Monday, August 13, 2018

HOST GIFTS:No Booze (But) The Best

Tasty alcohol free thank-yous-for the host...

Olive oils are as refined and sophisticated-with nuanced flavors like those other palate pleasers -wines/bourbons.

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From ITALY Redoro (extra virgin olive oil DOP Veneto) captures the amazing flavors from the acclaimed olives from the Garda area... a special spot -renown for its favorable climate+soils. 
President of Redoro, Daniele Salvagno pours it on. The Olive Oil production process from hand to machine picked oils-to milling, malaxation, decanting, filtering, preserving and bottling reminds us of the intense labors required of the winemaking industry.


This version of Redoro Olio Extra Vergine Di Oliva Biologico-earns the  Italian Protected  Designation of Origin-just like the finest wines! This version, non-GMO (naturally)-is a delicate oil-with subtle fruity flavors-ideal for every Mediterranean dish with olive oil on the ingredient list. Other versions of olive oil can be more intense-nutty or with bigger sweet fruity finish. And with slightly different smoke points-sauteed options abound. Interesting-how much the terroir -climate of olives-including the altitude of the trees-so impact the flavors of the many different types of olives. Widely available in the USA.


Lou Di Paulo-chef/owner/of NJ based- Di Paulo's Restaurant hosts-and shares antidotes of Italy's finest offerings-olive oil and Amarone


From California. La Tourangelle's specialty + organic oils sourced from plants-nuts (sesame, roasted walnut, pistachio, roasted pecan, pumpkin ), coconuts, beauty favs sweet almond oil, avocado, and everyday olive selections - and their award winning infused collections...are beautifully packaged too...ideal for gifts.


La Tourangelle-launches single serve (or two) packets of their luscious artisan oils. Great for travel-or for trying out -and assures freshness each time one uses it. Need inspiration if your gift is a ready made dish? La Tourangelle's website has mouth watering recipes...for all courses. Flavors available-avocado, roasted walnut organic virgin olive oil, basil, garlic, and pesto oil.


Any doubt that olive oil is as prized as wines-and tasted similarly? From Spain-chewy olives to go and select samples for  that country's top growers...including Castillo De Canena (née 1780)



The best gift we could ever get-a chef-and their own pizza oven+ingredients=final product  to be eaten!!!! 




Amazingly-the Italian rows of exhibitors at the Fancy Food Show manage set-ups that are equal to NYC's acclaimed pizzerias...straight from Italy though-the chefs + ingredients. Show stopping results!

Sabatino Tartufi-is one Italian (Umbria born) company that stands out for making the luxurious aromatic flavors of truffles more available to foodies. Their new Truffle Pizza Spread-is a ready to use-ideal for  gourmet version of one of our fav types of pizza-crackling crust underneath layers of 'white' cheeses. 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Athlete Essentials: Healthy Easy Eats/Treats


Some endurance athletes relish the post workout food experience- preparing/eating ritual- ahead of time or in the moment.

And then folks like us-are too tired and just want to fuel asap. Even those meal delivery kits=too much effort.

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We  avoid the 'diet' stuff with unpronounceable ingredients since it's not gonna get us over that finish line any faster...among other reasons. Added sugars and unnatural creations (GMO)...are in the 'avoid' category too.

SO-easy nutrition simple foods-that are treats too---are under thirty seconds from 'go' to eat...and qualify as dinner as well as snack foods. IMO-all the same, these days.



1) NONA LIM rte "crap free" soups.
Gushing accolades by tempted attendees at the recent Fancy Food Show (be impressed-lotsa good stuff there)-plus an encounter at the NYC Triathlon expo-had us eager to sample these well packaged soups. NONA LIM's assortments of both vegan, gluten free, non-GMO non-dairy and non-vegan soup options-are nutritious gourmet to go...with sophisticated spice blends gently amping up some flavor favs like the ones pictured ---Carrot Ginger and Miso Broth.
In fact-we'd say those two pretty much rival any star chef option-with the Miso Broth actually a misnomer (IMO)-with real deal vegetable broth-carrots, celery onions, sake, organic tamari and miso, tahini, and hints of garlic ginger , kosher salt, khombu (seaweed) and sesame oil- in the mix. Pretty amazing (and tasty) combo of Asian ingredients...that food snobs only-would be wowed by-let alone starving athletes eager to re-hydrate and fuel.

