THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
Also visit our main website, TheNibble.com.

Archive for Giftable

GIFT OF THE DAY: Sturia Caviar, Farmed In France

Sturia Caviar

Sturia Caviar

Sturia Caviar Types

Sturia Caviar de Noel

[1] While chefs use the caviar to add glamour to a wide variety of dishes, for us the most glamorous is to eat the caviar from the tin, with a glass of Champagne. [2] Caviar must be refrigerated, but we love the idea of a gift bag full of tins. [3] Three expressions of Sturia caviar. [4] The special holiday edition (photos courtesy Sturia).

 

France is known for its haute cuisine and haute couture.

But in some circles, it’s also known for its caviar. Sturia combines the two: fine caviar in stylish packaging.

Sturia is the flagship brand of Sturgeon SCEA*, the leading French caviar producer. Established near Bordeaux 20 years ago, the company pioneered sturgeon farming in France. It sells its caviar all over the world.

Farmed caviar, you say?

THE RECENT HISTORY OF THE GREAT WILD STURGEON

For those who haven’t followed the tipping point of beluga caviar, here it is:

Overfishing, poaching, pollution, and damming of the rivers where the famed Baltic Sea and Caspian Sea sturgeon have bred for millions of years, drastically decreased the amount of caviar available, as world demand increased. Ninety percent of beluga sturgeons live in the Caspian Sea. In just 40 years, the beluga was at the brink of extinction.

The other two Caspian sturgeons, the osetra and the sevruga, were also on the Endangered Species List. The species dates back to the Triassic period, some 245 to 208 million years ago.

In January 2006, the countries that bordered these seas banded together to exclude exports (more).

CAVIAR TODAY

As a result, more than 20 years ago, caviar farms were set up to raise sturgeon in river environments all over the world, from Europe to South America to Asia.

The result: osestra and white sturgeon caviar, sustainably produced. At 3,300 pounds, the beluga is too huge to farm. The white sturgeon, which can reach 1,799 pounds, and the 440-pound osetra sturgeon, are best for farming (see the different types of caviar).

Sturgeon farming is a long, painstaking process.

  • After obtaining fry (newly hatched sturgeon), farmers have to wait 3 years before they can determine their sex. The young females are then farmed in ponds diverted from rivers, for approximately 8 years until they reach maturity.
  • At that point, an 8-year-old female sturgeon weighs about ten kilos and yields approximately 10% of her weight in caviar.
  • The eggs are harvested and lightly salted using the Russian Malossol method, which adds a small amount of salt as a preservative.
  •  
    The result: One of the most luxurious foods in the world.

    BUYING STURIA CAVIAR

    Depending on the level of sophistication of the recipient, Sturia guides you to which of their caviars you should consider.

    What particularly tickles us about Sturia is the packaging, in tins screened with art that we would happily display after the caviar is gone. (Or, repurpose them to as packaging for jewelry and other small gifts.)
     
     
    CAVIAR TRIVIA

  • Caviar is a seasonal product. The sturgeon are fished (the eggs are harvested) between September and March.
  • Like any agricultural product, caviar from the same sturgeon will have different nuances depending on the environment where it was raised (terroir).
  •  
    BRUSH UP ON CAVIAR

    Glossary of Caviar Terms

    Caviar Q & A

     
    ________________
    *SCEA refers to the civil farming company, or société civile d’exploitation agricole.

    †In fact, 85% of the 27 sturgeon species are at approaching extinction.

      

    Comments

    GIFT OF THE DAY: Cheese Grotto

    If someone on your gift list is very serious about cheese (such a person is a turophile, Greek for cheese lover), consider the Cheese Grotto.

    Think of it as a cheese humidor, to protect precious cheeses instead of cigars.

    Everything old is new again. Cheese Grotto is based on a very old design, used to keep ripe cheeses in peak condition for generations. There’s nothing like it in the modern marketplace.

    Designed by a cheesemonger, Cheese Grotto creates a perfect environment for wedges and uncut wheels to thrive. It keeps cheeses at their optimal stages of ripeness.

    In other words, it keeps precious (costly!) cheeses in a state of stasis, maintaining their ideal ripeness for a longer period.

    We’re not talking about supermarket swiss, mind you, or cheeses that you plan to consume the same day; but of artisan cheeses that sell for $25.00 a pound and up: cheeses you want to savor, a bit a day.

    WHAT’S WRONG WITH PLASTIC WRAP?

    Most cheese counters wrap your cheese in plastic wrap. That’s just to transport it home.

