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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Giftable

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Blake Hill Preserves

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One of the exquisite marmalades. Photo by
Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

 

Blake Hill Preserves is an artisan chutney, jam and marmalade producer based near historic Grafton Village in Vermont’s Green Mountains. There, a gifted duo traditionally crafts all-natural chutneys, jams and preserves with sophisticated modern, bright, fruit-forward flavors and marvelous textures. You can see the difference, even before you taste it.

Each small batch is slow-cooked by hand, carefully layering the ingredients to concentrate intense, fresh flavors. All of the ingredients are top quality ingredients, many organic. The line is certified kosher by OU.

One weekend in 2009, Vicky, a third-generation English preserve maker, turned a bumper crop of wild blackberries growing on Blake Hill Farm into 70 jars of glistening jam. A friend sneaked a jar to the local grocery store and returned an hour later with Vicky’s first jam order; Vicky and Joe Hanglin formed Blake Hill Preserves and have been pleasing demanding palates ever since.

Joe, who grew up in Gibraltar with British, Spanish and Italian ancestry, brings his culinary heritage to the line of chutneys, some of which are made with fruits, vegetables and spices inspired by Moroccan tagines and the flavors of the Middle East.

 

We were thrilled with the samples they sent us, and recommend them to all for personal enjoyment and gifting.

The 200-year-old farm, purchased in 2004, came with meandering old stone walls, beautiful wooded trails and an abundance of wild blackberry and raspberry bushes. Vicky and Joeadded blueberries, gooseberries and blush-pink rhubarb, all of which are use to make the wonderful spreads.

Since everything is made in small batches, so flavors can sell out. But today, you can purchase this cornucopia of exquisite products:

CHUTNEYS

  • Apricot & Fresh Orange
  • Cranberry, Apple & Mulling Spices
  • Middle Eastern Date & Red Chile
  • Moroccan Plum & Fennel
  • Rhubarb, Apple & Ginger
  •  

    JAMS

  • Blackberry & Rhubarb
  • Blueberries & Summer Plum
  • Perfectly Plum
  • Raspberry & Hibiscus Flower
  • Strawberry & Rhubarb
  •  
    MARMALADES

  • Fresh Seville Orange
  • Grapefruit & Lemon
  • Lemon, Lime & Aged 100% Agave Tequila
  • Orange & 10-Year Single Malt Whisky
  • Orange, Lime & Ginger
  •  

    The products are completely natural, low sugar, low salt, gluten free and fat free. Beyond spreads, they are delicious with cheese plates, with grilled paninis and other sandwiches, as condiments for everything from barbecue to winter stews, as dessert toppings and much more.

     

    plum-fennel-chutney-230

    Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    At $7.49 per jar, these are wonderful gifts—and when you gift yourself with a selection, you’ll be spoiled forever. Say the owners, “It takes up to 13 ounces of fruit and vegetables to fill every 13 ounce jar!”

    Get yours at BlakeHillPreserves.com.

      

    Comments

    FATHER’S DAY: Maggie Louise Salted Caramel Heraldic Shields

    If Dad is the king on Father’s Day, how about a box of these chocolate heraldic shields, filled with salted caramel?

    Any celebrant who appreciates fine chocolate will roar when he receives a box of such luscious chocolates, embossed with kingly lions.

    The heraldic shields are crafted in extra dark chocolate by El Rey and filled with vanilla bean cream caramel and sea salt. As a finishing touch, the chocolate is brushed with edible gold.

    We’re fans of Maggie Louise, who combines design flare with terrific taste and beautiful packaging.

    A 6-piece gift box is $13.50.

    Get yours at MaggieLouiseConfections.com.

    And browse the website for more wonderful chocolate creations.

     

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    Regal and delectable: salt caramel heraldic shields. Photo courtesy Maggie Louise.

     

      

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    PRODUCT: Limited Edition Garrett’s Smoky Cheese Popcorn

    In advance of Father’s Day, Chicago popcorn palace Garrett’s has introduced limited-edition Smoky CheeseCorn, for gifting or party fare.

    The popcorn is handmade daily from the highest quality ingredients and a signature blend of kernels. It is hot-air popped and stirred into freshly melted sharp cheddar cheese, infused with a wisp of hickory smoke.

    Purchase at Garrett popcorn shops in Chicago, Las Vegas and New York (plus international—see the store locator), or online at GarrettPopcorn.com.

