An online community for gourmet and specialty food retailers.

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, October 27, 2009

Editor's Choice: Chef Hymie Grande

I'd be the first to admit, I am very much a coward when it comes to trying anything that lists chiles as a main ingredient. So when I read the "mildly spiced" on the bottle of Chef Hymie Grande New Mexico Sweet Barbecue Glaze ( I was more than skeptical. But it was part of an impromptu food tasting and appeared the mildest of the three offered, so I decided to be a big girl and give it a try.

I was pleasantly surprised. The glaze has a just a little bit of a kick. It's sweet, but not overly, with a hint of a smokey taste. As a bonus, the bottle says it contains all natural ingredients.

The glaze would be good for barbecued ribs and chicken, natch, and also on other meats. I could also see it blended into ground beef for hamburgers and meatloaf. It could be used in other chicken dishes or with fish, such as salmon.

So there you have it, a good reward for some of us willing to take a chance and a good taste for all. Incidentally, retailers could set up some sampling of the glazes in their stores. Bet Chef Hymie will pick up some new fans.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Food Recall: Plum Organics

Clostridium Botulinum in Baby Food

EMERYVILLE, Calif.--(Business Wire)-- Plum Organics announced today that it is taking the precautionary measure of voluntarily recalling one particular batch of its 4.22 oz. Apple & Carrot Portable Pouch baby food with the best by date May 21, 2010 and marked with the following universal product code (UPC) #890180001221 located on the bottom of the package. These pouches are sold individually at Toys-R-Us and Babies-R-Us locations nationally.

No illnesses have been reported in connection with this product and no other Plum Organics products are affected. As a further precaution, samples from every Plum Organics product manufactured before and after this batch were tested and found to be within quality standards.

The recall was undertaken as a precaution due to the risk of potential contamination with Clostridium botulinum, which can cause botulism, a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition. Consumers should not use these products, even if they appear to be normal, because of the possible health risk. Symptoms of botulism poisoning in humans include general weakness, dizziness, double vision and trouble with speaking or swallowing. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention.

"The product did not meet the FDA guidelines for proper acidity level," said Dr. Paul Gerhardt, a Food Science Ph.D. and member of the Plum Organics action team. "Though the risk of illness from this one batch is minimal, Plum Organics is taking the extraordinary step of recalling all Apple & Carrot Baby Food Pouches with best by date May 21, 2010."

The official recall notice can be found at:

Senate Hearing on New Food Safety Bill Tomorrow: 10/22 at 10:00 am

At 10:00 am (Eastern), the first hearing about S. 510: The Food Safety Modernization Act by the HELP Committee will commence. The committee will hear testimony from several experts in the field, such as FDA commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg, and safe food advocate Caroline Smith Dewaal, Director of Food Safety at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). She will be sharing the story of S.T.O.P. member Mike Thomas, who was sickened in the first peanut outbreak in 2007.

Watch the hearing at:

S.T.O.P. - Safe Tables Our Priority is a national, nonprofit, public health organization dedicated to preventing illness and death from foodborne pathogens. For more information, please visit

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Editor's Choice: Dulcet Cuisine

Some people like their condiments plain. They're not big into change and will always have the exact same products in the door of their fridge. Take my dad for example. My mom had to "sneak" organic ketchup onto the table for him to try before she told him what it was. I try to understand this mentality. You like what you like -- I get it -- but sticking to the old mainstays when it comes to condiments shuts so many doors!

Take Dulcet Cuisine, for example. Company owner Pam Kraemer spices up condiments from dressings to mustards with unexpected flavor profiles inspired by her world travels. Earlier this year she launched a new line of ketchups in the same fashion: Peppery Moroccan, Mild Indian Curry and Sweet Orange Chile are three fresh new choices in the stale world of ubiquitous red tomato sauce. If I HAD to choose a favorite, it would have to be the Peppery Moroccan, but ask me another day and I may be inclined to tell you Sweet Orange Chile. It thrills me to substitute one of these unexpected splashes of flavor for traditional ketchup on a burger, hot dog or chicken sandwich, on fries, with meatloaf, on kebabs, in sloppy joes, with shrimp... you get the idea. The ketchups are made with premium ingredients and can make a simple meal just a little bit more exotic.

