While most Americans don’t have to go too far to buy a tarte aux pommes (French apple tart) or a mille-feuille (Napoleon), one of the toughest baked delicacies to track down is a macaron, a French macaroon. Those fortunate enough to dine out often on haute cuisine may get a decent macaroon on a petit-fours plate. Sometimes you can find them at retail; but like Aesop’s fox and his grapes, the macaroons are often dull when they should be exciting.
A hasty note: We are not speaking of the type of macaroon that is a hearty, chewy, mounded cookie made with coconut (see Erica’s Macaroons, another Top Pick Of The Week). Those coconut macaroons are only one variation on the theme, having evolved from the original Italian almond paste cookie, which was similar to today’s amaretti (read the history of the macaroon). French macaroons evolved in a different direction, some into ethereal, filled, meringue-like cookie sandwiches—pretty, variously flavored and colored, a delicacy for a sophisticated table. Yet, not everyone has the knack for making them this way. We’ve nibbled on quite a few macs that have made us long for better flavor and texture.
One of New York City’s prominent patissiers, Florian Belanger, recognized the need for an alternative to droning, monotonous macaroons. He began Mad Mac to supply restaurants, hotels and retail pastry stores nationwide. Thanks to online ordering, you, too, can enjoy tasty bites of Mad Mac, in colors that make a special dinner or a party even more festive. Made from egg whites, sugar and almond flour, macaroons are often a better end to a fine dinner than heavier sweets. And they’re easier: All you have to do is open the box and put them on a plate.Read the full review, see more photos of these mad, fun macaroons and get a tray or two for your own festivities.
Fruits are frequently served with cheese, but vegetables are also a traditional accompaniment. Italians serve goat cheeses with radishes and pecorino romano with fava beans. Tomatoes in season are always delicious. Marinated vegetables—always part of a good antipasto—are a refreshing complement. Experiment to see what pairings you like best. Click here to learn more about fine cheese at THE NIBBLE.
Cheese and vegetables make a delicious
combination, these goat cheeses from Harley Farms already have herbs and veggies mixed in.
Mustard is a fantastic condiment; it has no calories, fat, or sugar. The mustards and horseradish from True Natural Taste are a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week. Read the review here.
America’s specialty food stores are packed with gourmet condiments. Yet, as good as we would like them all to be, different brands vary in the degree of excitement they present to the demanding palate. That’s why it’s especially rewarding to discover a line that should be on the shelves everywhere: True Natural Taste Organic White Mustard. The Honey Mustard alone is the best we’ve ever tasted, and proves that you can find sophistication and layers of flavor in a product that is generally pleasant, with a one-dimensional sweetness. The rest of the mustards are so well crafted, you can taste the quality of the ingredients (where can we buy apple cider vinegar that’s this good?).
Here is an artisan at work, preparing small batches of mustard with the very best ingredients available. You’ll know it the minute you taste it, and may start eating the mustard from a spoon (as we’ve enjoyed doing over the past few weeks).
There’s also an organic Atomic Horseradish, marrying horseradish root with parsnip to create a very different and earthier, more flavorful style than the prepared horseradish in the refrigerator case (or our grandmother’s own eye-opening recipe of horseradish and beets). The line is certified kosher and (like all mustard) is gluten free.Mustard is a terrific condiment. Low calorie, no fat or sugar (no cholesterol, no carbs), it has a spate of health benefits that are discussed in the main review. When you find a line this good, it’s worth clearing the shelf of your current inventory and trading up to a truly terrific taste. The Dijon flavor won the “best organic mustard” gold medal at this year’s Napa Valley Mustard Festival; but read about our favorites in the full review at THE NIBBLE.
Whether you drink spring water, single malt scotch or premium vodka, using an ice cube made of tap water drops chlorine and fluorine into your deluxe beverage. The solution: Fill your ice cube tray with good bottled water. The cost is negligible compared to the cost of the rest of the contents of the glass. ISI North America makes nifty color-coded ice cube trays with a built-in lid that stack easily, so you can tell tell your “designer ice” from the everyday ice you’d drop into your cola. Read THE NIBBLE’s full review. And for creative cocktail recipes and reviews of our favorite mixers and spirits, check out our Cocktails & Spirits section.
Don’t forget the iSi Orka ice cube trays for your next cocktail party.
Next time you reach for some ketchup to go with your fries, try a gourmet tomato chutney instead.
It’s a no-brainer to substitute high-quality specialty ketchups for the corn-syrup-laden ones from the supermarket. But an even better idea is to top your burger or sandwich with tomato chutney. A savory, not sweet, chutney has deep tomato intensity along with spiciness to add real zing to that burger. Coriander chutney is another super condiment for burgers. In fact, divide your burger and enjoy half and half! To read more about gourmet condiments head over to THE NIBBLE—including our review of more than 42 gourmet ketchups.