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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Sumo Citrus, A Hefty Mandarin

You may purchase lots of grapefruits, lemons, limes and oranges—the same ones you’ve been buying for years. But if you cast a wider net, you can find some real citrus excitement—like these Sumo Citrus® mandarins.

Like Sumo wrestlers, Sumo Citrus is super-sized, and it has a topknot.

It looks like a big orange, but it’s in the mandarin family (the difference between mandarins and oranges).

Mandarins are easy to peel and segment, and Sumo Citrus is:

  • Sweet and juicy, but not messy.
  • Seedless.
  • A great on-the-go snack.
  • In season now!
  •  
    Look for it, buy it; just don’t call it an orange.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF SUMO CITRUS

    Sumo Citrus was bred from the pomelo, navel orange and mandarin.

    In addition to size, it’s also one of the world’s sweetest mandarins.

    In Japan, it is known as shiranui and nicknamed the “dekopon,” a reference to its distinctive top knot.

    Not every dekopon is a Sumo Citrus however. It’s a brand distinction available only those fruits meeting size and taste standards.
     
    &nbsp
    Not All Topknot Mandarins Are Sumo Citrus

    Originally, the different prefectures in Japan that grew the citrus gave them different names.

    However, an agreement was reached whereby any grower can use the name “dekopon” if they pay a licensing fee and meet certain quality standards.

    So the name “dekopon” now can refer to the fruits grown anywhere in Japan.

    In the U.S., something snazzier was needed to market the fruit. The brand name Sumo Citrus® was created.

    Think of the generic clementine mandarin, branded by different growers as Cuties and Halos, for marketing appeal.
     
     
    GROWING SUMO CITRUS

    While it’s sometimes hard to tell some mandarin varieties from others, you can’t miss Sumo Citrus and its topknot.

    This rare seedless variety was originally cultivated in Japan in the 1970s by a grower who set out to develop “the ultimate citrus experience.” This variety was dubbed the “dekopon” [source].

    In Japan, the fruits are usually grown in large greenhouses to keep them at a constant temperature, and are harvested from December to February.

    In the case of orchard farming, the dekopon are harvested from March to April.

    Harvesting trivia: After harvesting, dekopon are usually left to sit for a period of 20–40 days so that the levels of citric acid in the fruit decrease, while the sugar levels increase.

    This creates a more appealing taste. Only dekopons with sugar levels above 13°Bx† and citric acid below 1.0% can be sold with the name dekopon.
     
    Outside Of Japan

    Sumo Citrus is only grown in the San Joaquin Valley of California, and with partner growers in Australia, all of whom have licensed the ability to grow it.

    Sumo seedlings were first imported into the U.S. in 1998, but because the Sumo is one of the most challenging varieties to grow, it wasn’t until 2011 that they became available to the public.

    The dekopon was released as a commercial product in the U.S. under the name Sumo Citrus® in early 2011.

    After many years, there is now enough Sumo Citrus available in the U.S. for most of us to try it—with thanks to family farms in California whose incredibly high growing standards made the crop possible.

    Sumo season in the U.S. is just four months: January through April.
     
     
    GET YOUR SUMO CITRUS

    Check the store locator on SumoCitrus.com for the retailer nearest you.

    You can also send a Sumo Citrus gift box.

     


    [1] Why they’re called “Sumo”: the wide girth and the topknot (photos #1, #2, #3 and #4 © Sumo Citrus).


    [2] They may look small in a photo, but Sumo citrus is double or triple the size of other mandarins.


    [3] A benefit of mandarins versus oranges is that they’re so easy to peel. Some people pride themselves on being able to peel a mandarin in a single long swirl.


    [4] Add Sumo Citrus segments to green salads and grain bowls,


    [5] These are not mandarins, but they are food fun: Can you name these citrus varieties? The answer is in the footnote.<

     
    ________________

    *The citrus varieties from top to bottom: yuzu, variegated lemon, kaffir/kieffer lime, calamondin. Calamondin is a cross between a mandarin orange (Citrus reticulata, tangerine or Satsuma) and a kumquat (Fortunella margarita).

