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Archive for November, 2010

GOURMET TRAVEL: Oregon Truffle Festival

Calling all truffle lovers:

Registration is now open for the Oregon Truffle Festival, January 28-30, 2011—a fantasy for fans of the fabulous fungus. Activities include:

  • Truffle and wine dinners
  • Cooking classes and seminars
  • Winery luncheons
  • Truffle hunt
  • Farm tours
  • A fresh truffle marketplace to bring home a truffle “souvenir” or two


The sixth anniversary Grand Truffle Dinner will feature Oregon’s native winter white and black truffles in a sumptuous five-course meal paired by some of Oregon‘s top chefs—and of course, paired with acclaimed Oregon wines.

Hunt your own truffles! Photo courtesy
Oregon Truffle Festival.

Find more information and purchase tickets at

P.S.: If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.



TIP OF THE DAY: Truffle Butter

An inexpensive luxury: truffle butter on
bread. Photo by Melody Lan | THE NIBBLE.

We’ve just written about a pricey truffle food gift. Here’s how you can enjoy the delicious flavor of truffles for just $10.00: truffle butter.

You can enjoy the flavor and aroma of black and white truffles every day of the year with 3-ounce tubs of truffle butter for $7.99 or 8 ounces for a few dollars more.

D’Artagnans truffle butter, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week, is our favorite little indulgence. For the price of a cocktail, you can have a three-ounce tub of precious, sweet butter, chock-full of black or white truffle pieces. It’s almost as satisfying as a fresh truffle dish that costs more than $100.00 at fine restaurants.

  • Spread truffle butter on French rolls or slices of baguette as a snack, with meals or as an hors d’oeuvre with wine.
  • Make truffled scrambled eggs. Add an ounce of buttermilk for each egg and scramble in truffle butter. Garnish with finely snipped parsley and serve with a slice of toasted baguette “crouton” spread with more truffle butter.
  • Toss truffle butter with angel hair pasta.
  • Butter a baked potato.
  • Add a spoonful to sauces.You’ll be in truffle heaven for less than $10.
  • Read our review of D’Artagnan truffle butter.


GIFT OF THE DAY: Truffle Cheese & More

It’s the fresh truffle season. Alas, few of us can afford fresh truffles—$220/ounce for the Italian white Alba truffle (Tuber magnatum pico) and about half that for the French black Périgord truffle (Tuber melanosporum).

One way we enjoy truffles in a more affordable form is through truffle cheese and truffle honey, which incorporate small pieces of truffle that have broken off from the fab fungi. They smell and taste as wonderful as the whole truffle.

Murray’s Cheese has put together a truffle lover’s gift set that includes:


* “Salame” is how Italians spell it. “Salami” is an American adaptation.


Three ways to enjoy truffles. Photo

The three luxurious truffle foods are handsomely packaged in a reusable wood crate for $70 at If truffles and goat cheese aren’t what you had in mind, Murray’s has a build-your-own-gift-crate.


GOURMET GIVEAWAY #2 ~ Three-Month Subscription To BookSwim

Choose from a wide variety of books, including
My Life In France by Julia Child.

Do you have books spilling out of your bookcase? No time to visit the local library whenever you want to borrow a book? Want to make sure you love a cookbook before you commit to actually purchasing it?

BookSwim may be your answer. With a Netflix-like subscription to the online book rental program, you can create a pool of books to read from an extensive catalogue, and then have the books shipped straight to your door. When you’re finished enjoying the books, you just ship them back in a pre-paid envelope.

BookSwim is giving one lucky Nibble reader a three-month subscription to its three-books-at-a-time plan. Choose books from Cooking, Food & Wine and nonfood categories. Read them yourself or share with a friend.

Approximate retail value: $72.00.

To find out more about the online book rental program, visit

  • To Enter This Gourmet Giveaway: Go to the box at the bottom of our Best Books For Healthy Eating Gifts Page and click to enter your email address for the prize drawing. This contest closes on Monday, December 6th at noon, Eastern Time. Good luck!


GOURMET GIVEAWAY #1 ~ Designer Christmas Tree

This year, deck your halls differently with a Christmas tree from Treetopia, manufacturer of synthetic Christmas trees with attitude.

The stylish trees come in a variety of types, sizes and colors, including the “Candy Cane” tree, this week’s prize. And it‘s not just for Christmas: Put blue ornaments on the tree and can use it again for an Independence Day party.

The winner will receive a seven-foot-tall candy cane-colored tree and will enjoy this “sustainable” Christmas tree for many years to come.

Approximate Retail Value: $399.00

To see other designs, visit

  • To Enter This Gourmet Giveaway: Go to the box at the bottom of our Gourmet Cookies, Cakes & Desserts Gift Ideas Page and click to enter your email address for the prize drawing. This contest closes on Monday, December 6th at noon, Eastern Time. Good luck!

A 7-foot-tall tree will be delivered right to your door! Photo courtesy Treetopia.


TIP OF THE DAY: Bitters & Water

Start the event with a two glasses of
water. Photo by Fred Redhat | Dreamstime.


An article in a medical journal, recently reported by The New York Times, scientifically confirmed the efficacy of an old dieting trick:

Water drunk before meals helps to aid in weight loss, by filling the stomach so one is more full than ravenous.

Use this trick to minimize over-indulging on tempting food and drink this holiday season.

The first thing to do when you cross the threshold of a party, bar or restaurant is to imbibe two glasses of water: tap water, mineral water or club soda. (While not part of the study, we opine that you can substitute diet soda, iced tea/iced coffee or hot tea/coffee.)

