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

Also visit our main website,

The History of Sweet Tea For National Sweet Tea Day

A glass of sweet iced tea, a.k.a. sweet tea.
[1] Sweet tea with a lemon wedge (photo © Melissa Doroquez | Wikipedia).

Pure Leaf Sweet Tea
[2] Pure Leaf sweet tea (photos #2 and #3 © Pure Leaf).

Peach Sweet Tea
[3] Popular sweet tea garnishes: peaches and mint.

Bottles Of Gold Peak Sweet Tea Zero Sugar
[4] Gold Peak produces sweet tea along with sugar-substitute sweet tea. The sugar substitute is a combination of aspartame and acesulfame potassium—see the different types of noncaloric sweeteners (photos © Gold Peak).

A Glass Of McDonald's Sweet Tea
[5] Sweet tea has moved from a southern specialty to national prominence. It’s even at McDonald’s (photo © McDonald’s).


August 21st is National Sweet Tea Day. For those who haven’t had the experience, sweet tea, also known as sweet iced tea, is more than an iced tea with sugar. It’s iced tea with lots of sugar.

It’s a staple drink in the southern U.S. A 16-ounce glass of sweet tea has 42g to 44g of sugar. Let’s compare that to regular iced tea.

A typical heaping teaspoon of sugar is 7.5 grams. If you added three heaping spoonfuls to a glass of plain iced tea—and that’s a lot of sugar*—it’s still just half the amount of sugar as in sweet tea.

You can have your sweet tea plain, with a wedge of lemon, or accented with mint, peach, or raspberry. But no matter how you like it, nutritionists recommend that you have sweet tea as a special occasion drink, not your everyday, all-day beverage.

> The history of tea.

> The different types of tea.

The oldest known recipe for sweet tea was published in an 1878 community cookbook called Housekeeping in Old Virginia by Marion Cabell Tyree.

Sweet tea could easily have been in fashion for numerous decades before then, but sugar was pricey. A regular lump or two in a cup of tea was elegant enough.

Sweet tea began as a luxury item: tea, sugar, and ice were all expensive (ice was possibly the most costly of the ingredients since it had to be stored and shipped from afar) [source].

A little pre-sweet-tea history:

Tea was introduced to the Colonies by the Dutch—first-class world traders—in the late 1640s.

By the time Dutch East India Company Director Peter Stuyvesant arrived in New Amsterdam in 1647 to become the city’s governor, serving tea—an expensive product—had become an established ritual in upper-class households.

The British took control of New Amsterdam in 1664 and renamed it New York. As in England, tea continued to play the same important social role.

Most people will be surprised to know that green tea was the predominant variety consumed in Colonial America. It was imported from China and Japan, both green tea cultures (even today, Japan produces only a handful of specialty black teas; China expanded into numerous styles of black tea).

So it was mostly green tea that was dumped into Boston Harbor in 1773. (What you learned in school about the Boston Tea Party may not have been accurate. Here’s the real scoop.)

But before then, in the 1760s, American colonists were drinking more than 1 million pounds of tea per year during the 1760s.
Black Tea Becomes Prominent

In 1839, which was the beginning of Britain’s Opium Wars with China, the British began to grow their own tea in India (American ships continued to bring green tea to the U.S.).

Black tea† was the more popular style in India, and British tea merchants brought back Assam and Ceylon black teas to Europe and the U.S.

By the first part of the 20th century, Americans were evenly split between green tea and black tea, drinking around 40% green tea, 40% black tea and 20% oolong† tea [source].

World War II cut off trade with Japan and much of the tea—producing regions of China were occupied. The alternative was black tea from India and Ceylon.

After the war, Americans continued to drink almost solely black tea: upwards of 99% according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine [source].

While green tea reemerged in the U.S. with awareness of its antioxidant qualities some 20 years ago, America remains a black tea country to this day.

(We love all varieties of black, green, and oolong teas, but truth to tell, we think milk and sugar taste a lot better in black tea.)

*The American Heart Association recommends an added-sugar limit of no more than 100 calories per day (about 6 teaspoons or 24 grams) for most adult women and no more than 150 calories per day (about 9 teaspoons or 36 grams of sugar) for most men [source].

†Black tea is green tea that has been oxidized by fermentation for two to four hours, to a black color. The tea is then fully oxidized (oolong is half-oxidized) and dried slowly over a low heat charcoal fire, called panning or roasting. Black tea is the most common form of tea drunk worldwide (and tea is the second-most beverage drunk worldwide, after water). See more in our Tea Glossary.