    †Bx, an abbreviation for brix, measures the sugar content of an agricultural product.

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: The History Of National Oysters Rockefeller Day


    [1] The original Oysters Rockefeller from Antoine’s Restaurant in New Orleans (photo © Antoine’s).


    [2] Chefs who adapted the secret recipe often use spinach and diced bacon. Here’s the preparation at Monahan’s Seafood Market in Ann Arbor, Michigan (photo © Monahan’s Seafood Market).


    [3] Some “builds” include Mornay sauce, a classic French cheese sauce made with Gruyère. Some American chefs substitute Cheddar but—please don’t (photo © Arch Rock Fish in Santa Barbara [alas, closed]).

     

    January 10th is National Oysters Rockefeller Day. It was first celebrated in 2017 at Antoine’s restaurant in New Orleans.

    If you live anywhere near New Orleans, you be rewarded with a special treat.

    That’s because this weekend, Antoine’s will celebrate National Oysters Rockefeller Day with by offering orders of Oysters Rockefeller for just $5.

    The legendary dish was invented in Antoine’s kitchen in 1899 by Jules Alciatore, the son of the restaurant’s namesake founder, Antoine Alciatore.

    The recipe was an innovation in the art of cooked oysters, an unanticipated mother of invention.

    At the end of the 19th century, there was a shortage of European snails—then a gourmet treat—arriving from Europe to New Orleans.

    Jules identified a locally sourced replacement: oysters.

    In creating the dish, Jules combined a buttery sauce with green vegetables, producing such a richness of flavor that he named it after one of the wealthiest men in the United States: John D. Rockefeller.

    While Mr. Rockefeller reportedly despised the affiliation, grilled Oysters Rockefeller became an iconic dish.

    It has approximated by chefs around the world. The original recipes a closely-guarded family secret.
     
     
    OYSTERS ROCKEFELLER VARIATIONS

    Here’s one big difference:

    While just about every tribute recipe tops the oysters with spinach, Antoine’s original recipe does not contain spinach. Is it watercress?

    Maybe: You’ll could head to New Orleans to find out.

    But even then, you’d need to be a super-taster to have any success.

    To safeguard the recipe, Antoine’s has subsequently puréed the topping ingredients and piped them on top of the grilled oysters (photo #1).

    When we first had them at Antoine’s decades ago, the ingredients were still recognizable—and if we had known that food writing lay in our future, we would have taken closer notice.

    Most imitators top the oysters with sautéed or blanched spinach, others cream the spinach or substitute a whole blanched spinach leaf.

    Some add a garnish of bread crumbs, diced bacon and/or parmesan cheese (photo #2).

    We’ve even had the oysters with topped with a Mornay sauce—a béchamel sauce turned into cheese sauce with Gruyère—before adding the spinach and bacon (photo #3).

    Some modern interpretations even fry the oysters and serve them with conventional “imitator” garnishes: spinach, bread crumbs, bacon.

    Since you’ll never know the original recipe, you can add the ingredients that please your palate most.

    It may not be “Oysters Rockefeller” as Jules Alciatore created it; but it will be your Oysters Rockefeller.

    Here’s a recipe to start you off, along with more garnish ideas.
     
     
    ABOUT ANTOINE’S RESTAURANT

    Antoine’s, an iconic New Orleans institution, is managed by fifth-generation CEO and Proprietor Rick Blount, whos estimates that the restaurant has prepared Oysters Rockefeller more than five million times since its introduction.

    Beyond being known as the birthplace of Oysters Rockefeller, the legendary New Orleans restaurant is the oldest continuously-operating restaurant in the U.S. It remains owned by the same family that founded it in 1840.

    The restaurant celebrated its 175th anniversary in 2015. It’s now 180, and we bet they’ll still be serving Oysters Rockefeller at age 200 and beyond.

