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Archive for October 4, 2011

PRODUCT: Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka

We celebrated National Vodka Day today with Zu, a brand of zubrówka* (pronounced zhu-BRUF-kah), or bison grass flavored vodka. Made by a number of distillers, zubrówka is also referred to as buffalo grass vodka.

But it was bison, not buffalo, that roamed the Bialowieza Forest of eastern Poland—cousins of the bison that once populated the Great Plains of America. (See the difference between bison and buffalo. And yes, the U.S. government got it wrong when they minted the “buffalo” nickel.)

Bialowieza Forest, the last primeval† forest in Europe, is no longer home to thundering herds of bison. Today it houses a protected herd of some 450 of the magnificent beasts. Zubr is the Polish word for the European bison/European wood bison (Bison bonasus), locally known as wisent (VY-zent).

Zubr are particularly fond of munching on what became known as bison grass.

Bison aren’t the only ones fond of the grass. It was used as an herb to flavor vodka, which was enjoyed by Polish society after hunting expeditions—hopefully with some nice bison steaks. An egalitarian drink, zubrówka, manufactured since the 14th century, was enjoyed by the peasantry as well.

The blade of bison grass in the bottle is for decorative purposes. The bison grass is infused into the vodka during production, adding lovely flavor and a pale yellow color. (Mass producers use a tincture of bison grass instead of infusing.)


A truly different vodka: a very memorable
gift. Photo courtesy


Zu vodka is delightfully aromatic. Floral, vanilla and almond notes abound on the nose, with some added celery notes on the palate.

Keep it in mind for holiday gifting to friends with sophisticated palates. For more information visit

Find more of our favorite spirits, plus lots of cocktail recipes, in our Cocktails & Spirits Section.
*Polish speakers: Sorry but WordPress is not allowing us to publish the accented consonants.

†A virgin, or old-growth forest.


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TIP OF THE DAY: Microwave Potato Chips, Fat Free & Delicious

Make your own potato chips: fat-free and
delicious. Photo courtesy Mastrad.


Delicious, Fat-Free Potato Chips
Imagine making your own fat-free chips in just 3 to 5 minutes in the microwave. They’re crisp and crunchy, with no added fat.

Mastrad, the leading French manufacturer of kitchen utensils, has created an innovative silicone tray that turns out crisp, super-thin potato chips and sweet potato chips. You can also make other veggie chips such as beet, carrot and parsnip chips.

These healthier alternatives are also grease-free—a boon for the fingertips and elegant with cocktails. We leave the skins on the chips, too, for extra nutrition.

Fruit Chips, Too
You can also make fruit chips: apples, mangoes and pears, for example (but not bananas—a hard texture is required for slicing paper thin). We love to garnish desserts with fruit chips. And now that fall is upon us, they’re a yummy side to a cup of hot chocolate.


No fat is required because the nonstick silicone surface crisps the chips. The only catch is that you need to use a mandoline to get ultra-thin slices.

Family and guests will really enjoy these crisp homemade chips. Pick up a microwave potato chip maker today:

  • Mastrad sells two stackable potato chip trays for $24.95, which enables you to make twice as many chips at once.
  • If you don’t have a mandoline, you may prefer the Sur La Table set: one tray and a mandoline for $19.95.
    If you find that microwaved chips are your new favorite snack, you can buy a third stacking tray to speed up production.

    Cooking Tips

  • You can season the chips before microwaving, with a light sprinkle of salt, curry powder, dill, garlic salt, paprika or other favorite seasoning.
  • You may want to slice the vegetables ahead of microwaving, to save time when guests arrive or so kids too young to use a mandoline can make their own chips. Keep produce that browns, such as potato and apple slices, in a bowl of water. With apples and pears, squeeze a bit of lemon juice into the water. Pat the slices dry before microwaving.
    The ultra-thin chips remind us of Saratoga Chips, the original potato chips. They were invented by accident in the kitchen of a resort, when a finicky guest complained that his fried potatoes were not crisp enough. Here’s the history of potato chips. You can buy these original chips, or send them as a gift, from The Nibble Gourmet Market.


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