Comments off

The History Of Hawaiian Pizza For International Hawaiian Pizza Day

We first encountered Hawaiian pizza in a Brookline, Massachusetts pizzeria, way back in our college years. Scanning the menu, we found the concept of a cheese pizza—crust, tomato sauce and mozzarella—topped with ham and pineapple to be “fun.” We ordered a slice.

Fun it was…but we went back to our “usual,” bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, and sausage. They went far better with tomato sauce and mozzarella. We don’t think we’ve had Hawaiian pizza since.

Barbecue chicken pizza, goat cheese pizza, white pizza, whole wheat crusts, and the rest of what we consider “modern” and “artisan” pizzas were decades away.

But Hawaiian pizza endured, and there is actually an International Hawaiian Pizza Day, August 20th, celebrating the pizza that originated in…Canada.

It became popular locally and eventually became a menu staple of pizzerias worldwide.

Sotirios “Sam” Panopoulos, a Greek-born Canadian, created the first Hawaiian pizza at the Satellite Restaurant in Chatham, Ontario, Canada in 1962.

He owned the restaurant with his brothers Elias and Nikitas. They offered typical American items fare like burgers and fries, bacon and eggs, grilled cheese, club sandwiches, spaghetti and meat sauce, pizza, American Chinese dishes, and more—a full breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu, served daily.

In New York, we call this style of restaurant a Greek diner.

Some of the Chinese dishes mixed sweet and savory flavors. Inspired by the sweet-and-savory pairing, Panopoulos experimented with adding pineapple, ham, bacon, and other toppings to the pizzas.

“We just put it on, just for the fun of it, see how it was going to taste,” Panopoulos told the BBC. “We were young in the business and we were doing a lot of experiments” [source].

Hawaiian pizza also capitalized on the mid-century tiki trend, which popularized Polynesian-style cocktails, food and decor in North America.

By the way, the name “Hawaiian” for the pizza was not a tribute to the Hawaiian Islands, which became America’s 50th state three years earlier. Rather, it was the brand name of the can of pineapples Panopoulos used.

The Satellite Restaurant, still going strong today, proudly calls itself “Home of the Hawaiian Pizza.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a fan of the dish.


The original Hawaiian Pizza from the Satellite Restaurant in Canada.
[1] The original Hawaiian pizza from the Satellite Restaurant in Canada (photo © Satellite Restaurant).

A Hawaiian Pizza For International Hawaiian Pizza Day
[2] This Hawaiian pizza, modernized by Jacqueline Mearman, chef/owner of Kitsch Café  in Baltimore, elevates the classic ham and pineapple with the addition of pickled jalapeños and spicy barbecue sauce (photo © Kitsch Café ).





Comments off

It’s National Hot & Spicy Day: Why Hot & Spicy Foods Are Hot

Sliced Jalapeno Chile Peppers
[1] Chile peppers contain capsaicin, a chemical compound that burns (photo of jalapeño chiles © Good Eggs).

Black and White Peppercorns
[2] In peppercorns, the heat chemical is piperine (photo iStock Photo).

Yellow Mustard Seeds In A Scoop
[3] Yellow mustard seeds. When mustard seeds are crushed, the heat is released (photo © Hillshire Farm | Facebook).

A Bag Of Yellow Onions
[4] Yellow onions have the most sulphur, and thus the most burn (photo © Good Eggs).


August 19th is National Hot & Spicy Day. What makes foods hot and spicy? Why do some people temporarily cough, sneeze, sweat, or even tear up?

The heat comes from specific chemical compounds that bind to special receptors on the tongue, lips, and other parts of your mouth. These activated sensory neurons then send signals to your brain saying you’ve encountered something burning…and voilà, you experience heat or a burning sensation.

  • In black pepper, the compound is piperine.
  • In chiles, a.k.a. chile peppers, the chemical compound is capsaicin.
  • In ginger, it’s gingerol, which tastes hot when you have it fresh at a sushi bar, although it’s only about one thousandth as hot as capsaicin. The heat mellows a bit when cooked, but becomes more intense when ginger is dried.
  • In mustard and horseradish, it’s a compound called sinigrin which is a glucosinolate, a sulfur-containing compound found in cruciferous vegetables.
  • In onions, that eye burn is caused by sulfur. Yellow onions have the highest sulfur content of all the onions [source]. Just as different chiles have different levels of capsaicin, different onions have more heat than others.
    All of these compounds elicit a sensation of burning pain by selectively activating sensory neurons that convey information about noxious stimuli to the central nervous system.
    If consuming these foods causes pain, then do people continue to eat them?

