Monday, January 12, 2009



Words, Judith Ecochard

It’s already gift giving time again…yup, another branded day.

Mercifully, Valentine’s Day is mostly celebrated via something tasty in our domain.

At last Fall’s Expo East, we met up with many small food businesses dedicated to all things delicious and the organic…that are ideal gifts for our beloved.

SHAMAN CHOCOLATES are organic gourmet chocolates…that we’ve reviewed prior. But there are two new scrumptious flavors, the MILK CHOCOLATE with MACADAMIA NUTS and HAWAIIAN PINK SEA SALT (sweet, a tad salty--- with just the right amount of crunch) and…an EXTRA DARK CHOCOALTE version that just took us on the stairway to heaven…so deeply flavored- each nibble is better handled at a well paced clip- not devoured in a NY minute.

There is a reason pricey European chocolate makers source Latin America for cocoa beans---like wine, it’s combo of the weather and terroir that imparts the flavors with ooomph.

However, Shaman’s “Food of the Gods” is more portable and accessible, sold nationwide 2oz bar sizes. And with all profits going to support the HUICHOL makes every bite so gratifying on many levels.


We bow down to the altar of mouthwatering truffles made by Allison’s Gourmet™…an online artisan bakery run by Allison Rivers Samson.

The out of this world flavors we sampled in a handsomely boxed gift set ($14.95) had six flavors: hazelnut, chewy chocolate caramel, mocha, a crunchy pecan caramel, almond (in chocolate) and peanut caramel…

They rivaled any chi-chi French chocolates we ever consumed.

We loved how the organic, vegan, and Fair Market sourced ingredients went into the truffles. Even non-gourmands will notice the HUGE difference.

Seriously, for the same price (if not less) we do not get how people opt for the big name boxed candies when Allison’s truffles are so authentically delish, with goodies composed of names we can pronounce.

A handy 2 piece box, perfect as party favors ($5) is also available for sale…as well as huge gift baskets.
INFO: Allisons Gourmet

It seems that so many individuals has an allergy to something yummy…but who wants to feel slighted on Valentine’s Day?

Home Free™ “Treats You Can Trust” cookies and cakes are for everyone…and are made without peanuts, tree nuts, dairy or eggs in a dedicated facility…the major trigger points for allergens.

Figures a Mom…Jill Robinson…founded this company.

We sampled the Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal (in big cookie sized singles) and the Chocolate Chocolate Chip minis with our adult buddies.

Taste wise, we all were surprised how rich tasting each cookie is…with just the proper balance of chewiness, and moist crunch. Plus, they’re all made with organic whole grains (like oat flour). So the certified organic snacks are healthy good too…
And that’s always in style.

Packaged in a gift basket ($24.95), Home Free goods make terrif presents too.

Romance wise, what is better than a cozy night spent inside…so we’re opting for a home meal. Meaning candles will be lit whereupon our takeout will be properly dumped onto the fancy china…

However, we are shaking it up a bit- because we got a bottle of the 100% organic Coombs Family Farms Maple Syrup ($4) in a holiday Christmas basket.

This seventh generation owned maple producer and champion of small family farming…is finally being ingeniously used…and not over pancakes. Ho hum.

Instead, we are using the savory Grade A amber pour in an adult way, in our favorite cocktail drink…a fresh mint mojito… instead of the usual cane sugar. And if it’s really cold, we are warming it up with hot buttered maple rums.

Because unlike regular old sugar, maple syrup is loaded with vital minerals like maganese…and we need all the get the glow help we can get.