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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, February 24, 2009

Editor's Choice: Bee Raw Honey

If you think that all honey tastes the same, you are seriously mistaken, my friend. It wasn't until I was writing November 07's jams, preserves and honey feature that I discovered the wonderful world of varietal honey (just months before the release of Bee Movie).

The flavor of honey greatly depends on the flowers and plants the bees visit. For example, hives rented by Florida's citrus growers to pollinate crops can usually be used to produce a citrus blossom honey, which contains notes of mild citrus flavor. One company that focuses exclusively on the distinct, unique flavor created when honey is made from a singular floral source is Bee Raw Honey. As implied by the company name, Bee Raw skips the filtration process (which is typically done on a commercial level by heating and micro-filtration) to ensure the honey's distinct flavor remains. For 10 years, Bee Raw's Zeke Freeman has been working with artisanal beekeepers around the country to source Bee Raw's high-quality varietal honey.

Like a fine wine or artisanal cheese, varietal honey allows the sophisticated palate to pair honey and cheese for an upscale hors d'oeuvre, accent a favorite gourmet tea or host a honey tasting (I had one for the office when I was writing the article -- most were surprised to learn that the flavor in good flavored honeys comes from the flower).

So enough with the honey lesson. My EC pick this week is Bee Raw Honey's Colorado Star Thistle. This honey is so thick and creamy, you definitely need a spoon to scoop it from the glass jar. The almost-white honey carries a delicate, light flavor that Freeman recommends as a finishing touch when served with blue cheese or alongside a cheese fondue. I like it right off the spoon when I have a sweet craving, or in tea because the delicate flavor won't overpower or clash with any of the flavored teas I like.

For more information on Bee Raw's other varietals, visit For more honey resources, recipes and information, visit the Honey Board at


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Editor's Choice: Kettle Brands

When faced with my afternoon salty snack craving, anyone handing me a bag of chips with "65 percent less fat than regular potato chips" emblazoned across the front of the package is likely to get a scowl or at the very least a skeptical brow. It's nothing personal, I just prefer chips that aren't the texture of damp cardstock. That being said, I happily found absolutely nothing about the Kettle Brands Baked Potato Chips that even remotely resembles the crunchless, melt-in-your-mouth product one usually gets with a baked chip. These thick chips provide a kettle-quality crunch that I'm sure can be heard down the cube-hall.

The newest flavor in Kettle Brand's delightfully crunchy baked line is Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper. The name basically says it all, too. The chips actually taste like potato, salt and pepper freshly ground from a mill. There's just enough bite from the pepper, but not enough to overwhelm the other elements of flavor for this tasty chip.

Other flavors in the line of Kettle Brand Baked Potato Chips include Sea Salt and Vinegar, Aged White Cheddar, Hickory Honey Barbeque and Lightly Salted (but go for the Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper, if you want my two cents). More about Kettle Brand chips can be found at

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Editor's Choice: Briannas

I love winter meals as much as the next foodie. (Think rich pastas, thick stews, and anything involving mashed potatoes.) But by mid-February, I have to admit, I’m ready for a break from those heavy dishes. Eager to segue into spring, I have recently turned to salads of crisp produce — doctored up with my new favorite dressing, of course.

Champagne Caper Vinaigrette is the newest flavor from Briannas, maker of premium salad dressings. Made with Champagne vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard and crushed capers, this new flavor is the perfect balance of subtle tanginess and sweetness. It has a smooth finish that complements rather than detracts from the freshness of the veggies in your salad.

My favorite way to use Champagne Caper Vinaigrette is in a salad of romaine, arugula, radicchio, avocado slices, diced red onion, shredded carrot and some shavings of parmesan cheese. I’ve also added some protein to this recipe by topping it off with slices of leftover grilled chicken breast. Briannas also suggests using the dressing on roasted or grilled meats and vegetables.

What’s more, Champagne Caper Vinaigrette is a dressing pretty much everyone can enjoy. It is vegetarian, completely natural and contains no gluten, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup or MSG. It is also soy-, nut-, lactose- and cholesterol-free. And because it is made with canola oil, it is a perfect option for those with heart health concerns.

If you’re looking for a crowd-pleaser to offer your customers this spring, give Champagne Caper Vinaigrette a try. Look for it in the Flavor Focus of the March issue of Fancy Food. You can see the entire line of Briannas salad dressings at


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Editor's Choice: Bouquet of Fruits

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, there's no better time to be sampling chocolate-covered strawberries... or chocolate-covered raspberries, mandarin slices, pears or apples for that matter! The Fancy Food office recently got a sampling of the products from Bouquet of Fruits, a Fresno, California-based company with deep familial roots (pun intended) in farming. In 1987 Steve Paul and his wife Gina took the idea one step further and began to offer fruit baskets, sharing the fresh fruit of Fresno with the rest of the world.

These highly perishable products didn't stick around long enough to perish. The strawberries, which were fresh, juicy, perfectly ripe four-bite berries, were enrobed in white, milk or dark chocolate and drizzled with pink (white) chocolate, coated with coconut, accented with almonds or covered in chocolate chips (chocolate-on-chocolate-on-strawberry -- mmmmm...).

As I was coming down from my chocolate-on-chocolate-on-strawberry-induced euphoria, it occurred to me to worry about the brief lifespan of such fresh fruit in regards to our retailing readers (man, I'm just full of alliteration today...) I asked Cory Colligan, directer of sales and marketing, about a wholesale/retail program, and found that the company does sell wholesale to retailers, and they do fulfillment and drop-shipping as well. In fact, the company has worked with such online giants as 1800flowers,, Red Envelope and but is looking to connect with more independent, small-scale gourmet retailers.

In order to facilitate partnerships with smaller retailers, the company is in the process of creating a drop-ship network. Stay tuned for more info to come. In the meantime, check out the other fantastic chocolate creations from Bouquet of Fruits at

Monday, February 2, 2009

February Top Shelf Advice

Do you have a bridal registry? What are your most popular items?