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Archive for Valentine’s Day

RECIPE: Strawberry Rose Mojito

Strawberry Rose Mojito Recipe

Fresh Mint

[1] This Mojito is enhanced with strawberry-rose syrup for a special occasion (photo courtesy Nielsen Massey). [2] Every Mojito requires lots of fresh mint (photo courtesy Indian Home Cooking).

 

Mojito fans: Nielsen-Massey has tailored the classic recipe for Valentine’s Day, using their vanilla extract and rose water.

If your Valentine plans are already set, put this on the calendar for Mother’s Day.

RECIPE: STRAWBERRY-ROSE MOJITO

Ingredients
 
For The Strawberry-Rose Syrup (Yield: 1 Cup)

Not all flavored cocktail syrups are simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water). Here’s a syrup made This recipe from Nielsen-Massey makes enough syrup for four Strawberry-Rose Mojitos.

  • 8-9 large strawberries, stemmed, rinsed and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract*
  • 1/8 teaspoon rose water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  •  
    For The Mojito (Per Drink)

  • 15-20 fresh mint leaves
  • 2-1/2 ounces Strawberry-Rose Syrup
  • 2-1/2 ounces white rum
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • Ice
  • Club soda
  • 1 lime wedge
  • Garnish: whole strawberry
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the syrup. Add the ingredients to a small food processor and pulse until smooth; set aside.

    2. MUDDLE the mint leaves in a tall glass. Add the syrup, rum, lime juice and lots of ice.

    3. TOP with club soda and a freshly squeezed lime wedge; stir.

    4. NOTCH the strawberry, place it on the rim of the glass and serve.

     
    FOR A PITCHER (4 DRINKS)

    Ingredients

  • Same syrup recipe as above
  • 40-45 fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup white rum
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1 liter club soda
  • Ice
  • 1 lime wedge
  • Garnish: 4 whole strawberries
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ADD the syrup, lime juice and mint leaves to a pitcher and muddle together. Add the rum, club soda and ice; stir to combine.
     
    MOJITO HISTORY

    The mojito (mo-HEE-toe) is a quintessential Cuban cocktail. The name derives from the African voodoo term mojo, to cast a small spell.

    According to Bacardi Rum, the drink can be traced to 1586, when Sir Francis Drake and his pirates unsuccessfully attempted to sack Havana for its gold. His associate, Richard Drake, was said to have invented a Mojito-like cocktail known as El Draque that was made with aguardiente, a crude forerunner of rum, sugar, lime and mint.

    Around the mid-1800s, when the Bacardi Company was established, rum was substituted and the cocktail became known as a Mojito. Here’s the original Mojito recipe.
    ________________

    *Nielsen Massey uses its Tahitian vanilla extra. Here are the different types of vanilla.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Affordable Rose Bubbly For Valentine’s Day

    Check the price of Champagne. Even the lowest-level brands are

    Now look at our three recommendations for rose sparkling wine (once called “pink Champagne):

    The first is $13.99; the latter are in the $18.99 range. Why is this a bargain?

    These are sweeter styles, perfect to enjoy as an aperitif, with chocolates or desserts, even at breakfast. Some of our favorite pairings:

  • French toast with strawberries and cassis syrup
  • Bread pudding with chocolate chunks (or chocolate bread pudding)
  • Strawberries in balsamic vinegar
  • Chocolate cake, candy pie, pudding
  •  
    Perpetual crowd pleasers, these wines should be served chilled (as with all bubblies).
     
     
    MARTINI: SPARKLING ROSÉ

    Martini Sparkling Rosé (photo #1—the brand was formerly called Martini & Rossi) is an Italian sparkler made from a blend of brachetto, malvasia and moscato bianco grapes from Northern Italy.

    The nose is delightful, a blend strawberry, rose and tropical fruit aromas.

    The wine is medium-dry, the palate is slightly sweet with ripe berry and peach flavors. The alcohol level is 9.5%.

    This wine also pairs well with seafood, and with cold meats and with creamy cheeses (although we love it with fresh goat cheese, too).

    And of course, serve it with fruit—especially with stone fruits like apricots and peaches, or a stone fruit salad with a dab of crème fraîche or mascarpone.