    You can send Dad a one-gallon tin for Father’s Day, or the ginormous 6.5-gallon tin to feed a whole party. The flavor will be available through the summer barbecue season.

     

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    Cheesy and smoky: new Smoky CheeseCorn. Photo courtesy Garrett’s.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Beer Glasses ~ Stout Glasses

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    Stout has never tasted better. Photo courtesy Spielgau.

     

    For decades, connoisseurs of fine wines and spirits have been able to enjoy them in glasses engineered by Riedel, to bring out every last nuance of flavor and aroma. If you’ve ever compared drinking a wine from the correct varietal-specific Riedel glass (Bordeaux, Brandy, Chardonnay, Tequila, etc.) and a generic wine glass, you know the results are amazing.

    Last year right before Father’s Day, we featured the first variety-specific beer glass, an IPA glass from Spielgau, specially contoured to enhance the flavors and aromas of IPA beer.

    This year, Spielgau—a 500 year-old company that was purchased by Riedel in 2004—adds the world’s first stout-specific glass. The company hopes to do for beer what its parent company has done for wine.

    Stout is a heavier style of beer characterized dark color, malty flavor, and thick, foamy head. The wide mouth of the 21-ounce Spiegelau Stout glass is conducive to pouring a strong head, while the flared base helps focus the beer’s aromas, which can then emanate from the glass’s wide opening. (See the different types of beers.)

     

    The stout glass was developed and tested with two American craft brewers of stout: Left Hand Brewing Company of Colorado and Rogue Ales of Oregon. A set of two glasses is $25 at SpielgauUSA.com. Branded versions of the glass with brewery logos are available through LeftHandBrewing.com and Rogue.com, respectively.

     

    HOW THE SPIEGEL STOUT GLASS WAS DEVELOPED

    Hundreds of glasses pulled from Spiegelau’s glassware archive were tested against a variety of the brewers’ own stouts to find the glass shape that had the most profound effect on the aromas and flavor profiles of each stout beer. After narrowing the options to a handful of shapes, Spiegelau’s German factory created six final prototypes for testing all stouts, varying by several millimeters in height, bowl width, angle and capacity.

    After many deliberations, Left Hand Brewing Company and Rogue Ales separately and unanimously determined that the Prototype “C” stout glass delivered the optimal taste, aroma and mouth feel to enhance stout beers. The winning shape has:

  • A voluminous, open bottom glass base that drives beer and aromatic foam upward into the main bowl.
  • A wider, conical bowl that significantly amplifies aromas and also provides superior flow to mid palate, improving the taste, mouth feel and finish of complex stout beers.
  • A stark, angular shape and open base that create dramatic visual cascading effect into the glass as the beer is poured.
  • Ultra-pure quartz material, that makes for unsurpassed clarity and flawless, true color presentation of stout beer.
  •  
    So the next great gift for a beer lover: Spielgau stout glasses with a selection of artisan stouts.

     

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    The two “developer” breweries offer branded versions of the stout glass. Photo courtesy Proof Brewing Co.

     

    ABOUT STOUT

    The darkest and heartiest of beers, a stout is top fermented and differentiated from a regular ale by its brown-black color, chocolate-coffee flavors and fuller body. This is achieved by brewing with barley that has been dark-roasted to the point of charring (think of espresso beans, compared to a medium-roast coffee). Stout is thus both darker and maltier than porter, has a more pronounced hop aroma, and may reach an alcoholic content of 6% to 7%.

    Stout originated in Ireland, where most traditional stouts are very rich, yet sharp and slightly bitter. Stout is well-paired with strong cheese and a spicy sausage such as andouille. There are different types of stout:

  • Chocolate stout is a sub-category that uses different malts for an even more pronounced chocolate flavor. These days, some brewers add actual chocolate into the brew, or brew over cacao beans, or both.
  • Coffee stout uses dark roasted malts to add a bitter coffee flavor. With the tandem growth of interest in microbrews and fine coffee, craft brewers have added specific ground beans to create, for example, “Breakfast Coffee Stout,” “Espresso Stout” and “Guatemalan Coffee Stout.”
  • Cream stout or milk stout is a style made sweeter with unfermentable lactose (milk sugar).
  • Dry stout or Irish stout is very dark and toasty or coffee-note style, exemplified by the world-famous Guinness.
  • Imperial stout, Russian stout or Russian imperial stout has more of a rich, roasted quality and a higher level of alcohol. These are potent beers that can be almost as thickly textured as liqueur. Examples include Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout at 7% alcohol and Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout, at 8.7% alcohol. The alcohol content of imperial stouts can go to 9% and 10%.
  • Oatmeal stout adds oatmeal to the mash, which gives a smoothness and creaminess to the stout. It has more restrained flavors and less alcohol than Imperial stout. Samuel Smith makes a benchmark oatmeal stout, with notes of fruit, licorice, chocolate and toffee.
  •   

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    BOOK: Kitchen Survival Guide For Men

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    Save the males: Teach them to cook for
    themselves. Photo courtesy Save The Males
    Publishing.

