THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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REVIEW: Best General Gourmet Food Gifts

Paromi Tea
Paromi knows how to rock a fruit tea; Ito En’s connoisseur teas are sublime.
  We divide our holiday gourmet food into 11 categories, and there’s one called “general” which contains all the yummy stuff that isn’t more specific—i.e., not chocolate, kosher, liquor, diet and organic foods. This year, our “general” fab foods range from chocolate-covered fruitcake squares (this is fruitcake you will like) to a gorgeous cube of pink Himalayan sea salt with a stainless steel grater (impressive at the table, and delicious salt) to pink rose nectar made from European rose petals (it’s wonderful to drink roses) to an anchovy sauce that’s descended from the famous garum enjoyed by wealthy Romans. And yes, there are divine cookies and teas. Take a gander at the full review and see if there’s something that belongs under a friend’s tree—or in your pantry.
 

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TRENDS: What’s Hot At Restaurants

According to a survey of more than 1,200 chefs across America conducted by the National Restaurant Association, the hottest restaurant trends are small plates (including tasting menus of small portions for main courses, dessert, wine flights and other alcohol beverages) and alternative-source ingredients—local produce, organics, sustainable seafood, grass-fed and free-range meat and poultry and alternative red meats (buffalo, ostrich, venison).
Ethnic cuisines continue to be strong, with fusion ethnic cuisine, flatbreads, Asian entrée salads, Asian appetizers, Latin American cuisine, ciabatta bread and Mediterranean cuisine rated high on the list of hot items ranked by the chefs.
– In the alcohol department, craft beer, energy-drink cocktails, martinis, flavored martinis, mojitos, artisan liquors, organic wine and specialty beer (seasonal, spiced, fruit, etc.) are all among the top 20 hot items. Also hot: signature cocktails, food-beer pairings and beer sommeliers, as well as food-wine pairings and wine sommeliers.
– Among non-alcoholic beverages, flavored and enhanced waters have taken the lead over espresso and specialty coffee.
  Smoked Black Cod
Sustainable seafood is hot—like this line-caught black cod from Nantucket Wild Gourmet & Smokehouse.
– Among trends in preparation techniques, braised food is considered more trendy than pan-seared, sautéed and grilled items. Also hot: deglazing/reductions/sauces.That’s what’s hot. So what’s not? Last year’s hotties—bottled water, fresh herbs, exotic mushrooms and whole grain items—while still popular, have dropped out of the top 20 hot items. Rated “most passé foods” are fruit wine, star fruit, low-carb dough and tofu. The National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 935,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a work force of 12.8 million employees. For more information about the survey, visit Restaurant.org.

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ARTICLE: How To Store Cookies

Maple Pecan Cookies
Maple Pecan Cookies from Michael’s Cookies.
Photo by Dhanraj Emanuel.
  Even if you dont go to holiday cookie swaps, sometimes, you find yourself with too many cookies at hand: your birthday, the holidays, an overzealous round of baking and recipe-testing…or maybe they arrive during a time when you’re cutting back on sweets. Supermarket cookie are baked with enough preservative to stay ”fresh” on the shelf for a year or longer. Artisan cookies are baked without preservatives, and need to be eaten promptly. The cookies taste best when they’re fresh out of the oven, or within five days of baking. So if you have too many cookies to consume within the “good eating” time frame and they are just too good to give away, read about storing cookies. To read reviews of our favorite cookies (including Michael’s Cookies, shown in the photo at left), plus yummy cookie recipes), check out the Cookie Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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REVIEW: Bar Harbor Seafood

If you start to salivate at the thought of a bowl of steaming hot clam chowder…then grow sad, wondering where you’re going to get that authentic vacation-in-Maine experience…we have the solution. Bar Harbor Seafood makes the real deal and cans it, so you can stock your shelves to get you through the winter in fine style. This is such hearty clam chowder, you can eat it as your main meal—no oyster crackers needed (but, feel free). The amazing thing is, this gourmet experience is just twice the price of a can of Progresso. Bar Harbor Seafood also cans lobster, clams and other seafood right out of the water (the boats pull up to the dock right in front of their cannery). The chowder is so good, you can give it as stocking stuffers—but make sure you don’t give it all away, or you’ll find yourself growing sad again. Read our full review. And, read more about our favorite favorite seafood products in the Seafood Section of the THE NIBBLE online magazine.   Clam Chowder
No oyster crackers needed with this delicious New England clam chowder.
 

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REVIEW: Kosher Gourmet Food Gifts For Chanukah

White Chocolate BrownieSomething different: a white chocolate chunk
brownie from The Exceptional Brownie.
  If you’re kosher or have friends who are, we’ve compiled our favorite kosher food gifts (delicious for anyone who likes fine food—kosher or not—these artisan foods just happen to have obtained kosher certification). This year’s selections have something for everyone. For sophisticates, take a look at Dagoba Chocolate tasting squares and flavored cacao nibs, Lucini extra-virgin olive oil and Savannah Bee Company rare artisan honeys. For kids and families, Cream-Nut peanut butter and peanut butter clusters (better than peanut butter cups), Divvies kettle corn, Enstrom’s peppermint bark, the Exceptional Brownie in eight flavors and Sweet Riot’s pocket-size cacao nib snacks. For corporate gifts—or just about anyone—Galaxy Desserts’ fancy individual desserts send the patissier to your gift recipient (figuratively, not literally), and Michael’s Cookies beautiful gift boxes. Read the full review. See all of our gift recommendations in THE NIBBLE online magazine.
 

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