THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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Archive for International Foods

PRODUCT: Flamous Falafel Chips

Falafel lovers are in luck: We can now enjoy falafel in chip form. The new Falafel Chip line is all natural, kosher, and gluten-free; the plain chips are also available in an organic version. And yes, the chips taste just like falafel—only crunchy! They’re relatively low in sodium, too—100mg per one-ounce serving. Read the full review and snack away!

While their natural mate is hummos or baba ganoush, these chips pair perfectly with yogurt or sour cream based dips. Try them with Greek tzatziki, Indian raita or an Indian layered dip.

– See more of our favorite chips in our Snacks Section.

– Then, find some great dips to pair them with—product reviews plus recipes for everything from hummos to salsa to guacamole.

– Finally, a nice microbrew or an all-natural soft drink.

The taste of falafel, in crispy chip form.

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TRENDS: Hot Flavors For 2009

Each year, industry experts predict the hot flavors of the following year. With the first predictions for 2009, international research firm Mintel forecasts that manufacturers and restaurateurs will reach for the following exotic fruits and flavors to tempt jaded palates (astute eyes will notice that some of these have been on annual lists for several years running, and have yet to hit the mainstream, as have past hits like chipotle, pomegranate and wasabi):

Persimmon. Our grandmother loved persimmon, but this lovely fruit hasn’t made it out of specialty markets. According to Mintel, it is poised to “make a major splash in food and beverage.” Mintel expects companies to blend it with more common fruits, as seen in a new Japanese yogurt that contains white peaches, persimmon and apricots.

Persimmon will make a major splash in food and
beverage in 2009.
Starfruit. Many of us have been cutting this exotic fruit into fruit salads and using it as a plate garnish for decades. Found in other countries in jams and chutneys, Mintel predicts that star fruit “will become a major global player in 2009.”
Lavender. Is mainstream America ready for lavender? We don’t know. It’s one of our favorite flavors and it’s been “out there” in gourmet circles for years–Mintel expects lavender to move beyond the home and personal care categories and into food and beverage next year. Already seen in products such as Lindt Chocolat Provence’s Lemon-Lavender Dream chocolate (Germany), lavender can be paired with more familiar ingredients to bring a naturally soothing, aromatic quality to food and drink.
Cactus. Cactus is already a popular food flavor in Latin America, seen in products like Nopalia Cactus Toasts (Mexico), which contain both cactus and corn. Next year, look for manufacturers to incorporate this regional taste into new food products around the world.
Chimichurri. A classic from Latin America, chimichurri is a “salsa” from Argentina containing garlic, parsley and olive oil, and used as a sauce for grilled meats. Will American carnivores convert from sweet-and-spicy steak sauces to chimichurri? Old habits die hard. IOHO, it would take a push from the large steak chains.
Peri-Peri. This one has our vote. A hot and spicy chile-based sauce from Africa, peri-peri can sneak in where chile-based salsas have achieved success.
Masala. With the growth in popularity of Indian flavors, masala may follow curry. But we don’t see a flood of it happening in 2009 in the U.S. Masala, or garam masala (translated as “hot spice”) is a blend of ground spices in Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani cuisines, used alone or with other seasonings. Blends vary, and can include cardamom, cinnamon, clove, mace, nutmeg and peppercorns.

Mintel predicts that nature-inspired aromas will also hit; however, it seems to us that their predictions have been around in household and personal fragrances for some time:

Spicy + Woody. Perhaps we shop off the main path, but we already own these.
Food Flavors. Can one look in any direction these days and not find products that are lemon, pomegranate and vanilla scents?
Savory. Though “meaty” and “salty” aren’t words that spring to mind when thinking of fragrance, Mintel says these scents are an area of opportunity in 2009, as they evoke the comforts of festive meals and salty snacking. Hmm…though we’ll wait to see what gets produced along these lines, we’re not sure that we want to be cleaning the kitchen and polishing the furniture with “meaty” and “salty” scents. There’s a reason that citrus and other clean, refreshing aromas are so popular.

Stay tuned.