     

    Chef Gordon Smith has cooked for royalty, celebrities, executives, and Olympic athletes. Now, in his mission to “save the males,” he tells men what they need to know to survive on their own—by cooking good food at home instead of resorting to less-good-for-you fast food and take-out.

    His book, Save the Males: A Kitchen Survival Cookbook, is a fun gift for single men as well as husbands, significant others and other men who have to fend for themselves in the kitchen, whether full-time or on occasion. It’s a practical culinary foundation for the novice and a great refresher course for any home cook.

    (If you’re buying the book on Amazon.com, note that there’s another book named Save The Males, about relationships. Don’t let it confuse you. The one you want is co-authored by Reparata Mazzola and Gordon Smith.)

    The underlying goal of “Save the Males” is fun, as Chef Gordon teaches readers how to switch from prepared foods to foods they prepare. An empty kitchen goes from foreboding to a place fragrant with delicious meals they cook meals for themselves, family and friends.

     

    Chef Gordon Smith is a regular guy who knows from experience that cooking improves one’s health and appearance (eat better!) as well as one’s sex life (a home cooked dinner is romantic!).

    Cooking for oneself is not only empowering; it could lead to a new hobby—or at least, it could get the man in your life to prepare dinner more often.

    And that’s the reason to give copies to dads, grads, brothers, sons and friends.

     
      

    Comments

    BOOK: Craft Beer World

    craft-beer-world

    A gift for beer lovers. Photo courtesy Dog ‘N’
    Bone.

     

    Looking for a gift for your Memorial Day hosts, or for Father’s Day? Instead of a bottle of wine, how about some craft beer?

    Package the beer with a copy of Craft Beer World by Mark Dredge

    With the explosion in the popularity of craft beers across the globe, more must-try beers are available than ever before.

    Craft Beer World presents more than 300 of the world’s most innovative and delicious, showcasing the best of each style in 50 different categories.

    From an American IPA bursting with citrusy C-hops or an Imperial Stout full of dark roasted malts, the book explains the key characteristics of each, from classic to cutting edge brews.

    There are also nuggets of beer information, including how to serve different beers and how to pair beer with food.

     

    Also consider a beer flavor wheel, a shortcut to comparing styles.

    Another type of beer flavor wheel provides descriptions of the myriad flavors of beer.

    Whether you’re looking for bitter beers or brews with hints of chocolate or coffee, these guides reviews will point you in the right direction. There’s not just one perfect beer to suit your taste buds; there are many!

    Check out the different types of beer in our Beer Glossary.

     

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    A beer flavor wheel provides instant comparisons. Photo courtesy Beverage Ideas.

     

      

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    PRODUCT: Functional Coffee K-Cups In Delicious Dark Roast

    Functional foods are everyday foods and beverages enhanced with supplements that have a helpful effect on the body. Beyond normal satiation and nutrition, they do something really good for the body (that is to say, they have a specific “function”).

    Beyond slaking an athlete’s thirst, for example, sports drinks restore electrolytes, carbohydrates and other nutrients that have been expended during vigorous activity. Relaxation beverages let you chill without alcohol. Energy drinks give you…wings?

    Coffee Blenders has launched a line of functional coffee K-cups. Made from a 100% Arabica dark roast, with a blend of beans from Central and South, the coffee is an excellent dark roast—depth of flavor without undue bitterness. We’d buy it with or without the added functionality.

    Which is a good thing, because understanding exactly how much of the functional ingredient you need to achieve the desired result can be tough to figure out. It’s true even in the simplest case of drinking conventional coffee to stay alert. What may work for you likely differs from the person next to you. Some people need one or two cups, some people five or ten cups, from the same pot of coffee.

     

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    Delicious dark roast coffee with added functionality. Photo courtesy CoffeeBlenders.com.

     

    Coffee Blenders Lean is fortified with Svetol®, a safe, all-natural plant extract of decaffeinated green coffee that has been clinically proven to burn fat and help with weight loss. Components in Svetol inhibit specific enzymes and shut down the glucose pathway in the body. Each cup includes 400 mg of Svetol.

