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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, July 28, 2009

Editor's Choice: Cypress Grove Chevre

I try not to choose award-winning products for my editor's choice. Not because I don't think they're good, but because if they've recently won an award from, say the American Cheese Society or the National Association of Specialty Food Trade, chances are you'd already know about it. That being said, I chose Cypress Grove Chevre's Truffle Tremor as my editor's choice this week (even though it took home a Sofi Gold award at this year's Summer Fancy Food Show) simply because I can't stop thinking about it. The smooth, velvety goat cheese starts out just as you would expect, and finishes with the earthiness from the truffle (and this isn't just truffle flavoring or truffle oil -- you can actually see pieces of truffle in the cheese).

The cheesemakers at Cypress Grove Chevre recommend pairing the cheese straight with a dry white wine, or adding a thin layer over mashed potatoes and parsnips. Personally, I can't wait to try it with pesto and tomatoes as a flatbread pizza.

For the cheese connoisseur who is looking for something a little different, this is definitely a cheese I would recommend!


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Editor's Choice: Carolyn's Handmade

I’ve been attending The Chicago Market for more than two years but prior to joining the staff of Fancy Food, I never had a reason to venture into the gourmet temps section. After sampling coffee, I made a beeline for Carolyn’s Homemade’s Jalaprika Cashews I had eyed earlier at the Thompson Marketing booth.

Now, I love heat, but I was initially taken aback by the flavor and kick of the Jalaprika, which didn’t set in until after I’d swallowed, but I’d already decided to keep sampling. Although noticeable, the spiciness was not over powering and I was still able to taste the nuttiness of the cashew.

Munching on these cashews is only for the strong willed. I’d placed them out at a party and watched as guests are surprised but continue to munch. I took a few sips of a Pilsner while eating the cashews later in the evening and the subtly of the Pilsner enhanced the flavor but not the heat of the cashews – an enjoyable balance. They’d also make excellent additions to a salad with a mild cheese or in a stir fry. Days later, as I munch on them while editing the August issue of Fancy Food, I’m able to eat more and more cashews and handle the heat better while still getting a kick out of the kick.

Carolyn’s offers a Gourmet Chocolate Bark Hostess Gift Tin using the Jalaprika Cashews with dark chocolate bark. If cashews are your thing, the Jalaprika seasoning is also available on Walnuts and Pecans in gift sets, bags and glass jars. Check out the website,


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Editor's Choice: Rao's

Growing up in an Italian family, I remember going to wedding banquets and having special foods. One of these party foods was a tray they passed around family style filled with sliced meats and cheeses, antipasto, with this great-tasting dressing. It was a treat and not the kind of thing you normally got at home. I mention this because it turns out that now maybe you can.

That’s the taste I experienced when I tried Rao’s Homemade Italian Herb Dressing on my humble salad of lettuce and tomato. It was a great, fresh taste, with just the right amount of herbs and spices. It was a real, “I remember this moment.” In fact, it has a recipe for an antipasto on the bottle. An added bonus the dressing has some sugar in it and is not as bitter as some others I’ve tried. Besides green salads, I’ve also drizzled it over green beans and tossed it with leftover cooked pasta and tomatoes for a summer salad. I can see it dressing other vegetables as well. And I’m seriously thinking of buying some cold meats and provolone in the deli and tomatoes from the Farmers Market in the near future and giving a simple antipasto dish a try. (


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Editor's Choice: Itzy Ritzy

I don't know what my carbon footprint is, I haven't purchased a hybrid car, and I don't have an urban chicken coop in my back yard. But I am a lot more conscious of my environmental impact now than I have ever been in the past. I am always looking for ways to create less waste (I've even got my family members to use totes when they grocery shop, rather than plastic bags). So I was excited to try out a Snack Happened reusable and washable snack bag when my coworker Mary received a sample.

These fun bags and other products from Itzy Ritzy ( are aimed at parents with small children, but while I have no children of my own, I do bring my own lunch to work, more often than not, and many of the bright patterns available would be just as at home in an adult lunch bag as it would a diaper bag or lunch box. The bags feature a lead-free zipper and are made of 100-percent cotton, with a waterproof interior lining -- no plastic to dry out and crack. Best of all, the bags are machine washable.

With bags like these, I can say good-bye to non-biodegradable plastic sandwich and snack bags!


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

July Top Shelf Advice

When do you start decorating your store for the winter holidays?