THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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PRODUCT WATCH: Ghirardelli Gets More Intense

Ghiradelli Mint Bar
Ghiradelli Mint Bar.
  With the dark chocolate category growing 49% from 2003 to 2006, it’s no surprise that popular chocolate producer Ghirardelli has added three new flavors to its Intense Dark line: the romantic-sounding Evening Dream, Midnight Reverie and Mint Bliss chocolate bars. Evening Dream, a 60% cacao bar, is available in limited distribution in specialty stores and at Target. Mint Bliss, also a 60% cacao bar is available nationwide. Midnight Reverie will be available nationwide in January 2008 and has an 86% cacao content. It is targeted to the growing number of fine chocolate buyers who are going deeper into intense cacao. The bars are available for a Suggested Retail Price of $2.99 for 3.5-ounces. For more information, or to order chocolate online, visit Ghirardelli.com.
 

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GOURMET TRAVEL: American Cheesemaker Awards

Cheese lovers can indulge their passion in Orange County, California, November 16 to 18, when the first American Cheesemaker Awards, a celebration of great cheese, debuts. The event begins with a trade judging of the cheeses on Thursday, November 15, and a day of trade events on Friday, November 16. Consumers can participate beginning with the awards dinner, Friday evening. On Saturday and Sunday, the Cheese Tasting will offer the opportunity to savor cheese, wine and other fine foods and attend special culinary demonstrations at the Cheese Academy, where cheesemakers, industry experts and celebrity chefs will conduct exclusive cheese-inspired classes, including wine pairings, cooking tips and of course, more cheeses to taste. Daily admission is $75 per person and includes entry to the tasting and one Cheese Academy class (guests can attend additional classes at no charge if there is space). Tickets purchased before October 15th are $65 per person. Group rates are also available. Hotel accommodations at the Fairmont Newport Beach, where the event will be held, are available at a special rate of $169/night for attendees (requires booking by October 31st). Traveling companions who don’t want to focus on cheese can go shopping at Fashion Island, go to the beach or hang out at the hotel’s Willow Stream Spa. Visit Cheese Awards.com for more information.   Cheese Festival
Taste cheese to your heart’s delight at the American Cheesemaker Awards.
 

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PRODUCT WATCH: Check In To The Hotel Chocolat

Some of Hotel Chocolat’s “luggage.”
Some of Hotel Chocolat’s “luggage.”
  People who love luxury chocolates have a new destination: the website of Hotel Chocolat. The British company, founded 14 years ago, has just launched a U.S. website to enable Americans to try their lovely wares. The company makes chocolate with flair (the website photos show people in scenes that could be on the pages of Vogue), and makes bean to bar chocolate with beans from its own cocoa plantation, the Rabot Estate, on the island of St. Lucia in the Caribbean (the company also uses Ghanian cacao). The company offers a selection of elegant chocolates, including its signature thick chocolate slabs in a variety of flavors and sizes, made by pouring the chocolate onto a chocolatier’s marble table and allowing the pieces to set. Packed in stylish black cases, they just beg to be taken for a weekend of tasting. THE NIBBLE will run a full review of the chocolate in the coming months.
 

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TREND: Organic Coffee

Sales of organic coffee are growing so fast these days, that most other categories can only be envious. U.S. retail sales of organic coffee increased 24% in 2006 to $110.36 million, impressively outpacing the 15% growth of organic foods in general, according to the 2007 Organic Manufacturer Survey conducted by the Organic Trade Association (OTA). According to Caren Wilcox, OTA’s Executive Director, the dramatic increase in organic coffee sales also reflects consumers’ growing interest in organic products, awareness of their availability in venues ranging from small coffee shops to “Big Box” stores, and the ever-increasing quality of organic coffee. In fact, several organic coffees from farms in Nicaragua won the Cup of Excellence competition in that country, held in June. The prestigious award program, managed by the U.S.-based Alliance for Coffee Excellence, selects the best coffees produced in a particular country in a particular year.   Don Francisco’s, one of the top organic coffees in our review.
Don Francisco’s, one of the top organic coffees in our review.
Participants in the Organic Coffee Collaboration, a project of the Organic Trade Association, are driving much of the increase in retail sales. The companies provide much of the organic decaffeinated, caffeinated, flavored and instant coffees widely available at retail outlets nationwide and direct from roasters via the Internet. The companies include Café Bom Dia (marketer of the Marques De Paiva brand, and also certified as carbon-neutral, of Coral Gables, FL), Dallis Coffee (also Fair Trade Certified, of New York City), DaSilva Fine Brazilian Coffee (marketer of ultra premium single-estate coffee directly from Espírito Santo, Brazil, of Winston-Salem, NC), Elan Organic Coffee (marketer of socially responsible coffees it develops through partnerships with village co-ops, of San Diego, CA), Equal Exchange (worker-owned cooperative, Fair Trade Certified™ and one of largest U.S. organic coffee roasters, of West Bridgewater, MA), F. Gaviña & Sons (producer of Don Francisco’s Specialty Coffee brand, of Vernon, CA), Fresh Harvest Products (of New York City), Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (of Waterbury, VT) and Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Company (of Vancouver, BC, Canada). Try them! (You’ll find some of them reviewed in our article on organic coffees.) Organic coffee is grown in more than 30 countries, including the United States. It uses methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment, replenishing and maintaining soil fertility, avoiding the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, and building biologically diverse agriculture. Third-party certification organizations verify that organic farmers use only methods and materials allowed in organic production. Consumers who choose organic products do so for both the chemical-free factor and to support the environment.

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NEWS: Great Tomatoes, Year-Round

Backyard Beauties
Backyard Beauties: A great tomato is joy.
  If New England’s Backyard Farms inspires farmers in other regions, Americans with a taste for quality tomatoes may be able to get them year-round. Once September arrives in northern climates, delicious, locally-grown tomatoes disappear and tomato lovers have only the memories until the warm weather returns. Tomatoes picked green and shipped from thousands of miles away don’t deliver anything approximating the flavor of a vine-ripened tomato.
But Backyard Farms, a greenhouse company located in chilly Maine, is bringing fresh, vine-ripened Backyard Beauties to local markets throughout New England, year round. Their Beauties are grown in environmentally-friendly greenhouses using state-of-the-art technology. While other tomatoes are traveling to the produce section from as far away as Holland and Mexico—a journey of weeks—Backyard Beauties stay on the vine until they are fully ripened. Picked today, they arrive in New England supermarkets tomorrow. The response has been phenomenal. Please, Backyard Farms: Set up shop in every region. Americans deserve great tomatoes all the time! For more information visit BackyardBeauties.com.

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