Monday, September 28, 2015

Jams + Fruits: Exotic Flavors+New Pairings

Fancy Foods Show/NYC

Fruits in all forms-are the savory compliments to a wide category of foods...most notably when paired with cheeses, as a dessert topping or as an unexpected ingredient in a flavorable sauce.
Specialty Foods Award nominees include a bunch of exotically flavored jams...many spicy-and tropical fruit flavors.

Notably-less-the additives....even the  sweet part of the iconic peanut butter and jelly duo-has gotten more sophisticated...and more natural-meaning no corn syrup sweetness, funky preservatives, or other oddly pronounced, eyebrow arching 'stuff.'

Some Highlights:

Wild Strawberries  in syrup from Fabbri Fragola a beautiful jar -eye candy for the kitchen pantry!  Typically a dessert topping...our French side used to have 2-3 of these as an after-meal treat-on its own...with added liquor, of course!

Coconut is an 'it' ingredient---and HEY BOO = "East meets West" Srikaya jam - is delicious on toast, waffles, and with creamy cheeses (pairings galore, actually) -inspired by the proprietor's Southeastern Asian heritage. Inside-premium coconut milk, cane sugar and egg yolk - the primary ingredients

Bonne Maman Preserves are the first upscale jams we remember seeing in NYC grocery are the spreads for cheeses (+charcuterie+prosciutto)-in 2 flavors- Purple Fig Spread and Black Cherry Spread. 

Obsessed! Can Bech "Just For Cheese" signature pairings are made of 100% natural ingredients...five delicious flavors of fruits, nuts and spices---that are specifically conjured up for hard, soft, blue, soft-ripened, and washed rind selections. YAY. Takes out the guess work! Great packaging too.

what else-preserved figs of Empordà...goes well with soft-ripened cheeses (sheep's milk cheese=dessert) or as a layer in a gourmet sandwich of vanilla ice cream between 2 ginger snaps IMO.

great gift too--- with Golden Apple caramelized with tender pistachios from Turkey+Sri Lanka cinnamon-for hard paste cheeses, Raspberries with rose petal+Szechuan pepper for pairing w/ fresh+soft cheeses, Black Figs w/ Australian macadamia nuts+Jamaican allspice-w/ blue cheeses, Peaches & Apricots with Goji berries+Guatemalan cardamon -pairs with soft ripened cheeses, and Black Grapes with Majorcan almonds for pairing with soft paste and washed rind cheeses. 
Other Fancy Food Show 2015 Posts:

Premier Chocolates+Caramels: Part 1Part 2

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Not Your Parent's Peanut Butter #FancyFoodsShow #EditorShowcase

Fancy Food Show-NYC

The all-American staple as it appeared last century is so old. Even a casual stroll down most grocery stores will turn up peanut butter-now-as bought by more Americans than ever---opting for"natural" (meaning without high fructose corn syrup+hydrogenated oils, or trans fats), USDA certified organic (which is not costly either)...and peanut butter-spread alternatives made from other nut seeds or even tree nut free...mimicking the texture-tho not necessarily the exact taste-tho still tasty (imo).

Premium peanut butters will please everyone-kids with gourmet tastes ( increasingly sophisticated palates for the pint sized group), millennials...who trade up and want natural eats,  and adults- who have out grown the ordinary.

We are big fans of Peanut Butter&Co. powdered peanut butter ---and this company makes handy squeeze packs (calorie portioned too)---
widely availably Peanut butter&Co. squeeze packs...come in flavors like Dark Chocolate Dreams (yummy!) and The Bee's Knees with a taste of honey in the mix...good for hikes, traveling---and imo kids lunch tho most schools ban the stuff -so ask first! Vegan, kosher+certified gluten free + non-Gmo,

Gourmet spreads...and great packaging too-Reginald's Homemade Peanut Butters made from roasted unsalted peanuts from Virginia and Cashew Butters made from unsalted cashews (Cinnamon Molasses, CashewNilla pictured)-come in the original Fetch & Cure+ on trend flavored spreads-spicy-agave habanero version and our idea of a wedding favor...the Wedding Pretzel Crunch...both pictured below.

not overwhelming spice-but noticeable...with agave nectar sweeter, Habanero Chili Powder, Cumin+red pepper

our fav of the 12 flavors available-cub the pretzel sticks' crunch is genius-with a touch of white chocolate chips.