    You can serve it with light lunches and take it on picnics.
     
     
    BANFI: ROSA REGALE BRACHETTO D’ACQUI

    This delightfully spritzy, full-bodied sparkling wine (photo #2) is cranberry-red in color. The aroma (bouquet, nose) has hints of raspberries and strawberries plus rose petals. What could be more perfect for Valentine’s Day?

    On the palate you’ll taste fresh raspberries. The crisp acidity enables it to pair with the richest desserts, and the elegance makes it a good date for a plate of fine cheeses.

    It also pairs well with seafood and spicy fare.

    Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui gets its name because it’s 100% brachetto, a red wine grape; and the grapes are grownin vineyard located outside the town of Acqui in the Piedmont region of Italy.

    It has the lowest alcohol of the three, at 7.3%: You can drink more without losing the passion.

    Speaking of which, Brachetto has a legend: that both Julius Caesar and Marc Antony sent Brachetto wine as gifts to Cleopatra. Some suggest that Cleopatra fell in love with Caesar over her first sip of Brachetto (the still wine, since sparkling wine had not yet been invented).

     

    Sparkling Rose

    Banfi Rosa Regale Sparkling Red Wine

    Santa Margherita Sparkling Rose Wine

    [1] Martini Sparkling Rosé, pretty in pink. [2] Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui, the color of red roses. [3] Santa Margherita Sparkling Rosé, another fine pink-hued sparkler. All three bubblies are from northern Italy.

     
    In turn, the queen had her lovers drink the wine to unleash their passion. Hence, Rosa Regale, which means royal passion.

    You can shop around for the best price. In our area, we can find a 750ml bottle for around $18.99. But don’t worry about spending a few dollars more: It’s worth it.
     
     
    SANTA MARGHERITA SPARKLING ROSÉ

    This Prosecco (photo #3) is from the Santa Margherita Winery in Trentino-Alto Adige, a hilly area in the province of Treviso, bordering Switzerland and Austria to the north.

    It’s a blend of glera (the process grape), chardonnay and malbec, which provides some of the pink hue.

    The aroma is floral, with what wine insiders call white fruits, plus delicate hints of red berry fruits (strawberries, raspberries).

    The flavor is delicate but vibrant, remaining on the palate (a.k.a. long finish). The alcohol level is 12%.

    For food pairings beyond sweets, look to Italian appetizers, seafood dishes, spicy foods, and the exotic seasonings of Asian cuisines.

    You may find it for $18.99, but we had no complaints paying $21.99 for our bottle.
     
     
    NOTE: These wines are meant to be drunk fresh.

    Don’t lay them down, don’t look for older vintages. Drink ‘em if you got ‘em.

      

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    CHOCOLATE STORE: 2 Beans, A Chocolate Paradise

    2 Beans Chocolate Store NYC

    Al Nassma Camel Milk Chocolate Bars

    Marie Belle Matcha White Chocolate Bar

    [1] Enter the emporium: coffee to the right, chocolate to the left (photo courtesy 2 Beans). [2] The first chocolate made with camel’s milk, from Dubai (photo courtesy Al Nassma). [3] Another winner: the matcha white chocolate bar from Marie Belle (photo courtesy Marie Belle).

     

    Depending on where you live, there may be a store dedicated to chocolate bars.

    2Beans is the go-to store in New York City. A gallery of the world’s great chocolates, it’s a dizzying experience for the novice and connoisseur alike.

    There’s fine coffee, too; the second of the “two beans.”

    You can buy all you want to bring back to your lair, or sit down and enjoy your chocolate with a coffee or wine pairing.

    The whole is greater than the sum of the parts: beyond a chocolate store, beyond a coffee bar, the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.

    There are also high-end soft drinks (like Fentiman’s) and small bites for those who want food with their chocolate.

    The flagship store is a modern, two-story glass rectangle a block from Grand Central Terminal, at 100 Park Avenue (212-937-8914). While there may be larger concepts in other cities, right now 2Beans is where the action is in our town.

    There are currently three locations, with two more to open this year (you can find the other two are in the Turnstile Shops at Columbus Circle, and at Amsterdam Avenue and 82nd Street on the Upper West Side.

