THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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NEWS: Tea Garden In Oakland

Numi Tea Garden   Numi, the leading producer of organic teas, is opening its first teahouse in Oakland, California on October 12. Located at 2230 Livingston Street in the Embarcadero Cove in Oakland’s Jingle Town district, the Numi Tea Garden includes a retail showroom, tea tasting and training facility that includes a lounge for community and music events. Patrons can taste Numi’s full selection of loose teas. Visit NumiTea.com for a full schedule of events. Oakland is becoming its own gourmet food center, and worth planning an expedition when in the Bay area. Don’t forget to visit one of our favorite chocolatiers, Michael Mischer Chocolate.

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NEWS: Business Gushing At Water Store

  While we don’t yet know of a water store in the U.S., we’ve heard of one in New Zealand, and now one in Toronto, where the first store devoted to water has opened despite the growing environmental backlash over plastic recycling. According to Canada’s National Post, The Water Shoppe in fashionable Greektown has had an overflow of consumer business as well as response from business to small restaurants to large hotels. The store, which opened on July 7, carries 47 brands from health-oriented brands to stylish bottles to impress at the dinner table. Water is imported from countries as far away as South Africa and Japan, and as close as the U.S. (Bling H20, $65, which comes in a wine-shaped bottle studded with Swarovski crystals). The majority of the products are in glass; the store reminds people to recycle and there’s a recycling bin in the store. To further enforce a green message, cups at the drink bar are made from recyclable corn-based resin. Still, Franz Hartmann, executive director for the Toronto Environmental Alliance, says that the city’s tap water is clean, and the most environmentally friendly water comes from the tap. Recycling is better but it’s an unnecessary container. The owners argue that bottled waters have different tastes and may offer some health benefits. Some customers are requesting water with a higher pH, claiming this keeps the body more alkaline to ward off disease. One customer buys Fiji Water and washes his face with it, since the higher content of silica in that brand is said to improve the condition of skin, nails and hair. See THE NIBBLE’s Water Section for bottled water brand we think are worth it.

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NEWS: Wen In Denver…Go To Wen Chocolates

One of our favorite chocolates, Wen Chocolates, has opened a retail location at 1541 Platte Street, Denver, Colorado, 80202. If you’re anywhere near that zip code, do drop in and tell Chef William Poole Wen Chocolates – Lipovka Trufflethat THE NIBBLE sent you. The doors are now open for free sampling of the truffles and other and the grand opening is Saturday, October 13th. In addition to their heavenly chocolates, Wen sells breads, pastry and cakes for sale. Both the soft and grand openings will be an opportunity to sample some of the amazing truffles and other chocolates. Before moving to Denver, Chef William worked with foreign dignitaries, presidents and business leaders aboard The American Orient Express, a private luxury train. We hope they appreciated his art! Read our review of Wen Chocolates.   Lipovka

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PRODUCT WATCH: Scharffen Berger Introduces Two New Bars

  Scharffen Berger, one of America’s three nationally-distributed bean-to-bar chocolate companies (the term for firms that buy raw cacao beans, roast them and make their own couverture—the other two are Guittard and organic chocolatier Theo), have introduced two new bars, the Milk Almond bar and the Antilles Limited Series bar. Limited Series bars are manufactured in small batches and cannot be replicated, as the tastes produced by the crop of beans vary from year to year, similar to a wine vintage. The 75% cacao Antilles bar is produced from cacao beans sourced from the Antilles region of the Caribbean. Milk Almond blends the crunch of deep roasted almonds with a hint of sea salt in Scharffen Berger’s 41% cacao milk chocolate. Those who like an almond chocolate bar will welcome the high quality. Those who want the combined flavors of salt and chocolate will find that the “sea salt” is a bit of a red herring: it is just a hint, barely discernable, the result of very lightly-salted almonds. You can find more about the bars at Scharffenberger.com and read our review of Scharffen Berger chocolate.

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PRODUCT WATCH: Martha Stewart Wine

  Soon it will be possible to eat an entire Martha Stewart dinner. The lifestyle guru, who has most recently launched a line of food products with Costco, is now creating wines with E & J Gallo. The “Martha Stewart Vintage” will debut with 15,000 cases next year: a 2006 Sonoma County Chardonnay, a 2005 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2006 Sonoma County Merlot. Initially, the wines will be sold for $15 per bottle in six cities where the Martha Stewart brand is particularly strong: Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Denver, Phoenix and Portland, Oregon.

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