An online community for gourmet and specialty food retailers.

Welcome to Fancy Food & Culinary Products' blog, your place to read reviews of the great fancy and gourmet products we find in the marketplace.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Editor's Pick: Red Rocker Candy

“My dream is to shape a self-sustaining organization based on the old-fashioned values of family, quality, goodness and customer enjoyment,” says Sue Charney, owner of Red Rocker Candy, a confections company based in the small town of Troy, Virginia.

With a humble beginning in Southern California, Red Rocker Candy started with a desire to produce the best toffees, brittles and other confections to gift for friends, family, coworkers, etc. What they created was something more. Charney’s products bring back nostalgic, rich flavors of times gone by—a time when making products handmade meant something special.

The toffees are rich and buttery with roasted cashews perfectly blended; their white chocolate indulgent and sweet. But where the Rocking Chair extraordinaires had me sold was their signature blend, The Rocking Chair Mix. Because life is sweeter when snacks are coated with thick layers of creamy white chocolate, the Rocking Chair Mix features a blend of cereals, pretzels and whole roasted almonds, all en-robed in the creamy confection. The chocolate melts in your mouth before the salty, crunchy mix becomes your new favorite after-lunch snack.

Other fan favorites include the Toffee and Brittles. The brittles, Pecan and Peanut, are crunchy, rather than chewy; they're made with rich butter, pure sugar, and they’re not skimping on the Virginia Jumbo Peanuts or savory pecans. Perfect for gifting, their limited edition Barks include a Peppermint Bark hand made with a layer of rich dark chocolate, swirls of white chocolate (infused with peppermint oil) and sprinkled with crushed peppermints for an added boost of flavor. At Red Rocker Candy, fantastic ingredients and a passion for confections has proved a recipe for success.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Editor's Pick: Lola Granola Bars

The other editors and I do a lot of traveling for trade shows. When we are only at them for a few days and have so much to see and do, we try not to take too much time out of our busy schedules for eating. Each trip, we try to pack a few heathy, filling snacks to tie us over between breakfast and dinner. I recently discovered Lola Granola Bars, and they were the perfect snack to bring to the most recent show that I attended.

Lola Granola Bars are gluten-free and gmo-free and are packed with protein to give busy people the energy that they need during the day. The tasty, filling bars come in a five flavors, each one is named after the founder's children and her nephew. Most of the ingredients are sourced in the U.S., with many of them coming from the Northeast where the company is located.

Lola Granola Bars not only provides tasty, healthy snacks to retailers, it also provides food for kids anti-hunger back pack programs, so your customers can feel good about buying something for themselves.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Editor's Pick: Passage Foods

Passage Foods creates a way for you to travel the world by cooking your meals at home. Their line of Simmer Sauces are created by chefs around the world, using their knowledge of regional cuisine and age-old recipes. Each sauce is made with fresh, all natural ingredients that, when added to meat, seafood or vegetables, create an authentic international dish, right in your own kitchen.

I made Passage to Japan Teriyaki Chicken for dinner last week, and it was a huge hit. After boiling chicken and tossing some veggies in a pan, I added rice and the simmer sauce for a quick meal that actually was filling. I have noticed the growing popularity in Japanese food recently, so it was nice to be able to try making a meal myself. The mild and sweet flavor paired perfectly with the rest of the dish, and tastes how I would expect a Japanese restaurant to prepare their dishes for me if I joined them for dinner.

Currently, Passage Simmer Sauces give customers a passport to India, Thailand, Morocco, China, Mexico, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Korea, Russia and Spain.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Editor’s Pick: Mediterra Nutrition Bars

Less of a diet and more of a lifestyle, the Mediterranean Diet emphasizes consuming more whole grains, fruits, greens and healthy fats, and less meats and sweets. This is what Mediterra is offering their customers.

Inspired by this diet, Mediterra brings to shelves ready-to-eat nutrition bars that fuel the marathon that is life. Savory bars, Yogurt and Oats bars, and Sesame Honey Energy bars are the three styles you’ll find at Mediterra. A favorite of the editors here are the Yogurt and Oat Bars, a certified kosher choice featuring a yogurt style coating and seven grams of protein. The bars, in Yogurt/Oat/Cherry/Pistachio and Yogurt/Oat/Apricot/Pistachio, also feature fig paste, sunflower seeds and raisins.

The company’s Savory Bars, rich in vegetable content, but low in calories, sodium and sugar, also contain protein-rich pea crisps and a touch of olive oil. A perfect middle-of-the-day snack for those craving a savory treat, the bars serve as an alternative to sweets and provide super foods and amaranth, an ancient grain. Flavors include Tomato/Basil/Capers and Olive/Walnut/Chives.

