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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 Top Pick Of The Week

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK & GREAT GIFT: Cinnamon Tea

A particularly delicious brand of cinnamon tea. Photo courtesy Cinnamon Vogue.

 

We taste a lot of flavored tea, and find much of it to be, well, meh. Personally, we’d rather have really flavorful, top quality origin tea than lesser tea infused with flavors.

But we keep tasting, and sometimes we hit the jackpot, as with the outstanding Cinnamon Vogue Ceylon cinnamon tea, a Top Pick Of The Week.

Made with high quality (premium large leaf) Ceylon tea and Ceylon cinnamon bark oil*, it’s vastly superior to teas we’ve had that blend tiny pieces cinnamon bark with the tea leaves—as nifty as that looks—or flavored with other oils or extracts.

The “ultra premium cinnamon bark oil” used by Cinnamon Vogue, a Las Vegas-based importer, gives the tea a celestial aroma and a truly sophisticated cinnamon flavor.

 

Cinnamon Vogue tea has no other additives, and has zero calories. It’s delicious plain, so try it that way before adding milk or sugar.

At $12.00 per can (20 pyramid tea bags), it’s a wonderful holiday gift for just about everyone. Each bag is wrapped in a foil packet for freshness. One tea bag is strong enough to make two cups (which is true with all top quality tea).

Get yours at CinnamonVogue.com.
 
*Cinnamon bark oil is one of the most costly food oils in the world. There’s no oily residue or other evidence of oil—just great flavor.

 

EVEN HEALTHIER TEA?

Everyone knows that tea has antioxidants; so does cinnamon.

Cinnamon is a spice that comes from the dried inner bark of trees that belong to the genus Cinnamomum (here are the different types of cinnamon). Different varieties are native to the Caribbean, South America, and Southeast Asia.

Cinnamon has been consumed since about 2000 B.C.E. in ancient Egypt, where it was considered to be almost a panacea. Since then, it has been used as a curative in numerous situations: to control blood sugar, to alleviate symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and to treat everything from fungal infections to Alzheimer’s Disease and HIV.

While you should question health claims made by manufacturers, here’s the scoop from Medical News Today.

 

No surprise: ground cinnamon from the supermarket is typically made from less expensive Indonesian cinnamon. Photo courtesy McCormick. Look for Ceylon cinnamon from specialty stores like Penzy’s.

 

ABOUT CEYLON TEA

Ceylon is the old colonial name for Sri Lanka, a tiny island off the coast of India. The black tea from the mountainous interior of the country has smooth flavor, medium body and a slightly fruity-honey finish. It is a favorite among black tea drinkers as a breakfast or afternoon tea. (Check out the different types of tea.)

In addition to growing tea, Ceylon is a source of the world’s finest cinnamon. How about that for a marriage made in heaven (or at least, in Sri Lanka)?

  

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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Smoogy Frozen Cheesecake Sandwich

What should you do when you’re downsized from your job?

Enter the TV reality show, “Supermarket Superstar,” with your family recipe: a cheesecake ice cream sandwich called Smoogy.

That’s what happened to Tekisha Collins. The dream came true: she won. The prize is a distribution deal, and Smoogy cheesecake cookie ice cream sandwiches are now available at A&P, The Food Emporium, Food Basics, Pathmark, Superfresh and Waldbaums.

We’ve become extremely fond of the Chocolate Fudge Smoogy, chocolate-cheesecake ice cream sandwiched between chocolate chip cookies.

But the young brand needs more than a distribution deal: It needs good marketing consulting. Is it an ice cream sandwich, a frozen cheesecake cookie? Collins calls it “the first and only cake in a cookie that you eat frozen.”

Huh? Where’s the cake?

 

A stack of Lemon Cheesecake Smoogies.

 

And what would you call a frozen cookie sandwich with a cheesecake-like filling?

Hopefully, marketing help will come—and redo the packaging and marketing materials as well. We wish Smoogy all the luck in the world.

Read the full review.

  

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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Bare Fruit Apple Chips

An apple never tasted better. Photo by Elvira
Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

 

Our favorite packaged sweet snack, Bare Fruit apple chips has expanded the line to two new “flavored” chips. The lineup now includes

  • Chili Lime Apple Chips
  • Cinnamon Apple Chips
  • Fuji Red Apple Chips
  • Granny Smith Apple Chips
  • Sea Salt Caramel Apple Chips
  •  

    They’re as satisfying as candy—in fact, much more so, since they’re a guilt-free, all fruit and just 50 calories per bag. Each bag is the equivalent of eating an apple, so you also contribute to your recommended daily fruit and fiber servings.

    Caramel Apple is perfect for Halloween; all varieties of these naturally sweet chips (no sugar added but a special baking process caramelizes the apple’s natural sugar) are great for:

  • Dieter Gifts
  • Glove compartment, desk drawer, gym bag, etc.
  • Stocking Stuffers
  •  

    Here’s our favorite packaged salty snack, which also should be on your stocking stuffer radar: HalfPops, fiber-filled half-poppped popcorn that we like even better than conventional full-popped.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Treat House Gourmet Rice Krispies Treats

    Looking for gluten free treats, mini treats, kosher treats or simply something new and fun? Head to Treat House, a sparkling new establishment that serves up a great selection gourmet Rice Krispies treats.