  • Cheese needs to breath (i.e., air flow), which means plastic wrap isn’t good for them.
  • Cheese needs humidity, the biggest challenge with home cheese storage.
  •  
    After you get home, cheese experts recommend re-wrapping the cheese in special cheese wrapping paper.

    While cheese wrapping paper is an improvement over conventional kitchen wraps—and is certainly less expensive than the Cheese Grotto—it isn’t nearly as effective (which is why cheesemonger Jessica Sennett created Cheese Grotto in the first place).

    Cheese Grotto solves the air flow and humidity problems with a humidor environment fostered by a clay brick that is briefly soaked in water. It releases moisture into the confined space of the Grotto.

  • For short-term consumption, you can leave the cheese at room temperature, keeping Cheese Grotto on the counter top.
  • For longer-term storage, it fits easily into the fridge (it’s 12 inches deep, 8.5 inches tall and 7 inches wide).
  •  
    Cheese Grotto has two adjustable shelves and holds 3-6 cheeses, depending on the size of the wheels or wedges.
     
    WHERE DO YOU GET ONE?

    The Cheese Grotto, handmade to order in Virginia, is $350. That includes optional engraved initials and shipping.

    The materials are made from wood and other components that are natural and environmentally friendly.

    Order yours at CheeseGrotto.com.

     

    Cheese Grotto

    Cheese Grotto

    Cheese Grotto

    [1] and [2] For the true cheese connoisseur, the Cheese Grotto (photos courtesy JRennet). [3] What the professionals have (a cheese cave at Murray’s Cheese).

     

      

    Comments

    GIFTS OF THE DAY: Artisan Honey, Spicy Honey

    SAVANNAH BEE COMPANY ARTISAN HONEYS

    Anything from this wonderful company makes a great gift, including the honey beauty products. Since 2002, we’ve been avid customers.

    The company gathers varietal honeys:

  • Acacia Honey
  • Lavender Honey
  • Orange Blossom
  • Rosemary Honey
  • Sourwood Honey
  • Tupelo Honey
  •  
    They’re sold in different sizes, with prices varying slightly by varietal. These prices are for the tupelo honey:

  • 3 ounce jars, $15.00 for a two-jar package
  • 12-ounce jar, $22.00, 12-ounce pump top jar, $27.00
  • 20-ounce flute, $38.00
  • 80 ounces (for foodservice, unless you eat a heck of a lot of honey), $150
  •  
    You can’t go wrong with anything, but if you need a recommendation:
     
    FOR ANYBODY: WHIPPED HONEY

  • In Original, Chocolate, Cinnamon or Lemon. The cinnamon version is nicely seasonal; the chocolate flavor is a must for chocolate lovers. There are also samplers.
  • This creamy honey spreads like butter. We especially like it for breakfast with toast or spooned into oatmeal or tea.
  • Anyone who has a jar may or may not admit to eating it by the spoonful as a snack.
  • A 12-ounce jar is $16.55, two 3-ounce jars are $12.00 (put one jar each into each of two stockings).
  •  
    FOR THE CONNOISSEUR: TUPELO HONEY

       

    Savannah Bee Whipped Honey

    Savannah Bee Tupelo Honey

    [1] Whipped honey: spreadable in four luscious flavors. [2] Tupelo honey: 12-ounce jar, 20-ounce flute, 3-ounce jar (photos courtesy Savannah Bee).

     
    Tupelo honey is “the gold standard by which all other honey varieties are measured,” says company founder Ted Dennard. “It’s like a thick, slow-moving river of liquid sunshine.”

    For two weeks each spring, white tupelo trees in the Southeastern swamps bloom with flowers that glisten with nectar. The bees flock to the blossoms. The result: tupelo honey with its buttery undertones and mellow, clean sweetness.

    Tupelo honey complements numerous foods, and it’s definitely another one of those “eat from the spoon” delights.

    The entire line is certified kosher by KSA. Just try some on those latkes!

    NOTE: The honeys recommended here have nothing to do with “supermarket honey,” which is gathered overseas from many sources and blended to create a profile that will appeal to the lowest common denominator (with all due respect).
     
    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF HONEY

    THE HISTORY OF HONEY

     

    Bee's Knees Honey

    Bee's Knees Spicy Honey

    Oh honey: The spicy honey is one of our favorite new [to us] products of the year (photos courtesy Bushwick Kitchen).

      SOME LIKE IT HOT: CHILE PEPPER-INFUSED HONEY & OTHER SPECIAL FLAVORS

    Sugar with spice is certainly nice. We love the palate buzz that comes with the chile-infused honey from Bushwick Kitchen.

