, and a zesty palette of seven all-natural seasonings like caramelized onion, roasted tomato and lemon butter. Just open a bag of chips, add a healthy dusting of cheddar or sweet chili with additions from your kitchen, shake well and let the artistry begin!

With an astronomical 1,750 possible combinations (though Kettle recommends keeping it to two or three flavors per bag), you’ll be turning out your own masterpieces like Spicy Ketchup with Dill and Grown Up Mac ‘n Cheese chips in no time. It’s a tasty project for foodies, or an appropriate addition to any college dorm room for ubiquitous late-night snacking.

Kettle Brand "Create-a-Chip Challenge" Kit

Kettle Brand “Create-a-Chip Challenge” kit

Buy a kit at http://www.kettlechipchallenge.com, and submit your stroke of sweet-spicy-sour-salty genius online for a chance at flavor immortality. Your online “pantry” contains 27 ingredients, soy sauce and honey included…so, let’s just say the possibilities are endless.

-See more of our favorite chips in our Snacks Section.
-For more information, see The History of Potato Chips.
-See more flavored potato chips reviewed by THE NIBBLE.

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NEWS: Longest Coffee Break Ever

Winter, a 37-year-old computer programmer from Houston has made it his life’s mission to visit every Starbucks on earth – a lofty goal further complicated by the coffee giant’s recent downturn in profits. Competition roars from the other chain on every corner, McDonald’s, now serving posh coffee drinks at lower prices. Frequent customers are turning former, establishing more economical relationships with their home brewers. And Starbucks, which once ruled the kingdom of caffeine with a venti fist, has begun closing stores. title="A

A strong cup of bitter farewell.

This strikes a devastating personal note for Winter, who has visited over 9,000 Starbucks spanning 17 countries in the last 12 years. A self-professed “mild” compulsive, he drops everything and hops into a plane when word gets out that a location he hasn’t visited yet will be dropping its green awning forever. Last summer he drove 25,000 miles around the country visiting 40 doomed locations, one of which closed before he got the chance to sample their wares and take a photograph. He calls it “the one that got away.”

Read more about Winter and his coffee break – full story at the Wall Street Journal.

-Read all about gourmet coffee.
-What’s your coffee IQ? Take our quiz.
-Learn about the history of coffee.
-Check out our glossary of coffee terms.

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DISCOUNT: $3.00 Coupon For Maple Farms Duck

duck-confit-leg-230w

A lovely confit leg of duck, ready to heat an eat.

We love duck, but we don’t like to cook it—our New York City apartment doesn’t have an exhaust, and it ends up smelling like Roast Duck Central for days. That’s why we were so happy to discover Maple Leaf Farms, duck that’s cooked and frozen, needing only a quick heat-and-eat. We’ve been enjoying duck much more frequently thanks to the tasty quackers from Maple Leaf Farms.

And now, we’ve discovered a $3.00 printable coupon, good until the end of the year. It’s like printing money. Discounted duck—just what we needed in a recession.

– Here’s the $3.00 coupon.

– Here’s our review of Maple Leaf Farms duck products.

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FOOD HOLIDAY: National Wine Day

Who has to have his or her arm twisted to celebrate National Wine Day? Use this article and chart of wine flavor and aroma descriptors to aid in your understanding of whatever you drink.

Speaking of wine descriptors, we’d like to take a few moments to riff on the snarky comments we too often hear about “wine snobs.” Earlier this year, we even received an email from a public relations firm—sent to journalists—asking us to send them our favorite, deprecating “wine snob” terms so that they could turn them into some kind of wine-snob-bashing promotion. The wine brand they mentioned was not a label that “wine snobs” might pursue, so one could see some “fun in bashing the wine snobs” in the works. However, we were shocked that any PR agency or wine brand would encourage such negativity. So, let’s take a minute to talk about “wine snobs,” who they are, and why anyone might want to bash them in the first place.

