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THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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PRODUCT REVIEW: Baji’s International Rice Meals

Lentil Biryani
Slender pouches microwave to fluffy rice dishes.
  Looking for a great side dish or vegetarian meal that’s ready in 90 seconds? Baji’s Rice Meals are a wonderful addition to the pantry shelf: an uber-convenient line of five international flavors of basmati rice. The pouch goes into the microwave, and Jambalaya, Lemongrass and Basil, Lentil Rice Biryani, Nasi Goreng or Paella emerges (rice and vegetables only—add your own meat, poultry or seafood). The dishes are highly seasoned. They can be enjoyed with everyday grilled meat, poultry or seafood, or incorporated into a more complex jambalaya, paella or Indian dish. The line is all natural, trans fat free, cholesterol free, wheat free, gluten free and preservative free. A 9-ounce box is $2.99 and makes two adult pportions. The line is sold at fine retailers and on Amazon.com. A portion of the company’s profits helps disadvantaged children throughout the third world. Read our full review of Baji’s Rice Meals.
If you like crunchy snacks, read our review of Baji’s flavored papadums, which we reviewed earlier this year. Read about more global foods in our International Products Section.

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PRODUCT WATCH: The Chocolate Show

The New York Chocolate Show (ChocolateShow.com) was held this past weekend. This year’s show was better than prior shows for one big reason: For the first time, every chocolatier was giving away free tastes of chocolate. At previous shows, quite a few exhibitors had chocolates to sell, but no freebies to taste. Kudos to the show organizers for ensuring that visitors who paid $28.00 to attend got to taste as well as look. Now, if they could only eliminate the “free children under 12” policy: The hall is packed, no place for strollers, and most of the chocolate is sophisticated dark, not of interest to the kids we saw spitting it out. Call us the Chocolate Grinch, but this particular show is for chocolate connoisseurs, not a family event. Next year, please eliminate the “free babysitting” so the intrepid explorers among us can get through the aisles more easily to find the good chocolate. We missed a few because we couldn’t plow through the throngs.   Chocolat Moderne Kimono Collection
Chocolat Moderne’s Kimono Collection has the flavors of Japan.
 
As always, there were new kids on the [chocolate] block to discover. And all of our favorite regular exhibitors outdid themselves with new products. A key frustration is that there is too much offered: ongoing demonstrations and so much chocolate to discover, that we didn’t have the time to attend the presentations and tastings in the two theatres and the lounge. We’ll write long reviews of the newbies in future issues of THE NIBBLE online magazine, but here’s a shout-out to those we already know (in alphabetical order).
Chocolat Moderne. Joan Coukos continues to wow. The new Greek Revival assortment is filled with Kalamata Olive caramel (amazing), Rose-Pistachio, Mastiha-Orange Blossom, Baklava, Halva and Ouzo. The Kimono Collection is infused with savory and sweet Japanese ingredients: Adzuki Bean, Green Tea, Persimmon, Shichimi Togarashi, Shiso and Soy-Miso. Any chocolate connoisseur would like a box of each. Read our full review of Chocolat Moderne. ChocolatModerne.com.
Christopher Norman. John Down’s edible art included a Mondrian-like collection of chocolate-covered flavored caramels—ganaches and liquid—in beautiful fall shades of umber, sienna, gold and pumpkin. ChristopherNorman.com.
Coppeneur. This German company has not yet made big inroads in the U.S.—it just debuted here last year. Georg Bernardini & Oliver Coppeneur have lots of imagination and the skill to back it up: Their filled chocolate bars are spectacular. Apple & Calvados, Chili & Highland Whiskey, Lavender Cranberry, Mango Lassi, Rose Petals & Grappa, Saffron & Orange…there are about 30 flavors and we’d like to have all of them. Coppeneur.de.
Green & Black’s. We loved spending time with head of product development, Micah Carr-Hill, in town from England to point out the nuances of chocolate-making. Green & Black’s generously gave away entire chocolate bars to booth visitors. The line is certified organic, and our favorite white chocolate bar happens to be G&B’s. If you think you don’t like white chocolate, give it a try. GreenAndBlacks.com.
J. Emanuel. Tad Van Leer, who grew up in the chocolate business, has expanded his line of wine truffles by teaming with Craig Shelton, famed chef of the Ryland Inn in New Jersey and coffee expert. The new line of chocolates and toffees that incorporate coffee are delicious. JEmanuel.com.
Lillie Belle Farms. Does Jeff Shepard ever sleep? Every time we see him (three or four times a year), he has new and spectacular chocolates. His new Bolivian bar, from Felchlin’s dazzling couverture, is dynamite. But remember our other favorites (brittles, lavender salt caramels, new Smokey Blue truffles and just about everything else in the line). Read our review of of Lillie Belle Farms’ toffee. LillieBelleFarms.com.
Michel Cluizel. What more can we say about one of the greatest chocolatiers on earth? Read our review of his single origin bars…and taste the new 99% cacao boucher. It’s amazing. If you’re in New York City, you must plan at least one (preferably two) visits to his salon in Union Square to do the paired single origin chocolate and spirits tastings. It’s an unforgettable experience. Read our full review of Michel Cluizel. Cluizel.com.
Peanut Butter & Co. Anyone who likes peanut butter cups must get The Ultimate Peanut Butter Cup Collection: Dark Chocolate (bittersweet and wonderful), Milk Chocolate, White Chocolate and Inside Out (a PB shell with chocolate inside). ILovePeanutButter.com.


Read about more of our favorite chocolates in the Chocolate Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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NEWS: Chipotle Mexican Grill Goes rBGH-Free

Fajita Salad
Enjoy a fajita without the tortilla.
  By the end of the year, Chipotle Mexican Grill will be the first national restaurant chain to eliminate rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone—click the link to read more about it) entirely from its menu. Last year, Chipotle began serving rBGH-free sour cream and has been shifting to rBGH-free cheese over the past few months. Though eating a Chipotle burrito isn’t exactly a low-calorie meal (see the Chipotle Nutrition Calculator here), the restaurant chain is committed to its “Food With Integrity” mission.
Chipotle serves more meat raised without antibiotics and added growth hormones, and a fed a pure vegetarian diet, than any restaurant in the world. Additionally, 25% of the black and pinto beans Chipotle serves are organically grown. And, you can get your burrito or fajita in a bowl—no tortilla. Just watch out for that chipotle-honey vinaigrette!

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On Our Radar

Interesting nibbles from the past week:
– The makers of the documentary King Corn are eating corn-free for the month of November. Read their trials and tribulations on their blog.
– The folks at ACalorieCounter.com have catalogued the 88 least healthy fast food items.
– Here’s a step-by-step guide to making turkey gravy.
– Serendipity 3 crafts a $25,000 chocolate sundae with edible gold.
– Jones Soda debuts a Christmas ham soda for the holiday season—that also happens to be kosher.
– The Oxford English Dictionary 2007 Word Of The Year is…drumroll please…locavore.

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ENTERTAINING: Thanksgiving Candy & Chocolate

Want your Thanksgiving dinner table to look a bit more special? Looking for party favors for your guests? Or are you the guest, looking for something to bring your hosts? Take a look at our Thanksgiving candy and chocolate selections—they’ll fit every bill. Warning: The Ginger Caramel Sin “spoon candy” is addictive (and goes well atop pie, cake and ice cream). For more Thanksgiving ideas, visit the Entertaining Guide section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.   Chocolate turkeys
Turkey family, in dark or milk chocolate from Lake Champlain Chocolates, is kosher, too.
 

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