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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 Uncategorized

ENTERTAINING: Have A Film Party For “Food Inc.” on April 21st

How much do we know about the food we buy at our local supermarkets and serve to our families?

Though our food appears the same as it did to our grandparents—a tomato still looks like a tomato—it has been radically transformed, and not for the better. See for yourself in the eye-opening documentary, Food, Inc., which will be shown on PBS on Wednesday evening, April 21 (check local listings for time). The film is presented by POV, the award-winning series that features the work of today’s best independent documentary filmmakers.

In Food Inc., producer-director Robert Kenner and investigative authors Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma and his latest, a must-read, In Defense Of Food) lift the veil on the American food industry, revealing distressing facts about what we eat, how it’s produced, who we have become as a nation (thanks to big corporations and their lobbyists) and where we may go from here.

Invite your family and friends over for a potluck dinner (we suggest a buffet). Then watch Food, Inc. and discuss the many issues it raises.

 

food-inc

Be sure to watch Food Inc. You’ll never
look at food the same way again.

Visit the POV website from April 22 to May 3 to get planning tips and recipes and enter for a variety of gifts.

The film will also be streaming online in its entirety for one week after the broadcast, from April 22nd to April 29th. The Food, Inc. DVD is also on sale (just $9.99 at Amazon.com).

  • If you’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, get a copy of the book, Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It.
  • Send a copy of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma For Kids to help the children in your life understand the issues and make better choices.
  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Multi-Tasking Parmigiano

    checking-quality-230

    Checking the quality of an aging wheel of
    Parmigiano-Reggiano. Photo courtesy
    Parmigiano-Reggiano.it.

     

    Parmigiano-Reggiano is more than a great cheese for pasta, pesto, risotto and Alfredo sauce.

    Shave it onto salads, eggs and sandwiches. Add it to cheese plates. Enjoy it with a glass of hearty red wine.

    It loves to be paired with apples, figs, grapes, kiwi, peaches, pears and walnuts. Italians enjoy it for dessert, drizzled with a few drops of aged balsamic vinegar. Guests love large chunks of the cheese with a variety of dipping sauces—like pesto, garlicky tomato sauce, olive tapenade, parsley sauce and fruit chutney—on individual plates, or on a communal plate of skewers.

  • Learn more about this great cheese.
  • Here’s the difference between Parmigiano-Reggiano, Asiago, Grana Padano and Pecorino Romano, the great Italian grating cheeses.
  • What’s the difference between Parmigiano-Reggiano and Parmesan?

    Anyone, anywhere can make and sell a cheese called “Parmesan.” They follow a basic recipe and are under obligation to nobody to adhere to any standards, including aging it until full flavors develop.

    Parmigiano-Reggiano, on the other hand, is D.O.P. name-protected (Denominazione d’Origine Protetta). This is a legal protection for the consumer that guarantees that you are buying an authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano, made by a trained artisan to exacting specification, produced in a specific geographical area, from milk from specific herds of animals raised in the same area, using techniques honed for centuries. Even the feed of the cows is dictated.

    All of this activity is strictly supervised by a consortium (“consorzio”) that ensures that every wheel stamped with the official seal tastes exactly as it should.

    After 12 months of aging (the minimum), each wheel is inspected and sometimes, if other tests for flaws fail, a thin probe will be inserted to draw out a small piece of the interior core (see photo). If the cheese does not pass, the exclusive pin-dot pattern on the sides is scraped off. The cheese can be sold as cheese for grating, but not as Parmigiano-Reggiano.

    Why are the words, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Parmesan, capitalized? Because they refer to the city of Parma in Italy, the center of making this great cheese.

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Rock The Rice

    kabob-230

    Rice with saffron, scallion and sausage bits.
    Photo courtesy National Pork Board.

     

    You can serve rice a different way each day of the month and never run out of ideas.

