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.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Editor's Pick: Georgia Grinders

If you've ever taken a note or appreciation to my eating schedule, you'd find that peanut butter is an unwavering mainstay. Zero questions asked. An apple and peanut butter a day (most days) keeps the doctor away, right? The peanut butter to my apple is typically of the all natural, many times organic, variety; so when I found out about Georgia Grinders' two-ingredient PB, my eyes widened, and I cut right into an apple, its sidekick.

Made with two simple ingredients, the finest quality non-GMO Georgia grown peanuts and sea salt, the peanuts are hand selected, slow roasted and then ground to the NaturAlmond company's signature texture for a really fresh peanut butter experience. I tried the creamy first. Just the right amount of salt with a fresh-out-the-shell taste, it was delicious. Same can be said about the crunchy, of course. 

The Georgia Grinders Peanut Butters, which are available in creamy and crunchy versions, began production in December and were picked up by regional Whole Foods, Sprouts Farmers Markets, Central Market Grocery Stores and many gourmet food markets in Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama and Florida.  But now, the 12 oz glass jars of Georgia Grinders Peanut Butter will be available on shelves beginning in January at all of these retailers. For more information on where to find Georgia Grinders  Peanut Butter, or how to carry it in your store, visit

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Editor’s Pick: Tonja’s Toffee

Tonja’s Toffee is a delicious treat that satisfies any sweet tooth, without hurting them. I am very picky about what sticky foods I eat. After enduring braces for 4.5 years and now wearing a permanent retainer, I won’t eat anything that I think will damage my teeth. One of the great things about Tonja’s Toffee, is that it’s neither tough nor sticky. Each bite is a sweet, perfectly textured treat bursting with flavor.

Kansas-based Tonja Williams, the owner, knows how to please both the taste buds and the eye, with her visually-appealing packaging perfect for gifting. Each portion—1/4, 1/2, and 1 pound—is sold in a clear, high-quality bag making it a great holiday gift for neighbors, teachers or anyone else in your customers’ lives.

Each batch of toffee is made from pure butter, sugar, whole almonds and milk chocolate. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Editor's Pick: Umpqua Oats

One of my pre-New Year resolutions has been to eat breakfast more often. I used to love eating breakfast. Until I stopped becoming such a morning person, and decided as much as I love breakfast, I love sleep more. Instead of making an egg-white omelet stacked with bacon and cheese in the morning, now I grab a pack of Instant Oatmeal and hit the road. The only problem is, now the flavors are starting to taste somewhat basic. I was thrilled to come into the office one day last week and learn about Umpqua Oats. They recently launched their new flavor, Vanilla Almond Crunch. The first-of-its-kind, warm oatmeal cup included a satisfying mixture of custom-milled rolled oats, oven-roasted almonds, rich Bourbon vanilla, sweet honey and crunchy vanilla almond granola. 

The conveniently-packaged breakfast filled the office kitchen with a delicious vanilla aroma that I haven't experienced in a long time and the flavor combination isn't overwhelming, in fact it's fairly discrete. It's also completely satisfying. It had a little bit of a different texture than the oatmeal I'm used to, it was thicker and creamier than you would expect. It's definitely innovative—a concept the company is no stranger to.

In the development of Vanilla Almond Crunch, the company conducted multiple focus groups and invited people to provide their opinions on several oatmeal flavor profiles. After an overwhelming response to Vanilla Almond, the company moved forward in the Umpqua Oats wayby adding a unique twist on traditional oatmeal with granola that stays crunchy even when hot water is added.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Editor's Pick: Little's Specialty Foods

It’s not hard to spot a customer’s longing for comfort food as the seasons change. The proof is in the grocery and specialty food store purchases: hearty vegetables, broths and stews, heavier meat and game choices, spices that bring depth to cooking. It’s all part of this comfort food kick that happens to be a result of changing weather. And let’s face it, is there a meal more substantial and hearty than chili? It’s the cover poster for the season, and Little’s Specialty Foods helps you turn the dial up on that subpar homemade chili you’ve been making for years—and in my case, saves me prep time and stress time.

A mild chili mix with a major kick of flavor, the Chili Pepper Chili Seasoning Mix is Little’s signature mix. Not too spicy, it uses the right blend of seasonings and a heap of chili peppers to really amplify the ingredients that have already become a staple of your chili—for me that’s ground turkey, white beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, red onion, tomato paste and a few others depending on the day of the week. Incorporate the mix, and it’s convenient, easy to prepare and ready in just 20 minutes—though you can imagine, the longer it stews the better.

