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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 25, 2009

Editor's Choice: Crispy Green

When I spotted the package of FruitziO from Crispy Green ( during my most recent forage for food in our office area, I was immediately interested. You see, the packaging is a silver foil pouch, the contents freeze-dried fruit; it brought a happy memory for most of us of a certain age — astronaut food. It looked like the kind of packaging and product that was designed to take and eat on space flights.

Opening the package releases the smell of the fruit, in this case, apples and strawberries. This was a good sign. The fruit pieces are sweet and a little crunchy with a nice mouthfeel. They add a little cane sugar, and that’s it. It’s three ingredients and all-natural. Best of all, it satisfies your taste for something sweet, but it’s only 100 calories for the whole bag, which is one serving. And it’s fruit, so it’s good for you. It is even vegan, so my colleague, Mary, can enjoy it.

Tasty right out of the bag, I bet the pieces would be good on top of ice cream. I could see a kid liking the package, and it would be great to take for lunch. It also is perfect for hiking and camping in the great outdoors, which some people do.

FruitziO, a fun treat in a great package.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Editor’s Choice: 479˚ Popcorn

Last week, the editors were blessed with a package of popcorn hailing from sunny San Francisco, California. Ordinary popcorn? No way! In fun flavors such as Fleur de Sel Caramel and Vietnamese Cinnamon Sugar, popcorns from 479˚ Popcorn ( are a hit among our editors. We love the fantastic and innovative flavor combinations that lead to a truly gourmet snacking experience.

My personal favorite is the Chipotle Caramel and Almonds. It’s a great blend of spicy and sweet, and the nuts make me feel like I’m eating something healthy during work. (Brain food, right?) 479˚ Popcorn combines the smokiness of chipotles with organic ancho chile for added heat; the popcorn is then blended with dark caramel and roasted organic roasted almonds which lends a note of rich earthiness.

We’re excited to try the other exciting flavors that came in our sweet package from founder Jean Arnold! Look for 479˚ Popcorn in our upcoming January issue.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Editor's Choice: La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer

Like many home chefs, I turn to my favorite blogs for new recipes. But, there are a few vegan and vegetarian cookbooks in my kitchen that I can always use for inspiration and a little guidance as I try new cooking techniques and cuisines.

My two very best friends gave me La Dolce Vegan, written by vegan goddess Sarah Kramer, for my birthday several years ago when I was just considering eliminating diary and eggs from my already vegetarian diet. Inspired by Sarah’s words and passion for vegan cooking, I dove into the book trying recipes and broadening my horizons. Years later, I still flip through the cookbook and fold over corners (the banana pancake recipe has a permanent crease).

What I like most about the cookbook are the recipes for replacement ingredients. For example, rather than instructing home chefs to use meat alternative, Sarah provides a recipe for doing it on your own, so the entire meal is made from scratch. Sarah’s, and by extension the cookbook’s, funky, retro approach to vegan cooking and living and the brief stories that accompany certain recipes add personality to the book. And, having entertained a time or two using La Dolce Vegan recipes, I can provide ample omnivores who will attest to the deliciousness of these recipes.

I’m not the only one who loves Sarah and her series of vegan cookbooks; she has become a legend of sorts for vegans, having also penned How It All Vegan, The Garden of Vegan and Vegan A Go-Go. Gourmet retailers can learn more about Sarah and her cookbooks on


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Editor’s Choice: The Scrumptious Pantry

Last week, the editors at Fancy Food took a trip to Italy.

Ha — we wish! But it sure felt like we had flown to the boot-shaped European country when we tasted a variety of handcrafted products from The Scrumptious Pantry (

The Scrumptious Pantry represents 21 gourmet food items from Italian regions such as Tuscany and Piemonte. Founder Lee Greene sources all the company’s products from family farms and artisan producers. What’s more, she gives the farmers the spotlight on the products’ packaging, which displays photos of the producers to add a personal touch to the food.

Rob Benes, public relations representative for The Scrumptious Pantry, hosted a tasting for us and shared everything from Durham Wheat Rigatoni to a fantastic Sun-dried Tomato Spread. But my favorite product by far was the Balsamic Dressing Sauce, which features a great photo of an artisan named Guido.

For more than 150 years, Guido’s family has been producing this sauce with pride at the Acetaia Paltrinieri in the Emilia-Romagna region. A younger version of the Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena (which is aged for at least 12 years), the Balsamic Dressing Sauce is bottled after four years of aging.

I found the sauce to be a surprising blend of sweet, tart and savory. Because it contains no vinegar, it was delicate and full of complexity, and it had a cool, smooth finish that could add character to a number of foods and dishes. Rob told us the sauce would be perfect drizzled over salads, vegetables and meats, but it could also be a fantastic touch to fresh strawberries. I’d be eager to try it on all of these suggestions. So, retailers: Keep this product in mind when your customers are searching for something special!