 Equally as nuanced in flavors...the aromatic Carrot Ginger -a creamyish texture...is a smooth blending of carrots, water, coconut cream, onions, leeks, olive oil, lime juice, ginger-fresh and candied, thyme, kosher salt and fennel. Impressive-if only post race food included these vs the usual fare.
Naturally- Nona Lim soups are cinch to 'prepare'-just lift the lid off and microwave in the cardboard (aka not toxic-BPA free) oversized-10 oz cup.
HINT: Keep these in the freezer-and take one to work-if where you're at has a microwave...by the time lunch/snack time rolls along-the Nona Lim soup will be de-frosted-but still cold...ready for heating up. Or store in the refridge...has a shelf life of ten weeks.
FYI: The Thai Coconut Lime Bone Broth (non vegetarian) won a SOFI award. Available now at Whole Foods, many MANY natural leaning/health food grocery stores...and NONA Lim's own store fronts and online.

2) NOOSH ALMOND BUTTER...in single serve packaging that's travel friendly too...delivers the plant based protein we need (desperately!). Taste wise--we think it's terrific/creamy good...straight up or lavished on organic rice crackers. Plus this delicious nut spread comes in fun treats' flavors---like birthday cake, cupcake, chocolate (what we tried), original- and maybe perfect for pre-workouts-a coffee flavor too!  As to be expected-Noosh almond butter is FREE OF gluten, peanuts, soy, dairy and corn, is NON-GMO...contains meaningful Vitamin E and DHA-Omega 3s...and each .5 oz packet serves up 80 calories/3grams of protein, and 4% calcium+iron needs.  Made from California almonds.

3) Atop the aforementioned almond butter...or adding a sweet gluten free pop to waffles or chunky salty pretzels when we get the hunkering for carbs...Polaner's new Fruit Maple premium fruit spreads-offer just the right amount of sweetness without the overkill of sugar. These spreads are winning fusions of real fruits (like raspberries, strawberries, blueberries or peaches) and real maple syrup from Maple Grove Farms-and not much else. A smart idea for combining two food items that can multi-task in baking, on breakfast foods like toast/pancakes/crepes or adding just the right amount of spreadable jam/syrupy berry/peachy sweetness to the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich. NO high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or artificial colors. YUMMY! 

PS: Plain yogurt, vanilla ice cream, southern style BBQ sauces...could all benefit from adding a tbsp or so of Polaner's Fruit Maple spread -or melt a bit and brush atop pie or cobbler pie crusts before baking-for added crispy pops of flavor. 

WHAT ELSE: Happy days- blueberries ARE in season. Our fav fruit---and loaded with anti-oxidants.
























Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Athlete Essentials: Basic Skincare

This shelf sums it up!
 For facial clean up-no matter what is on skin-BIODERMA's Micellar Water gets it off, gently and leaves no trace behind. The way we like our skin. Available now with targeted solutions...meaning oily, dry and what we use, Sensiblo (sensitive skin).

