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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, December 20, 2011

Editor's Choice-479 Popcorn

I grew up in a small town in southern West Virginia. So, when we went to the local theater, our choices in popcorn flavors were butter and plain. Therefore, when an assortment of 479°’s gourmet popcorn came to the office, I lunged at the opportunity to expand my popcorn palette. And, my education is much appreciated. The company’s Chipotle Caramel + Almonds flavor is one of the tastiest treats I’ve sampled during my tenure at Fancy Food & Culinary Products.

The company, whose name was rendered from the fact that Founder Jean Arnold believes 479°Fahrenheit is the optimal temperature for popping corn, has a variety of flavors. But, all of the popcorns contain no trans fat, are naturally gluten free and are certified kosher. The Chipotle Caramel + Almonds flavor is an ideal mixture of sweet caramel kernels delicately drizzled with traces of spicy chipotle. I was initially skeptical of the flavor combination. After all, a chipotle is a jalapeno chili ripened on the vine and then smoked for a few days. How would the company tame that spiciness? The answer is simple, a delicate hand. The popcorn isn’t overwhelmed by the various flavors, which allows them to co-exist simultaneously. This line is all about contrast in both flavor and texture. So, Arnold wisely threw in two big handfuls of almonds. The crunchiness of the nuts is a nice juxtaposition against the fluffiness of the actual popcorn.

I’m eager to try 479°’s other unusual flavor combinations. In fact, maybe I’ll smuggle a little of the Chipotle Caramel + Almond into my local theater. It will make those sappy chick-flicks I love even more enjoyable.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Editor's Choice: Sorrell Ridge

Even though I grew up in the Midwest, I have never liked winter (OK in this case pre-winter).  It seems no matter how sunny the day starts out by mid-day the skies have turned gray and cloudy.  It was in that frame of mind that I recently picked up a jar of Sorrell Ridge Premium Orange Marmalade ( I figured if I couldn’t have the warm weather right now, at least I could have a taste of it. Besides marmalade has that little luxury feel to it.

Sunday morning seemed like the perfect time to try it. I spooned it on some low-fat pancakes. The marmalade blended well with them. It is thicker and that gives it a nice full flavor and orange peels give it an interesting texture. The peels also made it not too sweet.  It was a flavorful combination and a good way to start the day.

I’m sure it would be great on waffles, English muffins or used in making a different  take on a  PB&J. I could also see it used with white cheeses for a tasty appetizer.

For retailers, it would be good in a fruit spread assortment or in a breakfast basket. Its consistency makes it ideal for sampling on crackers.

But for me, right now, it’s a taste of the good life.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Editor's Choice: Bove's Pasta Sauce

No matter what I do, I can never recreate my Nonnie’s marinara sauce. I have her recipe. I use the finest ingredients. I watched her make it. Regardless, my sauce doesn’t taste quite the same and I am left with a poor imitation. Therefore, I was thrilled when I discovered Bove’s Roasted Tomato, all-natural pasta sauce. While this canned sauce isn’t my Nonnie’s, it’s closer than I’ve ever come.

Last month, Bove’s CafĂ© (a third generation restaurant) celebrated it’s 70th anniversary. And, with a sauce this delicious, this longevity is no big surprise. Louis and Victoria Bove have been bottling the family sauce for the past 15 years. “We began selling my grandmother’s signature Marinara sauce, the same recipe she made at the restaurant,” says Mark Bove, company president. “But that wasn’t enough. People wanted more.”

And with Bove’s line of signature sauces, including: Vodka, Roasted Garlic, Mushroom & Wine, Basil and its newest flavor, Roasted Tomato — customers got their request. I have always loved the flavor of roasted tomatoes. So, when this jar came into the office I jumped at the chance to sample it first. The recipe combines fire roasted plum tomatoes, onions, fresh garlic and spices, olive oil and crushed red pepper. The sauce is spicy without being completely overwhelmed with heat. Moreover, you can tell the flavors are cleverly layered. Initially, I tasted the smokiness of the tomatoes. But, the more I ate, the more I detected other components with the recipe. My Nonnie taught me that the best Italian food focuses on simplicity, fine ingredients and respect for these ingredients. It’s clear Bove’s sauce has all these qualities in spades!