THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods


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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Mary’s Gone Crackers

A quick glance at the Mary’s Gone Crackers package can make a serious foodie apprehensive: wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, no hydrogenated oils, no trans-fats, non-GMO. The litany of what’s not in these crackers is so extensive, you start to wonder what is in them that makes them taste so vibrant and delicious. (See the answer in the main review.) They’re also organic, whole grain and kosher.

Mary’s crackers taste so good, and deliver such flavorful, addictive crunch, that it’s a pleasure to get your three daily servings of whole grains (and 455mg of omega-3 fatty acids per serving) by substituting whatever cracker or chip you’re enjoying now. The flat, round wafers have a great nutty, whole wheat taste despite an absence of wheat. Each of the five flavors (Original, Black Pepper, Caraway, Herb and Onion) is distinct and straightforward. Black Pepper, for example has a nice pepper bite; Herb features basil, oregano and other dried-herb-rack staples; Onion is reminiscent of Lipton Onion Soup mix, in a good way. Even the Original is splendid: a hearty grain flavor accented with the sesame and flax seeds that characterize the entire line.


You’ll go crackers when you taste the
lively, complex flavors of Mary’s whole
grain, gluten-free crackers and twig
snacks.
In finding a solution to her own gluten-free needs, Mary Waldner has created a line that any lover of fine flavors will find exciting. There’s a new product line, Sticks & Twigs, that offers similar excitement in a pretzel-stick shape. Read the full review for the whole, healthy scoop.

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GOURMET NEWS: EAT-JAPAN Sushi Awards


The winner: a sushi made of seven
different treatments of rice. Last year’s
winner, Golden Shooting Star, was also a
vegetarian sushi.
Award-winning chefs from Japan, Russia, Scandinavia, the U.K. and the U.S. competed on October 6th at Sushi Awards 2008 for the Sushi Of The Year Award, a unique creation developed for the event. The “Seven Sushi Samurai” created their selected sushi for 322 sushi connoisseurs, members of the press and a guest panel of British culinary celebrities. The event, held at Bloomsbury’s London House, was sold out (there was a waiting list for the £90 tickets).

The winner was Mitsunori Kusakabe of Sushi Ran in Sausalito, California. Born in Osaka, Japan in 1970, Kusakabe is a largely self-trained sushi genius who holds the 6th American Sushi Skills trophy. He has carried his skills around the globe before bringing them to his Michelin-starred restaurant, Sushi Ran in California. Born in Osaka, Japan in 1970, Kusakabe is a largely self-trained sushi chef who also won the sixth American Sushi Skills competition. His creation, “Seven ’Rice’ Samurai,” used only rice (no fish or vegetables, except for the nori wrapper and garnishes such as shiso flowers), and demonstrated his skills as a chef; judge Kyle Connaughton, head chef of The Fat Duck Experimental Kitchen, called it “tecnhically brilliant.”

Kusakabe utilized used seven different cooking methods—fermentation, frying, toasting, sautéing, roasting, freezing and extraction—to transform rice into an innovative sushi. The inspiration behind this recipe was Kusakabe’s desire to show the world just how delicious and essential rice is, and how versatile rice can be. You can only imagine how good this sushi tastes, but the next time you’re in the neighborhood of Sausalito (right across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco), see if you can get a reservation at Sushi Ran.

Last year’s winner, Golden Shooting Star, was also a vegetarian sushi. To learn more about the different types of sushi available at most sushi bars, read THE NIBBLE’s Sushi Glossary. And if you’re headed to any of the cities where the rest of the Seven Samurai sushi chefs work, you can be assured you’ll find some exciting sushi there.

Read more about the Sushi Of The Year competition, and see photos of the runners up.

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NEW PRODUCT: Energy Mints & Chocolate Chews

Need that energy but don’t like energy drinks and coffee? Or need something you can pull out of your pocket no matter where you are? Well, Vroom Foods has YOU in mind. One of its “seriously caffeinated” Foosh energy mints is equal to a cup of coffee, as is one of its Buzz Bites chocolate energy chews (think of a chocolate caramel). Both contain caffeine, taurine, ginseng and B vitamins, and both taste like a regular mint or chocolate chew. $3.99 per tin for 12 mints or 6 chews (with savings on multipacks). A great stocking stuffer for your fatigued friends.  
Who needs to find an energy drink? Just
pop a chocolate Buzz Bite.

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HOLIDAYS: Have A Gourmet Halloween

  There are Halloween cookies everywhere, but if you need to please a discriminating palate, head over to CRRichDesign.com, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week (read our review). Her seasonal collection includes Enjoy our Halloween Treats, which includes a more delicious rendition of the usual Halloween creatures: a dark chocolate cookie cat with black sugar coating, a gingerbread cookie jack-o-lantern topped with royal icing and sugar and a rich butter cookie ghost with vanilla icing. But for something a bit different, our favorite is this bat sandwich, a mocha cookie with dark chocolate espresso liqueur ganache filling.
 

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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Mari’s New York Brownies

Mari gives you the go-ahead to indulge your brownie cravings in a refined and sensible manner. By making individually-wrapped brownies that are 1-1/2” square, you can have your cake and eat it, too. Mari offers happy restraint: Have one compact, deliciously satisfying piece. If you insist on eating the whole box, it’s of your own free will.

These are brownies as they should be: portioned in a manner that doesn’t break the calorie bank. How can you feel guilty eating something so petite? Yet you’ll definitely be satiated, because those few bites are all that one could ask for: rich, chocolatey, complex—and varied. Mari makes brownies in seven flavors, plus three seasonal varieties. You can have it your way with an assorted box or your favorite flavor.

All of the flavors are charmers. Jewel-like in their little cello wraps with colorfully beckoning labels, the brownies tuck into briefcases, pockets, gym bags (yes, you deserve it!) and lunch boxes. Use them as place settings and party favors. For a simple dessert, serve them with coffee. For a gourmet dessert, add a scoop of matching or contrasting ice cream.


Mari’s New York classic chocolate
brownies are available with or without
walnuts. Or try one of the other eight
flavors. Shown in photo, clockwise from
bottom: Blonde Bombshell, Coconut,
Sugar & Spice, Cranberry Cognac and
Thai Coffee.
In these days of financial uncertainty, Mari’s is a bright light in the gloom of holiday gift obligations. Give six brownie “jewels” in a beautiful box. It’s less than $20, but to a food lover, it dazzles as much as a Tiffany trinket. In fact, we repurposed the stunning coral and white boxes to hold jewelry. Read the full review and see more photos, as we describe each delicious bite.

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