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

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. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Editor's Pick: Rosanna Farm Belle Syrups and Jams

After celebrating America's birth for a solid four days with friends and family in town, I realized on Monday that I needed to go grocery shopping. Since I live alone and don't own a car, grocery shopping can be an difficult. I need to get just the right amount of produce before it expires, and I usually plan my meals in advance and make enough for two or three servings. Since I leave for a trip to Atlanta later this week, I really had to plan my meals in advance so that I eat all of my food before I leave.

I normally eat fruit or make a smoothie before work in the morning, but this week, I decided to treat myself. I picked up a package of English muffins to indulge in before my trip south. This morning, I ate the best breakfast, an English muffin with butter and Raspberry-Rhubarb jam from Rosanna's award-winning Farm Belle product line.

All of the products from Rosanna's Farm Belle line are natural, sustainably sourced, gluten-free and kosher. They are beautifully packaged so they make a great gift or self-gift. The Raspberry Rhubarb jam has a great thick yet easily spread constancy and the syrups will be great with pancakes or waffles. The Marionberry-Pinot Noir has a distinct, unique flavor and will pair will with a number of cheeses and crackers. Tonight, I plan on pairing them both with baked brie and a glass of wine.

Rosanna also offers beautiful cartographic trays and a tote which display nicely next to the jams and syrups. Customers will be able to pair their favorites pieces with their favorite sweet indulgences, creating the perfect gifts for hostesses, housewarmings and other special occasions.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Editor's Pick: Maya Kaimal's Chickpea Chips

Chickpeas and rice. Something I never imagined I would enjoy in the form of a chip. Typically, I think of hummus when I think of chickpeas, so when I saw these bags of chips, I was fairly taken aback. 

Today I had the pleasure of trying Maya Kaimal's line of Chickpea Chips. The makers of Indian foods, sauces, and now chips, sent over some delectable flavors. Lightly Salted, Seeded Multigrain, and Sweet Chili. Besides being loaded with protein and fiber, they taste like a gourmet potato chip, which I'm always ready to try. I knew I was being healthy as I was eating handfuls at a time, which made them so much more enjoyable (they're gluten-free, kosher and vegan). Great with cheese, meat, or dipped in virtually any kind of sauce, the flavors go with just about anything, but are also delicious enough to be eaten by themselves.

Inspired by murukku, a traditional South Indian snack, their Chickpea Chips use the 

seasonings and ingredients that are always so popular among the flavors of South Asia. 
Maya Kaimal, owner of the self-named business, has received a Julia Child Cookbook Award, and as the driving force behind these Indian-inspired products, Maya attemps to always faithfully translate the traditional home cooking of her Indian family for the modern American lifestyle.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Editor’s Choice: Mustard Seed Sauce and Dressing

There’s a wide, wide array of flavors and cultures represented in Asian cooking, but from Vietnam to Korea and Indonesia to Malaysia, many basics and ingredients meld so well together. Ginger, garlic, shallots, sesame and lemongrass are all spotlighted in this cuisine, and cooking with an Asian touch has never been easier. Sauces and dressings from Mustard Seed bring a taste of the earth's largest continent into the kitchen.

For more than 35 years, the Mustard Seed and Noodle Express Restaurants have brought their fresh Asian-infused flavors to their patrons. And in 2013, their sauces and dressings were introduced to the marketplace for fans—new and old—to bring into their own kitchens.

The Ginger Dressing, a personal favorite and one of the company’s signature items, is multi-functional and bursting with Asian flavors—think minced ginger, sesame seeds, onion, vinegar and more. Used as a dressing on salads it’s light and tangy, but where I think the dressing shines is as a finish on seafood dishes. Pour the dressing into a hot pan and let it thicken before serving with grilled proteins or fish.

The Asian Oil and Vinegar, the same dressing that is used for the restaurants’ Asian Slaw, is a flavorful and healthy alternative to traditional oil and vinegar dressings. With a hint of sesame and a burst of tangy influences, mix it with a pasta salad or as a pork or chicken marinade. Another signature sauce, the Osaka Sauce, is one that customers’ have been enjoying for years. The bursts of Asian lemon and mustard lend a flavorful boost to even to most basic meals. The culinary possibilities are plentiful. I’d recommend using the Osaka as a dipping sauce for vegetables or grilled chicken or as a deeply flavored glaze over cooked rice or noodles.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Editor's Pick: Suan's Foods Scotch Bonnet Pepper Jelly

I frequently have friends over on Thursday night for dinner or go to happy hour or do another social activity. There are a few reasons for this: it’s almost the weekend, I may want to try a new recipe or I need to take my mind off of work for a night.

Last week, I had one of my college friends over for dinner. She’s a vegetarian, and as a meat lover, sometimes it’s hard for me to create an entire menu without any red meat, chicken or fish, so often we’ll enjoy some wine and cheese. I went with some of my favorite go-to cheeses including goat and brie. This time, I also incorporated a jar of Suan’s Scotch Bonnet Pepper Jelly into the mix and we both loved it.

The jelly itself is the perfect consistency while remaining both smooth and firm. It was the perfect blend of sweetness with a punch of spice for a very slight aftertaste. It mixed well with the cheese, particularly the brie, and really brought the dinner to a new level, bringing some spice to the bland crackers I accidently picked out.

That weekend, I was running low on groceries, but had some eggs, bacon, asparagus and cheddar on hand. I mixed the bacon, asparagus and cheddar together in a French omelet and spread the Scotch Bonnet Pepper Jelly on top of it. It made for a delicious and semi-nutritious breakfast and my day was off to a good start.

Suan’s Foods has a number of recipes on their website. I can’t wait to try another!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Editor's Choice: SuperSeedz

Pumpkin seedswho'd have thought? When SuperSeedz arrived at our door, I had no hesitations when it came to ripping open a bag. As an avid nut and cheese snacker, anything I can mindlessly reach for and pop in my mouth handfuls at a time is just perfect—twice as perfect if it's a healthy option. What makes these dry roasted, all natural seeds so super, is the protein, iron and zinc contained in every serving that keeps me going throughout the day. With eight flavors, there's a bag of gourmet pumpkin seeds to satisfy everyone:

  • Sea Salt
  • Really Naked
  • Sugar & Cinnamon
  • Tomato Italiano
  • Somewhat Spicy
  • Super Spicy
  • Coco Joe
  • Original Curry

The flavor choices seemed curious at first, but they really work. The Somewhat Spicy bag was more on the very spicy side for my sensitive taste buds, but the Sea Salt package became addicting. 15 kickball teammates can't be wrong, and they devoured the bag during last week's game. Next week, I'll be sure to disguise these in a boring snack decoy bag. 

The Sugar & Cinnamon seeds were a brilliant complement to my after-work wine, and since wine is full of antioxidants, mixing Malbec with the 9 grams of protein, 2 milligrams of iron and 2 milligrams of zinc per ounce offered in these seeds, I was basically really, really healthy that one day.

These tasty pop-able snacks come to us courtesy of Kathie Pelliccio, founder of SuperSeedz and the company from which they come—Kathie's Kitchen. What had started out intending to provide salads with an added crunch, then turned into the same desire for yogurt and oatmeal. Soon, Kathie and her husband, Joe, took off running with the idea, selling bags at fairs and farmers markets. Today they continue to make us healthy snacks, finding ingredients in the most unlikely of places.