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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, August 31, 2010

Editor's Choice: Equal Exchange

I’m a big proponent of fairly traded goods. I appreciate companies that recognize their power to make a difference in the world through their products and their contributions. When I received samples from Equal Exchange, a company that creates fair-trade chocolate, I was blown away — not only by the decadence of their chocolate bars, but also by their impressive marketing materials that delve into their strong support for cacao farmers.

Equal Exchange’s farmers belong to co-ops, which empowers them and allow them to be actively involved in business and make decisions about projects that will improve their communities. The company makes their chocolate products with cacao supplied from these farmers, located in the Dominican Republic, Peru and Panama, as well as sugar from co-ops in Costa Rica and Paraguay and vanilla from a farmer association in Madagascar. All ingredients are organic and fairly traded, and the bars contain to additives or artificial flavorings.

Through their partnerships with these local farmers, Equal Exchange has helped impoverished communities make improvements, such as installing wells for drinking water. The company also works toward eradicating child labor in the chocolate industry. (Visit for more information.)

These sweet facts make the chocolate taste that much better. I have so far tried the Organic Orange Dark Chocolate bar — needless to say, it was love at first bite. I’m eager to try the other flavors as well. Visit to learn more.


Good news

Good news for anyone who loves magazines as much as we do. Can't wait to pick up a copy!


Friday, August 27, 2010

Post-Katrina food culture

We are approaching the the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina this weekend.

Although I have no true personal ties to New Orleans, the event and its aftermath have always been intriguing to me. In 2005, I was just starting out as a news reporter, and one of my first stories was about the arrival of Katrina refugees. Hitting the five-year mark puts a number of things into perspective, both on an individual and large-scale level.

I can't help but feel that so many of the stories, photos and video clips being posted across the media are a little haunting, and the results of this year's oil spill certainly add to the sting. Add in a growing list of complex political implications, and the news coverage can become overwhelmingly disheartening.

This article by a writer from The Times-Picayune was an honest, if not bittersweet, profile of how the food culture has changed in New Orleans since Katrina. While there are indeed triumphs, such as the increase in urban farming and the opening of specialty food stores, there are also pitfalls, such as the "food deserts" across the city. I found this list thought-provoking and thought foodie readers would appreciate it.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Editor's Choice: Yumnuts Naturals

Cashews are one of my favorite kinds of nuts. Sure, growing up there were peanuts at baseball games and pieces of walnuts in homemade brownies, but cashews were special. Maybe others knew that as well, since there were always so few of them in those nut mixes. Plus they were from Brazil, so that gave them a certain panache. So imagine my delight when packages of cashews arrived at the office recently.

Yumnuts Naturals ( are dry-roasted cashews coated with all kinds of tasty flavors. I immediately zeroed in on the one marked chocolate.

It was a great choice. The cocoa powder coating is a great beginning to the crunchy nut. The light coating blends perfectly with and doesn’t hide the taste of the cashews. Incidentally, there are no preservatives or artificial stuff. And bonus points: Nuts are good for you.

The other flavor choices are Sea Salt, Honey, Spicy Cajun, Toasted Coconut and Chili Lime. Yumnuts come in a resealable 5-oz. bag. They are the right size to fit in an office drawer or take with you for a yummy snack. And for retailers, they are the perfect size to put in a gift basket or other gift packages.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Editor’s Choice: Working Class Studio

One of my favorite companies has just launched its fall 2010 collections, and I’m seriously thrilled with each and every one of the new home and kitchen accessories. If you’ve never heard of Working Class Studio (, it’s time to get familiar: The company is a division of the Savannah College of Art and Design (, and it boasts the colorful, creative works of its students, who major in various art and design specialties. (See the products up close at the upcoming New York International Gift Fair ( in the Accent on Design division in booth #4017 and at the Canadian Gift & Tableware Association Gift Show ( in booth #9541.)

One line that will be particularly attractive to gourmet retailers is the Hostess Collection, which includes kitchen textiles such as aprons, pot holders, oven mitts and tea towels. The line, designed by John Hiemenz (B.F.A., graphic design, 2009; graduate advertising student) and Abby Hyslop (B.F.A., fibers, 2008), features playful graphics with a retro flair and earthy color palette that’s perfect for fall. The four color combinations can be mixed and matched to add a funky touch to the kitchen.

See the entire collection here.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Editor's Choice: Robert Rothschild Farm

When I moved to Chicago in 2007, I quickly learned the city’s number-one culinary rule: Never put ketchup on a hot dog. While Chicago has its share of fine restaurants and gourmet retailers, the hot dog unites us all, even vegans like me who go for a veggie dog.

I love hot dogs, and I also love cilantro and jalapeno, so it was a natural for me to get excited when a jar of Robert Rothschild Farm’s new Cilantro Jalapeno Mustard arrived in the office. I’ve written for Fancy Food & Culinary Products magazine for longer than a year, but it took this spicy mustard from Robert Rothschild to get me into gourmet condiments.

The mustard has little chucks thanks to the jalapeno pieces. Couple the jalapeno with zesty mustard and cilantro flavors, and the condiment makes for a tangy treat on top of burgers, as a base in a potato salad and on hot dogs. Aside from the taste, I love the ingredients. Robert Rothschild adds flavor with all-natural herbs and spices rather them chemical additives. The ingredients are all grown on the Rothschild farm in Urbana, Ohio, and the products are produced there as well.

Other new mustards from the company include Blue Cheese Dijon Mustard, Cranberry Pomegranate Mustard and Tarragon Peppercorn Mustard. Find more information about the gourmet products at

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Editor's Choice: Briannas

I eat salads all year round, but, for me, they are especially enjoyable in the summer because I can get real tomatoes — yet another reason I love the weekly trips to the local farmers’ market.

Recently, I was looking for something different to try on these salads. As I glanced through the dressings selections, The New American dressing from Briannas ( caught my eye. It’s a catchy name. The dressing was labeled as creamy balsamic vinaigrette. Balsamic vinegar is one of my favorite dressing components, so I was interested. I’ve become more of a label reader, so I checked some of the other ingredients: honey, garlic, spices and grape juice. It sounded like a winning combination, so it came home.

The dressing has a good consistency, so it clings to the lettuce, tomatoes, snap peas and other good stuff that make up summer salads. It has a smooth, layered taste. It offers a hint of sweetness at first, but it is cut with the garlic and other spices. Another plus: It has all natural ingredients.

Besides using on green salads, I could also see it mixed into a pasta salad.

The bottle suggests using the dressing as a marinade for beef, chicken or even fish.

And for me, the dressing is also great drizzled on steamed green beans from the farmers’ market.