Even camps as well as schools are going "nut tree aware' as one mom explained to us... and in fact this is a mom owned company...who clearly sells to institutions-with that big tube packaging. a seed butter (sunflower, flax, sesame) made without allergens and in a facility free of major other allergens like dairy, shellfish, eggs, wheat soy and fish fish. In smooth, crunchy, chocolate (with dark cocoa) and vanilla (primo Madagascar Bourbon vanilla and vanilla seeds ) flavors---has less fat than peanut or nut butters---but with high plant protein. Vegan alternative we actually tried and jelly on a cracker... and like... had the same texture as the peanut kind. Gluten -trans fats-cholesterol free....same calorie count as P+B (190 calories-2 tbsps) but with 7-8 grams of protein-which is slightly more.

Chocolate covered peanut butter goes glammy---for adults who grew up and want to indulge a tad better tasting- than the regular ole'
From Gerharts Fine Chocolates Peanut Butter Pups...

cute cute cute-Gearharts Peanut Butter Cups are coasted with rich milk chocolate over artisasan Virginia PB-with dark chocolate eyes+nose dots. Bonus points-5% of sales of this gourmet candy go to non profit -fund rescue pets match-ups with wounded veterans.

Jer's is founded by an entrepreneur originally in his parents kitchens (Jer's Balls-with all natural crunchy P+B center with rich dark chocolate)---and grew into a business that regularly donates canned goods to local food banks. Pictured-above-the Jer's Squares---all types of nifty flavors+textures like salty crunchy Pretzo Change-O surrounding Valencia Peanut Butter and the melt in your mouth worthy Cara Mella-creamy caramel covering P+B enveloped in dark chocolate.

Jer's Peanut Butter Bars...bigger treats than the squares---the Original Incredible has milk chocolate +crunchy rice crisps ...and Toffee Break has buttery rich toffee+dark chocolate---surrounding the P+B

Divine Chunks by Kohler Original Recipe---from central east Wisconsin-hme of also-the top tier resort+golf course...these chunky peanut butter two bite size milk chocolates chocolates...are aptly named. 
We didn't grow up with the typical American diet and that included having a lunch box staple PB+J...but we did grow up with shelled and mostly unshelled peanuts (and fav pistachios) as regular shelf staples. YAY!!!

Like tasting a tablespoon of peanut the real deal ingredient-in the shell- or shelled-reveals the quality-faster-when consumed unadorned.
BELMONT Gourmet Virginia Peanuts even look better than the mass market name what occupies most grocery store shelves!!! As with all food groups-the flavored offerings just keep growing...pictured the Artisan Line including- cinnamon+sugar, salted caramel, peanut brittle (candy like)... 

this is the growing region of the country-southeast VA and north part of NC...sold in bags too and nice touch-does custom labels for weddings and as giveaways at events. 

begs for a margarita or cold brew...latest flavor
Other Fancy Food Show 2015 Posts:

Saturday, September 26, 2015

N.Y.'s Finger Lakes Rieslings 2014 =Premium Wines-Revelation

The Finger Lakes Wine Alliance  held a downstate event this past week---the 5th Annual Finger Lakes Riesling Launch-introducing press/industry to the newly released (and mostly for sale now or soon) 2014 Rieslings... from their home region.

New to us---this area of planet earth  -is distinguished by four very deep fresh water lakes (Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga), has 115+wineries, 9200 acres of grapes, with 848 acres of those offerings destined for aromatic Rieslings. PLUS... of course---the glacier-sculpted terroir and micro-climates (east and west sun exposures that yield the bold/mineral-y -to-peachy apricot, cold Winters, cool wind swept Springs, sun warmed Falls)-necessary to make these world class wines.