    First, different people have different sensitivities to the compounds, and some enjoy the burn.

    Second, the painful sensations on the tongue cause the brain to release endorphins and dopamine, which are “feel good” chemicals can that give a feeling of exhilaration. At least, that’s what this source says. Personally, we’ve never felt exhilaration—only burn.
    What if you want to eat hot and spicy foods but don’t want the pain?

    Federica Genovese, a neuroscientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, says that you can train your body to temper these reactions by eating spicy food more often [source].
    Would you rather have an antidote to the heat?

    Don’t grab a glass of water! Because capsaicin is oil-based, drinking water will just spread the capsaicin around your mouth, creating even more burning.

    Capsaicin and other heat-mongers are hydrophobic, fat-soluble compounds that dissolve in fat and oil.

  • Have dairy products. Yogurt is the best, followed by sour cream and cottage cheese. They are acidic, and milk-based foods also contain a protein called casein, which can help break down the capsaicin. (Plant-based milks don’t work here.)
  • Drink something acidic. Capsaicin and other heat-generating compounds are alkaline molecules that can be neutralized with an acid: lemonade, limeade, orange juice, or tomato juice.
  • Have some peanut butter. The oil acts as a salve to the burning. If you’re headed to a spicy meal, you can bring a small amount of PB (it comes in squeese-packs) to dull your pain. At home, can also swirl some olive oil or other culinary oil around your mouth.
    If there’s nothing else, grab some bread. It’s not nearly as good as the other options but can help to suck up some of the capsaicin in your mouth [source].
    > 18 Ways To Spice It Up

    > The different types of chiles.

    > The different types of peppercorns.





    Comments off

    Goat Cheese & Potato Pizza Recipe For National Goat Cheese Month

    We adore fresh goat cheese, and finally, for National Goat Cheese Month (August), we made this delicious pizza recipe.

    We had it for lunch with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, but a beer or a light red wine (Beaujolais, Pinot Noir) would be equally fine.

    The thin crust and toppings create a very light pizza, so you can even serve it as a first course at dinner.

    Thanks to Janet Cooper-Bridge, The Army Mom, and the Idaho Potato Commission for the recipe.
    > The history of pizza.


  • 3 Idaho® russet potatoes
  • 2 Idaho® red potatoes
  • 1 can (13.8 oz.) classic refrigerated pizza crust
  • ½ small red onion
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced shallot
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 8 springs fresh thyme, leaves removed from stems, divided
  • 3 ounces goat cheese (or more as desired—we used double that)
  • Cornmeal
  • Optional extra toppings:sliced prosciutto, crispy pancetta, blanched asparagus*

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Lightly sprinkle a 12″x15” rectangular baking stone or baking sheet with cornmeal. Unroll the dough onto the baking stone or sheet.

    2. ROLL the dough to your desired preference. The example in photo #1 is rolled very thin for a very crisp pizza.

    3. LIGHTLY BRUSH the pizza crust with two tablespoons of olive oil and dot with the minced garlic and 1/2 of the fresh thyme leaves. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and set it aside, leaving the oven on.

    4. SLICE the red onion into thin, round rings beginning at the root tip and set aside.

    5. SCRUB the potatoes under cold running water. Cut lengthwise into very thin slices using a mandolin or knife.

    TIP: When cut potatoes cannot be used quickly, add fresh or concentrated lemon juice to the water, 1 teaspoon per gallon, to prevent discoloration.

    6. ARRANGE the cut potatoes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, sprinkle with sea salt, and immediately cover with cold water (since the slices are thin, not much water will be needed). Bake for 10 minutes.

    7. CAREFULLY remove the baking sheet from the oven and carry it to the sink, draining the hot water. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl of cold water until ready to use. Then…

    8. REMOVE the potato slices from the cold water and place them onto paper towels. Pat both sides of the potatoes dry and immediately arrange them onto the pizza crust, overlapping the edges slightly in a shingled pattern.

    9. ARRANGE the red onion rings over the potatoes and sprinkle with the minced shallot. Dot the surface of the pizza with chunks of goat cheese.

    10. BAKE for 12-14 minutes or until the crust is a deep, golden brown. Remove the pizza from the oven and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with remaining thyme leaves, cut into squares and serve.

