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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.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Editor's Pick: Little's Specialty Foods

It’s not hard to spot a customer’s longing for comfort food as the seasons change. The proof is in the grocery and specialty food store purchases: hearty vegetables, broths and stews, heavier meat and game choices, spices that bring depth to cooking. It’s all part of this comfort food kick that happens to be a result of changing weather. And let’s face it, is there a meal more substantial and hearty than chili? It’s the cover poster for the season, and Little’s Specialty Foods helps you turn the dial up on that subpar homemade chili you’ve been making for years—and in my case, saves me prep time and stress time.

A mild chili mix with a major kick of flavor, the Chili Pepper Chili Seasoning Mix is Little’s signature mix. Not too spicy, it uses the right blend of seasonings and a heap of chili peppers to really amplify the ingredients that have already become a staple of your chili—for me that’s ground turkey, white beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, red onion, tomato paste and a few others depending on the day of the week. Incorporate the mix, and it’s convenient, easy to prepare and ready in just 20 minutes—though you can imagine, the longer it stews the better.

If you like a red hot kick, the Chili Pepper Chili Hot Seasoning Mix was not created to set your mouth on fire, but instead provide a constant heat to your food. Little’s slow-releasing blend of spices was actually created for the Chili Pepper Chili & Dogs restaurant in 1994 using a balance of chili peppers and secret spices to transform ground beef, turkey or vegetarian dishes. Little’s is a family owned and operated company with a flagship product line of mixes established in 1980. All of their products are free from artificial ingredients, gluten, and contain no added MSG.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Editor's Pick: Parmigiano Reggiano

I have a weakness for cheese. I decided long ago that when I didn’t have three roommates, I would make space for one shelf or drawer in the fridge specifically for cheese. Now that I live alone, I have plenty of space to keep many varieties of cheese. Right now, I happen to have three different aged cheeses from Parmigiano Reggiano.

A couple of weeks ago I attended a tasting at La Scuola di Eataly where attendees gathered to learn how to give taste tests and what sets Parmigiano Reggiano apart from other cheese brands.
Parmigiano Reggiano is only made in Italy and each block of cheese has a number on it, allowing the consumer to track the location and find out where it was made. Flavors between each location slightly vary due to the diet of the cows which is impacted by terrain. However, Parmigiano Reggiano has very strict standards in place that assure the consumer that their cheese is high-quality.
At the tasting, we tried cheese that was aged 14 months, 24 months and 36 months. The 14-month-old cheese was very young, didn’t crumble as well and wasn’t very oily. The 36-month-old cheese was much more crumbly and oily. Everyone was instructed to smell the aromas and the flavors and textures of the different ages were noticeable.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Editor's Pick: Date Lady

I eat red meat, chicken and eggs. I enjoy trying foods considered delicacies in other countries. Since I don't typically go for vegan options, I was surprised how quickly I jumped at the chance to try Date Lady's chocolate spread. And I wasn't disappointed. It was heavenly. I used it in the same way I would Nutella—on toast, then on toast with peanut butter, then on apples, apples with peanut butter—you get the idea. I became inspired and started seeing what else I could include in my smorgasbord of health-conscious, chocolate-covered, goodness. Turns out, it's a very versatile spread, and at the very least, it goes well with just a spoon too!
Date Lady's products are all organic, and the chocolate spread itself is vegan, containing no nuts, dairy, or processed oils or sugar. The coconut oil and cocoa butter give it a much smoother texture than other chocolate nut spreads. Date syrup is what gives this delicious treat it's sweetness, and while I don't have much of a sweet tooth, when I get a craving, I won't feel bad about how much I eat. 

The Springfield, Mo.-based company started when a wife and mother of two heard about a honey-like syrup that came from dates. She brought some home to put on pancakes and waffles, and eventually started using it in place of sugar. 
The website includes some recipes that utilize the lines of five products developed: Date Syrup, Caramel Sauce, Organic Dates, Date Balsamic Vinegar and, of course, Chocolate Spread. The recipes range from truffles, to apple cider, to barbeque sauce and a selection of muffins.