    ENTER THE EMPORIUM

    A wall of chocolate bars, a large glass case for bonbons, a stand-up coffee bar and pleasant upstairs seating for some chocolate with coffee or wine.

    2Beans is a chocolate store and coffee parlor located in New York committed in providing best confectionery items and coffee beans.

    There’s a chocolate for everyone: more than 50 brands from over 18 countries: famous, not-yet-famous, bean-to-bar, kosher, Fair Trade, organic, and raw chocolates, even sugar-free (mostly 100 cacao choices, as opposed to artificially sweetened).

    You start with the A’s (Akesson’s, Amano, Amedei…) and work your way through the alphabet of the world’s great artisan chocolate bars—including our own local and national producers.

    There are also boxed chocolates, fill-your-own chocolate boxes, seasonal chocolates and fun chocolates. There are pastries, if you’d rather have some with your coffee.

     

    There are even camel’s milk chocolate bars (photo #2), made by Al Nassma in Dubai (and the only camel’s milk chocolate made in the United Arab Emirates). The name means drifting breeze in Arabic, a welcome and gentle wind bringing cool respite from the heat of the desert.

    One friend, a chocolate bar aficionado, stops by weekly for a pick-me up (and take-me-home). For happy hour, the store is open weekly.

     

    MILK BOY SWISS CHOCOLATE

    Our favorite discover on this week’s visit were the bars from a Swiss bean-to-bar producer, Milk Boy.

    Made in Switzerland with cacao from sustainable farms in West Africa, the company offers

  • Dark Chocolate 60% cacao with pine tree oil
  • Dark Chocolate 85% cacao
  • Milk Chocolate
  • Milk Chocolate with crunchy caramel and sea salt
  • Milk Chocolate with lemon and ginger
  • White Chocolate with Bourbon vanilla
  •  
    We purchased the Milk, Milk with lemon and ginger and White Chocolate…and can’t wait to return for the rest of the line.

    The wrapper depicts the cow parade from villages to the Alps for grazing season. Each spring, the cows parade up the mountains to fanfare from the villagers. At the end of grazing season, they come back in for the winter.

    For art enthusiasts: the design was created by famous Swiss paper-cutting artist Esther Gerber. It’s just icing on the cake (wrapping on the bar?) of this exquisite chocolate.
     
    ANOTHER WINNER

    The Matcha White Chocolate Bar from Marie Belle.

    But in truth, how many winners are on the shelves at 2 Beans?

    We can’t even begin to count!

     

    Milk Boy 85% Chocolate Bar

    Milk Boy Chocolate Bar

    [4] Milk Boy, an outstanding brand from Switzerland. [5] Try the entire line (photos courtesy Milk Boy).

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Pairing Chocolate & Tea

    Tea and Chocolate

    Tea and Chocolate

    Tea and Chocolate

    Tea and Chocolate

    Tea With White Chocolate

    [1] Simple: a bite of chocolate, a sip of tea (photo courtesy Republic Of Tea). [2] Fancier (photo courtesy Marcolini Chocolate). [3] Elegant presentation from [3] Republic Of Tea and [4] Woodhouse Chocolate. [5] White chocolate pairs with black, green and herbal teas (photo courtesy Lindt).

     

    If you’re a tea lover, here’s an idea for just the two of you, or for a larger party of friends: Pair chocolate with tea.

    Tea and chocolate are excellent pairing companions. There is so much variety of flavor in each, it seems that there are endless possibilities.

    If you have an educated chocolate palate, go further in your exploration. As you would with wine pairings, see what works with what.

    We’ve provided some guidelines, but before you start, the rules are:

  • You need quality tea and quality chocolate.
  • Remember that as with wine, tea is adaptable to unconventional pairings. The fun (and learning experience) of a tasting party is that you get to try them all, and see which you personally prefer.
  • There are obvious pairings—citrussy tea with citrussy chocolate, for example; and opposite pairings. Otherwise stated: enhance or contrast.
  • In other words, there is no right or wrong: just what you like.
  • Try the teas black, before adding milk (as desired) and sugar (only if you deem it essential).
  • You don’t have to taste everything in one day. For example, we focused on event only on white chocolate pairings.
  •  
    TEA WITH DARK CHOCOLATE

    Dark chocolate also calls for a hearty black tea. The aforementioned Assam, English Breakfast and Masala Chai work here.