All of Kraemer's products are available from her website,


Thursday, October 15, 2009

October/November Top Shelf Advice

We asked retailers:

"How do you train and reward your employees?"

Click on the comments link below to find out what our readers said and to add comments of your own!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Editor's Choice: Lucini Italia

I’m typically a summer girl, but fall is suddenly my new favorite season. Maybe it’s because Chicago rarely has a proper fall — we usually only experience sweltering summers and brutal winters, although any readers in Minnesota would call our climate mild at most.

Eager to surrender myself wholeheartedly to the joys of autumn, I ventured to the ends of the earth (aka Poplar Grove, Illinois) with my boyfriend one Saturday afternoon to revel in nature’s bounty.

Ok, I might be sounding overly dramatic. Let me translate: We picked apples. And not just a few apples. An entire, overflowing, 32-lb. bushel. And now neither of us knows exactly what to do with them.

I thought, rather foolishly, that apples could only be used two ways: They can be eaten by themselves or finagled into a dessert (apple crisp, apple brown betty, apple pie, apple cobbler…). How wrong I was! Challenging myself to use my Galas and Jonagolds as imaginatively as possible, I’ve started incorporating them into savory creations.

One of my favorite recipes thus far involved a bottle of Lucini Italia’s Fig and Walnut Savory Artisan Balsamic Vinaigrette. Made with extra-virgin olive oil, the all-natural vinaigrette (which is also gluten-free and vegan) has a rich, nutty flavor with a tangy finish from the figs. To start my recipe (which is perfect for lunch) I seasoned a steak with black pepper and kosher salt and then marinated it in the Lucini vinaigrette for a few hours. Then I grilled it, sliced it thinly, and served it in a fantastic salad of arugula, toasted walnuts, sliced brie, dried cranberries and thin apple strips. I can’t even begin to tell you how well this vinaigrette paired with the apples — they soaked it right up and took on an incredibly earthy flavor that enhanced their freshness.

Share this recipe with your customers! It’s great for fall and is sure to be a hit.

For more information about Lucini and its product line, visit


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Editor's Choice: Pepper Dog Specialty Foods

Ah, fall. The leaves are falling, football fever is filling every family room and sports bar, and Midwesterners, myself included, are preparing for what might be the coldest winter yet (the weather man says that every year, though). Fall is truly a season of transition (winterizing cars for the months ahead, layering cardigans to makes summer’s tops last a few weeks longer), and I happily stumbled upon an impressive transitional salsa in Pepper Dog Specialty Food’s Pepper Dog Hot Salsa.

When I brought home my jar of hot salsa, I was too eager to try it in a recipe so I gingerly dipped a corn chip in the smooth salsa. First thought, “That wasn’t so bad. Wait. OMG, my mouth is on fire.” The transitional beauty that is Pepper Dog Salsa was yet to be discovered. On a surprisingly warm Labor Day, I drizzled mine on a grilled vegetarian hot dog (the key to veggie dogs is adding lots of toppings). The kick was intense but I devoured that dog and went back for seconds.

Now convinced I could handle the Pepper Dog Salsa’s heat in greater volume, I added 3/4 of the jar to a batch of chili. The company has found that its salsa’s super-smooth texture lends it to become a perfect cooking sauce to add kick to tried-and-true recipes. On the back of the jar, Pepper Dog offers a chili recipe for an easy-to-make five-minute chili using kidney beans and ground beef. I made mine with a mixture of black, red and kidney beans, a cup of 312’s finest brew, tomatoes, corn, onion and green pepper. The heat from the salsa was noticeable, but didn’t dominate the rest of the flavors. A new kick to spice up the fall fave.

My falls typically start with chili and the meal takes me through winter up until the tulips begin to bloom in the spring. I’m excited to spice up this fall staple with more spice from Pepper Dog, but I think the salsa is something that’ll stick around and find its place on a picnic table next summer.

More info on Pepper Dog Salsas can be found at