    For more information, visit Antoine’s website.

     

     
      

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    FOOD 101: Pizza In America – Pizza Holidays


    [1] The classic, a Margherita pizza is a cheese pizza topped with fresh basil (photo © Nadezhda Filatova | Unsplash).


    [2] Slices topped with fresh arugula (photo © Sahand Hoseini | Unsplash).


    [3] Pile it on! This pepperoni pizza has veggie companions: black olives, fresh basil and tomatoes (photo © Like Meat | Unsplash).


    [4] Eat your veggies! This pizza sports Brussels sprouts and broccolini, with pesto. Here’s the recipe from DeLallo (photo © DeLallo).


    [5] America’s favorite topping: pepperoni (photo © Tablespoon | TBSP).


    [6] Breakfast pizza, with eggs and pancetta. Here’s the recipe from DeLallo (photo © DeLallo)

     

    National Pizza Week kicks off the second Sunday in January. That’s tomorrow.

    It’s just one of 11 “pizza holidays” in the U.S. alone. We’ve listed them all, below.

    You have an entire week to celebrate one of America’s all-time favorite foods: comforting, affordable, ubiquitous…and delicious!
     
     
    AMERICA’S PIZZA PASSION

    How much do Americans like pizza?

    We Americans love our pizza. Depending on the survey, it’s America’s favorite food (vying with the burger).

    Global data specialist BoldData determined that the amount of pizza restaurants in the U.S. increased by a whopping 39.2% over the last five years.

    (Note that the definition of “restaurant” can range from a large venue with table service to a take-out counter that delivers.)

    Alas, thanks to the pandemic, the growth spurt abruptly stopped in 2020…with bright hopes for the post-pandemic future.

    But because so much pizza is takeout and delivery rather than eat-in, the pizza party didn’t end in 2020.

    Take a look at the growth curve: In 2016 there were 65,213 pizza places. In 2020, there were 90,817 pizza restaurants or counters.

    Based on the trajectory, the beginning of 2021 should have reached the magical number of 100,000 pizza restaurants.

    But thanks to COVID-19, the increase in 2020 was just 581 new outlets.
     
     
    WHO’S NUMBER ONE?

  • California. When it comes to pizza, California is the place to be. The state has 8,271 pizza places, of which 2,044 are based in the Los Angeles area.
  • New York. The Big Apple comes in second with 7,190 restaurants, a growth of 48% compared to 2016.
  • Hawaii. The biggest growth in pizza outlets took place in Hawaii: a whopping 69%.
  • Wyoming-Not. Pizza lovers had best stay away from Wyoming, the state with the lowest number of pizza joints—just 133. To be fair, Wyoming is the least populous and least-densely-populated state in the contiguous United States.
  •  
     
    THE WORLDWIDE CHAMPION

    There are 245,244 pizza restaurants worldwide.

    The U.S. takes the biggest slice of the worldwide pie. It’s home to the largest number of pizza restaurants: 90,817 restaurants for a population of 328.2 million population (in 2019).

    The U.S. has more pizzerias than the next four countries combined (which total 88,100). That’s 36% of all pizza restaurants worldwide

    Italy, where the modern pizza originated, comes in second with 42,288 pizzerias for a population of 60.36 million (2019). That’s 17% of the world total.

    Brazil takes third place, with 32,283 pizzerias (population 209.5 million in 2018).

    The top three countries combined are home to 67% of the world’s total amount of pizza restaurants.

    Australia is number 8 on the list. With 5,598 pizza restaurants, they have one of the highest number of pizza places per capita.
     
     
    DELIVERY FAVORITES

    The Huffington Post gathered favorite pizza toppings from a 2018 survey of the online food delivery service, Caviar.

    While Caviar doesn’t represent a representative sampling of the entire country (it covers 20 major cities), here are its data on the most popular pizza toppings:

  • Pepperoni
  • Sausage
  • Garlic
  • Olives
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Chicken
  • Oregano
  •  
    Their toppings data doesn’t include a slot for people who just ordered a plain cheese pizza (the Margherita*).