For regular hand washing-which is the third thing we do after getting home off city sidewalks and mass transit...(post take shoes off and give the cat massive hugs)... Dolphin Organics's fragrance free liquid hand soap - thorough enough for fingers of all ages-gets deployed. We like how the hand soap rids digits  of nasty bacteria and grime without drying out skin like other cleansing soaps and importantly-is 
EWG Verified™ * Triclosan free * certified cruelty-free and vegan * gluten free * hypoallergenic * and of course free of parabens, sulfates, petrochemicals, artificial fragrances or artificial dyes. Comes in a convenient pump bottle too. 
For sunblock that actually works-and for hours-and that includes after sweating and  swimming- we still are using our fav fragrance/dyes/preservatives/oils FREE-completely non-irritating TIZO-the tube version...that comes in clear and tints for skin match-ups and in a facial primer- with added skin saviors like anti-oxidants C+E (SPF 40).
We faithfully use the light tint for neck up  defense...and it pretty much serves as our foundation too- if we're going out-with help from cover-up if needed.
Big bonuses-
TIZO coats our skin with a silky, non-greasy feel (matte finish)-and totally blends in color wise. We find the one two combo of Titanium Dioxide (8%) and Zinc Oxide (3.8%)-is EXTREMELY  long lasting (in a race-we're not stopping to re-apply!!!)- and protects us from a full spectrum of damaging rays-indoors (Bluelight from smartphone/computer screens etc) -and the outdoor kind- UVA and UVB-the sunburn ones and the penetrate the skin-long term damaging ones. We read Consumer Reports take on sunscreens two years ago- and are convinced the testers don't do nearly an eighth of the outdoor activities  we do-as we can vouch from experience that chemical sunscreens do not work at the first break of a sweat. Physical sunblocks-are even cooler feeling-as the sweat can escape...but the sun protection is still there. (See picture below),
Our best proof -is seen at triathlon competitions-with athletes grouped by age increments-which gives us a visual on skin ravaged by the environment. EASY TO SPOT -those who maybe lived on the beach or at high altitudes...looking  a decade plus older than same age competitors...despite spraying on those household name chemical sunscreen.
Plus-the ingredients like oxybenzone are questionable in terms of human health (at best). IMO-if it's toxic for coral reefs ( Hawaii's latest law banning them)...why would it ever be safe for vertical moving earth inhabitants.
Just saying.
TIZO-also introduced a physical block- lightly-  barely there tinted lip protection stick-SPF 45 that-we think would work on all skin tones. It also contains no chemical sunscreens-protecting with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. 



Dining Destination: La Pulperia-Latin American+Amazing




The 80's stretch of Second Avenue-newly accessible -thanks to the Q train...(upper east side Manhattan)...doesn't lack for eateries...including the spacious La Pulperia-with its festive outdoor bulbs lighting up its entrance.
Still...that may not be enough to beckon passersby inside.

"That would be a big mistake," opined my dining companion-a confirmed gourmet foodie...who's earlier in the week -had lunch at the fancier Jean George-deeming it "meh."

What had both of  us gushing about every itty bitty morsel of food...was Chef Carlos Burroz's winning ways with sustainable seafood, inventive pairings of textures and spices...and welcoming service-with a no rush, aim to please MO.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Fancy Food Show Trends-Glam Soda+

Part 7

Health nuts can get their fizz on...with better for you versions of carbonated drinks-plus some unusual drink additions that are interesting.

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Reed's Inc Virgil's 12 oz canned sodas are a new addition to the company's familiar glass bottles of Ginger beer.  Zero sugar however-bonus for calorie watchers---these tasty sodas are made with stevia. We tried the root beer-it was authentically terrific-ice cold. Non-GMO, NO preservatives, gluten, aspartame or Sucralose.  Comes in glass bottles too-what we prefer, actually. Widely available-in five flavors. 

AFRI Cola hails from Germany...and probably could be endurance racers' BFF-with its caffeine levels that out jolts, JOLT-but has less than energy drinks like Red Bull Monster... Made with real deal sugar and available in glass bottles. If only ... apparently this sip is available here again---in about 1000 retailers.
DRY SODA-USDA Organic, NON-GMO-natural flavors of carbonated sodas are  now available with zero sugar in four bold flavors, sweetened with stevia. Refreshing- the one we tried-Mountain Berry-ia as yummy enjoyable sparkling beverage as any we've tried. In Mountain Berry. Island Fruit, Cola, and Peach Tea. Gluten free and Kosher too.
B4 is a carbonated drink beefed up big time-with vitamins Bs , Niacin, Zinc-and a proprietary blend of other wanted supplements-electrolytes, minerals +anti-oxidants- we see on the ingredient list in typical protein powders. (see the picture below). B4 is-sweetened with sucralose-no caffeine- -with 40 calories a can and is targeting those who will over-indulge in booze (B4 - get it?)-and /or as helpful for those hangovers. From Sunshine Supplements in Florida. $4.99 a can-it's available in liquor stores and regular one's depending on the state...we had an entire discussion with the brand rep about this. 