    But for adventure, try:

  • Green tea: Try a nuttier green, such as Dragon Well or Gen Mai Cha.
  • Lapsang Souchong, Russian Caravan: heavily smoky teas work well with bittersweet chocolates.
  • Pu-erh‡.
  • Hojicha: If the chocolate has “red fruit” notes. Single origin bars from Cuyagua, Ocumare, Rio Caribe, São Tomé, Sur del Lago.
  • Jasmine-scented Pouchong or lightly-oxidized Oolong. These have floral that pair with a single-origin chocolate that has natural floral notes, such as Valrhona Guanaja.
  •  
    Here’s more information on single origin chocolate flavors.
     
    TEA WITH MILK CHOCOLATE

    Milk chocolate should be paired with a hearty black tea that takes milk.

  • Assam, from the highlands of India has malty characteristics, is ideal (and is one of our favorite teas). As an alternative, English Breakfast is a blend which has a base of Assam*.
  • Masala chai is Assam with spices. Each home or manufacturer has a favorite mix, which can include allspice, black peppercorns, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, fennel seeds, ginger, nutmeg and star anise. Here’s how to make masala chai with spices from your kitchen.
  • Darjeeling* is lighter, but an interesting contrast to the stronger black teas. With a floral aroma. The flavour can include a tinge of astringent tannic characteristics and a musky spiciness sometimes described as “muscatel.”
  • Earl Grey with milk pairs well with creamy milk chocolate.
  • Houjicha green tea, Wu Yi Oolong tea or other “toasty” teas with sweet milk chocolate.
  •  
    TEA WITH WHITE CHOCOLATE

    White chocolate is milky, often with caramel notes. These teas both compare and contrast:

  • Assam or Earl Grey black tea.
  • Gen Mai Cha (genmaicha): green tea with toasted rice (also the perfect pairing for a bar with crisped rice [like an artisan Nestlé’s Crunch]).
  • Herbal teas: rooibos, peppermint and numerous others. This is a pairing where you can find favorite flavors, from anise to lavender.
  • Jasmine black or green tea.
  • Masala Chai.
  • Matcha, Dragon Well or Sencha green teas.
  • Oolong semi-oxidized† tea.
  •  
    WITH FILLED & FLAVORED CHOCOLATES OR SINGLE-ORIGIN CHOCOLATE BARS

    Bonbons and chocolate bars and bark can be flavored with particular seasonings; but single origin chocolate bars carry the flavors of their particular origins.

    When we say an chocolate bar has, say, a profile of “red fruits,” it doesn’t mean that raspberries have been added to it. Rather, the beans produced in that particular area. Here’s more about single origin chocolate flavors.

    But whether the red fruits—or citrus, or coffee, or other flavor—is inherent to the bean or an added flavor, the pairing strategy is the same.

  • Any fruit-filled chocolate or fruity bar: Earl Grey, Jasmine black or green, floral Oolongs like Ti Kuan Yin Oolong.
  • Berries: Raspberry, strawberry or other berries pair nicely with Hojicha.
  • Caramel: Assam or Ceylon black tea, Houjicha green tea, Wu Yi Oolong teas or “toasty” tea.
  • Cherry: Try Darjeeling with chocolate-covered cherries.
  • Chile/Aztec: Lapsang Souchong, Pu-Erh or other strong black tea; Masala Chai.
  • Citrus: Bai Hao Oolong, Ceylon, Earl Grey (which is scented with Bergamot orange oil).
  • Floral: Jasmine, Pu-Erh.
  • Nuts: Pai Mu Tan (White Peony Tea), Dragon Well green tea or others with nutty notes.
  • Sea Salt: Assam.
  •  
    SUPPORTING INFORMATION

  • Tea
  • Chocolate Flavors Chart
  • Single Origin Chocolate Flavors
  • ________________

    *For food geeks: Most of the tea grown is the original Chinese tea plant, Camellia sinensis var. sinensis, known for thousands of years. The only other known variety, the larger-leaf Assam plant (C. sinensis var. assamica), was observed by a Scottish explorer. It was sent to Calcutta There, for classification and the plant was finally identified as a variety of Camellia sinensis, but different from the Chinese plant. While most of the tea grown in the world is Camellia sinensis, Assam is the largest tea-growing region in the world. The region is extremely hot and humid, which contributes to Assam’s unique malty taste. Darjeeling, also an Indian-grown tea, grows in the highlands, and is the original Camellia sinensis varietal.