    > Check out the 50 largest pizza chains worldwide.

    Canada’s Panago Pizza beat out America’s Domino’s Pizza for first place.
     

    THE YEAR IN PIZZA HOLIDAYS

    Whether you get takeout pizza or make your own, mark your calendars for:

  • JANUARY: National Pizza Week, beginning the second Sunday in January
  • FEBRUARY: Great American Pizza Bake, beginning the second week in February, a week where you’re encouraged to not only consume pizza, but to try your hand in making it
  • FEBRUARY: National Pizza Day (a.k.a. National Pizza Pie Day), February 9th
  • APRIL: National Deep Dish Pizza Day, April 5th
  • MAY: National Pizza Party Day, May 15th
  • JUNE: Pizza Margherita Day, June 11th
  • SEPTEMBER: National Cheese Pizza Day, September 5th
  • SEPTEMBER: National Pepperoni Pizza Day, September 20th
  • OCTOBER: National Pizza Month
  • OCTOBER: International Beer and Pizza Day, October 9th
  • OCTOBER National Sausage Pizza Day, October 11th
  • NOVEMBER: National Pizza With Everything Except Anchovies Day, November 12th
  •  
     
    > THE HISTORY OF PIZZA
     
     
    ________________

    *The Margherita is the original modern pizza. It was named after Queen Margherita, consort to Umberto I, King of Italy from 1878–1900. As the story goes, during a visit to Naples, she asked the best pizza maker in town, Don Raffaele, to make her a pie. He made it in the colors of the Italian flag (red, white and green). The result, a simple but delicious pie of basil, mozzarella and tomatoes.

     

     
      

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    FOOD ART: Boursin Cheese With Tomato Flowers

    Some “food art” can only be achieved by professional food stylists.

    We’re always delighted to come across something simple, that we can make ourselves.

    Serve the tomato flowers with a round of Boursin as an appetizer, or use individual “flowers” as an individual plate garnish.

    Thanks to Boursin for the idea.
     
     
    RECIPE: BOURSIN CHEESE FLOWERS

    Ingredients

  • 2 different flavors of Boursin*
  • Grape or pear tomatoes
  • Fresh chives
  • Baguette slices or crackers
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SOFTEN the cheese for stuffing the flowers. Leave at room temperature until it is soft enough to pipe into the tomatoes.

    2. TRIM the chive stems to the desired length.

    3. USE an ice pick or other sharp implement to create a hole on the bottom of the tomatoes for the chives.

    4. SLICE into the top of the tomatoes with a small paring knife and hollow out a small place to pipe the cheese. The opening can go just halfway down the tomato. You can refrigerate this until ready to serve. Then…

    5. UNWRAP and place the second wheel of Boursin on the serving plate. Insert the chive “stems” into the base of the tomatoes (we used the end of a skewer to push them in.

    6. PLACE the tomato flowers on the serving plate as desired. Most of our guests picked up the tomatoes, leaving the chives on the plate; so we put the rest of the tomatoes that hadn’t been “flowerized” in a ramekin with another ramekin of sea salt.
     
     
    BOURSIN CHEESES

    The Boursin line of soft, spreadable French cheeses includes:

  • Basil & Chive
  • Garlic & Fine Herbs
  • Pepper
  • Shallot & Chive
  • Season Flavors (Cranberry Spice and Fig & Balsamic for the holidays, e.g.
  •  
     
    BOURSIN CHEESE HISTORY

    Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs, sold in a little foil cup, was created in 1957 by François Boursin, a cheesemaker in the commune of Croisy-sur-Eure commune in Normandy, northern France.

    The cheese was inspired by a traditional Normandy party dish of garnished fromage frais (French for “fresh cheese”); a fresh, unaged cheese intended to be eaten within days of its production.

