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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: Crispin Hard Apple Cider

Crispin Original, our go-to hard apple cider.
Photo courtesy Crispin Cider.

 

For the upcoming trio of holidays—Memorial Day, Fathere’s Day and Independence Day—we’d like to recommend something festive to drink: sparkling Crispin Hard Apple Cider.

Whether or not you’re currently a cider fan, we’ve got to evangelize over what we think is the most elegant of hard apple ciders.

The naturally fermented line is made from the fresh pressed juice of Northwest apples—not from apple juice concentrate like many ciders. And there’s also pear cider, or perry, made from 100% pear juice; there’s no apple juice sneaked in to lower the cost of ingredients.

It’s pure, clean cider: There is no added malt, grape wine or spirit alcohol, no added colorants, sorbate or benzoate preservatives.

And unlike beer, which is made from grain, cider is 100% gluten free.

 

But don’t take our word for it: Head to the store and pick some up. You can party hearty: Cider is less filling than beer. The Crispin line has an ABV of 5.3%…and a deliciousness index of 100%.

Read the full review.

  

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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Freekah & Snack Gifts

A “NEW” ANCIENT GRAIN

Watch out, quinoa: There’s a new grain in town. Although it’s only new to America; freekeh dates to about 2300 B.C.E.

As the story goes, freekeh was created by accident when a Middle Eastern village was attacked. The hostiles set the fields of young green wheat blaze.

After the enemy departed, since food was hard to come by, the villagers rubbed off the burned chaff, cooked the immature kernels and discovered that the grain had a smoky aroma and a nutty taste. A cross between brown rice and barley, freekeh became popular in the cuisines of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Freeheh has great nutrition and great versatility. You can use it in place of rice or any other grain, even down to making freeheh empanadas, jambalaya, paella, tacos, and even freekeh sushi.

Freekeh Foods makes three freekeh varieties, original and first flavored freekeh we’ve seen, rosemary sage freekeh and tamari freekeh.

 

There’s a new—albeit ancient—grain in town:
freekeh. Photo courtesy Freekeh Foods.

 

If you’re always on the prowl for the new and delicious, get your freak on with freekeh. Read the full review.

 

Who wouldn’t want a box of new smacks each month? Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

 

READY TO SNACK?

Our Top Pick from last week was a gift suggestion: a snack-box-of-the-month club. We’ve encountered two companies that have entered this space, both serving up artisan snacks that are a delight to discover.

Each month the recipient receives an assortment of all natural, typically good-for-you snack foods. The choices come from a broad selection of fruit bars, veggie chips, teas, cookies, candies, peanut butter and jam, nut and seed mixes and other yummies.

Love With Food combines “great food for a great cause,” donating one meal to a food bank for each snack box sold.

Boxtera aims for a high percentage of organic-certified products, and strives to include products that are gluten free.

Both are wonderful gifts, as well as self-treats. Read the full review.

 

  

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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Gourmet Chocolate Bars From Jcoco

Just in time for Mother’s Day gift-giving comes a new line of gourmet chocolate bars. They’re made by an old hand in the industry, the founder of Seattle Chocolate.

It’s the best thing the company has done to date, a new degree of sophistication and elegance from a popular regional chocolatier.

Every detail, from the velvety feel of the recycled paper box to the photography on the three one-ounce bars inside, is first class.

And then there’s the chocolate. Made of fine Belgian couverture, it delights in three flavors plus plain (but hardly plain!) milk and dark chocolate. We urge you to try the:

  • Black Fig Pistachio Chocolate Bar, chewy nuggets of fruit with crunchy nuts in dark chocolate.
  • Edamame Sea Salt Chocolate Bar, a perfect pairing of nutty roasted soybeans, sea salt and a touch of soy sauce in milk chocolate.
  • Veracruz Orange Chocolate Bar, one of the best things to happen to white chocolate.
  •  

    Chic packaging is just the beginning with these delicious chocolate bars. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    The Edamame milk chocolate bar and Veracruz white chocolate bar have entered the pantheon of our favorite chocolate bars.

    For Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or general gifting, tie a ribbon around the stack of five bars. For party favors, individual bars will be a hit. Although it’s early in the year, we’ve already earmarked Jcoco for this year’s stocking stuffers.

    Read the full review and order a large amount!

    FIND MORE OF OUR FAVORITE CHOCOLATES & GOURMET CHOCOLATE BARS.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Chocolate Ganache Pups

    If you know a mom who loves chocolate and dogs, is there a better Mother’s Day gift than these chocolate pup bonbons?

    Made by hand by Gearhearts Chocolates, the milk chocolate bonbons are filled with silky chocolate ganache, which is lightly infused with handmade peanut butter.

    And they’re guilt-free: Five percent of sales of Peanut Butter Pups is donated to Companions for Heroes, a not-for-profit organization that matches rescue pets as companion animals to our nation’s wounded veterans.

    Read the full review and order yours today.
     

    FIND MORE OF OUR FAVORITE CHOCOLATES &
    EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
    CHOCOLATE.

     

    Who can resist these chocolate peanut butter pups? Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: King’s Hawaiian Sweet Breads & Rolls

    Bet you can‘t eat just one of King’s Hawaiian
    sweet dinner rolls. Photo by Elvira Kalviste |
    THE NIBBLE.

     

    Most Americans are not familiar with Portuguese sweet bread. But if the Taira family of Hawaii has its way, every home will be feasting on their version of it: King’s Hawaiian Original Sweet Bread.

    A rave in Hawaii, where people line up around the block to purchase it and tourists send gift boxes of the bread back to the mainland, King’s Hawaiian is now produced on both coasts of the Continental U.S., ready to reach a grocer near you.