First, the definition of a snob, per The American Heritage Dictionary:

tuscany_red_wine-230

Toast to National Wine Day! Photo courtesy StockXchng.

(a) One who tends to patronize, rebuff, or ignore people regarded as social inferiors and imitate, admire, or seek association with people regarded as social superiors. (b) One who affects an offensive air of self-satisfied superiority in matters of taste or intellect.

O.K., even if they do, what’s it to you? The best course of action is to ignore such people, not call attention to them. But let’s power on.

1. Our first group of “suspects,” people who are wine connoisseurs, could hardly be called snobs. They are people who are seriously educated in wine and who generally enjoy sharing their knowledge with others. Everyone began at the bottom of the wine knowledge ladder, spent years acquiring their expertise, and are always in “learning mode.”

– True wine connoisseurs are very passionate and knowledgeable about wine, have highly educated palates, collect fine wine, drink very good wine as a rule and avoid middling wine. Declining to drink mediocre wine does not make one a “snob”: Would you eat a tough steak?
– Good wine does not mean pricey wine. A wine connoisseur knows how to find a satisfying $10 bottle from Cahors, South Africa or wherever. In fact, anyone knows how to find a good $100 bottle of wine. The hero is the person who finds the good $10 (or these days) $20 bottle of wine.
– True wine connoisseurs don’t care if you’re wealthy or important, as long as you have deep knowledge about wine and can have a vibrant discussion about it. A school teacher with a great palate and a wealth of information and ideas is more welcome than a millionaire with neither.
– True wine connoisseurs cherish enjoying the world’s greatest wines on special occasions and sharing them with other wine lovers—in fact, part of the excitement is having the communal experience with other wine lovers who will appreciate the bottle and remember it in discussions that will take place years hence.
– They don’t really want to have Mouton Rothschild and Chateau d’Yquem every night, because then these great wines will cease to be special experiences. They enjoy new discoveries and don’t judge anything until they’ve tried it.

Those who enjoy theatre aren’t called “theatre snobs.” Those who spend a lot on fine travel aren’t “travel snobs.” Those who pour fortunes into lavish homes aren’t “real estate snobs.” It’s that industry jargon that others don’t understand or appreciate that causes those who use it to be seen as “snobs.”

– Yes, wine connoisseurs use words like “blackcurrant,” “smokey,” “butterscotch” and “leathery” to describe wines. But that isn’t snobby, that’s descriptive—just as you’d use the words like “fruity,” “peppery,” “buttery” or “herbal” to describe different styles of olive oil.
– The overarching point is that knowledgeable people know what they want to buy. If you prefer a wine with dark fruit flavors like blackcurrant to red fruit flavors like strawberry, you want the sommelier or store clerk to point you to what you’ll enjoy—just as you want to be able to accurately describe the wine is to fellow connoisseurs.
– And while we’re at it, here’s a chart of olive oil flavors and aromas, while we’re at it.)

Now for the real wine snob.

2. If anyone needs to be called a wine snob, it’s the person who wants to impress people with his wealth and/or knowledge by throwing around the names of prestigious wines he/she has consumed. A person who acts in the manner of the dictionary definition cited above. A person who will tell you that he had a 1990 La Tache Burgundy with his burger last night.

– Real wine connoisseurs call this behavior “drinking the labels”—i.e., trying to impress others with what you own or what you’ve drunk or who you drank it with. No one thinks less of a wine snob than a wine connoisseur.

So enjoy your glass(es) of wine on this dual holiday. Think of all of those who have given their lives for our country, and how unnecessary it is to need to call anyone a wine snob—or any kind of snob—in the first place.

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NEWS: Whole Foods Provides Loans To Small Producers



aging-room-230

The cheese aging room at an artisan creamery. Photo courtesy of Jasper Hill Farm.