    In the case of Boursin, guests would take their portion of cheese and top it with herbs to add herbs for flavor.

    Boursin thought: Why not sell the cheese with the herbs already blended in?

    Voilà: Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs, the first flavored cheese product to be sold nationally in France.

    In 1990, the brand was acquired by Unilever, who sold it to Groupe Bel 2007 [source].

    The original cheese, fromage frais, is simply drained, lactic set curd, lightly salted, that does not undergo a ripening period. It has a creamy, soft texture and fresh and a fresh, milky flavor.

    Fromage frais differs from fromage blanc, another fresh, white French cheese, in that by law, fromage frais must contain live cultures when sold, whereas with fromage blanc, the fermentation has been halted [source].

    It is often eaten for breakfast (we love it with toast), with fruit for dessert, or in cooking.
     
    ________________

    *Since we needed a separate package to stuff the tomatoes, for variety we used two different flavors of Boursin. You could also use a different cheese for the tomatoes, e.g., cream cheese, mascarpone, quark or ricotta. You can add herbs or spices to any of these cheeses.
     
     
     
     
    > THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CHEESE
     
     
    > THE HISTORY OF CHEESE

     


    [1] Boursin with grape tomato flowers (all photos © Bel Brands USA).


    [2] Boursin is available in four flavors, plus seasonal specialties.


    [3] One of our favorite appetizers, mango, spinach and Boursin prosciutto wraps.


    [4] Keep a box of Boursin in the fridge, and you’ll always have something delicious to serve with wine, beer, or a cup of tea.


    [5] Go fancy with an appetizer of baby potatoes stuffed with Boursin and caviar or shrimp.


    [6] Is the new cheeseburger a burger topped with Boursin?

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Seacuterie Instead Of Charcuterie


    [1] A seacuterie plate from Oceana restaurant, with octopus salami, gravlax with dressed microgreens, and crab spread on toasted baguette (photo © Paul Johnson | Oceana Restaurant).



    [2] A put-it-together seacuterie board: You can purchase most of what’s here. Here are the recipes fi=or the rest (photo © Wild Alaska Food).


    [3] An ample lunch, first course, or dinner at PB Catch raw bar in Palm Beach (photo © PB Catch).


    [4] An individual seacuterie board from PB Catch, with octopus salami, salmon pastrami and smoked cod (photo © Libby Volgyes | PB Catch).


    [5] The start of it all: Chef David Burke’s Pastrami Salmon. Here’s the recipe (photo © David Burke Group).

    Ceviche With Octopus
    [6] Ceviche is an easy dish to make, and a low-calorie, low-carb addition to a seacuterie plate or board (photo © Lola | Denver).

     

    Back in 2017 we wrote an article about seacuterie (see-KEW-tuh-ree).

    It’s the seafood-based version of charcuterie.

    Instead of cured meats (mortadella, prosciutto, salami, etc.) and cheeses, seacuterie leaves the “turf” for the “surf”: seafood choices that are equally tasty, more healthful, and appeal to consumers who want to eat less meat or more sustainable foods in general.

    We have long served charcuterie—and now, seacuterie—on a board with cocktails, or individually plated as a first course with dinners.

    So…
     
     
    WHAT IS SEACUTERIE?

    Seacuterie is a different approach to two popular starters:

  • The charcuterie board, replaced with seafood
  • A seafood platter, or plateau de fruits de mer*
  •  
    Seacuterie expands the concept of the seafood platter, which is mixed shellfish, both raw and cooked, served cold, usually on a bed of ice; with condiments of mignonette sauce, cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.
     
     
    Beyond The Seafood Platter

    A classic seafood platter is laden with some assortment of clams, crabs, langoustines, lobster, mussels, oysters, prawns, scallops and shrimp.

    Occasionally, more exotic mollusks like cockles, periwinkles or snails will appear; and if we’re lucky, one of our favorite shellfish, sea urchin (uni).

    Seafood platter items are served raw or lightly cooked (boiled, poached).