    When you see it, grab it: the dinner rolls, hamburger rolls, hot dog rolls, sandwich rolls and the round loaves that are just perfect to slice into French toast or scoop out to turn into a bread bowl for dips.

    Sweet and buttery, a fluffier cousin of brioche, we’re hooked.

    Read the full review.

    CHECK OUT THE MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF BREADS IN OUR BREAD GLOSSARY.

     

    FIND MORE OF OUR FAVORITE BREADS & BREAD PRODUCTS IN OUR GOURMET BREADS SECTION.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Beanitos Bean Chips, Restaurant Style

    New restaurant style Beanitos are bean chips
    that look and taste like tortilla chips. Photo
    by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    The chip choices in America are vast. We’ve got bagel chips, beet chips, cassava chips, chickpea chips (hummus chips and falafel chips), corn chips/tortilla chips, lentil chips ([apadums), lotus root chips, pita chips, plantain chips, potato chips, rice chips, salba (chia) chips, taro chips and other grain and veggie chips.

    Not to mention bean chips, a relative newcomer that’s packed full of bean fiber and protein.

    We’ve tried different brands, but our favorite by far is Beanitos. The newest flavor, and our Top Pick Of The Week, is Restaurant Style Beanitos.

    Unlike the rest of the line, which has rich bean flavor, Restaurant Style Beanitos look and taste like restaurant-style tortilla chips.

    Why make bean chips that taste like tortilla chips?

    It’s a super-popular flavor, and bean chips pack more fiber and protein. If you want deep bean flavor, check out the other flavors at Beanitos.com.

    Read the full Beanitos review.

     

    FIND ALL OF OUR FAVORITE SNACKS IN THE NIBBLE’S GOURMET SNACKS SECTION.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Onion Crunch, The New Condiment Sensation

    From hot dogs to filet mignon, Onion Crunch
    adds something special to every dish it
    garnishes. Photo courtesy Loeb’s Onion
    Crunch.

     

    It‘s not often that a new condiment appears. Generally, like salsa and wasabi, it enters our cuisine due to the popularity of a foreign cuisine in the U.S.

    In fact, the inspiration for Onion Crunch comes from Scandinavia. The crisp, crunchy bits of fried onions can be used as an ingredient or garnish with just about any savory dish. It’s like shaking fried onion rings on your food, whenever you like.

    And shake them we do: on eggs, hot dogs and burgers, mac and cheese, potatoes, salad and soup. And that’s just for starters.

    If you love onions, read the full review.

    Then, load up on thes wonderful crunchy onion bits.

    FIND MORE GOURMET CONDIMENTS.

     

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Talenti Gelato In Spring Colors For Easter

    It’s really easy to make this ice cream cake
    for Easter, or to simply serve three pretty
    colors of gelato or sorbetto in a bowl. Photo
    courtesy Talenti Gelato\.

     

    By the time dessert comes, we’ll be bursting at the seams: no room for carrot cake or coconut cake (can we get that to go?), not to mention pie or anything chocolate.

    But what’s a festive meal without dessert?

    Our solution? The beautiful spring colors of Talenti gelato:

  • The green, spring-evoking Mediterranean Mint and Sicilian Pistachio
  • The lavender loveliness of Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip
  • The lush, orange-hued Alphonso Mango Sorbet
  • The pink hues of Blood Orange Sorbet, the intensely hued Roman Raspberry and the pale pink Simply Strawberry
  • The speckled egg effect of Black Cherry and Caramel Cookie Crunch
  •  
    Read the full review of Talenti gelato to see how to turn them into a lovely “Easter Nest” dessert, that everyone will have room for…and how easy it is to make the colorful ice cream cake in the photo.

     

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Gourmet Dessert Sauces From Somebody’s Mother’s

    Three new gourmet dessert sauces from
    Somebody’s Mother’s. Photo by Elvira
    Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    It is almost four years since we first discovered Somebody’s Mother’s dessert sauces—Chocolate Sauce, White Chocolate Sauce and Caramel Sauce—and named them a Top Pick Of The Week (here’s the original review). The chocolate sauces remain our favorite dessert sauces.

    Now, the company has doubled the size of the line with three new dessert sauces, building on the original flavors:

  • Island Sauce enhances the company’s divine white chocolate sauce with coconut purée, coconut rum and lots of macadamia nuts.
  • Mocha Sauce takes the divine chocolate sauce and layers it with coffee and chicory, creating what might be the best mocha sauce ever.
  • Praline Sauce is the creamy caramel sauce—heavy cream, sugar, butter and salt—packed with roasted walnuts.
  •  
    Read the full review.

     

    HOW MANY TYPES OF DESSERT SAUCED HAVE YOU TRIED?

    Check out our Dessert Sauces & Toppings Glossary.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Blue Bandana Chocolate Bars

    New artisan chocolate bars. Photo courtesy Lake Champlain Chocolates.

     

    Looking for an Easter gift for a chocolate connoisseur?

    Check out Blue Bandana chocolate bars from Lake Champlain Chocolates, one of our favorite producers of fine chocolate candies.

    Third-generation chocolatier Eric Lampman developed the bean-to-bar chocolate, using single origin cacao beans from Guatemala and Madagascar.

    In what may be a first in artisan chocolate bars, one of the Madagascar bars is flavored with voatsiperifery, a wild peppercorn called known to grow only in Madagascar.

    he 3.5-ounce bars are $7.00 apiece. How to they taste? Read the full review.

    Lake Champlain chocolates are certified kosher by Star-K.

     

    KNOW YOUR CHOCOLATE TERMS

    Bean to bar. Gourmet chocolate. Single origin chocolate. What do these terms mean?

    Discover the language of chocolate—all the chocolate terms you need to know—in our Chocolate Glossary.

      

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