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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.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Editor's Choice: Theo Chocolate

With Thanksgiving literally a few hours away, my mind has been completely overtaken by thoughts of holiday food. I’d like to thank my coworkers for politely overlooking my mental absence; I just can’t stop thinking about my mom’s incredible stuffing and my grandma’s perfect pumpkin pie!

While I enjoy the familiar flavors of traditional dishes, I also like to experiment with bold tastes this time of year. Recently, I’ve been on a Southeast Asian spice kick; the warm, exotic flavors of Indian and Thai cuisine are curiously parallel to comfort foods we gravitate toward during winter. My new favorite treat is Theo Chocolate’s Coconut Curry bar. Yes, it sounds unusual, particularly if curry is not your cup of chai; but I encourage you to be adventurous!

The bar is part of Theo’s 3400 Phinney collection, a “fantasy flavor assortment” named after the Seattle company’s factory address. I love the Coconut Curry bar’s element of surprise. At first taste, the chocolate is smooth and silky; then toasted coconut flakes and specks of spices unleash tiny bursts of flavor on your tongue. Interestingly, the savory spices (which include coriander, cumin, cardamom, cloves and more) almost make this milk-chocolate bar taste like dark chocolate. It finishes with a bit of heat; just a small piece will do. I like pairing it with a steamy mug of Earl Grey tea.

I admit that I completely judge candy (and books, for that matter) by their wrappers. Kudos to you, Theo; I was sold immediately. The jewel tones and fluid shapes on Coconut Curry’s package reflect the imaginative flavors inside.

Theo’s name is drawn from the Latin word for the Cacao tree, Theobroma Cacao, which translates to “food of the gods” (all the more reason to indulge in chocolate, right?). The company has the first and only organic, Fair Trade chocolate factory in the U.S. To see Theo’s full line, visit

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Editor's Choice: Bakery on Main

I am not what you would consider a health-food nut -- in fact, I am quite possibly the farthest thing from it. Sour cream on that baked potato? Yes please! Whipped cream on my hot chocolate? It's just not hot cocoa without it! But one combination that I am a big fan of, in spite of whatever good-for-you attributes it may contain, is Bakery On Main's Gluten-Free Cranberry Orange Cashew Granola. To quote the packaging, the product is trans fat-free, dairy-free, gluten- and wheat-free, cholesterol-free, low in saturated fat and sodium and casein-free. Add to that impressive list the whole dried cranberries, sesame seeds and flax seeds and you've got something that sounds downright healthful!

Nevertheless, my favorite 10:00 snack lately has been a yogurt (usually of the mixed berry variety) with a few spoonfuls of the Cranberry Orange Cashew Granola mixed in. The slightly sweet granola gives the ordinary refrigerator staple just the right amount of flavorful crunch for a fun mid-morning treat. I imagine that the granola would be a great topper for ice cream, too, like the packaging suggests, or sprinkled over a salad. The Apple Raisin Walnut (which I also enjoyed, just by itself) would be particularly good mixed into oatmeal or as a hot cereal with warm milk.

The company's motto is "Good things come from small batches," and I can definitely say that in this case, you don't need to be suffering from a gluten intolerance to enjoy this granola. You can check out Bakery on Main's other granola flavors and products at


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Editor's Choice: AB Foods LLC

It seems that everybody is looking for ways to eat healthier these days, and with AB Foods' Match-brand premium meat alternatives, it is easier than you may think to slip in a healthier meat alternative. I received samples of their products (they offer Ground Beef, Ground Pork, Ground Chicken, Crab, Breakfast Sausage and Italian Sausage as meatless alternatives) and immediately sauteed the ground chicken, adding it to a cheesy herb skillet meal. Being a frequent meat-eater, I was pleased with the results, as was my vegetarian-since-high-school roommate. AB Foods got the texture and the taste right -- I even prepared it the same way as I would have prepared my chicken. And because the Match products are plant-based, I didn't have to worry about the dangers of under-cooked chicken or about the inevitable chicken "juice" that a real chicken breast leaves behind on cutting boards, hands, etc.

But the real test for Match's Ground Chicken's "chicken-ness" came this past weekend during the Sunday afternoon football game. It was the second half of the Chicago Bears vs. the undefeated Tennessee Titans game and my stomach was growling. I wanted something quick and easy that I could share with my dad that wouldn't interrupt my game watching (at this point, the Bears were on their way to an exciting comeback). While my dad was busy watching the game, I made some easy mac'n cheese, warmed up some Match Ground Chicken in the skillet and mixed it in. I watched out of the corner of my eye as my dad, a traditional meat'n potatoes kind of guy who would undoubtedly turn up his nose at the mention of a meat substitute, dug in. I couldn't resist a little smile as he finished his bowl. My subterfuge had been a success.

Not only did he like it, but he finished the leftovers for lunch this week. While the Bears might not have won, Match Ground Chicken certainly did. Now comes the tough question -- do I direct him to today's blog entry? Or is ignorance truly bliss?

For more information on AB Food LLC's Match products, visit


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Editor's Choice: 34 Degrees

With the temperatures steadily dropping, it seems that we are once again headed full steam into soup season. One of the best parts of eating soup, in my opinion, is having something delicious -- whether it be a slice of artisan sourdough or classic Saltines -- to dip. I came across a product last winter that is definitely going to be a staple in my pantry for this year's chilly soup season.

34 Degrees Crispbread is a light, crunchy crispbread that makes a perfect cracker alternative. It is a product originally designed to be used in place of a cracker with cheese or as part of an hors d'oeuvres platter. In fact, 34 Degrees' Owner and Founder Craig Lieberman and his wife Jennifer suggest serving them with Brie, triple crème and ash-rubbed cheeses, salami or paté, while General Manager Jennifer Margoles recommends topping them with Haystack Mountain Boulder Chevre and PRiMO's Raspberry Habañero Preserves.

I, on the other hand, have stumbled upon another savory use for the crispbread. It was a blustery day last winter and I wanted nothing more than to curl up on the couch with a hot, hearty bowl of cream of chicken soup (with wild rice ... yum!). We were out of traditional soup crackers, so I opened up the box of Cracked Pepper crispbreads, dipped one into my soup, took a bite and was instantly addicted. From then on, I haven't found anything that brings out the richness of a creamy chicken soup better than the Cracked Pepper crispbreads. 34 Degrees definitely doesn't skimp on the cracked pepper either, so the crispbreads add a fabulous little kick to thick soup (or whatever else you eat them with).

The crispbreads come in four flavors: Cracked Pepper, Natural, Sesame and Rosemary, which was a finalist in this year's NASFT Sofi awards, taking home the Silver. For contact information, visit


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