    The flavors include:

  • Kid Delights: Birthday Cake, Bubble Gum (garnished with a piece of Bazooka), Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate Pretzel, Cookies & Cream, M&M, S’mores and Red Velvet.
  • Sophisticated Flavors: Almond Cranberry, Cappuccino, Caramel Sea Salt, Chocolate Mint, Chocolate Raspberry, Lemon Zest and Salted Caramel.
  • Seasonal Specialties: Fall specials include Pumpkin Spice (topped with a candy pumpkin, for Halloween) and Maple Pecan.
  •  

    An assortment of creative, gluten-free treats. Photo courtesy Treat House.

     

    Read the full review, and think of Treat House for gluten-free Halloween or holiday treats.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: COGO Hot Chocolate

    If you need a caffeine jolt but don’t like coffee (or get heartburn from the acid), we have a delicious solution.

    COGO extra-caffeinated hot chocolate has as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. We’ve had caffeinated water and double-caffeinated coffee and caffeinated mints, but COGO is the first hot chocolate or cocoa we’ve come across.

    A six-ounce cup of COCO has as much caffeine as an eight-ounce cup of coffee: 98g of caffeine, compared to 5g in a typical cup of hot chocolate.

    And it’s delicious: chocolaty and creamy, a far higher-quality product than supermarket brands. There’s more chocolate intensity, more milkiness (no added milk needed) and no cloying sweetness.

    Currently sold in boxes of 50 individual packets—just mix with hot water—COGO has become part of our morning routine. We have it at home and in the office kitchen.

     

    We could drink it all day. Photo courtesy COGO.

     

    The box we sent to our godson in college was slurped up in two days—and now the whole dormitory is ordering it.

    Check out more of our favorite hot chocolate reviews, including:

  • Great Hot Chocolate Tricks: 25 Ways To Serve Hot Chocolate
  • Hot Chocolate Trivia Quiz
  • The History Of Hot Chocolate
  • Reviews Of 65+ Hot Chocolate Mixes
  •   

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Katie’s Mustard Slaw

    A Chicago-style dog is a beef frank fully loaded with yellow mustard, onions, pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato wedges and a dash of celery salt on a poppy seed bun.

    If the sound of it makes your heart flutter, you don’t have to head to Chicago. You can buy Katie’s Mustard Slaw—the longer name is Katie’s Home Style, Old-Fashioned, Pool-Room Mustard Slaw.

    It’s not exactly the same. It’s from Alabama. And it’s addictively delicious.

    We taste a lot of products, and this blend of mustard with bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, onions and vinegar, spices, jalapeños and a bit of salt and sugar is a winner.

    It’s a complex layering of flavors with a beautiful texture and a spicy kick, a riff on chow-chow*, a Nova Scotian and American pickle relish made from a combination of vegetables; and a relative of British piccalilli (which has a cauliflower base).

     

    Katie’s Mustard Slaw. Photo courtesy Hawkkrall | Flickr.

     
    In Alabama and Tennessee, it is called chow-chow, mustard slaw or pool room slaw, and has been made and sold by southern Tennessee Amish for some 100 years. [Source: Serious Eats.]

    We received sample jars many months ago, and are so sorry we haven’t written about this product before. The reason: We can’t find the photos we took, and there are no commercial photos of Katie’s masterpiece online. We are deeply indebted to Flickr user Hawkkrall for the images here.

    HOW TO ENJOY KATIE’S MUSTARD SLAW

    It’s a wonderfully versatile condiment, zingy and satisfying. Use it:

  • On hot dogs and burgers
  • On meat-based sandwiches: bologna, ham, roast beef, submarines, turkey
  • With roasted or barbecue chicken, beef or pork
  • With grilled or fried fish
  • With eggs, including mixed into deviled eggs
  • Mixed into potato salad or egg salad
  • As a dip with chips, crudités, pretzels or tortilla chips (heavenly with soft pretzels), served straight or mixed with mayonnaise, plain yogurt or sour cream
  • With vegetables: greens, mashed potatoes, beans (such as pinto beans)
  • On toast or crackers
  • As a condiment with cheese, paté and charcuterie
  •  
    …and with countless other foods. We admit to dipping a spoon into the jar for a mini snack.

     

    A versatile and delicious condiment. Photo
    courtesy Hawkkrall | Flickr.

     

    A DELIGHT FOR WEIGHT WATCHERS

    A tablespoon is just 10 calories, with zero calories from fat, 40mg sodium and 1 mg sugar. It’s a caloric bargain, waiting to add great flavor to your meals. All of the vegetables that Katie uses are bought fresh from a local farmers market.

    Now the challenge: How to get it. Distribution is limited.

    To order, email: katiesfoods@aol.com.

    If you have to order a case, don’t worry: You’ll go through it quickly, and be happy to have jars for house gifts and stocking stuffers.