    Here’s where a seacuterie board or plate diverges:

    Seacuterie can include some seafood platter items, but it adds complexity to the variety by adding fish and preparations.
     

    And the good news is that you don’t have to prepare them all yourself (or even any of them, if you so choose).
     
    A seacuterie plate or platter can include elements that you purchase, ready-to-eat:

  • Caviar or other roe (see the different types)
  • Clams and oysters (types of oysters)
  • Eel (ready-to-serve from Asian markets)
  • Hot smoked salmon
  • Pickled herring
  • Salads: crab, herring, shrimp, tuna, whitefish
  • Salmon or tuna jerky
  • Sardines, plain or flavored (we’re fans of the Bela Brand)
  • Smoked salmon or gravlax (here’s a recipe to make gravlax)
  • Smoked mackerel, trout, tuna, sable, sturgeon, whitefish
  • Raw shellfish: clams, mussels, oysters, scallops; lightly cooked varieties such as octopus and squid
  • Sashimi† or sushi
  • Seafood sausages
  • Taramasalata (whipped carp roe)
  •  
    And, it should include recipes that you have prepared:

  • Anchovy picks with cocktail onions
  • Ceviche
  • Crab dip
  • Grilled shrimp and/or scallop skewers
  • Grilled squid
  • Potato slices with caviar/roe
  • Salmon rillettes (or any other fish you like)
  • Tuna or salmon tartare or tataki (recipe)
  •  
     
    WHAT TO SERVE WITH SEACUTERIE

  • Baguette or other bread slices
  • Capers and olives
  • Condiments: mustard, horseradish sauce
  • Crackers
  • Dill for garnish
  • Pickled vegetables (including pickled onions)
  • Seaweed salad
  •  
     
    WHAT TO DRINK

    Seacuterie pairs best with white wine or rosé and sparkling wines.

    But you can serve lighter reds like Beaujolais and Pinot Noir. Plus:

  • Aperitif wine such as Lillet
  • Beer
  • Dry Sherry (e.g. Manzanilla and very dry fino sherry like Tio Pepe
  • Vodka/Aquavit
  • Whiskey
  •  
    For cocktails: Martinis are ideal, but a Bloody Mary also hits the spot.

    Check out these non-sweet cocktails.
     

    THE HISTORY OF SEACUTERIE

    The birth of seacuterie is attributed to the endlessly creative New York Chef David Burke.

    In 1998 at the helm of the [late, lamented] Park Avenue Café in Manhattan, he riffed on the Scandinavian cured salmon dish, gravlax [source].

    It was a dazzling concept, bursting with flavor, unheard of at the time.

    Trading the traditional dill, sugar and salt marinade, he used the more assertive “pastrami spices” (actually black pepper, coriander, parsley, paprika and maple syrup.

    Once marinated and preserved, the salmon sides are sliced in the same way as pastrami.

    Instead of the thin slices of gravlax, he sliced the cured salmon in the manner of pastrami. Here’s the recipe.

    The result, Pastrami Salmon, became a sensation among food writers and the foodies who follow them. Burke subsequently trademarked the name [source].

    And the kernel of a future trend—seacuterie—was born.

    We are fortunate to have had Pastrami Salmon numerous times at the Park Avenue Café.
     
    Chefs have continued to evolve fancy seacuterie options with preparations such as octopus pastrami, salami or torchon; scallop mortadella; swordfish ham; tuna bresaola and tuna ‘nduja; and other visual- and palate-excitement [source].

    What’s next?

    Stay tuned!

     

    ________________

    *Plateau de fruits de mer is pronounced plah-TOE duh froo-EE duh MARE. It is a French term for means a platter of the fruits of the sea, i.e., seafood. In French, plateau means platter or tray, as opposed to its meaning in English, a geological term for a high plain.

    †You can purchase a loin of tuna or salmon, freeze it and slice it thinly while still partially frozen. Note that with salmon, you should be sure that the pin bones have been removed.

      

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