    Wildflower honey from New York State’s Hudson Valley is infused with fresh chiles in Brooklyn, delivering a New York state of mind that we love.

    The artisans also produce Meyer Lemon Honey and Salted Honey, flavored maple syrups and other products that we hope to try soon. Take a look at Bushwick Kitchen.

    The honey we’ve had several times (and loved so much we didn’t sufficiently pay attention to the other flavors) is the Bee’s Knees Spicy Honey. The honey is first infused, and for a finishing touch a single red chile is suspended in the bottle.

    This charmer of a hot honey condiment goes well with…

  • Berries and other fresh fruits
  • Beverages, including hot and iced tea, club soda and cocktails
  • Cakes and other baked goods
  • Cheese and charcuterie plates
  • Chicken and other poultry
  • Croissants, muffins and toast
  • Ice cream and sorbet
  • Ribs
  • Sandwiches and crostini
  •  
    A 13½-ounce squeeze bottle is $15.95 at King Arthur Flour.

    But we bet your bottle won’t last the week. So…

    A gift set of all three bottles is $44.99 at Bushwick Kitchen.

    Honey Trivia: Honey is the oldest edible food, found in the tomb of a pharaoh. It doesn’t decay because it has virtually no moisture. That’s also why it was used to dress wounds in ancient times: No bacteria could survive to infect the injury.

    MORE HONEY TRIVIA

     

      

    Comments

    GIFT OF THE DAY: GelPro, The Most Comfortable Kitchen Mat

    Along with tidings of comfort and joy, give real comfort and joy with a GelPro Mat.

    It’s a super-cushy and comfortable floor mat, so amazing that we not only have one front of our kitchen sink and stove; we also have one in the bathroom. We don’t know how we’d live without it.

    We almost always have aching legs, knees, feet and/or back and find that GelPro is the most cushy and comfortable mat we can stand on.

    A panacea for the aches, it’s shock-absorbing, non-skid and easy to clean. Almost everyone who has passed through THE NIBBLE kitchen has purchased one. Once you stand on one, you have to have one. At least one!

    Even people with no aches and pains get a lift from standing on them. It’s the difference between standing on hard flooring and standing on pillows. You just don’t get tired standing on these mats.

    The mats are available in a variety of sizes (from 20″ x 36″ to 9′ long!), colors and and designs, plain to fancy. They start at $99.95, depending on size and design.

    Whatever the price, trust us: We’d pay anything for the comfort our GelPro mats provide.

    They also make life more comfortable in the fitness room, garage, grill area, laundry room and workbench.

    Whomever you give one to will be thanking you for a long time.
     
    EXTRA SPECIAL COMFORT AND JOY FOR THE HOLIDAYS:
    20% OFF & FREE SHIPPING

    Head to GelPro.com.

     

    GelPro Kitchen Mat

    GelPro Kitchen Mat

    No matter how long you’ve been standing, a GelPro mat turns the floor into the cushiest pillow. Several sizes and numerous colors and designs are available (photos courtesy GelPro).

     

      

    Comments

    GIFT OF THE DAY: Merci Chocolates

    Need a bunch of small, affordable holiday gift for teachers, salon staff, the letter carrier and others you’d like to thank?

    Or do you need a stash of $10 gifts for anytime gifting?

    Give a box of Merci Chocolates. The very name of the product says “thank you” in French.

    The miniature bars, in an assortment of flavors* made with fine ingredients, nicely packaged in a gift box. There’s even a holiday-edition gift box printed with a red ribbon and evergreen branches—no additional gift wrap required.

    The delicious selection of rich European-style chocolates in multiple flavors* will delight the palate.

    Choices include:

  • All milk chocolate.
  • All dark chocolate.
  • Mixed milk and dark chocolate.
  • Assorted chocolate with almonds.
  •  
    The 20-piece box, with 8.8-ounces of chocolate, can be found for $7.50 to $10.00 or so, depending on the retailer. You can purchase two boxes with free shipping for $21.90 on Amazon.

    In addition to Amazon, the chocolates are sold at CVS, Target, Walgreens and other chains and grocery stores nationwide.
     
    ________________

     

    Merci Chocolates

    Merci Chocolate

    [1] You can serve Merci from the box or in your favorite candy dish. [2] The holiday-edition box (photo courtesy Target).

    *Flavors include Coffee and Cream, Cream Truffle, Dark Cream, Dark Mousse, Hazelnut-Almond, Hazelnut-Creme, Milk Chocolate and Praline-Creme.

      

    Comments



    © Copyright 2005-2016 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.