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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, April 30, 2013

Editor's Choice: Salem Baking Company

One of the best things about spring cleaning is the discovery of things that for one reason or another you forgot you have. It makes for some happy finds. I have to admit that’s how I discovered this week’s choice. It had arrived earlier in the year and I stashed it away in a food cabinet for later enjoyment. Last Saturday was that day.

The airtight canister of the Salem Baking Company’s ( Cranberry Orange Moravian Cookies had kept the cookies crisp. I’ve had the cookies before, and once again was delighted by their crispness and rich flavor. The cookies offer the taste of lightly sweetened cranberries highlighted with the fresh flavor of Valencia oranges.

Despite their thinness, the cookies are filling and satisfying. They are perfect for an afternoon break. I could also see the cookies served with coffee for a great ending to dinner---or maybe along with ice cream.

For retailers, the cookies would be fine for inclusion in a variety of gift baskets. They would also make some for tasty sampling.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Editor's Choice: Tessemae's Salad Dressing

For the longest time, I refused any salad dressing that wasn't ranch. At some point, I mistook a different dressing for ranch, somehow liked it, and thus added Caesar to the lineup. I ran with those two mainstays for just about the entirety of my life, and never thought better of it. Ranch or Caesar: what else could a salad possibly need?

I know now that this was an egregious error on the part of my younger, less salad-ly inclined self. I have the line of dressings from Tessemae's to thank - their hand-crafted, gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan products have opened my eyes and saved my salads from a lifetime of pale-colored boredom.

I do have salads for dinner quite a bit, so I really got a chance to thoroughly test drive these dressings. First up, I tried the Zesty Ranch, mainly because it had the word 'ranch' in it and I was still scared of trying new things. Now I feel silly for doubting - the olive oil, organic lemons and garlic really proved the 'zesty' part of the name, and this non-creamy version of the popular ranch dressing was devoured in no time. It really added an extra zing to the grilled chicken I added, and I plan on trying this out as a marinade in the near future.

I got a little crazier with the Soy Ginger, using it on some grilled salmon - this turned out to be a great idea, because I made the exact same thing the next night and went right back to the Soy Ginger bottle. I feel comfortable saying that it would be great for stir-fry as well.

Finally there was the Oil Free Red Wine Vinaigrette. Even though I had lived most of life through my ranch/Caesar haze, I was vaguely aware that many people preferred vinaigrettes on their salads. I was admittedly sold into trying it by the word 'wine' - yes, it's that easy. I was pleasantly surprised by the taste, and the touch of pepper. Also, zero calories! Bonus!

Tessemae's line of dressing also includes Balsamic, Cracked Pepper, Oil Free Italian, Lemon Chesapeake, and also Hot Sauce. The bottles look great as well, with a very unique seal that lets you know you're about to open something special.

So I must thank Tessemae's for curing my salad dressing phobia. However, now I have a harder decision to make when I'm eating salads at a restaurant - what dressing to choose? Thankfully when I'm at home, I'll be using Tessemae's.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Editor's Choice: American Spoon Whole Seed Mustard

Pretzels, and turkey sandwiches, and a whole leg of lamb and on brats. There are so many things in the world that I love to put mustard on. I feel it is the most versatile of the standard condiments. And of course, being a Chicago girl, I put only mustard, not ketchup and mustard on my Chicago-style hot dogs. I love a little dab on  cheese plate to go with a nice cheddar or gouda. I like to eat it with my eggs in the morning, on occasion.

When American Spoon's chock-full-a mustard seed mustard came to the office, my interest was piqued. I usually go for a more blended mustard, frankly, and this seedy jar was intriguing.

Not your average yellow, this sophisticated mustard features whole yellow and black mustard seeds soaked in vinegar and Michigan sparkling wine. The seeds become plump, tender and toothsome as they’re infused with the wine’s complexity and then burst with every taste, releasing their flavor in a perfect balance of sweet and heat.

American Spoon has a variety of savory relishes and spreads, and I am dying to try some of the others like Portobello Mushroom Relish and Apple & Onion Jam.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Editor's Choice: Kelly's Kitchen and Sugar Brook Farms

It was a cold, dreary day in what has been passing for a Chicago spring when a bit of sunny Spain arrived at the office. It came in the form of Kelly’s Kitchen’s ( latest line, Olive Tapenades, inspired by the dishes Kelly (yes there really is a Kelly) sampled in her travels through Spain.

The tapenades are packaged in a clear container with an eye-catching label and looked inviting.  The twist is depending on the flavor and texture profile, each tapenade is paired with cheese that matches up with the ingredients. I set aside the Mediterranean with Goat Cheese for my first taste.  I stirred the olive oil base a little, took out a spoonful and placed it on a cracker. I was greeted by layers of taste: the comforting goat cheese, the rich, full chewy flavor of the black olives and the kick of the Peppadew peppers. It was definitely worth going back for more. Later in the day, I used a spoonful to enliven a sliced chicken sandwich. I could also see it used in paninis or wraps.

When taken to a party, the Italian Tapenade with Parmesan started out as an appetizer with crackers. Also boasting pepperoncini, the tasty creation soon was being used on top of spinach dip and bread. It could also be used on a baked potato.

There are two other flavors, Traditional Tapenade with Odessey Feta and Spanish Tapenade with Roth GranQueso. I never got a chance to sample them. They were placed in the office fridge and haven’t been seen since. I’m  sure whoever has the tapenades  has found them delicious and full of flavor.

For retailers, these products would make great sampling. They could also be used in a tastes from around the world-themed  display or as part of a summertime take-along to dine outside area.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Editor's Choice: Lake Champlain Chocolates

You know something is good when it arrives at our office and disappears within minutes of being opened. The wrappers are soon discovered by employees who weren't around when the package came in the mail, and they can do nothing but sadly comment, "Wait, there was chocolate here? It's gone already?!" Such is the case with the new line of organic chocolate bars from Lake Champlain Chocolates.

With 10 chocolate bars and five varieties of bite-size squares, the line includes a flavor for nearly every occasion: Peruvian Dark, Cherries & Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Sea Salt & Almonds, Spicy Aztec, Crunchy Granola, Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter and Creamy Coconut. The bars are packaged in vibrant designs, which will really grab customers' attention.

Peanut Butter was the first bar I targeted, and I was not disappointed. Made with creamy organic peanut butter, the result is a powerful taste that melts in your mouth and is near impossible not to enjoy. Peanut butter and chocolate is a pretty unbeatable combo, and this particular bar would be right up there with the tastiest I've ever experienced. Best in Show!

I wasn't sure what to expect from Crunchy Granola, but I was instantly surprised (and pleasantly so) with the trace of cinnamon. The bits of oats and raisins combined well, and I happily welcomed this new chocolate flavor combination to my chocolate-eating repertoire. I was for some reason taken aback by the creaminess of the Creamy Coconut bar - even though it was clearly stated in the name. Pairing that flavor burst with dark chocolate was highly agreeable. There was no chance I wasn't going to like Sea Salt & Almonds - I love almonds and chocolate almost as much as peanut butter, and I really enjoyed the extra something that sea salt added to the overall impression.

All in all, this is a great new line of chocolates from a Vermont-based company that's been producing quality treats since 1983. Not to mention the fact that all of their products will be made with fair trade certified chocolate by 2014. Do your taste buds a favor and head on over to their website to pick some up for your store, or for yourself.

-Marc Kozak (