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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 June, 2009

PRODUCT: Voskos Greek-Style Yogurt



Perhaps one of the greatest additions to the American diet is 0% fat Greek yogurt. Triple strained, the thick, creamy yogurt gives no hint that it’s fat-free. There’s also a natural sweetness to it, as if the tang were strained out as well—even though Greeks will tell you that their yogurt is naturally tangy. Not so in our experience with factory-produced, as opposed to homemade, Greek-style yogurt.

We chanced upon Voskos all natural Greek-style yogurt, a brand new to us, during a recent stroll through the latest New York City Whole Foods Market in TriBeCa. (This is an enviably enormous store for a zip code with so few residents. Our population-dense Upper West Side store seems at least half the size, with a corresponding fewer choices of yogurt and ice cream brands, to name just two categories dear to our heart).

We were only able to find the Nonfat Honey Vanilla Bean and Nonfat Blended Wild Blueberry, but based on our happy experience, we’ll track down the rest of the line, which includes the additional nonfat flavors of Exotic Fig, Honey and Wild Strawberry. The company also makes 16-ounce containers of Plain Lowfat, Nonfat and Original (i.e., full fat). With nonfat yogurt this delicious (also see our review of Chobani’s nonfat Greek-style yogurt), who needs yogurt with fat?

 

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Voskos Greek Yogurt: 0% fat, 100% delicious.

Unlike most Greek-style yogurts, which are thick-bodied like sour cream (and that’s part of the appeal), the two Voskos flavored yogurts we tried have a delicate, soft, pastry cream-like consistency—in fact, you could pipe it into cream puffs, if you wished. They don’t read the traditional Greek yogurt script at all, but are as pliant as any natural, unthickened yogurt. While the container says “thick and creamy,” don’t believe the thick part (for thick, try Chobani). But for creamy—aah, so creamy, so happy.

  • The Honey Vanilla Bean tasted like it had been made by a fine pastry chef, full of superb vanilla flavor and tiny, crunchy flecks of vanilla bean. It is perhaps the best vanilla yogurt we’ve ever had. There’s more evaporated cane juice than honey as a sweetener and we didn’t taste any honey notes, but that’s just as well—we wouldn’t want anything to interfere with that divine vanilla flavor.
  • The Wild Blueberry had a cultivated rather than wild blueberry flavor, but that was fine with us, as well. (Honestly, how many people have ever tasted wild blueberries? We have a suspicion that no commercial enterprise is using them in yogurt, either—the label says “blueberries” and “natural flavor.” ) It’s not the same memorable flavor that the Honey Vanilla Bean is, but it’s a lovely blueberry yogurt, and we savored every drop of creaminess.


  • Speaking of every drop, our one complaint: the 5.3-ounce container. We are not children, we are not Lilliputians, we are not ballerinas. We are adults with adult appetites. First the yogurt manufacturers shaved our 8-ounce cups down to 6 ounces; now it seems that the avant-garde is heading to 5.3 ounces. What’s next: 4-ounce “yogurt shots?” Manufacturers should simply “man up,” charge more for the product and give us back the 8-ounce portion. If it’s a good product, consumers will pay another 20 cents for it—especially the consumers who shop where this line is sold. At $1.49, the 5.3-ounce container of yogurt is no bargain in the first place, so give us a larger container that’s no bargain. (Well, let us rephrase that: $1.49 for something delicious is worth it; $1.69 for something delicious is equally worth it.)

    A visit to the Voskos website indicates that it is made by Sun Valley Dairy of Sun Valley, California, north of Los Angeles (www.sunvalley-dairy.com). It’s sold at AJ’s, Andronico’s, Ralph’s, Safeway, Sprouts, Wild Oats, Whole Foods Markets and natural food stores. (Remember, not every story in a chain carries the merchandise.) Cleverly, the website includes a downloadable form that you can submit to your store manager: “Dear Store Manager, I am a regular shopper here at your store and would love to be able to purchase Voskos Greek Style Yogurt. If you carry this brand of yogurt, I will purchase it. Thank you, Your Customer.” That’s a good template anytime you’d like to petition for something! However, it left off the most important part: “P.S. Please contact your Voskos sales rep at 1-800-123-4567, today.

    Comments

    NEW PRODUCT: True Brew Organic Iced Tea



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    The True Brew crew: organic iced tea.

     

    June is National Iced Tea Month, and there’s a new bottled tea in town: True Brew. Made in Texas, where people like their iced tea sweet, the line offers sweetened varieties, with unsweetened black, green and white teas for purists.

  • 100% Organic varieties include Unsweetened Black, White and Green Teas.
  • Organic varieties include sweetened Apple White, Cranberry Orange, Green, Hibiscus, Peach White, Strawberry White, Sweet and White Teas. (See the difference between 100% Organic and Organic.)


  • The unsweetened teas have zero calories; the sweetened teas, which employ organic cane sugar, have between 64 and 72 calories per 8-ounce serving.

