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Archive for February 22, 2014

FOOD HOLIDAY: National Margarita Day

What’s your idea of the perfect Margarita? In anticipation of National Margarita Day, February 22nd, Milagro Tequila asked 100 Margarita drinkers, 51 men and 49 women, to share their preferences.

  • Ninety-one percent of them prefer Margaritas made with fresh ingredients over those made with a pre-packaged mix.
  • One third of respondents prefer drinking their Margarita in a rocks glass rather than a big Margarita glass (which actually was invented for frozen Margaritas—see more below).
  • Nearly 2/3 of the survey participants prefer salt on the rim.
  • Seventy percent of respondents prefer drinking from the salted rim rather than through a straw.
  • More than half of respondents take their Margaritas blended, which is the industry term for a frozen Margarita.
  • The majority of people prefer a classic Margarita to a fruit-flavored one (guava, passionfruit, peach, strawberry, etc.).
  • Forty percent like having an extra tequila shot mixed into their Margaritas.
  • Two-thirds of respondents prefer a Margarita made with blanco/silver tequila rather than the lightly aged reposado.
    Here’s more 411 on Margaritas:



    Something different: a chili powder rim instead of salt. Or, mix the two. Photo courtesy Richard Sandoval Restaurants.



    A Margarita glass (see photo below) is style of cocktail glass used to serve Margaritas and other mixed drinks. It is also repurposed as tableware, to serve dishes from ceviche, guacamole and shrimp cocktail to sundaes and other desserts.

    The Margarita glass is a variation of the classic Champagne coupe, and was developed specifically for for blended fruit and frozen Margaritas. The capacity is larger than the rocks glass used for classic Margaritas, and the wide rim accommodates plenty of salt.

    There is no need to own Margarita glasses: rocks glasses are just fine for classic Margaritas, and the larger Collins glasses—or whatever you have—do well for frozen Margaritas.

    Why was a different glass created?

    From the Victorian Age until the Second World War, people of means dined very fashionably. Elaborately prepared foods were served on fine tableware with many different utensils—different fork and knife shapes for meat, fish, seafood, and so on.

  • Even in middle class homes, the “good silver” could include a dinner fork, salad fork, fish fork, oyster fork; dinner knife, fish knife, salad knife, butter knife; soup spoon, tea spoon, iced tea spoon, espresso spoon, grapefruit spoon; and so on.
  • Some were truly useful—a serrated grapefruit spoon spared the time of cutting each half with a grapefruit knife prior to serving; a lobster pick is an important aid to removing the leg meat.
  • Others were merely rationalizations, as those of us who eat meat, fish and salad with the same fork can testify.
    Along similar lines, cocktail, glassware was created for specific drinks.

  • In the tumbler category alone (not stemware) there are Collins glasses for a tall mixed drink; highball glass, taller but not as tall as the Collins; Old Fashioned glass for an “on the rocks” drink; the dizzy cocktail glass, a wide, shallow bowl like a champagne coupe but without the stem; the shot glass and the whiskey tumbler.
  • Then there are the stemmed cocktail glasses: absinthe, cordial/liqueur, Hurricane, Martini (a.k.a. cocktail glass), sherry, snifter and single malt scotch whiskey glasses.
  • Not to mention a dozen different wine glasses, three different shapes for Champagne and other sparkling wines; and ten or so different beer glass shapes.
  • How about non-alcohol glassware: water glass, iced tea glass, juice glass and fountain glass—oversized for ice cream sodas, malts, shakes and now, smoothies.
  • Whew!



    The Margarita glass, actually developed for
    blended fruit and frozen Margaritas. Photo by
    Eugene Bochkarev | BSP.



    The original Margarita began appearing in bars and restaurants along the U.S.-Mexico border in the late 1930s. The first elecric blender had appeared in 1922, and improved upon in 1935 with the invention of the Waring Blender. That device, which could efficiently chop ice, enabled the creation of “frozen” drinks”—a conventional cocktail made in a blender with chopped ice.

    By the 1960s, slushy soft drinks became the craze among kids and adults alike. The machine to make them was invented by Omar Knedlik in the late 1950s. The World War II veteran from Kansas bought his first ice cream shop after the war. In the late 1950s he bought a Dairy Queen that did not have a soda fountain, so he served semi-frozen bottled soft drinks, which became slushy and were immensely popular.

    This gave him the idea to create a machine that made slushy sodas, resulting in the ICEE Company. Yet no one made the leap to using the machine for frozen cocktails.

    At that time, frozen Daiquiris and Margaritas were made by bartenders in a blender with ice cubes. But it wasn’t a great solution.


    A young Dallas restaurant manager, Mariano Martinez, couldn’t master the consistency of frozen Margaritas to the satisfaction of his customers—who no doubt were comparing them to the Slushies from 7-Eleven. His bartenders complained that the blender drinks were too time-consuming to make.

    One day in 1971, Martinez stopped for a cup of coffee at a 7-Eleven and saw the Slurpee machine. The light bulb flashed on, and Martinez bought and retrofitted an old soft-serve machine, porting the technology to make frozen Margaritas. The rest is history.

    The frozen Margarita was responsible for the growth of tequila in America, as well as the growth of Tex-Mex cuisine to go with all those frozen Margaritas.