    *Add these to the pizza before it goes into the oven (step #9).


    Recipe For A Goat Cheese, Potato & Onion Pizza
    [1] Goat cheese, potato, and red onion pizza (photo and recipe © Idaho Potato Commission).

    Plain and chive-accented fresh goat cheese logs.
    [2] You can use a plain goat cheese log or a flavored one, such as chive or pepper (photo © iGourmet).

    Basket Of Fresh Russet Potatoes
    [3] Russet potatoes, also known as baking potatoes (photos #3 and #4 © Potato Goodness).

    Raw Red-Skinned Potatoes
    [4] Red-skinned potatoes, often called red potatoes for short..

    2 Shallot Bulbs
    [5] Shallots also come in a red-skinned variety, red French shallots. Do these remind you of garlic bulbs? That’s because they’re members of the same family (photo © Good Eggs).





    Comments off

    Introduction To Pinot Noir Wine For National Pinot Noir Day

    Pouring a glass of Pinot Noir red wine.
    [1] Getting ready to enjoy a glass of Pinot Noir (photo © Rebelle | NYC [permanently closed]).

    A glass of Pinot Noir at a vineyard.
    [2] Consider a wine vacation and the pleasure of tasting wine at the vineyard (photo © Kym Ellis | Unsplash).

    A specially shaped glass to enhance the flavors and aromas of Pinot Noir wine.
    [3] A glass especially shaped for Pinot Noir. The funnel-shaped bowl allows pinot noirs to breathe and the slightly flared rim properly funnels their unique aromas. These are from Crate & Barrel (photos #3 and #4 © Crate & Barrel).

    A Glass of Red Wine with a Washed Rind Cheese
    [4] Lighter red wines like Pinot Noir pair nicely with delicately flavored, washed-rind cheeses like Taleggio, and nutty, medium-firm cheeses like Gruyère (photo © Louis Hansel | Unsplash).

    Rack Of Lamb With Pesto & Red Wine
    [5] A glass of Pinot Noir is delicious with lamb (photo © DeLallo).

    A glass of red wine with a Surf & Turf dinner.
    [6] Pinot Noir with Surf & Turf (photo © Ocean Prime).


    Most wine drinkers have their favorite varietals; one of ours is Pinot Noir (PEE-no-NWAR), the great red grape from the Burgundy region of France. We celebrate it on August 18th, National Pinot Noir Day.

    The name derives from the French words for pine (pin) and black (noir), inspired by the tightly clustered, pinecone–shaped bunches of Pinot Noir grapes, and their purple-black color.

    Pinot Noir grapes are grown around the world, mostly in cooler climates. In France it’s known as Red Burgundy; elsewhere, the wine is named for the grape.

    Beyond red wine, Pinot Noir grapes are also used in regular and Blanc de Noir Champagne, in sparkling white wines such as the Italian Franciacorta, and in English sparkling wines.

    Why is a red wine grape used in white wines?

    The flesh of most wine grapes is white (the exception is teinturier grapes*, whose flesh and juice are both red in color.

    It’s only the skins that have different colors. So the juice pressed out of red grapes is the same color as juice pressed from white grapes. The difference is skin contact.

    To make red and rosé wines, the pressed juice rests in a vat with the pressed skins, allowing the anthocyanins—antioxidant pigments present in the skins—to transfer their color to the juice.

    Pinot Noir is one of the six “noble grapes” (cépages nobles) that have long been considered to have the potential to produce great wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc.

    Beyond Burgundy, France, Pinot Noir has been transplanted and thrived in:

  • Oregon: the Willamette Valley.
  • California: the Carneros, Central Coast, Sonoma Coast, and Russian River AVAs†.
  • South Africa: the Elgin and Walker Bay wine regions of the Mornington Peninsula.
  • The Adelaide Hills, Great Southern, Tasmania, and Yarra Valley in Australia.
  • New Zealand: the Central Otago, Martinborough, and Marlborough wine regions.
    There are also smaller regions making fine Pinot Noir wines, including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, Germany, Italy, the Long Island AVA† in New York State, Moldova, the U.K., Slovenia, Spain, and Switzerland [source].

    In the Champagne region of France, Pinot Noir is the most planted varietal (the others are Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier.

    All of the areas where Pinot Noir grapes are grown have cool and humid climates, the perfect conditions for growing the superior Pinot Noir grapes.

    The grape also does its best in well-drained, stony, or chalky soils.