If you like a red hot kick, the Chili Pepper Chili Hot Seasoning Mix was not created to set your mouth on fire, but instead provide a constant heat to your food. Little’s slow-releasing blend of spices was actually created for the Chili Pepper Chili & Dogs restaurant in 1994 using a balance of chili peppers and secret spices to transform ground beef, turkey or vegetarian dishes. Little’s is a family owned and operated company with a flagship product line of mixes established in 1980. All of their products are free from artificial ingredients, gluten, and contain no added MSG.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Editor's Pick: Parmigiano Reggiano

I have a weakness for cheese. I decided long ago that when I didn’t have three roommates, I would make space for one shelf or drawer in the fridge specifically for cheese. Now that I live alone, I have plenty of space to keep many varieties of cheese. Right now, I happen to have three different aged cheeses from Parmigiano Reggiano.

A couple of weeks ago I attended a tasting at La Scuola di Eataly where attendees gathered to learn how to give taste tests and what sets Parmigiano Reggiano apart from other cheese brands.
Parmigiano Reggiano is only made in Italy and each block of cheese has a number on it, allowing the consumer to track the location and find out where it was made. Flavors between each location slightly vary due to the diet of the cows which is impacted by terrain. However, Parmigiano Reggiano has very strict standards in place that assure the consumer that their cheese is high-quality.
At the tasting, we tried cheese that was aged 14 months, 24 months and 36 months. The 14-month-old cheese was very young, didn’t crumble as well and wasn’t very oily. The 36-month-old cheese was much more crumbly and oily. Everyone was instructed to smell the aromas and the flavors and textures of the different ages were noticeable.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Editor's Pick: Date Lady

I eat red meat, chicken and eggs. I enjoy trying foods considered delicacies in other countries. Since I don't typically go for vegan options, I was surprised how quickly I jumped at the chance to try Date Lady's chocolate spread. And I wasn't disappointed. It was heavenly. I used it in the same way I would Nutella—on toast, then on toast with peanut butter, then on apples, apples with peanut butter—you get the idea. I became inspired and started seeing what else I could include in my smorgasbord of health-conscious, chocolate-covered, goodness. Turns out, it's a very versatile spread, and at the very least, it goes well with just a spoon too!
Date Lady's products are all organic, and the chocolate spread itself is vegan, containing no nuts, dairy, or processed oils or sugar. The coconut oil and cocoa butter give it a much smoother texture than other chocolate nut spreads. Date syrup is what gives this delicious treat it's sweetness, and while I don't have much of a sweet tooth, when I get a craving, I won't feel bad about how much I eat. 

The Springfield, Mo.-based company started when a wife and mother of two heard about a honey-like syrup that came from dates. She brought some home to put on pancakes and waffles, and eventually started using it in place of sugar. 
The website includes some recipes that utilize the lines of five products developed: Date Syrup, Caramel Sauce, Organic Dates, Date Balsamic Vinegar and, of course, Chocolate Spread. The recipes range from truffles, to apple cider, to barbeque sauce and a selection of muffins. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Editor's Pick: Frontier Soups West Coast Kale and Quinoa

Homemade-In-Minutes. That’s Frontier Soup’s effort to make the culinary process simpler for those looking for a flavorful, healthy meal without the hassle. With little time to prepare meals this week, I was looking for something that would last, leftovers included. I needed something light, but with enough depth in flavor and substance so I could feel full—it is a soup after all.

The West Coast Kale and Quinoa Vegetable Soup Mix that I prepared did just that. It gains its hunger-satisfying substance from white quinoa and flakes of kale and butternut squash that are freeze dried to preserve nutrition. A vegetarian and certified gluten-free soup, it gratifies consumers' desires for delicious and easy ways to incorporate nutrient-rich ancient grains and kale into diets.

I baked a few boneless chicken breasts in the oven as the soup simmered, tore each apart, and added it into the soup mix with about ten minutes left. Although the mix has a bounty of vegetables, I added some tomatoes and a bit more fresh, in-season squash, and the savory seasoning already included—think garlic, thyme, oregano, rosemary, and a peppercorn blend—provided a counterpoint to the sweetness of the squash.
These soup mixes were formulated as a response to consumer’s need for vegetarian soup options, along with an easy way to prepare them. As fall sweeps in and winter gets set to show its face, be sure to stock your shelves with these types of hearty, homemade-in-minutes soups.