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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 23, 2010

Editor’s Choice: Urban Pantry

Confession: Until this winter, I had never cooked beans. I’ve heard all about soaking, tepid water, washing and sorting, but these things had never been fully explained to me. As I flipped through the January issue of Real Simple and found a Kale and White Bean Soup recipe, I knew exactly what to do with the container of New England Blend Beans from Purely American’s Urban Pantry Essentials I had sitting in my cupboard.

Confused as to where I should begin, I went to Urban Essential’s website and found answers to all my bean questions. Do my beans need soaking? How long should I soak them? What’s next? How do I actually cook the beans? And I found answers to some questions I would never have thought of like: How do I reduce gas? The answer is eat more beans.

Although a lengthy process, cooking raw beans is not time consuming at all. Overnight I soaked my beans, and after work the following day I cooked them just as Urban Pantry suggested, for about an hour. The earthy, full flavors filled the air and created an enjoyable aroma that was distinctly bean. It was amazing, and worth the extra effort of cooking raw beans.

While my guests and I were left a little disappointed in the recipe, the beans clearly stole the show. The texture combined smooth and grainy in a way I’d never experienced in a bean. They weren’t soggy and smoush-able like canned beans; Urban Pantry’s beans had a solid softness.

Created in my hometown, Athens, Ohio, the company puts so many of Athens’ community spirit and environmentalism into the final product. I’m always impressed by Athens-based companies, and Urban Pantry did not disappoint. Urban Pantry beans were certified organic in 2008, and the company plans to become LEED-certified in the future. What’s more, the mixes are reflective of traditional recipes and wholesome flavor combinations; an authenticity true to the spirit of its great city and foods as American as beans.

For more information about Urban Pantry’s sauces, beans mixes and peanuts, visit


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Editor’s Choice: Marché Noir Foods

I’m a red wine type of woman. A glass of red wine is perfect for relaxing after work or enjoying with a good meal. With this in mind, I was more than willing to try the latest food offering to arrive in the office — Marché Noir Foods’ Pasta Caberneti — pasta made from wine flour. The company has been making brownies using this flour made from grape skins for a while. Why did I not know this? Anyway, more on that later.

The pasta is an intriguing dark color because of the wine flour, kind of visually striking. It is in one of my favorite shapes, penne rigate. I cooked it up al dente and chose a red sauce. The pasta itself has a good flavor, and all the while you’re getting all those health benefits.

The next day, I decided to try the brownie. As I unwrapped it, the first thing that hit me was the great chocolate smell. The Cabernet brownie actually does have a hint of the wine taste that blends wonderfully with that great chocolate taste. It’s chewy, but not overly, and another great surprise: chocolate chunks just waiting to be discovered. And remember the brownie is also healthy.

Pasta and brownies that not only taste good, but are good for you. I’ll eat to that! Fore more information about the company, visit


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Editor’s Choice: Way North Foods

One of my favorite treats to eat with coffee or tea is biscotti. They’re the perfect size snack, and something about dunking the slender cookie into my warm drink is comforting. I was thrilled when we received samples of Way North Foods’ ( array of artisanal handcrafted biscotti, which come in six core flavors: Dried Cherry White Chocolate, Double Dark Chocolate, Orange Dried Cranberry, Maple Walnut, Luscious Lemon and Lemon Dried Blueberry White Chocolate.

I was immediately inclined to try the Lemon Dried Blueberry White Chocolate; the tart, bright notes make it one of my favorite flavor combinations. So one lazy Thursday evening, while watching a hilarious episode of The Office, I made myself a cup of Earl Grey, which turned out to be a great pairing with this biscotti flavor. I really appreciated the subtle white-chocolate glaze over a portion of the biscotti, which added a unique element to its flavor. Needless to say, my nighttime snack put me in a great mood and was the perfect end to a long day.

This Michigan-based company, founded by Chef Perry Harmon, uses locally sourced ingredients in its recipes; I encourage you to check out the company’s full line, which includes baking mixes, granola and beer brittle (made with local microbrews).


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Editor's Choice: Don Francisco

“Is this normal coffee?” my roommate asked while we watched Season 2 of Lost one Sunday morning. “Well,” I said, “it’s Don Francisco organic coffee.” “It’s really good,” she replied. “There’s a hint of chocolate.” Coming from someone who drinks coffee once a month and gourmet coffee never, I think that’s quite a complement to the beans.

The Don Francisco I brewed that morning was delicious, full of flavor but subtle nonetheless. Its fullness is noticeable by those (i.e. my roommate who prefers tea) who aren’t coffee-crazed, and it’s appreciated by some (i.e. me) who consider themselves slightly more informed about the coffee bean.

What’s more, the certification Don Francisco undergoes includes a thorough inspection of the bean plantation. The soil, the trees, the berries, they’re all evaluated to ensure that each farm that provides the beans are truly organic. In fact, each farm must practice organic farming for three years before becoming certified.

Don Francesco offers USDA-certified organic coffee in French Roast and Mayan Blend. For more information, visit

- Mary