    As with any varietal, the wines will have different attributes based on both their terroir‡‡ and the stylistic preferences of the winemaker.

    Pinot Noir is a difficult grape to grow, susceptible to rot because of those tightly-packed grape clusters. Beyond rot, the thin skins of the varietal make it susceptible to other infections and diseases. And the varietal has low yields.

    After a successful harvest in the vineyard, there’s a further challenge in the winery.

    The low levels of phenolic compounds in the grape produce mostly lightly-colored, medium-bodied and low-tannin wines that can often go through phases of uneven and unpredictable aging [source].

    So why do winemakers grow this difficult grape? Because when the factors work, the wines are splendid.

  • When young, the wines tend to have red fruit aromas of cherries, raspberries, and strawberries.
  • As the wine ages, it can develop more vegetal and “barnyard” aromas that make the wine more complex and a unique delight.

    If you’re not an experienced Pinot Noir taster, it’s easy to start. Pinot Noir is approachable when young: dry with delicious fruit flavors (typically cherry and raspberry), and soft tannins.

    It pairs with just about anything you’d want to eat with red wine, from classic pairings—charcuterie, cheeses**, chicken, duck, lamb, rabbit and other game, salmon and other fatty fish including tuna, mushrooms, pasta, pork, turkey, stews, veal—even beef, burgers, and pizza.

    You can also raise a glass of Pinot Noir with non-spicy Asian cuisine. Red wine drinkers can enjoy it with sushi and sashimi dishes.

    You can even enjoy it with dark chocolate!

    Ask your wine store clerk for recommendations, and consider a gathering where a group can taste several different regions, or several wines from the same region, to compare.

    The Pinot Noir grape may be only one or two generations removed from Vitis sylvestris, the original European wild grape.

    Records date to before the first century C.E., when the Romans, invading the part of Gaul that is now the Burgundy region of France, noticed the Gallic tribes drinking wine made from a native, wild grape that we now call Pinot Noir.

    The Romans delighted in the wine and cultivated the grape for more than 300 years during their occupation of the territory.

    The vineyards subsequently came under the control of the nobility, and then the Benedictine monks of the Catholic Church. Because they believed that Pinot Noir grapes produced the best wine, Pinot Noir became the official wine used in the sacrament of Communion. That greatly expanded the wine’s visibility and popularity.

    The Burgundy region was divided into church-owned vineyards and remained under the control of the monks until the French Revolution in 1789, when the vineyards were seized and distributed to local families.

    But before that came a breakthrough in viticulture: The Benedictine monks, specifically the Cistercians who had branched off, were the first to realize that grapes grown in different areas produced different wines.

    They came to the conclusion that not all vineyards were created equal, and that different grape varietals did better in different regions. This tenet that helped to create superior wines from then onward [source]. This subsequently led to the concept of terroir‡‡.

    Comparison chart of different types of red wine.
    [7] A comparison of the different red wine varietals (chart © The Nibble).

    *The flesh is red due to anthocyanin pigments accumulating not just in the skin, but within the pulp of the grape berry itself. Here’s more about it and a list of wines made with teinturier grapes.

    **Goat cheese, smoked cheese, semi-hard cheeses like Cheddar or Gouda, nutty cheeses like Gruyère, lighter blue cheeses, lighter washed rind cheeses like Taleggio, and sheep’s milk cheeses are all delicious with Pinot Noir.

    †An American Viticultural Area, or AVA, is a type of appellation of origin used on wine labels. An AVA is a delimited grape-growing region with specific geographic or climatic features that distinguish it from the surrounding regions and affect how grapes are grown. Here’s more about it.

    ‡Currently, some writers are questioning this classification. Five of the noble grapes are French, and one, Riesling, is German, though it’s also grown in Alsace. The phrase “cépages nobles”) originated in France, and that hierarchies like the can be limited in perspective. Plus, the classification was created before these grapes were planted all over the world. The quality of the grapes grown elsewhere is often not the same as the quality of the same grapes grown in France’s best vineyards. Here’s more about it.

    ‡‡Terroir, pronounced tur-WAH, is a French agricultural term referring to the unique set of environmental factors in a specific habitat that affects a crop’s qualities. These include climate, elevation, proximity to a body of water, slant of the land, soil type, and amount of sun. These environmental characteristics give the wines produced from these grapes a unique character.




    Comments off

    The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures
    Follow by Email

    © Copyright 2005-2022 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.