    While we normally drink our tea unsweetened—iced or hot—to enjoy the flavor of the quality tea we buy, our favorite of the line was the Sweet Tea. It tasted exactly like what one would brew at home and drink with two teaspoons of sugar (in fact, it tasted exactly like the iced tea we made through our teens and college years, before we started to drink our tea and coffee black).

    The Unsweetened Green Tea was the third place winner in the Iced Tea Class at the recent 2009 World Tea Championships (first place went to ITO EN’s Oi Ocha Dark [a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week], second place to Wegman’s Just Tea—Green, a private label brand that is brewed for them by someone—we’ll have to track down who). Green tea connoisseurs will like it—it has the vegetal flavors of a complex green tea.

    The flavor profiles are very different from Honest Tea, the first organic bottled tea line. Unlike Honest Tea, the entire True Brew line is packaged in a PET bottle (the only resin [plastic] approved by the FDA to have post-consumer recycled content). Organic tea drinkers seeking an alternative should give it a try.

    There’s another reason everyone who drinks bottled tea should take a look at True Brew: the higher antioxidant content. The company claims a polyphenol count that is higher than some competitors. Based on a Men’s Health article that compared green tea varieties from Harney and Sons, Lipton, Tazo and Snapple, True Brew has more polyphenols per bottle. True Brew actually lists the polyphenol count on the bottle, although somewhat strangely, the number stated is the amount per liter instead of how much is in the 16-ounce bottle.

    The price is right: True Brew has been retailing at $1.00 per bottle! Find store locations at TrueBrew.com.

    Comments

    RECIPE: Snickers Icebox Pie



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    It’s hard to resist this rich, gooey Snickers pie!

     

    There’s nothing to snicker with this recipe, unless you find yourself unable to stop eating it and friends and family post You Tube videos of you, snickered and crumb-faced. A Snickers Pie is a cream pie made of cream cheese, peanut butter and chopped Snickers bars on a chocolate crumb crust. The top is typically decorated with chopped Snickers Bars and sometimes, caramel and /or chocolate drizzles. There are many variations of the recipe; a Snickers ice cream pie can be made with vanilla or peanut butter ice cream, along with the chopped Snickers bars. While this recipe from New York City’s famed Magnolia Bakery doesn’t include them, some bakers like to mix chopped roasted peanuts into the recipe as well. Try your own variations, and see our Pie & Pastry Glossary for a bakery full of pie and pastry types.

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    RECIPES: Ladurée Macaroons



    No one tells us they’re going to Paris anymore, because they know we’ll beg them to bring back two boxes of macaroons from Ladurée, the international temple of macaroon holiness. The great success of Ladurée’s macarons is threefold:

  • The tenderness of the meringue.
  • The quality of the fillings.
  • The vivid flavors and colors.

  • So, if you love macaroons, put a visit to Paris’s Ladurée on the “100 Things To Do Before You Die” list. Until then, try your hand at making the elaborate macaroons at home with their recipe.

  • Think all macaroons are the same? Learn why “macaroon” means different things to different people in our History of Macaroons.
  • Read reviews of our favorite gourmet cookies.
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    Ladurée Cherry Amaretto and Apricot Ginger macaroons. No, they’re not too pretty to eat.

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    TIP OF THE DAY: “Champagne” Sorbet

     

    Create an easy but elegant dessert by filling your champagne glasses (or wine goblets) with 3 or 4 different flavors and colors of sorbet. Even supermarket brands taste good, but if you can, buy specialty brands in flavors like apple mint or pear cognac. It’s all the more special for your guests. For something really special, get the real champagne and wine sorbets from Wine Cellar Sorbets—read our review. Serve with a fancy cookie and garnish with something interesting—a blackberry or a sprig of rosemary. Note: As you’re scooping sorbet for six or eight people, things can start to melt down. You can scoop balls in advance and keep them on covered plates or in containers in the freezer; then assemble quickly in the goblets and serve. Don’t pre-assemble and freeze in the goblets because moisture will condense on the glass when you remove them to room temperature.

    See more sorbet and ice cream ideas.

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Reusable Produce Bags A Greener Alternative



    Do you carry your own grocery tote to the supermarket instead of taking bags that just get thrown away? Good for you! Another way for environmentally-concerned people to save the environment: reusable produce bags let you BYO to the supermarket, so you aren’t throwing plastic into the landfill every time you buy lemons, apples and cucumbers.

    The bags are made of fine mesh with a drawstring, are machine washable and virtually weightless. They’re see through, so cashiers can scan or input the code. Using these three bags just once a week can save as many as 150 plastic bags per year!

     

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    Go green with reusable produce bags.

    Sold in sets of three bags for $7.50, two of the bags measure 11.5 X 14.25 inches and one is 14 X 16.25 inches to hold large items. Get some for yourself and note them on your holiday list as a good, inexpensive green-conscious gift. At 3Bags.com.