Upshot- all were delicious-ranging from Dry to Semi-Dry (most of what we tasted), and a few Medium Sweet and Sweet selections ...based on the sugar acid scale rating system of the International Riesling Foundation--- as seen on the back labels.

Price wise...mostly $14-$20...for the Rieslings. Affordable and collectable with aging possibilities for some selections.

International Riesling Foundation---scale---on middle right of this label-great system that is helpful for consumers imo-  now being adopted by other types of wine-

FYI: Rieslings pair perfectly with semi-spicy to spicy foods, pungent hard and mellower semi-soft cheeses, tart fruit-green salads, and basically a lot of fish/meat dishes that mingle well with other white wines (i.e. Chablis).


Boundary Breaks Vineyard 2014 Dry Riesling No. 239 (about $18 retail) layered sumptuous taste with hints of pineapple---from a top rated American winery that hand picks the grapes from four different clones....the owners-Bill Eastman and his wife Penny-have family heritage that goes back to this area- since the 1830s. Buy a case online -one can see the high ratings by Wine Enthusiasts - well earned. 

Chateau Lafayette Reneau 2014 Semi-Dry Riesling ($14.99) well rounded fruity wine (peachy-honeysuckle-with citrus notes-and surprisingly nice subtle spice finish)  from a 30 years old vineyard located on a140 acre estate on western facing slops of Seneca Lake region (there's an Inn too). Vineyard offers a full range of wines...including full flavored reds.
Dr. Konstantin Frank Wine Cellars 2014 Dry Riesling  has crisp acidic taste lemon-lime+florals with minerals---a characteristic of Keuka Lake ... from a 4th generation owned winery-and one of the area's oldest wineries (50+ years). Full bodied well rounded...from a winery used to collecting 90+ ratings and Gold Medals...including the prior 2013 release...see below...

Fulkerson Estate Winery-on left Juicy Sweet Riesling ($13.99) has with orange blossom, yellow plum, soft light citrus, white peach+apple- and mineral with BBQ foods...and on right we loved this sweet- Riesling Iced Wine ($29.99)---which---is great as a dessert or aperitif imo...made from fruity loaded grapes picked at their peak-then frozen. Honey and dried apricots shine through aged in new oak and only 127 cases made. This winery offers "a Riesling for every taste..."located on the west side of Seneca Lake. 

Glenora Wine Cellars  First winery on Seneca Lake-poured-2014 Dry Riesling ($14.99), 2014 Riesling ($13.99) 2014 Riesling Ice Wine $29.99 (right to left)
Ranging from dry-to semi sweet---we learned that Glenora Wine Cellar's Riesling Ice Wine was hand picked on a 15ºF February 11, 2014...where the temps have to stay under 18º for a 12 hour window to conjure up the frozen grapes for Ice Wine (risk there)...then immediately pressed while still frozen yielding a tiny amount of juice at 42% sugar. Love this-poached apricots, candied lemon and caramel flavors intertwined with great finish. The tasty Dry Riesling 1.4% residual sugar is combo of 90% grapes from the east and 10% from the west facing vineyards---that get different amounts of sun. Drier and crisp-the 'regular' Rieslings- 2014 vintage benefited from a dryer than average Fall=fresh fruit aromas-the Dry Riesling has ripe lemon and lime flavors with a touch of apricot. Balanced with mineralogy and moderate sweetness. The Riesling 3.5% residual sugar is luscious semi-dry finish balanced by natural acidity characteristics of Finger Lake vineyards, Made of combo of east and west side Seneca Lake grapes...
Heron Hill Winery Classic Dry Riesling and Riesling ($14.99, $16.99) are from grapes grown on a sustainable vineyard- without pesticides and herbicides+ then,  hand picked. . Euro style wines the  Riesling is from single vineyard--- with ripe pear, green apple, grapefruit and gentle acidity-the Dry Riesling crisp with flowery hints, citrus +mineral finish-finesse. Also offers Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir. Factoid-his colleague from Eagle Crest provided the red wines for the Pope's NYC visit.
Knapp Wines (and restaurant) is 32 years old establishment- with an estate of 65 acres -40 of which yield the grapes. Pictured+ poured- 2014 Riesling $16.99 with vibrant peach, tangerine+lime notes balance sweetness 2.9% residual sugar-with crisp, bright finish, 2014 Dry Riesling $16.99 bright fruity taste w/ grapefruit, honeydew melons, with lingering mineral finish 1.1% residual sugar and 2014 KV Riesling $18.99 -a "single vineyard" estate grown wine-only 75 cases available- signature balance of fresh grapefruit with bit of slate+mineral qualities -residual sugar .5% (r-l)
Lamoreaux Landing is  20 years old winery located on the eastern shore-mid lake- of Seneca Lake-we tried the sustainably harvested Round Rock Vineyard 2014 Riesling-a single vineyard structured wine w/ apple blossom, tropical fruit aromas, nectarine and juicy pear palate-balanced crisp acid level. (about $20 retail). Also produces several varieties of wines including sparkling. 