     
    ABOUT KATIE

    Katie is Katie Kilburn of Florence, Alabama. She began to make slaw and relish products for her family and the local high school football concession stand, using her mother-in-law’s recipe.

    With the help of the Shoals Commercial Culinary Center, fortuitously located in her home town, she was able to tap into resources to make more slaw and relish for commercial sale.

    What they don’t provide is marketing support. If you know anyone who wants to volunteer to help this wonderful product take off—including e-commerce and an effective Facebook page, contact Katie.

    Equally as important, hand this review to your favorite retailer and ask that they bring in a few cases—and watch them fly off the shelves.

    *According to Wikipedia, chow-chow is “regionally associated” with the Southern United States, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, the Appalachian Mountains and soul food. The recipes vary greatly; some are sweeter, others more savory. The name is said to derive from the French word for cabbage, chou. It was popular with the Acadians of Nova Scotia, descendants of the 17th-century French colonists, who emigrated to Louisiana.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Foie Gras Cubes, Bargain Foie Gras

    If you’re a fan of seared foie gras: Why pay a restaurant a $20 supplement for one little piece when you can buy an entire pound for $30.99 and sear it at home in a minute?

    Our Top Pick Of The Week is bargain foie gras: $30.99 a pound for the trimmings of the lobe, called foie gras cubes. The whole lobe, or for pre-sliced scallops, is almost double that.

    The cubes are available from foie gras specialist D’artagnan.

    While foie gras may seem exotic, cooking it couldn’t be easier. Just season with salt and pepper and place in a hot pan for a minute. The biggest task is deciding how to serve it.

    In general, sweet or sweet-and-sour items pair best with the richness of seared foie gras:

  • Sauteed fruit, from apples to citrus to mango
  • Chutney, compote, jam or wine jelly
  • Sweet sauce: balsamic reduction, honey-vinegar sauce (for the simplest solution, heat tart cherry or fig jam with balsamic or sherry vinegar) or a gastrique
  •  

    Affordable foie gras you can enjoy more often. Photo courtesy Chef Scott Conant.

     

    Foie gras should be enjoyed with a sweet white wine. Sauternes is the ideal match, but a late harvest Gewürtztraminer or Riesling can be equally wonderful.

    Read the full review, and decide what you’re going to serve with your cubes.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Honey Goat Cheese

    At a recent trade show, we tasted hundreds and hundreds of products. Our favorite was honey goat cheese.

    Fresh goat cheese logs and tubs of honey goat cheese spread are available in supermarkets nationwide. Producers from Coach Farms to Montchevre make it.

    While these products mix honey into the milk during the production process, you can create your own variation at home. Just drizzle honey over a conventional log of goat cheese.

    It’s simply delicious at breakfast, lunch, dinner and for dessert. It’s special for entertaining. It’s a winner.

    Read the full review to see why we’re in love with honey goat cheese, where to find it and how to serve it.
     
    MORE ABOUT GOAT CHEESE

  • Getting Your Goat: all about goat cheese; the different types of goat cheese and why goat’s milk is different.
  • THE NIBBLE’s Cheese Section: cheese terminology, a glossary of cheeses, the history of cheese, how to taste cheese and reviews of our favorite cheeses.
  •  

    You can buy goat cheese already mixed with honey, or drizzle honey over regular goat cheese. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Eat Well Enjoy Life Hummus

    Hummus made from red lentils, not
    chickpeas. Photo courtesy Eat Well Enjoy
    Life.

     

    The impressive hummus line from Eat Well Enjoy Life is like a horse of a different color: made not from chickpeas, but from black beans, white beans, red lentils, yellow lentils and edamame.

    The result: a whole new way to enjoy hummus. The flavors are exceptional, and the products themselves inspire innovation at home.

    Beyond a dip or sandwich spread, think of edamame wasabi hummus blended with mashed potatoes or deviled egg stuffing, spicy red lentil hummus atop crostini and in baked potatoes, black bean hummus in stuffed peppers, white bean hummus on veggie pizzas.

    There’s also a line of traditional chickpea-based hummus mixed with Greek yogurt. The result: a milder taste, less fat and fewer calories. The verdict: equally delicious.

    The line is cholesterol free, gluten free and certified kosher, and has won Healthy Food Awards in both the Healthy Living and Diabetes Focus categories.

    Read the full review.

     

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Japanese Cone Crepes

    Pick your crepes. Photo courtesy Eight Turn
    Crepe.

     

    If you get excited by the thought of crepes, take a look at Eight Turn Crepe and get out your crepe pan.

    The take-out restaurant concept, which originated in Tokyo, has just opened in New York City. The gluten-free, rice flour crepes are packed with fresh ingredients and rolled into a cone shape.

    The varieties, for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, are all so exciting that we want to have every one.

    Read the full review.

    If you’re in New York City, head to 55 Spring Street in Soho. Here’s the company website.

    Be sure to have yuzulade—yuzu lemonade. (The recipe is in the review.)

    Then, hope that an Eight Turn Crepe opens near you.

     

      

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