the 411-B4
the incubator 'alley' at the Fancy Food Show-got loads of buzz...which is where we saw Bauman's Best Botanicals. FYI-Shrub is a drinking vinegar hailing from colonial days as a way to keep fresh drinking water fresh. This company makes shrubs in five flavors...to add to recipes, cocktails or to swig on it's own-like apple cider vinegar. Available online-and in Boston area markets, for now. Kudos to nice labels/bottling. $10

another incubator alley product-Portland, Oregon based-EGGURT cultured egg white drinks...are  high in protein- sweet, slightly frothy sips (we tried the strawberry) --- made from, as labeled- pasteurized EGG WHITES (about 5 -per)...which kinda freaked us out. Dairy, gluten and soy free-it aims to replace those yogurt drinks...  delivering probiotics. Each bottle has 160 calories/16 grams of protein but-a lot of added sugars-19 grams (imo).
 Interesting, indeed
we read this drink is developed by Shunsuke Ishida-as we got there at the end of the show...and  the exhibit area was devoid of humans.


AND Super Bowls... 

There were so many prepared meals...(just heat kind, add water and 'nuke, freezer only, shelf stable-beyond soup/pasta mixes of 'yore...etc) for snacking, and meals- it was overwhelming.
Bottom line -expect your local grocery store to  clear shelf space-cold or not-for a slew of these less densely ingredient(ed)  21st century Hungry Man 'TV Dinners."

Monday, July 30, 2018

Fancy Food Trends: Healthier -Functional Teas

Functional tea blends -with or without  some sweetener help-appeal to the whole wellness lifestyle-that dominates today's lifestyles.

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 whatever???
Tea Blends+Healthier Sodas


Argentina's staple-Yerba Maté-superfood -liquid style-has a smoky green tea flavor = made from the dry leaves of  an evergreen holly-a native South American plant. Mild or strongly brewed----the taste for non believers benefits from a  bit of honey. It's naturally loaded with antioxidants and has a bit more caffeine than regular black tea (85 mg-caffeine/8 ounces) but less than coffee. Plus-it has some of the perk benefits of dark chocolate too-with theobromine + theophylline. Can be prepared in several ways-like in a french press coffee pot as well as the traditional gourd.   

Palais de Thés-from France...launched blended 'Detox' teas inspired by 5 regions of the world---like the USDA Organic Brazilian-ENERGY -with green tea, maté  ---anti-oxidant açaí and perk up guarana-an ingredient found in a lot of energy drinks.
Stash Tea-Organic Moringa Mint-one of many choices- devoted to better for you brew blends...with a mellow minty taste,



SOFI winner -new product in hot beverage - the winner Tumeric Spice Herbal Tea with anti-inflammatory- turmeric, cardamon, black pepper (enhances curcumin) and cloves. Vahdam teas directly source their tea leaves for absolute freshness-you can taste! There are many other blends too-both black, green + herbal.
Twinings-a super market staple-launched new blends for its themed herbal collections Unwind (passionflower, chamomile with spiced apple +vanilla)-and...Support,  Renew,  and Soothe .










LemonKind -rtd canned teas-themed flavors aimed at detoxing your life. Choices include lightly sweetened (monk fruit+organic wildflower honey)  Bliss (mango, turmeric,  green tea-with a bit of caffeine), Freedom (tangy aronia berries,  hibiscus flower tea) and Unity (ginger peppermint, Japanese matcha tea-small caffeine pop). Interesting. Non-gmo, kosher, and gluten free.








BOS rte cans---Rooibos is super popular in South Africa- and BOS sources there from the Cederberg mountain range. Taste wise-it's a naturally sweet-vanilla-y, mellow caffeine free tea that even non tea drinkers might like. Rooibos-like other teas- have health pluses -including antioxidants, electrolytes and essential minerals. BOS comes in five flavors-70 calories each-sweetened with organic cane sugar. (Lemon, Green Rooibos+Yuzu, Peach, Berry, and Lime+Ginger).

























Fancy Food Trends-Packaging=Looks Matter

Part 5

Clever, catchy and an eco  sourced materials for containers...food packaging can grab those consumer eyeballs.

Packaging+


Icy cold Coconut Water is so tasty refreshing...and this coconut packaging container-by Thailand's  Pearl Royal- transports us to the source-in a manner of speaking...with  a neat string rope to close/open the top that wins our top pick for cool packaging. It comes with a tiny plastic straw-too-that imo-should be replaced with a paper one. 



can see from up top-Pearl River...the string opens and closes the tiny opening-sized perfectly- that accesses the delish coconut water...where the straw goes. Nifty!