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

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GOURMET TRAVEL: Better Food Service On Virgin America

First there were the friendly skies, now there are the tasty skies. Fly Virgin America and enjoy an expanded “on demand” menu on daily transcontinental flights from New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington Dulles—it’s the only U.S. airline to offer on-demand dining. There are new “casual gourmet,” fresh menu options, complimentary in First Class and for purchase in the Main Cabin. Passengers simply use the “food button” on their seatback video touch screens to order food whenever they wish during a flight. Payment is made by swipe of a credit card through the in-seat ordering system. Menu choices include yogurt, berries and granola for breakfast, with the delicious La Brea Bakery granola; “anytime” choices of fruit and cheese with fresh grapes, dried fruits and nuts with Carr’s biscuits and a beef tenderloin sandwich with bufala mozzarella and basil pesto on ciabatta bread.   Dessert Tapas

Dessert “tapas” are available on short flights
Vegetarian fare includes a Caprese sandwich on a crusty French baguette with bufala mozzarella, roasted yellow tomato and sliced red tomato, frisée lettuce and fresh basil pesto, served with a salad of marinated artichoke hearts, vine-ripened tomatoes and cannellini beans. For lunch and dinner there’s a chicken Caesar salad. Tapas-like options are available on shorter flights. It all sounds good to us—and it’s no surprise that an airline based in San Francisco cares about better food options. If we have an opportunity to fly first class, we’ll eat our way through the menu and report back.

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ARTICLE: The Perfect Hard-Boiled Egg

Hard-Boiled Egg
Struggle no longer: Make the perfect hard-
boiled egg.
Photo by Pontus Edenberg | IST.
  With holiday season approaching, those favorite deviled egg recipes will be coming out of the drawer. Have you ever wondered why some people make perfect hard-boiled eggs, and for others it’s such a chore? There’s actually a technique to making perfect boiled eggs, to avoiding that green ring around the yolk, to getting the yolk exactly centered and to cooking eggs that are a cinch to peel. Here is the egg-cellent solution, as well as egg nutrition and egg facts. Here’s one mystery solved: The difference between brown eggs and white eggs is simply the color of the hen! The reason brown eggs tend to cost more is because brown hen varieties are larger, and consume more feed. It’s that simple! If you want to learn the secrets of organic eggs, read our separate article.

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REVIEW: Miller’s Select Premium Crab Meat

If you’ve ever spent big money on a can of crab meat, only to be disappointed by the mediocre flavor and the pieces of shell—we feel your pain. We’ve thrown out more than a few such cans. That’s why we were so excited to discover Miller’s Select, premium wild catch crab meat, available in Jumbo Lump, Lump, White and Backfin meat, all from the blue swimmer crab. It’s one of our favorite low-calorie gourmet treats. This company takes such pains to pick and process the best crab meat—there are no disappointments here, no tinny, mushy crab. It’s pasteurized and shelf stable, but tastes as fresh as, well, fresh crab. In addition, we’ve developed a separate article comparing crab meat grades, along with a “crab glossary,” to explain the different types of crabs. Blue Crabs
Blue crabs. Photo by Michael Thompson | IST.
Dungeness, stone crab, blue crab, snow crab: Do you know how they differ and which to buy (or order)? Finally, the world of crab—and crab meat—will be demystified! Read our full review of Miller’s Select, check out the Crab Glossary, and enjoy every bite with superior knowledge, going forward. We’ve even included some delicious crab recipes.

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PRODUCT WATCH: Vote For The New Kettle Chip Flavor

Kettle Chips

Hot chips! Get yours and have a party.

  It’s time to order your Kettle Chip Party Packs, pick a date and have a potato chip tasting party to vote for the next flavor of Kettle Chips. One of our favorite fall rituals is tasting the five candidates for the new Kettle Chip flavor. We cast our votes along with many thousands of other chip lovers, and the winner, which will be announced in January, will be available next summer. Each year there’s a flavor theme, and this time it’s Fire and Spice. All five candidates are hot, but complex—not just mouth burn in need of a beer (although these chips were made to go with beer!). In fact, there’s a lot of heat and sweet, like Mango Chili, sweet mango and cinnamon with a salty, spicy blend of cayenne and habañero chiles.
Also up for your vote are Death Valley Chipotle, a smoky, slow-burning blend of cayenne, chipotle, habañero, red chile and herbs; Jalapeño Salsa Fresca, a blend of jalapeño and cayenne mellowed with sundried tomato, green bell pepper and lime flavors; Orange Ginger Wasabi, Asian heat from a blend of ginger, wasabi and a twist of citrus; and Wicked Hot Sauce, a cayenne burn and a vinegary tang. For just $14.95 plus shipping, you get a 5-ounce bag of each of the five flavors, a fun tasting guide, food and drink ideas to cool your palate between fiery flavors, voting ballots, stickers and more (BYOB). Voting is now open. You don’t have to purchase the Party Pack to vote, but where’s the fun in that? Last year we loved all five flavors and voted for them all. This year, we have one clear favorite. We won’t bias other opinions, though, so we’ll tell you what it is when the winners are announced. The Fire and Spice Party Pack is a fun gift idea for the hard-to-buy-for people on your holiday list—we’ve been giving them out for three years. Visit for more information and to order your Party Pack; and read more about gourmet potato chips in the Gourmet Snacks Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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WINE: Beauties From Calabria and Puglia

Last night we went to a tasting of Southern Italian wines from Winebow, an importer and distributer of premium wines from Italy, Spain and South America. You can pretty much never go wrong with a Winebow import. Company founder Leonardo LoCascio, who presented the wines, has the passion and palate to represent only well-made wines from family-owned properties. All of the wines were good, some memorable, and most were priced for everyday enjoyment at $10 to $15. We fell for two wines from grapes we never heard of (but like most people, we know little about the wines from this region). Gravello IGT* Val di Neto 2005 is a “Super Calabrian” wine, a new blend of 60% Gaglioppo, a grape indigenous to Calabria, and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, an expensive import from France that adds depth, character and cost (and the title “Super,” which began in the 1980s with the Super Tuscan blends). The wine is aged for three years, of which 18 to 24 months is spent in Allier barriques, the fine oak barrels used to age Bordeaux. Drinking beautifully now, this wine has serious plummy fruit and a finish that lasted for about 10 minutes. It’s worth every cent of the $32.00 retail. For almost a third the price and equally as impressive, the rustic-style Salice Salentino Rosso Riserva DOC 2003 from Puglia (the heel of Italy’s “boot”) was spicy, earthy and sensual. It’s a blend of Negroamaro and a small amount of Malvasia Nera. Five days of maceration with the skins has extracted beautiful color plus black cherry and dried fruits—prune, raisin—plus lead pencil nuances found in some great Bordeaux. In fact, the wine is aged for two years, and 20% of it is refined in French barriques of Allier, Nevers and Tronçais oak. It’s a beautiful food wine for roasted and grilled dishes, as well as pizza, for those of us who think that “pizza wine” should be as good as “filet mignon wine.” Both wines are available nationwide. At these prices, we’re buying a case of the Gravello and two of the Salice Salentino—which for $12 makes a great stocking stuffer.   Gravello Val di Neto
Gravello Val di Neto from Calabria: beautiful fruit, complexity and length.
*IGT, Indicazione Geografica Tipica, indicates a geopgraphic area but is not as strict as the DOC classification, which specifies permitted grape varieties, amonng other things. Many non-traditional wines such as the Super Tuscans fall into this category.

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