The rose label on Lakewood Vineyards' label  refs back to Lady Bird Johnson's initiative to beautify our nation's  highways-resulting in roses being planted by vineyard's owner...back in the day...(l-r) 2014 3 Generations Riesling -driest served a blend of grapes from several vineyards, 2014 Dry Riesling, and 2014 Riesling
Lakewood three vineyards  on the west side of Seneca Lake-3rd generation owned.  As noted "over 1100 awards and counting..."Lakewood Vineyards uses time honored techniques like barrel fermentation +aging AND ultra-modern state of the art equipment  for its great tasting wines.
McGregor Vineyard-established in on the eastern shore of Keuka Lake.Acclaimed for its reds---but imo the 2014 McGregor Vineyard Semi-Dry Riesling (2% residual sugar)-light and crisp with fruity acids,  and 2014 McGregor Riesling (4% residual sugar) voluptuous fruit notes...deserve star billing (too).

McGregor Vineyard

Thirsty Owl Wine company is mid lake on the west side of Cayuga Lake. An award winning winery producing a full compliment of wines...including Rieslings-from dedicated 42 acres of grapes.. Pictured: 2014 Thirsty Owl Dry Riesling -Lahoma Vineyard, 2014 Thirsty Owl Dry Riesling-Estate, and 2014 Thirsty Owl Riesling -Estate-range in taste from very dry style-to medium sweet IRF™ scale medium sweet rating dry (2.1% residual sugar) ---with fruit forward notes of peach+plum, respectively.
2014 Swedish Hill Winery Riesling, 2014 Swedish Hill Dry Riesling- 25 years old Finger Lakes vineyard -family owned....also own other NY state located wineries.

on far right-Swedish Hill natural Sparkling Wine-Blanc de Blanc style blend had nutty taste to us...near right-loved this Swedish Hill Riesling Cuvee Sparkling Wine NV----wow. No wonder it has won scores of awards!Also tasted a smooth Swedish Hill Pinot Noir near left and Swedish Hill Cabernet Franc 2012 far left
Pour on-drink up-can tell experienced wine tasters cause they don't have to lean down to spit out...

Wagner Vineyards-we had a 411 on using screw caps vs crew caps allow for a 'nice' aging process  because can control how much oxygen goes in via the cap's liners. Look for-and avoid buying- dented caps...could indicate damage. 
 Wagner Vineyards is located on the east side of Seneca Lake-Encompassing 250 acres it grows all of the grapes used in its wines. A fifth generation owned company-they offer several varieties of grapes-including-pictured Wagner Vineyards 2013 Fathom 107 an aromatic white from grapes grown on the east side of Seneca Lake, Wagner Vineyards 2014 Caywood East Vineyard Dry Riesling-single estate, Wagner Vineyards 2014 Dry Riesling-mineral driven and fruity palate of lime peel, apple and pears on palate,  Wagner Vineyards 2012 Semi-Dry Riesling fyi -$12.99 rated 90 and a "Best Buy" Wine Enthusiast-balanced with peach+apricot aromas with citrus+pineapple flavors with limestone finish.