    Think of it this way: on Mondays mix a different fresh herb into the rice. On Tuesdays cook it in a different tea, or add bits of leftover meat, fish, veggies and/or green onion (think Chinese fried rice). On Wednesdays mix in a different salsa or chutney. On Thursdays try a different spice. On Fridays stir in a different dried fruit.

    On Saturdays, choose a different type of gourmet rice—arborio, California mochi, Indian basmati, black rice, Bhutanese red rice, brown long grain, Thai jasmine, japonica, kalijira, wild rice (which isn’t a botanical rice, but a seed).

    On Sundays, dress up the rice with nuts or a fruit-and-nut mix (fresh or dried fruit: raisins or dried cherries, for example).

    We love rockin’ the rice!

    You can also reward yourself every now and then with a delicious rice pudding—made from whatever rice you like!

  • See our Rice Glossary for a wealth of rice information.
  • Find rice recipes in our Rice, Beans & Grains section.
  • Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Bond Street Chocolate

    Do you really want an Easter basket with jelly beans, marshmallow eggs and a chocolate bunny? Or would you rather have confections from a fine chocolatier who thinks outside the basket?

    The answer may be “both”; but order early if you want to acquire these beautiful pieces of edible art from Bond Street Chocolate. They sell out!

    To make these beautiful chocolate statues of Jesus and Our Lady of Guadeloupe (as well as Buddha and Moses), Bond Street Chocolate uses the finest E. Guittard’s 72% Coucher du Soleil, a dark, rich, smooth couverture chocolate with a creamy mouth feel and hints of thyme and jasmine. With all due respect, it is chocolate to pray for.

    The chocolate is poured into handmade chocolate molds. The molded pieces are painstakingly hand-painted with edible gold leaf.

    They are beautiful to look at, and you can keep the chocolate for up to a year as an object d’art before you have to decide whether it’s art or food.

     

    guadaloupe-jesus-230

    Beautiful chocolate sculptures, embellished
    with edible gold. Photo by Katherine Pollak | THE NIBBLE.

    For those who want a box of classic chocolates, Bond Street Chocolate’s sophisticated bonbons are available in traditional shapes, but with anything but standard flavor combinations—several with fine spirits such as Bourbon, Cachaça, Rum and Tequila, as well as florals and herbs such as hibiscus, lavender and tea. Send a box to your favorite chocolate gourmet, but hurry, as they do sell out.

  • Read the full review of Bond Street Chocolate and see more beautiful chocolate.
  • Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAYS: Sign Up For The Daily Tweet

    You might not be aware that March is:

    - National Celery Month
    - National Flour Month
    - National Frozen Food Month
    - National Nutrition Month
    - National Noodle Month
    - National Peanut Month
    - National Sauce Month
    - National Caffeine Awareness Month

    In addition to the declaration of entire months as food holidays, almost every day of the year has its own food holiday—for example, today, March 1st, is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day.

    While we used to publish all of the holidays in this blog, they’re now part of THE NIBBLE’s Tweetstream. Sign up for them at Twitter.com.

    These holidays are part of a long article on monthly food holidays that we created in 2005, and are among the most popular of the 20,000 pages on TheNibble.com. (More than a few people have begun tweeting on the same topic after seeing ours.)

     

    sxc962507_cappuccino

    It’s National Caffeine Awareness Month.
    Become more aware in our Coffee Glossary. Photo by Mac Pale | SXC.

    You can see the entire Food Holiday list (with an overview of how days become designated as particular food holidays), with a click-through to a related article or recipe. Or enjoy it Tweet by Tweet.

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Measuring Cherries

    Cooking with cherries?

  • It takes about 4 cups of tart cherries to make one 9″ pie.
  • There are about 3 cups of frozen cherries in a pound.
  • Using a cherry pie filling?

  • There are about 2 cups of filling in a 16-ounce can.
  • Try this recipe for pulled pork in a tart cherry sauce.

     

    montmorency-cherries-230

    Montmorency (tart) cherries. Photo courtesy
    Cherry Marketing Institute.

