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, June 30, 2015

Editor's Pick: Honey Ridge Farms

In this community, more often than not I find myself in the midst of storytellers—tellers of tales of family businesses, of ingredients rich in history, of core values unwavering in effect.

It’s why this specialty food industry is so special. Generationally passed down recipe boxes and, in the case of Honey Ridge Farms, beekeeping skills have crafted the gourmet company that we see today.

For the family at the Prairie, Washington based farm, which was founded in 2004 by Leeanne Goetz, it’s all about the bees. Her oldest son, Ryan, is fifth-generation beekeeper and worked alongside his grandfather Edmund Varney. Today, Ryan is caretaker to 4000 colonies that pollinate a variety of crops throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California.

So what’s one to expect from a family business, Honey Ridge Farms, who so cares for the hive health and quality of the bees they keep? I’d say award winning honeys—and that’s what I got.

Although they offer a wide selection of honey crèmes and honey-based vinaigrettes, the Balsamic Honey Vinegar truly stole the show for me. It’s a delicious aged balsamic-style vinegar made entirely from honey that adds incredible dimension to the simplest of ingredients... salads especially. It was a 2008 sofi Silver Award Winner for Outstanding Vinegar and most recently, the 2015 Good Food Award Winner.

It has a mellow and delicate sweetness, so I mixed it with some Dijon mustard, olive oil and hazelnut oil for a dressing that I thought would pair perfectly with pears and pecans. Gouda too. I tossed everything very simply in a salad bowl, and the light summer salad married deliciously with my dinner. And because it’s 100 percent honey, the aroma is incredible. Try it for yourself! 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Editor’s Pick: Athens Mini Fillo Shells


It’s no secret I love to make appetizers. If my friends are throwing a party, they require me to bring food—not wine—because they like to sample what I make. For the most recent housewarming I attended, I made Apple Goat Cheese and Pesto Mini Shells utilizing a few simple ingredients and Athens Mini Fillo Shells.

These bite size treats were the perfect combination of sweet and savory. Athens Mini Fillo Shells really did the trick, containing all of the ingredients and maintaining its crunch, rather getting soggy. The flavors and textures really played well off of one another. The light, flakey layers of fillo are freshly baked before frozen, so they taste like I made them for scratch.

To see the recipe I used to make them, check out this website.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Editor's Pick: Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co

Fair trade organic coffee is one thing. Fair trade organic coffee that donates 20 percent of its proceeds to no kill animal rescue organizations is another. That's what dog-lover and coffee enthusiast Jordan Karcher had in mind when he launched Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co.
Stumbling upon a dog adoption event in Santa Monica in 2012, Karcher left with a new best friend that day. It was then that he established a goal of helping save homeless dogs everywhere. With his company, he's able to bring something to the masses that's also able to influence the mission. For each bag sold, 20 percent of its proceeds are donated to no kill rescue organizations that provide safe-havens for dogs who don't have a home.
A fan of breakfast blend coffees, I tried the Morning Walk Breakfast Blend yesterday. The medium blend features beans from Guatemala, Peru and Sumatra and has a slight cocoa flavor with citrus notes. Sold in 6-ounce bags, additional flavors include Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Columbian, Peru, Mexican Chiapas, Papua New Guinea, Alpha Blend and Paper & Slipper Blend.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Editor's Pick: Cobram Estates



The very first extra virgin olive oil from the 2015 harvest. Now that's something to live up to.

Hand-selected olives from the company's favorite varietals, Hojiblanca, Picual and Coratina, were all picked in mid-March for Cobram Estates' 2015 Ultra Premium First Harvest.

For me, my extra virgin olive oil selections sit on a pedestal in the kitchen. They play a major role in my cooking, and belittling a meal with a refined oil with very little flavor, aroma or color seems an amateur mistake.

This vibrant green oil is incredibly clean leaving a crisp palate of intense and pretty complex flavors. Freshly cut grass, green apples, tomato vines and even tropical fruits can be picked up in its aroms to deliver a super fruity and flavorsome taste. There's a medium level of bitterness here, and it's rich in the goodness you'd expect from great olive oil.

To explore the entire Cobram Estate Australian extra virgin olive oils, be sure to check out their site.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Editor’s Pick: Avocare Chipotle Avocado Oil


Avocare’s Chipotle Avocado Oil does not disappoint the taste buds. Avocado oil’s natural flavor, smooth texture and 480-degree smoke point make it the perfect tool to use for dishes.

As a spice lover, I naturally gravitated toward trying the chipotle flavor and instantly became a fan of it, trying it with numerous foods I had on hand. For a spicy twist to butternut squash filled ravioli, boil the noodles like normal, toss Avocare’s Chipotle Avocado Oil in it after draining and add some crumpled bleu cheese to the top. For a quick and easy afternoon snack, drizzle Chipotle Avocado Oil on whole wheat crackers.  Perhaps my favorite dish that I made with the Chipotle Avocado Oil was sweet potato fries. I sliced sweet potatoes, tossed them in the oil and let them sit overnight. The following evening, I added just a tad more of the oil and popped them in a 450-degree oven for about 30 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Avocare’s Chipotle Avocado Oil is so versatile, it is a great product for your customers to buy.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Editor's Pick: Snack Factory

Snack Factory’s Pretzel Crisps have been around since 2004, and the company is well known for its originality in the first pretzel-shaped cracker. This gluten free snack is nutritious and contains no trans fat, saturated fat, or cholesterol. It’s a healthier alternative and I love the flavor combinations. This cracker can be used with almost anything imaginable to create an enjoyable snack.

Different flavors are offered and each of the flavors go well with different things. The original is delicious alone and it goes well with just about anything. I prefer it with dips like guacamole because the taste of the dip is superior and salted cracker just adds a little more flavor. The Sriracha and Lime is one of the company's new flavors. It works really well with any type of chunky salsa. The flavor of the actual cracker compliments a mild salsa really well. The last flavor that I had the pleasure of trying is the Salted Caramel. I like the salted caramel dipped in chocolate; the salty/sweet combination is tremendously popular. This is a fun convenient snack I am able to pull out when unexpected company comes over.    


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Editor's Pick: Scrub Daddy

The newest member of the Scrub Daddy family is the Sponge Daddy. It maintains the familiar rectangular shape, but has a few changes that are evident when utilized. It's different from other sponges due to the FlexTextured material. FlexTextured material allows the sponge to get soft in warm water and firm in cold water. No matter what state it might be in, the sponge doesn't scratch, which makes it ideal when cleaning surfaces or pots and pans. One of the great things about this sponge is that is remains free from debris for a substantial amount of time.

When cleaning one’s own house, you always want to use to the best products, right? I like to use what are considered to be the best products while getting my house in order. It’s a bonus when the product can be used in multiple ways and is still able to last a long time. That is exactly what the Sponge Daddy does for me. I've had it for a few weeks and am still able to use it for basic cleaning chores. I can attest to the fact that when it is placed in hot water it gets soft, which makes it easier to clean things like spills. On the opposite of that, when I put it in cold water it gets firm, making it easier to clean stains on hard surfaces.
Bottom line: the product is a great cleaning tool. Cleaning isn’t as much of a hassle as it has been in the past because the Sponge Daddy makes cleaning so convenient, easier and simple.