    According to Brown-Forman, in 2006 the Margarita surpassed the Martini as the most ordered alcoholic beverage, representing 17% of all mixed-drink sales. Martinez’ historically significant, original machine was acquired by The National Museum of American History in 2005.

  • The History Of The Margarita
  • Margarita recipes: original, classic, frozen, non-alcoholic and more
    Finally, there’s no need to buy “Margarita salt”: It’s just coarse sea salt or kosher salt.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Tartine

    Don’t expect dessert: You’re making a sandwich.

    Tartine is the French word for an open-faced sandwich with a rich spread or fancy topping; the word actually refers to a slice of bread. Tartine is the French diminutive of the Old French and Middle English tarte, derived from the Late Latin torta, a type of bread. (Yes, we’re culinary history geeks.)

    Beyond the occasional open face roast beef or turkey sandwich with gravy, open face sandwiches are no longer in fashion in the U.S.

    We have a vague childhood recollection of a variety of tartines served in the ladies’ lunch restaurants our grandmother frequented. Eaten with a knife and fork, they were in tune with those more gracious (and graceful) times. Our mother continued the tradition, serving them at home.

    But slapping another slice of bread on top of the ingredients for a conventional sandwich is more American: faster and more convenient to eat, if less elegant.

    Tartines remain a traditional sandwich type in the Nordic countries: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Poland and Russia, where they are eaten at breakfast, lunch, dinner or as a snack.

  • The Netherlands: The uitsmijter, often served as a hearty breakfast, is white bread topped with a selection of meats, cheeses, vegetables and sometimes an egg.


    Brandade (here, a combination of mashed potatoes and cod), oven roasted cherry tomatoes, vinaigrette-dressed arugula on white toast. Photo courtesy Chocolate Lab | San Francisco.


  • Scandinavia: The Scandinavian open-face sandwich (smorrebrod in Denmark, voileipä in Finland, morbrod in Norway, smorgas in Sweden) tops a slice of buttered whole-grain rye with just about anything. A selection of proteins—bacon, caviar, herring, fish fillets, hard boiled eggs, liver pâté, meatballs, sliced steak, shrimp, smoked salmon—are complemented by herbs and/or vegetables, such as parsley, pickled beets, sliced cucumber, salad, tomatoes. Mayonnaise or a mayonnaise-based dressing is often included.
  • Breakfast tartines: Popular in Belgium and The Netherlands, these are most likely to make the transition to American kitchens. Some of us already serve bread or toast with chocolate spread, honey, jam, peanut butter and bananas or other sliced fruit.

    Suggested ingredients are below. Start with these tips:

  • Use large, thicker slices of quality bread—cut them in half before serving.
  • Toast the bread—it provides a sturdier “raft” for the sandwich.
  • Melt the cheese—even a slight amount of melting enhances the consistency of the sandwich.
  • Check out the leftovers—they’re perfect for tartines, because you don’t need large pieces or a large amount of any one ingredient.
  • Serve at room temperature or warmed.


    Turkey, brie, onion-pepper marmalade
    roasted yellow bell pepper and fresh dill, with
    a side of pickled vegetables. Photo courtesy
    Chocolate Lab | San Francisco.



  • Bacon, prosciutto, serrano ham (we also like leftover roast pork)
  • Cheese: herbed goat or other cheese spread, favorite sliced cheese (like Emmental/Swiss) or crumbled cheese
  • Cold cuts, charcuterie/salume, hard-boiled eggs
  • Smoked salmon, gravlax
  • Seafood: crab, lobster, shrimp, sliced scallops
    Vegetarian Ingredients

  • Onions: caramelized onions or onion marmalade, chives, pickled onions, thin-sliced red or sweet onions
  • Fresh or marinated vegetables, sliced thin: avocado, beets, carrots (shredded or curled), cole slaw in vinaigrette, cucumber, radish, shaved fennel
  • Fruit: sliced apples, pears or other favorite
  • Grilled vegetables, pimento
  • Lettuce: arugula, baby spinach, iceberg or romaine (shredded), watercress

  • Compound butter (flavored butter)
  • Dijon, whole grain or honey mustard (or spring for some fancy mustards like walnut mustard and violet mustard—see the different types of mustard)
  • Flavored mayonnaise (add curry, dill or other herbs, hot sauce or chiles, relish or anything else to plain mayo)
  • Herbed yogurt

  • Fresh herbs, minced
  • Capers
  • Dried blueberries, cherries, cranberries
  • Nuts: slivered almonds, chopped pecans or pistachios
    Some Of Our Family Favorites

  • Roast beef, tomato, avocado, red onion and baby spinach leaves, arugula or watercress on buttered whole-grain toast.
  • Caramelized onions and Gorgonzola or other blue cheese on rye toast, put under the broiler until the cheese just starts to melt, garnished with fresh chervil or other herb.
  • Ham, sliced roasted potatoes and Emmental or other hard cheese, on rye with honey Dijon; garnished with chopped chives and dried cranberries.
  • Smoked salmon, salmon caviar, goat cheese, red onion and marinated sliced cucumber on pumpernickel bread with a fresh parsley garnish.
  • Breakfast tartines of goat cheese and honey drizzle; smoked salmon, cream cheese and red onion; peanut butter and banana.
    Send us your favorite combinations!


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