 

Whole Foods Market believes in supporting local farmers and producers. The company’s Local Producer Loan Program provides low-interest loans from $1,000 to $100,000 to small, local producers, to help bring more local products to market. The money can be for things like purchasing more animals, investing in new equipment or converting to organic production. Through the program, the fees, interest rates and paperwork that can often get in the way of a small local farm or business taking the next step to expand its operations, are minimized.

Food artisans from ranchers and beekeepers to ice cream makers and bakers have taken advantage of the program. If you are a local producer yourself, learn more.

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FOOD HOLIDAY: National Asparagus Month

We lunched with one of our locavore friends yesterday. She lives in the country and benefits from the bounty of  neighboring farmers. We envied her. Don’t, she said—we’re eating asparagus daily and are about to scream!

We can’t imagine that—to us, asparagus is a luxury that we can afford it. We wait impatiently all year long for the April-June window of fresh asparagus, spending the rest of the year with jars and jars of Tillen Farms Pickled Asparagus. Steaming up fresh stalks to al dente, so tasty they don’t even require butter (but maybe a dip of seasoned salt, like this week’s Top Pick Fusion flavored sea salts or our favorite imported saffron salt from Casina Rossa) is a dieter’s delight—or at least, it enables us to offset all that fat with hefty portions of cheese).

Now, while the delicious stalk is back and in its prime, grown locally and affordable, take advantage. Steam ‘em and eat ‘em plain, toss in pasta with butter, or try:

Celebrate National Asparagus Month with delicious asparagus crostini.

- Asparagus Crostini Recipe

Grilled Salmon With Asparagus Recipe

Linguine With Asparagus Recipe

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TOP PICK: Diane’s Sweet Heat Habanero Jams

Diane’s Sweet Heat in Blackberry, Mango and Strawberry.

We woke up on Cinco de Mayo looking forward to a breakfast with Diane’s Sweet Heat habanero jam—and we haven’t stopped eating it since. Any day of the year is the right day to celebrate with these sweet, hot and fruity treasures. (Thanks to Diane for pointing out that unlike jalapeño, there is no “ñ” in habanero. It’s a very common mistake made by English speakers. The correct pronunciation is a-va-NEH-ro. The word means “from Havana.”)

We’ve tried lots of clear pepper jelly (Aloha From Oregon’s pepper jellies were a Top Pick Of The Week), but these are our first chunky pepper jams, ready to be slathered on toast, biscuits, bagels (great with cream cheese), muffins, pancakes, cookies, pound cake, ice cream, poultry, beef, lamb, pork, seafood, even on breakfast eggs—eliminating the need to sprinkle on hot sauce and redefining the jelly omelet.

The ingredients are pure and simple: sugar, fruit, red bell peppers, habanero chiles, vinegar and pectin. The four-ounce jars are available in six flavors: Blackberry, Blueberry, Mango, Peach, Raspberry and Strawberry. The experience is fruity, hot and exciting.

Read the full review and add some sweet heat to your favorite foods.

– Learn the difference between jam, jelly, preserves, marmalade and more in our Jam & Jelly Glossary.

– Have fun with our Jam Trivia Quiz.

– See more of our favorite sweet spreads in our Jam & Jelly Section.

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PRODUCT: Flamous Falafel Chips

Falafel lovers are in luck: We can now enjoy falafel in chip form. The new Falafel Chip line is all natural, kosher, and gluten-free; the plain chips are also available in an organic version. And yes, the chips taste just like falafel—only crunchy! They’re relatively low in sodium, too—100mg per one-ounce serving. Read the full review and snack away!

While their natural mate is hummos or baba ganoush, these chips pair perfectly with yogurt or sour cream based dips. Try them with Greek tzatziki, Indian raita or an Indian layered dip.

– See more of our favorite chips in our Snacks Section.

– Then, find some great dips to pair them with—product reviews plus recipes for everything from hummos to salsa to guacamole.

– Finally, a nice microbrew or an all-natural soft drink.

The taste of falafel, in crispy chip form.

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