Added plus: the labels on the two left bottles...

                          The Best White Wine On Earth: The Riesling Story by Stuart Pigotti

Thursday, September 24, 2015

ANNIE'S LAUNCH: NEW Products Galore

social media handles

 How many new products? Grouped by broad categories---needed a map , in a way lol.

GARY'S LOFT, NYC---was sunlit and weather perfect for our late afternoon visit ---to 'experience' the vastness of ANNIE'S 2015 product launches-with tasting stations creatively set-up around the spacious locale. 

FYI Annie's offerings are retailed in the 'mainstream' aisles as well as on the 'Natural" or "Organic' sections...

First impression-good thing we were hungry-AND-how come we don't get any of these healthy eats after finishing long distance triathlons...attention race directors!!!!!


Pictured: new categories such as shelf stable condiments+ salad dressings.  Reminded us of Newman's Own product offerings (business model) and non-profit initiatives---

One of two fav areas----the Certified Organic Soup tastings...fabulous! Love the packaging too---recyclable easy to open boxes...very kid friendly with fun names and graphics.
no artificial flavors, synthetic colors  corn syrup, MSG or preservatives... USDA organic is highest standard of 'natural' ever...priced $3.49-$3.99-five flavors Star Pasta&Chicken Soup, Tomato Soup, Creamy Carrot&Bunny Pasta Soup plus those pictured. Front tray = new Pizza Poppers-nitrate free Uncured Pepperoni, Three Cheese, and Combo
Certifies Tomato&Bunny Pasta Soup adult worthy-all soups 160 calories a serving or less-

crispy crackers...ideal accompaniments or as a snack...we had a pack of cheddar bunnies that managed to stay crisp even after we floated them into our Creamy Carrot and Bunny Pasta sample. TASTY!!!!

An initiative #MixInMonday to add chopped up veggies, protein toppings, spices and/or flavors to the signature packaged Mac and Cheese various offerings..including Organic Vegan Pasta Dinners (creamy sauce made with pumpkin+sweet potato) AND  Mac And Trees™ in Love Your Planet™ eco-themed shapes 11 grams protein/serving, We bet adding Chipolte Peppers or Ghost Peppers = popular with guys we know.

we could have done serious damage here but did't want to dent the supplies for those arriving later ha ha,

new category took us by surprise...Annie's Homegrown Bake and Share Cinnamon Rolls, Crescent Rolls-no hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors, high fructose corn syrup, -made with unbleached flour. Convenient. Also Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough (pictured below)  and Buttermilk Biscuits $2.60-$3.98

Cookies and cookie bites-on right-four grams Whole Grain per serving, NO hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, synthetic colors or synthetic preservatives...a better snack

gluten free-chewy granola bars

ice cream sandwiches were offered...we case the Oatmeal Raison...

USDA organic yogurt-creamy delicious-we tried the Berry patch made from grass fed cow milk...fruity sweet (fruit+touch of organic cane sugar) no fake stuff like some other brands. 2 other flavors Summer Strawberry, Very Vanilla ---all non-GMO ingredients

reducing waste via smarter recyclable packaging, sustainable sourcing and funding non-profit Food Corps---bonus points

chewy gummy bear like-USDA Organic fruit cute too-70 calories a pack. Good Halloween treat! 
Sometimes when a independent label gets a corporate parent-the former smaller entity loses its uniqueness (and integrity of ingredients) ...but happily we think that the mothership General Mills is adopting more ways to be like their relatively new acquisition (GMO, no artificial colorings, eco initiatives). IMO.