    †Oolong is semi-fermented or semi-oxidized (semi-green) tea that falls between green and black tea on the fermentation continuum (black tea ferments for two to four hours; for oolong, the fermentation process is interrupted in the middle).

    ‡Pu-erh is a special category of tea from Yunnan province of China. The tea is fermented and aged so that the flavors and aromas are very earthy. Pu-erh teas are available in black, brick green, oolong, and white. Here’s more about it.
     

      

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    VALENTINE’S DAY: Three Wonderful Food Gifts

    Vinebox Valentine Gift

    VineBox Wines

    Ritual Chocolate Bars

    [1] [2] [3] The Valentine gift box from VineBox, with artisan chocolate bars from Ritual Chocolate.

     

    You could search all over town without finding wonderful Valentine’s Day gifts like these—one with zero calories!

    There’s no need leave home to get them. Just click below to order these online.

    1. FOR THE WINE DRINKER: A WINE & CHOCOLATE PAIRING

    VineBox is a monthly wine-by-the-glass subscription service; but for Valentine’s Day, it has teamed up with artisan chocolatier Ritual Chocolates to offer gift box that anyone can order.

    Three red wines have been paired with two different 75% cacao origin chocolate bars, from Belize and Madagascar.

    The wines include a Chianti from Tuscany, a Crozes-Hermitage from the Rhone Valley of France, and a Don Paolo from the Pompeii area of southern Italy.

    Beautifully packaged—you’ll want to repurpose the empty box or wine vials—the gift includes two separate boxes, with a total of

  • 3 different wines, 6 glasses total.
  • 2 small-batch chocolate bars, 2.12 ounces apiece.
  • Tasting notes and description.
  • A gift card.
  •  
    Both boxes are $69 at VineBox.com; shipping is included.
     
     
    For More Wine & Chocolate Pairings

    Check out THE NIBBLE’s favorite pairings, and our master pairing chart.

    Here’s a guide to pairing sparkling wines with chocolate.

    Here’s how to pair wine with chocolate desserts and other desserts.

     

    2. CALORIE- & CAFFEINE-FREE: LOVERS’ TEA

    This herbal blend from one of our favorite artisan blenders combines red rooibos, baby rose buds and petals, marigold petals, almonds and saffron (a well known aphrodisiac).

    Whether hot or iced, we guarantee the recipient will love it. A four-ounce tin is $16 at Tay Tea.

    The company has another rooibos blend we love, with bits of Belgian dark chocolate and peppermint, called Better Than Sex.
     

    3. ORGANIC TRUFFLE HONEY

    Many truffle-flavored products are flavored with a chemical approximation of truffle flavor and aroma.

    But this jar of Acacia honey, certified USDA organic, is flavored with real white truffle pieces.

    We love dipping it by the spoon from the jar; but more genteel uses include:

  • Cheese condiment extraordinaire, from blues to goats, to Parmesans and beyond.
  • Glaze a duck breast, lamb, roast ham, pork or turkey: just brush on top while the meat rests out of the oven. Ditto as a sandwich condiment with these meats.
  • Drizzle an earthy garnish onto vanilla ice cream.
  • Drizzle over bruschetta with fresh ricotta.
  •  
    Truffle honey turns something simple into something joyous.

    Get yours from Murray’s Cheese, $26.99 for a 4.25-ounce jar of heaven.

     

    Lovers Tea Herbal

    Truffle Honey Da Rosario

    [4] Lovers’ Tea from Tay Tea is an elegant herbal blend. [5] Honey in a perfect marriage with truffles, from Da Rosario.

     

      

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