    Comments

    NEWS: Starbucks Goes “Full Leaf”

    Seeking to offer tea drinkers as good an experience as their coffee lovers enjoy, Starbucks has gone “full leaf” with its Tazo line of teas, available in black, green and herbal infusions.

    Full leaves, or whole leaves, make the finest tea. Many tea bags are filled with broken leaves which don’t have as much flavor. Less expensive supermarket brands use fannings, the dust (think “crumbs”) left over from processing the leaves.

    Open up a tea bag from the brand you favor, shake the contents on a plate and look at them closely. If you see broken bits and fannings, you’re not getting quality tea. (That’s also why sugar and milk are required to make the drink enjoyable for many people. The finest tea can—and should—be drunk straight.)

    By the way, “whole leaf” refers to black, green, oolong and white teas, made from the Camelia sinensis plant. The term doesn’t apply to herbal infusions, although as with every product, there is a range of quality of the ingredients.

    Learn all about fine tea in our Tea Glossary.

     

    bags_of_tea-230

    The bags are now whole leaf. Photo by
    Benjamin D. Esham | Wikimedia Commons.

    Comments

    VALENTINE’S DAY: Be My “Pink & White” Cookie

    The popular Black & White cookie has been dressed in Valentine’s Day colors (a.k.a., the Pink & White).

    We think they’re a lovely gift for a deserving young lady. Find them at William Greenberg Desserts, or phone 1.800.255-8278.

    Looking for more Valentine goodies for the kids?

    Check out the Mickey Mouse chocolates above, and see our Best Valentine’s Gifts for Kids list, including heart-shaped cookies and brownies and the cutest mice and penguin bonbons from Burdick Chocolate, a NIBBLE top pick of the week.

     

    william-greenberg-230

    The black & white goes pink & white for
    Valentine’s Day. Photo courtesy
    WmGreenbergDesserts.com.

    Comments

    RECIPES: Go Grapefruit!

    grapefruit-sushi-230

    Isn’t this special: Rio Star Grapefruit
    & Apple Mint Sushi Roll With Honey Chili
    Dipping Sauce. Photo courtesy TexaSweet.

     

    Grapefruit is in season, healthy (full of vitamins A and C, dietary fiber and lycopene) and flavorful. Go for Rio Star Grapefruit, Rio Red, Ruby Red or Star Ruby grapefruit varieties and you’ve got a beautiful color as well. Rosy Rio Star Grapefruit is a hybrid of the two reddest grapefruit varieties, Rio Red and Star Ruby grapefruit.

    Grapefruit’s flavor and color work well in recipes—from cocktails to bruschetta, steamed shrimp, asparagus (or other green sides) and salads.

    In fact, we have an entire menu of grapefruit recipes, from cocktails to desserts (Rio Star Mini Cheesecakes and Rio Star Grapefruit Crème Brûlée).

    Check ‘em out and add variety, nutrition and great taste to your winter menu.

  • Find more of our favorite fruits—and more fruit-based recipes—in our Gourmet Fruits & Nuts Section.
  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Chocolate Place Cards

    placecard-230

    Tasty placecards: Use affix the card to a pumpkin bonbon. Photo courtesy of WeddingBee.com.

     

    For Thanksgiving dinner, it’s easy to make place cards that are good enough to eat: Just stick a card in a bonbon (preferably, pumpkin, maple or other holiday flavor).

    If you’re artistically inclined, buy tent place cards at any card shop or stationery store. Then look for candies the size of a quarter: flat chocolate turkeys or pumpkins, nonpareils or colorful white chocolate pastilles. Affix a piece of candy to the left side of each place card, using a paste of 2T confectioner’s sugar and 3 to 4 drops water. The cards add fun and anticipation from the moment people see the table. Guests can remove and eat the chocolate at the end of dinner.

    For other holidays, you can attach Christmas trees, hearts, bunnies, etc. If you don’t want place cards, use chocolate place settings.

  • Looking for some special Thanksgiving Chocolates? Read our article.
  • Comments

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