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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 31, 2009

Editor's Choice: FusionBrands

I am not a morning person. People really shouldn’t talk to me before 9 a.m. if they expect a coherent conversation — or worse, an answer to an important question! It’s no surprise that I need a tall, travel mug of coffee as I head out the door each morning. I usually make my own coffee, but on days when I am rushed, I’m guilty of splurging on something from the coffee shop near the train station.

The last time I visited this well-known chain establishment, I noticed a small sign posted to the tiny bin of cup sleeves. It warns customers, in so many words, that, should they take one of these corrugated barriers, they are definitely NOT eco-friendly. Maybe it’s because it was early in the morning, but I am almost positive the barista scoffed at me as I reached for one. I’m all for saving the planet, but do I really have to burn my fingertips to do so?

Luckily, I am no longer disrespecting Mother Earth with each sip of my Grande Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte thanks to FusionBrands’ ( CupCooley, a reusable silicone cup cozy that keeps hands safe when consuming hot drinks or soups. The flexible sleeve, which comes in green, brown and pink, fits standard-sized paper cups. At the Housewares Show last week, a FusionBrands public relations rep (who I also happened to attend college with!) told me she can’t live without the CupCooley and was sweet enough to give me a sample. In just a week, I’ve whipped it out of my purse on several occasions — not only is it 100 percent eco-friendly, but it’s also quite a conversation starter at the coffee shop!


P.S. Look for another innovative FusionBrands product in the silicone feature in the May issue of Fancy Food.

P.P.S. Stay tuned, more International Home & Housewares Show coverage to come!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Editor's Choice: Fungus Among Us

For as long as I can remember, I've had a deep-rooted aversion to any food with mushrooms. I grew up picking them out of salads, soups, sandwiches and stroganoffs, and it wasn't until my first Fancy Food Show that I considered the possibility that there might be an edible fungus out there that I actually enjoyed — truffles, to be exact. A far cry from their ubiquitous, chewy button-mushroom cousins, truffles lend an earthy, savory aroma to a variety of dishes, and I've even found a restaurant around the corner from the office that serves truffle-oil French fries.

You can imagine my excitement then, when I found out that Fungus Among Us was introducing a Truffle Mustard! The whole-grain mustard contains pieces of black truffle sourced from Tuscany's Forcoli region, and is meant to be used anywhere you use traditional mustard. When you open the lid of the jar, there is absolutely no doubt that you just opened a truffle mustard. The truffle aroma is powerful, but the product will last, as a little bit goes a long way. I mixed some into an egg salad for an upscale twist on a Sunday-afternoon classic, and it brought something special to the spinach quiche recipe that called for mustard. Because retro is so popular right now, the mustard would be a great modern spin on a classic deviled egg recipe.

Be sure to take a look at the other great truffle products from Fungus Among Us at


PS — Don't forget to check out Associate Editor Ashley Trent's favorite mustard, too!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Retro Packaging Creates New Audience?

I got a press release a few days ago from Just Born Inc., the company that brings us the love'em-or-hate'em Peeps (I love'em -- I just can't help it), as well as candies like Hot Tamales, Mike and Ike and Peanut Chews. The big news is that they are reintroducing retro packaging for Hot Tamales, Mike and Ike and Peanut Chews.

From the press release:
Brian Bachrach, Senior Brand Manager, commented, “We are introducing these items with packaging designed to capture the spirit and personality of the brands across the decades. The vintage packaging elements tap into each brand’s history and consumers’ emotional connections with their favorite candies. We tested our new nostalgic items at Cracker Barrel locations nationwide in 2008. The response was tremendous and we are excited to make these packages available to more retailers and consumers.”

What I want to know is whether these products, in their new retro packaging (now there's an oxymoron...) are now appropriate for specialty store shelves where they might not have been before. By appealing to older consumers' sense of nostalgia and the appeal of all things vintage to those who aren't old enough to be truly nostalgic, has Just Born negotiated itself into a new category? What do you think?


Editor's Choice: St. Dalfour

As winter continues to drag on in the Midwest, it makes me long for the foods and the tastes of summer — the weekly Farmer’s Markets with their array of vegetables and fruits, especially the berries. For me, blueberries and raspberries are one of the great treats of the season. With this in mind, I thought a leisurely weekend breakfast would be the perfect time to try the St. Dalfour Red Raspberry & Pomegranate preserves I had received in a goody bag after a press event. I noticed that it contained 100-percent all-natural ingredients — good. And then I read it was only sweetened with grape juice concentrate. I have to admit, I wondered about that, As I opened the jar, I was greeted by the delightful fruit scent. I spooned it on my (toaster) waffle, took a bite, and was rewarded with a rich, full taste. The jar says it is cooked in the tradition of the French countryside and apparently, as with many things, the French sure know what they are doing. Actually it’s a product of France. And the bonus is with only 45 calories in a tablespoon, you don’t have to feel too guilty about indulging.

I can see it spooned on toast (maybe even French toast), jazzing up a PB&J, or with cream cheese as an appetizer. And, of course, then there is using it as a topping on vanilla ice cream or better yet chocolate ice cream.

A taste of the good life and summer — to brighten any day. Take a look at some of their other products at


By the way, to learn about more great tasting jams and preserves, be sure to check out Natalie Noblitt’s article in our upcoming April issue of Fancy Food & Culinary Products!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Editor's Choice: Fully Loaded Tea

Do you fall for gorgeous, design-oriented packaging as frequently as I do? If so, your next true love will be Fully Loaded Tea. Take a peek at the company’s website ( if you have any doubts.

I first tried Fully Loaded just a few weeks ago, and I’ll admit, it was the pretty pyramid bags that first drew me in. They are filled with real pieces of whole fruit, whole berries, real whole-leaf tea and other herbal accents that make these teas one-of-a-kind. (Shown here is the Shameless Berries Fruit Tea, a caffeine-free fruit tea with goji berries, blueberries and seabuckthorn.)

The founders of Fully Loaded, sisters Katya Popoff and Olga Lenova, were born in Siberia — so they know a thing or two about concocting warm beverages. When they later moved to Europe, they longed for their traditional teas and grew tired of seeing the typical mass-produced bags that had virtually unrecognizable leaves inside.

In 2006, the sisters started creating their own blends of black, fruit and green/white teas under the name Fully Loaded Tea, which refers to the natural ingredients and large pieces inside each tea bag. One of my favorites so far is the Cucumber Mojo White Tea. I’ve recently been loving those restaurants that replace the all-too-common lemon wedge floating in the water glass with a delicate slice of refreshing, seedless cucumber; this blend has the same effect. It contains white tea leaves, carrot pieces, cucumber pieces, safflowers, marigold flowers and natural flavors.

One of Stephanie’s favorites has been the Naked Strawberry Green Tea — just the name sounds delicious, right? It features bright strawberry pieces, orange flower and rose petals.

What I also like about Fully Loaded is its website. Here you’ll find informative descriptions of the health benefits of the featured ingredients in all the teas. It’s both educational and reassuring!

If you’re attending the Natural Products Expo West 2009 show in Anaheim, California, this weekend (March 6-8), don’t miss Fully Loaded Tea. They’ll be in booth #5222.