    Coffee Blenders Focus contains Cereboost™, a safe, fast-acting, all-natural plant extract derived from American Ginseng. Cereboost™ is clinically proven to improve brain function, especially in the cognitive areas of working memory and alertness. Each cup contains 200 mg of Cereboost.

    Coffee Blenders Escape is blended with L-Tea Active™, more commonly know as L-Theanine, a safe all-natural amino acid found in green tea leaves. L-Tea Active is safe, all natural and clinically proven to induce relaxation without drowsiness while improving mental clarity. Some athletes take supplements to relax and focus before a big competition. Each cup contains “a full serving” of L-Tea Active.
     
    WHERE TO BUY

    Coffee Blenders Coffee, in boxes of 15 count, are $19.95 on the company website.

    The company is currently running a special while supplies last: The “Lean Bundle,” consisting of four boxes (15 K-cups per box) for $71.96—a 10% savings on the coffee, plus a free French Press K-cup brewer.

    The brewer, My French Press by Cafejo, is a portable, single-cup brewing system that brews K-cups and pods as well as ground coffee. It’s BPA Free, microwave- and dishwasher-safe.

    Gift a box of K-cups to a friend who shares your goals (focus, stress reduction, weight loss).

      

    Comments

    GIFT: Grilling Vegetables Basket

    Are you guesting on Memorial Day or holding your own shindig?

    If it’s the former, and you don’t have an assigned dish to bring, here’s a fresh idea:

    Instead of a bottle of wine or a pan of brownies, how about a basket of freshly picked vegetables? Your hosts will have something to grill and enjoy after the party food is gone.

    Melissa’s, purveyor of premium produce, has put together a barbecue gift basket of Anaheim chiles, Asian eggplant, red or yellow bell peppers, chayote squash, elephant garlic, fennel, cipolline or Maui onions, plantains and portobello mushrooms.

    The idea is to provide better versions of standard grilling favorites, plus something new. (When was the last time you grilled fennel or plantains?)

     

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    A gift for your barbecue hosts. Photo courtesy Melissas.com.

     

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    Fun skewers that circle the plate. Photo
    courtesy Charcoal Companion.

     

    The Melissa’s gift basket also includes:

  • A set of four circle kabobs.
  • A grilling basket to keep cut veggies from falling into the fire.
  •  
    The price is $64.99 on Melissas.com.
     
    Send it as a Memorial Day gift for dear friends and family, or a thank-you gift to your Memorial Day hosts.

    You can put your own basket together by going to the best produce market in town and picking out unusual versions of family favorites (Asian eggplant instead of conventional Italian eggplant, for example).

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Chocolate Fried Egg

    What would you do with a chocolate fried egg?

    Serve it for breakfast, with a cup of hot chocolate?

    Give it as stocking stuffer or Mother’s Day party favor?

    Enjoy it all by yourself?

    Whatever your choice, this little treat from Maggie Louise Confections is sure to please.

    The chocolatier notes:

    “The Cordelia is a chocolate dream dish. A fried egg in a pan has turned into a chocolate skillet made with El Rey 58.5% dark chocolate, filled with hand-crafted vanilla rice crispy treats and salted caramel, then topped with an El Rey Icoa white chocolate egg.”

     

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    A chocolate fried egg in its own skillet. A perfect breakfast for chocoholics. Photo courtesy Maggie Louise.

     

    It’s the Maggie Louise version of a candy bar. Hey, we’ll take a dozen!

    (At second thought, at $14 each, we’ll take two.)

      

    Comments

    GIFT: Bird’s Nest Cheesecake

    This cheesecake gift from Harry & David is inspired by the chirping birds of spring, who decorate the top with a “nest” of premium chocolate shavings that holds a few bright blue candy almond robin’s eggs.

    The creamy cheesecakes also feature a chocolate cookie crust and a chocolate ganache layer on top.

    The two New York style cheesecake cheesecakes are 5.5 inches in diameter, enough for four people or a big piece for two.

    A delicious gift for a cheesecake lover or a special occasion dessert, the Bird’s Nest Cheesecakes duo is $29.95 at HarryAndDavid.com.
     
    BAKE YOUR OWN

    Here are some of our favorite cheesecake recipes.

     

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    Cheesecakes for springtime. Photo courtesy Harry & David.

     

      

    Comments

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