If plain water doesn’t float your boat, go for flavored club soda or add a squeeze of lemon or lime, or a good shake of aromatic bitters, which aren’t bitter but add nice flavor and aroma. Angostura bitters, available in most supermarkets and liquor stores, have a nice ginger flavor; the company also makes orange bitters.

A few companies, including The Bitter Truth, are making artisan bitters. The Bitter Truth has a generous selection: celery bitters, chocolate bitters, creole bitters, grapefruit bitters, Jerry Thomas bitters (named after the writer of the first cocktail manual) and orange bitters. They’re part of our liquor gift ideas for Holiday 2010.

Club soda with bitters (lots of them!) are our favorite no-calorie mocktail. The four-ounce bottles of bitters are small enough to carry in a purse or pocket, so you can BYO.

The other benefit to starting a celebration with two glasses of water: It hydrates you to counter the dehydrating effect of alcohol.

  • How many types of water are there? See our Water Glossary.


    GIFT OF THE DAY: Decorated Sugar Cubes

    Who wouldn’t savor a box of these beautiful sugar cubes from Home Sweet Home? Even people who don’t add sugar to coffee and tea will want them to impress guests.

    Brown and white sugar cubes are decorated with charming gingerbread men, Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer, candy canes and snowmen. The same decoration is available in all-white sugar cubes.

    The decorative sugar cubes are sold in an 18-piece gift box ($21.99), a 36-piece gift box ($39.99) and 100-piece gift box ($97.99) at

    If you want to make this your “signature gift” this holiday, you can save by buying the 100-piece gift box and break it down into smaller gift boxes.

    Beautiful sugar cubes for entertaining
    and for gifts. Photo courtesy Home Sweet Home.



    FOOD HOLIDAY: Easy French Toast Recipe

    Classic French toast. Photo courtesy

    November 28th is National French Toast Day, celebrating one of our favorite foods (we prefer it to pancakes and waffles). French toast isn’t French; it was actually invented in ancient Roman times. In early French recipes it is called pain à la romaine, or Roman bread.

    This eggy fried bread, with or without maple syrup, can be served for breakfast, brunch or lunch. It is usually made with plain white bread, but can be even more enjoyable when made with brioche, challah, cinnamon swirl bread, French bread or raisin bread.

    As with waffles, French toast can be elevated to a dessert by topping it with ice cream and dessert sauce. It also can be baked in the oven, casserole style, for a bread pudding-type dessert.


    1. In a shallow bowl, beat 4 eggs with 1 cup milk and optional spices: 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, orange zest or vanilla extract (or a combination). Grown-ups can replace spices with 2 teaspoons of orange liqueur (Cointreau, Grand Marnier, Triple Sec, etc.). Or, you can replace the milk with egg nog.

    2. Soak slices of bread 30 seconds on each side in the mixture.

    3. Fry in butter on both sides. Additionally, you can caramelize the toast with extra butter and sugar in a hot pan.

    4. Serve immediately with maple syrup. For a special experience, serve with an infused maple syrup from Moosewood Hollow, like Sweet Autumn (a blend of sweet spices and vanilla), Sweet Chai, Sweet Ginger or Sweet Heat.

    5. Garnish with fresh berries or sliced bananas and enjoy with a tall glass of milk.


    TIP OF THE DAY: The Feast Of The Seven Fishes

    You may have your own immutable traditions for Christmas Eve. But if you’d like to try something new, we recommend the Feast of the Seven Fishes, an Italian-American tradition.

    This Christmas Eve dinner is celebrated with a feast of—you guessed it—seven different traditional fish dishes (although some ambitious families may go for eight, nine or more small courses, served individually or on a buffet).

    The tradition of eating seafood on Christmas Eve dates back to medieval times, to the Roman Catholic tradition of abstaining from meat or milk products on Fridays and specific holy days. Fish, typically fried in oil, was most often served.

    Thus, traditional dishes for The Feast Of The Seven Fishes include baccalà (salted cod fish), calamari and fried fish and seafood (oysters, scallops, shrimp, smelts). But we’ve updated the choices in our dinner menu. Design a menu of your own favorite dishes or follow ours:

    • Oyster shooters or oysters on the half shell (or shrimp skewers or crab cakes)
    • Seafood chowder

    How about a hearty bouillabaisse for
    Christmas Eve? Photo courtesy

    • Marinated seafood salad (calamari, octopus, shrimp, green and black olives, onion) over greens
    • Angel hair pasta with lobster in a tomato cream sauce
    • Squid ink pasta with scallops and red caviar
    • Your favorite salmon dish
    • Your favorite shrimp dish


    You can also turn your dinner into a friends-and-family potluck.

    You may enjoy The Feast Of The Seven Fishes so much that you’ll start collecting recipes in January for Christmas Eve 2011.



    GIFT OF THE DAY: Honey Crème

    Creamed raspberry honey is irresistible.
    Photo by River Soma | THE NIBBLE.

    Honey Ridge Farms has a solution for inexpensive yet delicious small gifts and stocking stuffers.

    The company blends its clover honey with fruit or spice to create Apricot, Blackberry, Cranberry, Raspberry and Spiced Honey Crèmes.

    Luscious, yet light on the palate, these honey crèmes are delicious on just about anything: toast, scones, waffles ice cream, or as a cheese condiment. Add some to grilling sauces or marinades; and by all means, sweeten tea or other beverages. Flavors include Apricot, Blackberry, Cranberry, Raspberry and Spiced.

    The honeys are available in 2.25-ounce, 5.5-ounce and 12-ounce jars at $3.49, $4.99 and $8.99, respectively. For a larger gift, consider a gift crate with three 5.5-ounce jars. Purchase online at


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