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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 29, 2011

Editor’s Choice: Pasta Mama’s

I could eat pasta any day of the week, and I actually come pretty close. The only time I have gourmet pasta, though, is when my husband and I go to a local Italian restaurant. That’s why I was delighted to try a sample of Pasta Mama’s line of dry pastas and sauce mixes: Delicious, restaurant-quality pasta at home and without the fancy-restaurant price tag.

I chose the tomato basil linguine and creamy garlic sauce. The pasta, stored prettily in a clear, plastic bag with a gold-foil tie, is simple to cook: Boil water, throw in the pasta and cook until it’s al dente. The sauce is just as easy: Mix water and milk (or just milk) with the dry mix, and simmer in a saucepan until it thickens to your liking. The pasta was packed with a sweet tomato flavor, and I loved its thick texture. The sauce had just the right amount of garlic to be strong but not overpowering. And, both flavors went wonderfully with my simple, pan-fried and lightly seasoned pork chops.

Pasta Mama’s offers a variety of mix-and-match pastas and sauces for anyone to have an Italian adventure in the kitchen. The company’s website offers combination suggestions — such as pairing the apple spice fettuccine with the apple spice sauce — but to truly have fun, Pasta Mama’s recommends experimentation. Actually, I think the chocolate fettuccine embodies this philosophy. You can create dessert by serving this cocoa-infused pasta with Pasta Mama's chocolate sweet topping or cocoa mocha sweet topping.

Pasta Mama’s can throw a delightful wrench into any meal that needs new life breathed into it.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Editor's Choice: Recchiuti Confections

I’ve read recently that chocolate consumption continues to increase in the U.S. I don’t find it hard to believe, since I know I’m one of those people. So you can imagine how happy I was with our latest “feed the editors” package. Recchiuti Confections ( had sent us a selection of its artisan chocolate bars, including several new flavors.

I immediately picked out the Bittersweet chocolate bar.  I opened the package, which incidentally can be resealed, and broke off a piece. I was rewarded with chocolate that had just the right amount of sweetness blended with a rich, yet smooth taste. It really was what bittersweet chocolate is supposed to be. I stashed the rest in the desk drawer to enjoy during the week.

Since there were several new flavors, the next day I sorted through the other selections. I was pleasantly surprised to find, that Hazelnut, another favorite flavor of mine, was still there. It is one of the new creations. The combination of flavors sounded intriguing and was. First you taste a full, smooth dark milk chocolate accented with a little sea salt. It then moves into the crunchy hazelnuts and finishes off with the taste of the burnt caramel syrup that coats the hazelnuts. A complex blend that is truly delicious.

The 3-ounce bars are also available in Semisweet, Feve (cacao nibs), Dark Milk, Almond, Sesame Nougatine and Orchard.

The bars are contained in stylish packages that display the initial of the flavor. I can see them used in gift baskets or as part of a gourmet chocolate display. With the holidays coming, they would be a fun stocking stuffer. Or, as one of my co-workers chose, the lettered packages can be used as a family initial to give a great, personalized treat to a chocolate lover.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Editor's Choice: Casa Martinez Salsa

My house is a football house. Whenever our alma mater (WVU) is playing, you can find my husband and I eagerly cheering on a victory. However, it would be impossible to do so without a hearty mixture of snacks available. Our favorite, as much for its flavor as for its convenience, is chips and salsa. But, while I favor more flavorful varieties, my cohort wants his salsa to be hot and spicy. Luckily, with Casa Martinez’s Salsa — we discovered the best of both worlds.

Casa Martinez recently released its signature line of five salsas (Habinero, Quemada, Nopal, Tatemada and Chipotle) this summer. And, the line’s been met with remarkable success. One of the biggest advantages to the salsa is the lack of mystery ingredients. To ensure the salsa is jam packed with flavor, the company uses only the freshest vegetables. Tender tomatoes, tangy peppers and a perfect blend of spices provide the base for the simply artful line of salsas Casa Martinez brings to the table. On a chilly Halloween eve, we sampled both the Chipotle flavor and the Habinero. I was remarkably surprised by the amount of heat each salsa gave off. However, the spice wasn’t so overwhelming that it kept me from going back for more. Nor did it overpower the other flavors within the salsa. What’s remarkable is that despite the heat, all the ingredients within the salsa blended harmoniously.

While this line would obviously make an excellent dip, I can see it being used as a condiment on sandwiches or heated and used as a sauce. One thing’s for sure, it’s our go to tailgating treat during Mountaineer games!  For more information about the line, visit


Monday, November 7, 2011

Editor's Choice: Pamela's Products

I’ll be perfectly honest: I was not expecting to like Pamela’s Products’ Whenever Bars. But one bite was all it took to prove myself wrong.

These things taste so good! I was expecting a hard-as-rock granola bar. Instead, the bars are chewy, like a freshly baked oatmeal cookie. The Oat Chocolate Chip Coconut bars are simply addicting with creamy chocolate and sweet coconut flavors; they make great afternoon snacks. The Oat Cranberry Almond bars are fantastic for breakfast with a tangy, fruity taste.

Besides the two flavors that I tried, the Whenever Bars are also available in Oat Blueberry Lemon and Oat Raisin Walnut Spice. And Pamela’s gluten-free and wheat-free products include biscotti, cake mixes, cheesecake and more.

Don’t think that healthy foods taste like cardboard. Pamela’s Products definitively put that myth to rest.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Editor's Choice: Snikiddy Snacks

I have to admit that I am always on the lookout for a good snack. So I was intrigued when this week’s subject, Snikiddy Snacks’ Eat Your Vegetables, arrived in the office. I decided to sample the Sea Salt flavor. The veggie chips had a nice crunch, a good start. Of course you first taste the salt. Then, however, there’s a little bit of spice blending into a rich flavor and even a bit of sweetness. All in all, a satisfying taste that brings you back for more.

Then there are the bonus points. I have been trying to eat more healthy snacks and it turns out that an ounce of the chips (about 13) have a full serving of vegetables in them, along with being a good source of Vitamin A.

But back to the taste, I could see them as a good accompaniment to a sandwich or soup. They could also be used with a favorite party dip. And of course enjoyed right out of the bag as a tasty snack.

Retailers could also highlight them in a display for children’s lunches. In addition, they are gluten and wheat free, another consideration for some people.

Besides Sea Salt, the chips are also available in Sour Cream & Onion (a popular choice with several co-workers) and Jalapeno Ranch flavors.

A snack without guilt — always a welcomed find.