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The winner: a sushi made of seven
different treatments of rice. Last year’s
winner, Golden Shooting Star, was also a
vegetarian sushi.
Award-winning chefs from Japan, Russia, Scandinavia, the U.K. and the U.S. competed on October 6th at Sushi Awards 2008 for the Sushi Of The Year Award, a unique creation developed for the event. The “Seven Sushi Samurai” created their selected sushi for 322 sushi connoisseurs, members of the press and a guest panel of British culinary celebrities. The event, held at Bloomsbury’s London House, was sold out (there was a waiting list for the £90 tickets).

The winner was Mitsunori Kusakabe of Sushi Ran in Sausalito, California. Born in Osaka, Japan in 1970, Kusakabe is a largely self-trained sushi genius who holds the 6th American Sushi Skills trophy. He has carried his skills around the globe before bringing them to his Michelin-starred restaurant, Sushi Ran in California. Born in Osaka, Japan in 1970, Kusakabe is a largely self-trained sushi chef who also won the sixth American Sushi Skills competition. His creation, “Seven ‘Rice’ Samurai,” used only rice (no fish or vegetables, except for the nori wrapper and garnishes such as shiso flowers), and demonstrated his skills as a chef; judge Kyle Connaughton, head chef of The Fat Duck Experimental Kitchen, called it “tecnhically brilliant.”

Kusakabe utilized used seven different cooking methods—fermentation, frying, toasting, sautéing, roasting, freezing and extraction—to transform rice into an innovative sushi. The inspiration behind this recipe was Kusakabe’s desire to show the world just how delicious and essential rice is, and how versatile rice can be. You can only imagine how good this sushi tastes, but the next time you’re in the neighborhood of Sausalito (right across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco), see if you can get a reservation at Sushi Ran.

Last year’s winner, Golden Shooting Star, was also a vegetarian sushi. To learn more about the different types of sushi available at most sushi bars, read THE NIBBLE’s Sushi Glossary. And if you’re headed to any of the cities where the rest of the Seven Samurai sushi chefs work, you can be assured you’ll find some exciting sushi there.

Read more about the Sushi Of The Year competition, and see photos of the runners up.

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PRODUCT REVIEW: Long Kow’s Crystal Noodle Soup

An easy way to eat your greens. The
crystal noodles are underneath the
veggies. Shown above: Vegetables &
Eggs variety.
  With Long Kow’s Crystal Noodle Soup, and all you need to do is provide the boiling water and the spoon (chopsticks or a fork are helpful to manage the noodles) to enjoy a bowl of steaming noodle soup made in its own bowl in just three minutes. Savory, in four flavors, and leagues better than the other products in its genre, these soups are imported from China.

If you’ve experienced cello packets of ramen noodles or instant cups of noodle soup, (and is there anyone who hasn’t?), you know that they offer a comforting repast, but not a quality dining experience. Long Kow has upped the ante, using superior ingredients and a large enough portion to make a meal in its own bowl. Just add boiling water, and in three minutes your steaming hot meal is ready. You also need to supply an eating implement—you could slurp the soup from the bowl in a pinch, but the long noodles would present a challenge.

Although the ingredients are freeze-dried, you’d swear they were fresh-made, from the bok choy, mushrooms and spinach to the eggs and tofu. And how satisfying those glassy bean thread noodles are in their savory broth. Well done, Long Kow!

Read the full review on

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PRODUCT REVIEW: Mexican & Hispanic Cheeses

Queso Fresco With Hot Mango Salsa

An appetizer of queso fresco cheese with hot mango salsa from Eat Wisconsin Cheese. Here’s the recipe.


Half of the top 10 fastest-growing cheeses at retail are Hispanic-style cheeses.

There are more than a dozen types of Hispanic cheeses available in the U.S. We took a giant nibble and ate them all.

While some cheeses are imported, only cheeses aged 60 days or longer can enter the country; so the fresh cheeses used for cooking—queso blanco, queso fresco, queso para freir, panela and requeson—are made in the U.S.—in large numbers in California and Wisconsin.

In addition to the Fresh Cheese category there are Melting Cheeses and Aged Cheeses. Here’s a tasty introduction to Mexican and Hispanic cheeses.

Discover many more cheeses in the Cheese Section of THE NIBBLE webzine, and pull down this blog’s “Gourmet Food” menu at the right to and select “Cheeses” for even more.



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