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Archive for February, 2010

TIP OF THE DAY: Have A Water-Tasting Party


It can walk the walk on the grocery shelf, but
can it “taste the taste?” Have a mineral water
tasting party to find out. Photo courtesy

Whether you’re looking for a zero-calorie way to get through the Academy Awards or a great way to entertain adults and kids in general, water is the way.

Have a mineral water tasting, comparing domestic and imported waters to your local tap water and club soda (with sparkling waters).

It can be a formal sit-down or a walk-around event, open or “blind”—where you mask the water bottles in wine bags so tasters aren’t biased and you reveal the results at the end.

Select up to 12 waters—perhaps six still and six sparkling—and a great time will be had by all. What should tasters look for? See our article, How To Evaluate Water.

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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Smoked Shrimp & Scallops From Sullivan Harbor Farm

How could it be that we have lived this many decades without the joys of smoked shrimp and scallops?

Smoked fish we’ve had aplenty: black cod (sablefish), chub (carp), salmon, sturgeon, trout, whitefish. But our smoked shellfish experience has been limited to imported cans of smoked mussels and clams. We employed them in various hors d’oeuvres, dips and dishes and concluded that what we’d bought was the smoked shellfish equivalent of supermarket canned tuna.

Sullivan Harbor Farm does away with those memories, bringing an “I must have more!” allure to smoked shrimp and scallops (and also to smoked salmon). The smoked shrimp and smoked scallops add big personality to recipes, not to mention wowing the cocktail crowd as nibbles in various forms (dips, hors d’oeuvres, canapés or straight from the toothpick). If you love shrimp, scallops and smoked foods, you’ve got to try them!

The products are all natural: no preservatives, chemicals or colorings are used. Made in small batches using old world techniques—including outdoor smokers.

You’ll enjoy all the different ways you can use these smoked tidbits. For lunch we enjoyed them atop Al Dente Pasta’s garlic parsley fettuccine, tossed with some rosemary basil olive oil from Sonoma Farms and a bit of brown butter. Fresh parsley was a light offset to the smoky seafood. A gourmet feast in minutes!



Smoked shrimp and scallops combine into
easy, delicious recipes. Photo by Jerry Deutsch | THE NIBBLE.

Read the full review to see how else we’ve used these smoky protein treats.

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BEER PAIRING: Carrot Cake & IPA!


Love hops and malt? Get to know India Pale
Ale. Photo courtesy New Belgium Brewing.

New Belgium Brewing, the third-largest craft brewer in the U.S., rolled out its new Ranger India Pale Ale this month. The brewer’s hoppiest offering to date, it’s named after the brewery’s sales team, known as the Beer Rangers, who lobbied long and hard for an IPA.

This 6.5% ABV IPA has hops for days: Cascade (citrus), Chinook (floral/citrus), and Simcoe (fruity). IPA lovers will relish the intense, dry hop flavor.

The ale is brewed with pale and dark caramel malts that harmonize with the hop flavor. Will you be singing after your first sip? Try some and find out!

Hoppy and malty are the cornerstone flavors of India Pale Ale, which was first brewed in 18th-century England as a heavier style beer that could make the long trip by boat to British troops and government officials in India. Though it’s not new on the scene, IPA is currently one of the hottest styles in American craft brewing (hence, the Beer Rangers’ plea).

Read more about the different styles of beer in our Beer Glossary.



To celebrate the launch, New Belgium Brewing held a beer pairing lunch with a menu by caterer Sarah Tomsic. The hoppy IPA was paired with:

  • Haystack Mountain chèvre, a fresh goat cheese log rolled in Cascade hop dust*, chili caribe**, salt and black pepper
  • Wasabi-citrus salmon: wild caught Sockeye salmon marinated in wasabi, fresh orange juice, and soy; dredged in panko and black sesame seeds, baked and drizzled with a citrus reduction
  • Arugula salad with blood orange segments, spiced pepitas and honey-cinnamon vinaigrette
  • Individual ginger carrot cakes with cream cheese frosting



So, grab some Ranger India Pale Ale and schedule a dinner party. Variations on all of the recipes above can be easily found in your favorite cookbooks or online.

* Pulverize hops into hop dust. If you can’t get your hands on hops, substitute fennel pollen.
**Chile caribe, is a concentrated chili powder.

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GOURMET GIVEAWAY: Kitchen Table Bakers Parmesan Crisps

Forget buying cheese to go with your crackers. If you win this week’s Gourmet Giveaway, you’ll enjoy plenty of cheese in your crackers.

The Gourmet Wafer Crisps from Kitchen Table Bakers are made entirely of Parmesan cheese. There are eight varieties: Whether you love garlic, jalapeños, rosemary or Italian herbs, there’s a crisp calling your name.

The delicate, lacy baked cheese thins contain no wheat, gluten, trans fats or sugar, are rich in calcium and protein and are a sophisticated snack or ingredient for even the most discerning palates.

The cheese crisps are is known in Italy as a fricco (FREE-co): a wafer made entirely of cheese and seasonings.

Want to know more? After entering the Giveaway, check out our review of Kitchen Table Bakers Parmesan Crisps.

Butternut squash soup with an assortment of Gourmet Wafer Crisps. Photo by Melody Lan | THE NIBBLE.

  • THE PRIZE: Five winners will receive Parmesan Crisps in each of the following flavors: Aged Parmesan, Everything, Flaxseed, Garlic, Rosemary and Sesame. It’s enough for a party (if you’re willing to share!). Approximate Retail Value is $36.00.
  • To Enter This Gourmet Giveaway: Go to the box at the bottom of our Artisan Breads Section and enter your email address for the prize drawing.
  • This contest closes on Monday, March 1st at noon, Eastern Time. Good luck!
  • Learn more about Kitchen Table Bakers at


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TIP OF THE DAY: Eat The Bloomy Rind


Eat the rind! Photo of Brie courtesy Whole Foods Markets.

White rinds on cheese—called bloomy rinds—are meant to be eaten. If you’ve been cutting them away, try them. Connoisseurs consider the rind part of the unique character of the cheese.

The bloomy rind category of cheese refers to those cheeses with snowy white, downy rinds and soft, creamy interiors. Along with fresh cheeses, it comprises the soft cheese category.

On a bloomy rind cheese, the rind is composed of one of the greatest cheese molds, Penicillium candidum, which grows naturally as the cheese ages (the antibiotic penicillin is derived from the same family of mold—it was discovered by accident by Sir Alexander Fleming, who found that a penicillium mold growing in a petri dish had killed the Staphylococcus in the dish).

The bloomy rind is produced by spraying the surface of the cheese with Penicillium candidum before the brief aging period (about two weeks). The mold grows on the outside of the cheese, breaking down the protein and fat inside, making it soft, runny and more complex.

The rinds of all cheeses are edible, but some are best left to other purposes. These include hard rinds of aged cheeses (which can be used to flavor soups and stews) and bandaged-wrapped cheeses: You don’t want to eat the cloth!


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