Dragonfruit, Korean pears, pomegranates and cinnamon persimmons are just four fruits in season now that most people have never tried. Others, like cherimoya, jackfruit and coquitos, are available year-round. You can give these fruits as gifts (at Melissas.com). But give them to your own household, too. Pick a specific day of the month—the first Monday, the third Sunday, e.g.—to be Exotic Fruit Day in your home. Have your featured fruit for dessert or at brunch, experience different tastes and build your knowledge base. If there’s no market in your town that specializes in exotic produce, Melissas.com is happy to oblige.
Michael’s Cookies’ dough was awarded first place for best product in the “Outstanding Foodservice” category by the National Association for the Specialty Foods Trade (NASFT). But the cookies are available ready-baked for consumers, and are beautifully packaged for corporate gifts or for your favorite cookie lover. They’re also certified kosher. Of the 20 different flavors available, we tried five, plus the gluten-free chocolate chip cookie for people on restricted diets. These homestyle cookies taste like you just baked the yesterday (and in fact, Michael’s bakes to order). We enjoyed all of the flavors: Cappuccino Chocolate Chunk Cookies with a good hit of espresso, Maple Pecan (a terrific flavor that the marketplace should provide more of), Oatmeal Cinnamon, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip and White Chocolate Cranberry. As much as we liked the regular cookies, we prefer the gluten-free cookies from Curious Cookie, a specialist in the area. Read the full review, and find more of our favorite cookies in the Cookies & Brownies section of THE NIBBLE online magazine. You can find more kosher products in our Kosher Nibbles section.
Rick’s Picks: Great pickles and pickled vegetables. Read our review.
While many people search high and low for one Very Special Gift, there’s often nothing better to give food-lovers than the most delicious versions of everyday products they really enjoy. The best gourmet peanut butters, jams, chocolate bars, maple syrups, teas or mustards, e.g., are treats that recipients can appreciate every day of the year—and they’ll think of you with every delicious bite or sip. Put together a selection of the best in a gift box. In addition to the foods, your gift will be the joy of discovery. Check out the Main Nibbles section for our favorite everyday foods (peanut butter, salsa, etc.) and see the Gift Finder section of THE NIBBLE online magazine for more product recommendations in every category.
Want to mix up a little something special? How about coconut egg nog? It’s a basic rum egg nog recipe plus coconut milk or cream—the type used to make piña coladas. See the coconut egg nog recipe and find other holiday cocktail recipes in the Cocktails & Spirits section of THE NIBBLE online magazine (there’s regular egg nog, chocolate egg nog, and [in our Diet Nibbles section] diet egg nog). You can find general holiday recipes in the December issue of THE NIBBLE.
Actual imagery of factory farms is too depressing for food pages, so we’ve substituted this image from The Meatrix. See the Times story for the real thing.
In yesterday’s New York Times magazine section, Michael Pollan, who is professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and director of the school’s Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism, does more than just expose another filthy meat “factory farm.” In these huge, meat-producing operations for pigs, chicken and cattle, animals are penned in on top of each other, standing in their own muck, such that they must be fed antibiotics daily or they would die of disease. (If you want to see the animated film version this, suitable for children, see the award-winning “The Meatrix”). It’s just not ugly anymore, though: It may be fatal. A virulent strain of the Staphylococcus bacteria, called MRSA, is now killing more American than AIDS, and it’s antibiotic-resistant.
Studies in Canada and Europe have found that confinement pig operations (factory farms) are reservoirs of MRSA. While scientists have not established that any of the strains of MRSA that are responsible for American deaths originated on factory farms, the livestock industry has not been cooperative, nor has the Department of Agriculture rushed to investigate. What can you do? Read Michael Pollan’s story, and switch to organic meat. The latter is not a suggestion of the Pollan story, but THE NIBBLE’s. Organic meat comes from antibiotic-free animals, which would avoid any forthcoming drug-resistant infections in humans that stem from the antibiotics in meat. You can read more about the challenges of Big Agribusiness in Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and more about organics in the NutriNibbles section of THE NIBBLE online magazine