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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, March 26, 2013

Editor's Choice: Jeff's Famous Beef Jerky

I had no idea how much I loved beef jerky until I tried Jeff's Famous Beef Jerky. We were lucky enough to sample the Old Fashioned Original, Black Pepper and Sea Salt, Sweet Teriyaki, Jalapeno, and my personal favorite, Orange A Peel.

The jerky is soft, tender, has a lovely ribbon of fat running through it, and still tastes of beef and not just the flavors the strips have been given.

When the sample came in, I opened it and tried some. "Oh, that was good" I thought to myself. I got up a few minutes later to try more of the Orange A Peel which is a lovely orangey, sweet and salty mix. Then I got up again and brought the bag, almost as if in a dream, back to my desk and ate the whole thing. That is when my new love of jerky was born.

My grandfather was a butcher, and when I shared this jerky with my mom (because I have been carrying a bag around with me in my purse since we got it, nibbling on it, trying to make it last. That's not weird. Right?) she said it was just like the fresh jerky that her dad used to make. I am told there is a butcher shop here in town that makes jerky that rivals this for taste and obviously, since they don't package and ship it, rather shave it off into butcher paper and wrap it up, for freshness. I am not convinced.

This is the kind of jerky you could put on a cheese plate next to a nice nutty cheese and a few fresh fruit slices for a treat for party guests. I think it would also be great for kids, to quiet the hunger and to keep them busy chewing (not that it is chewy, per se, but chewier than lunch meat). I am a newly devoted fan to Jeff's Famous and I have to tell you, if anyone around here stocked it, which I highly recommend, I think the city urban hipster-types would go insane for it.

-Elizabeth Dugan

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Editor's Choice: Elaine's Toffee Company

As it has been often mentioned in these blogs, one of the great perks of working on Fancy Food & Culinary Products magazine is getting products for sampling. We appreciate them. Sometimes, for me, it might be  a type of food I haven’t had for a while and to rediscover the taste adds to the enjoyment. Such was the case with a recent arrival.

It was toffee from Elaine’s Toffee Company ( and it proved to be a tasty gift indeed. The almond-filled English toffee is made from a cherished family recipe. The toffee is covered with a rich blend of Guittard chocolate. Guittard is also one of my favorite chocolates, so that is bonus points. To finish, the toffee is topped with more almonds. But most important, the toffee itself has just the right amount of crunch.

The milk chocolate covered toffee, offered all those taste and texture treats-- the crunch of almonds, smooth, familiar milk chocolate and then the crunch of the buttery toffee. I was especially looking forward to trying the other samples. It was the same great toffee, only this time covered in the rich, dark chocolate. The combination of tastes certainly did not disappoint. It definitely left me wishing there was more in the package.

Speaking of packaging, the toffee comes in a variety of attractive striped packages perfect for gifting. The company also offers a toffee sauce. Imagine it on vanilla or even chocolate ice cream for another dessert treat.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Editor's Choice: Spanish Suitcase

One of the biggest regrets I have so far in life is that I have never traveled anywhere internationally. I've been to just about all 50 states in the U.S., but never anywhere outside of the border. Money and time never seem to combine into a perfect scenario to take a trip. For someone who loves food as much as I do, I can do nothing but dream of the many cuisines I'm missing out on around the world.

Luckily, sometimes products come along that give me a chance to sample worldly cuisine from the comfort of my desk. I recently received a wonderful package from a retailer called Spanish Suitcase, and was incredibly impressed by this unique experience. Spanish Suitcase is based in New York City, and they specialize in unique gift baskets featuring gourmet foods from Spain. These "suitcases" are loaded with all kinds of goodies that were hand-selected for their excellence in flavor, packaging, production and sustainability.

Speaking of the packaging, it's nearly impossible not to be impressed with the presentation - everything is packed neatly in an attractive box, and each item features beautiful labeling. It is a lot like opening a present from someone who has mailed you a package from overseas, and my officemates and I couldn't help but ooh and ah with each thing we removed from the suitcase. Throw in a nice explanatory booklet, and you have a really handsome overall product that anyone would be thrilled to receive as a gift.

There are many different varieties of suitcases you can get - the Original Spanish Suitcase is an enormous smorgasbord of gourmet items including cheeses, chocolates, bread sticks and even anchovies! There are seafood and vegetarian suitcases, as well. They also make several smaller "carry-ons", which consist of the same quality items from the larger suitcases, in such varieties as Healthy Sabores, La Vide Dulce, and Bonito to Go-Go.

I sampled the Siesta Snack Pack Carry-On, which delighted me (and the entire office). I was a big fan of the San Nicasio Potato Chips, which were made with authentic extra virgin olive oil from the nationally accredited Almazaras de la Subbética (olive oil mills) in Córdoba. The oils in combination with the touch of sea salt really made a rich impression on my taste buds. The 1880 Marcona Almonds were immediately whisked away to the safety of my home after just one taste - these were, without any exaggeration, the best almonds I have ever had.

Everyone was a big fan of the Sweet Olive Oil Tortas - the aftertaste was an exquisite blend of crystallized Seville oranges and sugar. It was enjoyable on it's own, but is even more enjoyable with cheese. There were also some tangy peppers (great on sandwiches) and Dequmana olives, completing an excellent package of gourmet goodness.

If you're looking for a unique and tasty gift (or someone who wishes they could be on a warm Spanish beach during the cold Chicago winter), head on over to for a wonderful taste of life across the sea.

-Marc Kozak (

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Editor's Choice: Altar Herbal Martini

My usual martini recipe is, either gin or vodka (I prefer Hendrick's gin and Grey Goose vodka), a cocktail shaker, chipped ice and three olives, hopefully stuffed with a cheese of some ilk and a little of the juice of said olives drizzled in the glass. I also bow in the direction of France as did Winston Churchill, in lieu of Vermouth. One or two of these can put some spring in your step or severely cramp your style, depending on your general strength of character.

I had just gotten back from a five day trip with some friends when we received Altar - Martini mix in the mail. I was feeling a little down after five days of being grievously over-served  and this wonderful smelling concoction promised "Energy. Vigor. Awaken your senses with a rich base of organic cherries, hyssop, and Hawaiian ginger, muddled with Oregon spearmint, juniper berries and note of lemony sumac. Evoke feelings of energy and vitality with organic vert du Vietnam green tea and a powerful herbal tonic of white ginseng, astraglaus, kola nut, and watercress."

All of that sounded very good to me, and I toddled home to make myself feel better with a bit of the hair of the dog. Though Altar can be imbibed sans alcohol, the bottle clearly states, "Mix in a cocktail shaker. If you fancy, add premium gin, vodka, or rum. Shake, strain, serve and enjoy," and I am nothing if not fancy. I added a smallish shot of Sobeiski vodka. 

The drink tastes mainly and refreshingly of sweet cherries, it also has lovely and subtle hint of mint, citrus and a darker taste of tea. I had two, with vodka. Again, perhaps an overindulgence, but they were just so good and went down so well. I have to say, I did feel better in the morning than I had since I had left on my trip.

There are several flavors and I plan on over-trying each on of them.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Digital issue of Feb/March Fancy Food Available!

FF Feb/Mar CoverDear Fancy Food Reader,

Welcome to the February/March digital issue of Fancy Food & Culinary Products.

This Month's Featured Content:
• Dip Into Flavor
• Great Grilling Guide
• International Home + Housewares Show Preview

• Seven
• Flavor Focus

• Retailers Respond
• Ad Index
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We hope you enjoy this issue and all future digital issues of FF. Feel free to contact us with your thoughts and feedback at

The FF Team