The third variety, the Sesame Honey Energy Bars, traditionally known as Pasteli, are dairy-free and contain only a few ingredients, roasted sesame being the most dominant. With the addition of Greek honey, pistachios from Aegina Island and even orange peel, the combination makes for a natural mix flavors with long-lasting energy.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Editor’s Pick: Phin & Phebes ice cream

As my family, friends and co-workers will tell you, ice cream is my kryptonite, my Achilles heel, my weakness. At least once a week I will treat myself to a cone or a sundae from down the street. Well, with Phin & Phebes in the freezer at the office, I will be making those trips less frequently.

Phin & Phebes was started by two friends, Crista Freeman and Jess Eddy, in Brooklyn, NY, who were dedicated to creating a quality products from start to finish. The duo attended the prestigious Ice Cream University at Penn State University. (Rest assured, if I ever go back to school, it will be for this program.)

Phin & Phebes presently makes seven flavors: Coconut Key Lime, Banana Whama (Banana Pudding Ice Cream), Ginger Cookie Snap, Vanilla Cinnamon, Vietnamese Iced Coffee, Peanutty Pretzel, and Dark Chocolate Salty Caramel. After several rounds of taste testing, every flavor is a unique, creamy, burst of deliciousness but I am partial to the Dark Chocolate Salty Caramel. The salt in the rich decadent chocolate caramel opens your taste buds allowing the ice cream to literally melt in your mouth. Like all flavors, just a few bites is enough to fulfill any sweet tooth, and leave you feeling satisfied.

Phin & Phebes ice cream starts with a 14 percent butterfat base, milk, cream, pure sugar and farm fresh egg yolks. The company doesn’t use any stabilizers or syrups. All flavors include ingredients sourced by small, artisanal producers that Freeman and Eddy have discovered throughout the United States.

Now excuse me while I head to the freezer for another spoonful.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Editor's Pick: GoPicnic

It's rare that I wake up early enough to pack a lunch for work. Generally, if I don't pack some fruits, veggies and a salad the night before (and put my house keys in the refrigerator next to my brown paper bag as a reminder), I often forget about lunch. And as someone who frequently presses the snooze button more than once in the morning, I often don't have time to eat a balanced breakfast, and end up grabbing an instant oatmeal packet to go. So I was happy to stumble upon GoPicnic's ready-to-eat meals.

Today, I had their Creamy Vegetable Spread & Multigrain Crackers Breakfast. Complete with gluten-free crackers, a garden veggie cheese spread and a 90-calorie pack of fruit and nut mix, this meal on-the-go was a good Apples & Cinnamon oatmeal replacement. The Copper Cowbell creamy spread really was creamy and fresh, like a cheese spread I would expect to get from the grocery store. For breakfast, they feature six unique meals, including:

  • Almond butter and multigrain bagel chips
  • cinnamon spread and multigrain bagel chips
  • creamy vegetable spread and multigrain crackers
  • chocolate almond butter and croissant
  • maple turkey sausage, fruit and nut mix
  • superbutter and multigrain crackers

For lunch and snacking, GoPicnic offers 13 variety options in order to keep you from getting what they call hangry; the grouchy feeling easily and deliciously avoided with GoPicnic meals. Their boxed-meal concept is an alternative to the bag of chips offered in many office vending machines. There's no refrigeration or preparation required, and the perfectly sized box offers puzzles, reminiscent of the back of your cereal box as a child. They're perfect for travel, portion control, and any number of hunger emergencies. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Editor’s Pick: 5Sparrows

Just Add Coffee.

Much like my average morning, coffee for the people behind 5Sparrows is more than a caffeinated beverage; it’s a way of life. 5Sparrows evolved from a specialty espresso business, finding pleasure in connecting with people through drinks and the barista way of life. They started developing their own mixes, sourcing the best ingredients, and today their chai, cocoa and frappe powders are a boutique favorite.

The team behind 5Sparrows believes that it’s the encouragement of the coffee industry to think outside of the box that has fostered this idea of challenging flavors and ingredients to work in a different way.   

Which is why the Montana-based company is at the front of the line this week for our editor’s picks. Their zero-sugar product line refuses to taste like a typical sugar-free beverage; they’re still decadent and seriously sweet. A perfect choice for health conscious customers and retailers alike, their entire product line is gluten free and naturally sweetened with stevia and xylitol.

The Sugar Free House White Chocolate is a best seller, and after tasting the smooth, velvety drink (we added coffee rather than making a hot cocoa) we can see why. Other favorites include the Sugar Free House Chocolate, which dissolves easily into either hot milk or coffee for a full-bodied, rich chocolate beverage. It’s also stevia-sweetened—stevia being a natural sweetener made from a plant in the daisy family; it has zero calories, zero carbs and doesn't impact blood sugar levels when processed through your body. And the best part? There truly is no sugar-free aftertaste. The Sugar Free Monumental Spiced Chai, with its richness and depth, is also getting great reviews from customers. Join the cafĂ© culture at 5Sparrows; their powder, coffee-house specialties don’t disappoint.