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THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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PRODUCT REVIEW: Old Chatham Sheep’s Milk Yogurt

  People who love fine cow’s milk yogurt may become instant fans of sheep’s milk yogurt—smoother, richer and creamier. Old Chatham Sheepherding Company, producers of acclaimed sheep’s milk cheeses, makes an excellent sheep’s milk yogurt that is more nutritious and healthy than cow’s milk yogurt. The 100% natural line (no artificial thickeners, stabilizers, colors, etc.) also contains probiotic cultures. You also can cook with sheep’s milk yogurt: It does not break down at high temperatures like cow’s milk yogurt.

Sheep were the first animals to be domesticated as mankind transitioned from nomadic hunters to sedentary farmers. Eventually, man discovered how to transform milk into yogurt and cheese. While sheep and goats provided milk and cheese* to ancient civilizations and are still the staple dairy animals in many areas of the world, cows have replaced sheep in countries that have grazing land for them, because of their higher yield: A sheep can give just one quart of milk per day (a high-producing breed, 1.5 quarts); a goat, 3 quarts; a cow, 14 quarts. The lower yield is also why goat’s and sheep’s milk products are usually more expensive than their cow’s milk counterparts.

*Some well-known sheep’s milk cheeses include Feta, Manchego, Ossau-Iraty, Pecorino Romano and Roquefort.

Old Chatham Sheepherding Company has been delighting specialty food consumers for 15 years with its farmstead sheep cheeses—farmstead meaning that the products are made from the milk of the farm’s own animals. Starting with 150 ewes in 1993, the company now has more than 1,000 East Friesian purebred and crossbred sheep, and is the largest sheep dairy farm in the U.S. The fields and pastures are organically managed; while the company has not pursued organic certification, no hormones, routine antibiotics, herbicides or pesticides are used. Read the full review on TheNibble.com.

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PRODUCT REVIEW: Arico Cassava Chips

Love chips, but want less fat and more fiber…and maybe something a little more “gourmet” than the familiar old fried potato slice? All-natural Arico Cassava Chips, in Original plus Barbecue Bliss, Ginger On Fire and Sea Salt Mist, belong on your plate. We love the elegant flavor profiles of these chips, which are sophisticated enough to be served with dinner. The healthier profile is a bonus.

Although it is rarely seen in North America outside of Latin American markets and restaurants, cassava—also spelled casava, and also known as manioc and yuca—is a staple of nearly 500 million people worldwide. The root of a woody shrub native to the Amazon basin, cassava is the third largest source of carbohydrate food in the world.* It is a popular replacement for potatoes in the countries where it is grown, a resilient root and grows well in arid or drought-ridden soils.

*Claude Fauquet and Denis Fargette, (1990) “African Cassava Mosaic Virus: Etiology, Epidemiology, and Control,” Plant Disease, Vol. 74(6): 404-11.

 
Thousands of years ago, the subtropical plant was carried from the Amazon basin throughout Latin America and, through long boat journeys, to Africa and Asia. (Arico purchases its cassava roots from farmers on the island of Java, in the South Pacific.) Today, travelers can enjoy cassava in purées (liked mashed potatoes), fried, made into dumplings, added to soups and stews, in bread, pies and puddings, Tapioca is made from cassava root flour.

Now, you can take a bite of this ancient food—a crunchy bite. Arico Natural Foods has brought gluten-free Cassava Chips to America. In four flavors, with 30% to 40% less fat (depending on the flavor) and twice as much dietary fiber as potato chips, these all-natural chips are a healthier alternative,** as well as an exotic new addition to the snack and garnish repertoire. They add a fresh, new taste to crunchy foods. The thin, yellowy disks with their brown edges add a graceful design to the plate as well. Read the full review at TheNibble.com.

**They have 150 calories per ounce.

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TOP PICK: Sweet Sunshine Chile Sauce

  We taste more than 3,000 foods a year; sometimes it seems that half of those are barbecue sauces and similar condiments (in reality, we probably taste more like mere hundreds of them). While some of the sauces stand out (here are prior favorites), only one has made it to Top Pick status. Until now.

The sun is indeed shining in New Haven, Connecticut, where six varieties of Sweet Sunshine Chile Sauce are made: Sweet, Warm, Roasted Garlic & Shallot, Jamaican Jerk, Hot and Atomic. Our personal preference leans to the milder side of the chile spectrum. But the captivating thing about Sweet Sunshine is that Jamaican Jerk, Hot and Atomic all deliver wonderful, complex chile flavors instead of the simple, searing heat found in many other products. No wonder they’ve racked up 18 awards at major chile festivals. People looking for a great new sauce are urged to let some Sweet Sunshine into their lives…and onto their grilled meats, sandwiches, eggs, chicken wings, crudités and other dippers.

What an easy way this is to spice up everyday foods—and what a great gift for anyone who likes flavor sensations. If you plan to be invited to barbecues this summer—or want to impress guests at your own—lay in a stock of these. Read the full review, and get more serving suggestions, at TheNibble.com.

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TOP PICK: Rick’s Picks Pickled Vegetables

With Rick’s Picks, you can pick a peck (or at least a 15-ounce jar) of pickled red peppers, asparagus, beets, green beans, green tomatoes, okra and, of course, that most familiar of pickled vegetables, the cucumber (including garlic dills, bread-and-butter and other pickles).

It was love at first bite with Rick’s Picks. We usually leave our specialty food store with arms aching, because we’re carrying so many jars. Rick’s, a beautiful artisan product, is no cheap pick(le), but it’s worth every nickel. Every sandwich served becomes more gourmet with a garnish of Rick’s Picks. A barbecue becomes memorable with a Rick’s Picks tasting bar. Some of the vegetables make cocktail garnishes extraordinaire. And as gifts for those who love their pickles, a sampler package—or even better, the Pickle Of The Month Club—will make you a hero.

 
We first wrote about Rick’s Picks two years ago. But Rick Fields continues to innovate (Smokra, pickled smoked okra, is a slam dunk—even for people who say they don’t like okra). With barbecue season, Father’s Day and summer guesting upon us, it’s time to revisit these gourmet pickles. There are four gourmet cucumber pickles and seven pickled vegetables for appetizers, sides, snacks and garnishes. You’ll never think of a pickle the same way again. In fact, you may even be inspired to try pickling your own! Read the full review on TheNibble.com.

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TOP PICK: Microbatch Chocolate Bars

  If you’re a person with a passion for the world’s greatest chocolate, why not produce it yourself? That’s what the chocolate artisans in this week’s Top Pick have done—the majority of them as a second career.

They are not chocolatiers in the traditional sense. Their goal is not to make bonbons, nut clusters and truffles. They are chocolate purists whose goal is to produce the best chocolate bars in the world from scratch, traveling abroad to source raw beans, cleaning, roasting, winnowing, grinding, refining, conching, tempering, molding and packaging the chocolate—some with no help, some with a partner and/or a tiny staff. In the process, most have built or modified chocolate-producing equipment for results they could not otherwise achieve.

So, how good are these bars? They rank with the world’s best, including acclaimed small producers (but still, much larger than micro producers) like Amedei, Michel Cluizel and Pralus. If you like great dark chocolate, this is an eye-opening journey you can take without ever leaving your home. Read the full review and learn more about these exceptional chocolate bars on TheNibble.com.

 

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