    Comments

    RECIPES: Pairing Hors d’Oeuvres With Gourmet Tortilla Chips & Cocktails

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    For a twist on the campfire classic, try these Cinnamon S’Mores.
    Good tortilla chips are always welcome at a party. But there is so much more to tortilla chips than salsa, guacamole and Margaritas. To celebrate their four new tortilla chip flavors, Food Should Taste Good, a company that specializes in gourmet flavored corn chips, (so good, they were a NIBBLE Top Pick of the Week—read our review), has glamorized chips and dips by hiring a top French chef, Florent Tourondel of New York City’s BLT Market, to create party fare. Tourondel and his team combined the flavored chips with gourmet dips and cocktail recipes. We attended a party with four “tasting stations”: Check out the recipe links below, and host your own pairing party. There’s every level of sophistication, from a cheese fondue with amber ale to cinnamon s’mores with a cappuccino cocktail.

  • Cheddar Chive Fondue & Microbrew Ale
  • Cinnamon S’Mores & Cappuccino Cocktail
  • Creamy Guacamole & Watermelon Basil Martini
  • Tomato Mango Chutney & Mango Rum Punch
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    PRODUCT: Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt


    When you’re Gary Hirshberg, founder and CEO of Stonyfield Yogurt, the daily choice of yogurt is pretty vast. So who’d have guessed, after looking at the Stonyfield Yogurt empire, that his favorite treat as a boy was authentic Greek yogurt, made by his next door neighbors? Last year, he launched his own brand of Greek yogurt, under the Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt label. Oikos is the Greek word for house, and also the root of the word for ecology, which is fundamental to the organic, environment-supportive Stonyfield brand. The Oikos line has 0% fat, is certified organic and kosher and is available in Plain plus Blueberry, Honey, Strawberry and Vanilla.

    Oikos Greek Yogurt is thicker than regular yogurt, but not as thick as FAGE Total Greek yogurt or another relative newcomer, Chobani probiotic Greek yogurt, both of which can pass for thick sour cream. There’s a big difference in the texture—with Oikos being more like “normal” yogurt—as well as in the flavor. Whereas FAGE Total and Chobani can sometimes pass for sour cream (wishful thinking), Oikos is definitely yogurt.

    Read the full review and find out what makes a yogurt “Greek.”

  • Find more reviews of our favorite yogurts in THE NIBBLE’S Yogurt Section.
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    Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt is fat free, organic and kosher. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

  • Read about the different styles of yogurt in our Yogurt Glossary.
  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Waffles For International Waffle Day

    It’s International Waffle Day! Make your favorite waffles for breakfast, lunch or dessert. For a savory main course, top waffles with sour cream or crème fraîche and salmon caviar; with smoked salmon or poached salmon, sour cream and dill; with poached chicken or seafood and dill; with creamed chicken or seafood and mushrooms. For dessert, top with ice cream, chocolate or caramel sauce, dulce de leche, custard sauce and fresh fruit, or simply a touch of powdered sugar or jam. But don’t waffle-choose one!

  • You won’t believe how many different types of waffles there are! See them in our Pancake & Waffle Glossary.
  • Use a waffle iron that makes heart-shaped waffles (plus a recipe from Jacques Pépin)
  • From Villaware: Mickey Mouse waffles for the kids, beautiful rosette waffles for the aesthetes.
  • Great pancake and waffle mix from San Saba River pecan Company.
  • Comments

    TRENDS: Whole Foods Over-Stretches The Definition Of “Local”

    Most food-centric people are interested in “local” foods these days: to support their local family farms; to eat foods in season, when they taste the best; and for environmental reasons, because locally-grown food doesn’t have to be transported long distances, which saves on fossil fuel. While “local” has become a hot marketing word, we think that Whole Foods Market has taken the concept a bit too far. As we walked past the bags of coffee at one of the New York Whole Foods stores this afternoon, we saw two brands produced by New York-area companies, heralded with “local” signs. Militant locavores—restrain yourselves from marching on Whole Foods Market and tearing these signs down. Instead, if you concur with our grievance, complain to the store manager. coffee-plantation-230
    A coffee plantation in Brazil. All coffee beans sold in the continental U.S. are grown elsewhere and shipped here. They are not “local” foods. Photo by Daniel Zandonadi | SXC.
    What’s the grievance? No coffee is grown anywhere in the Continental U.S., so therefore, no coffee can be a “local” product in the sense that the industry uses the term, to apply to products that are farmed, raised or fished locally (only Whole Foods Hawaii can promote Kona and a few other local coffee varieties). Typically, coffee beans for American brands are shipped green to the U.S. from the semitropical country in which they are grown, whether they’re destined for Maxwell House or an artisan label. They do get roasted locally, for freshness; but that’s like saying that macadamia nuts from Australia that are roasted in New York are a “local” product.

    So these beans were roasted in New York instead of Seattle. That’s not what “local” means, and to say so is duping customers who want to do the right thing but don’t stop to think that coffee isn’t locally grown. If WFM wants to flag a brand of coffee that roasts the beans locally as “local,” then they’ve got to flag every ice cream, yogurt, jam and other food manufactured in the region as local, regardless of where the ingredients come from. At least the local ice cream and yogurt makers are using local milk!

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