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, January 26, 2010

Editor’s Choice: Choclatique

“So cute.” That was my first reaction to the latest arrival in the office. It was a package of candies from Choclatique ( that are shaped like three-tiered wedding cakes and cake slices. The wedding cake is even decorated with a flower on the top. They are both made out of white chocolate, which is pretty appropriate.

After taking one out of the two-pack box, I planned my strategy. Start at the top. Taking a first bite of the top layer, I was rewarded with a strawberry-and-cream filling, very much like what you’d find in a wedding cake. It was sweet, but not overly — well, it is candy.

Munching down to the last tier, I got another sweet surprise: a golden toffee-like filling. Again, not too sweet. Incidentally, my colleague Ashley tried the cake slice and reported that it too is filled with the strawberry and cream.

I could see these used as wedding favors for the big day or placed on a sweet table. And looking at them, they are also the perfect size to use at a doll play wedding.

All in all, the wedding cake was quite a treat. Congratulations to all involved.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Editor’s Choice: Kettle Brand

I love baked potatoes (well, potatoes in general). I’ve said over and over again to people that I could honestly make a meal out of a baked potato. So many toppings! So many possibilities! So few calories! (But who’s counting those anyway?) So when we received a sample of Fully Loaded Baked Potato — the newest potato chip flavor from Kettle Brands ( — I was in heaven.

Carolyn Richards, chief flavor architect for Kettle Brands, drew her inspiration for this new flavor from the classic baked potato bar. When I popped a chip in my mouth, I could taste the various toppings I would pile onto a potato. Admittedly, I felt a little bit like Violet Beauregarde from Willy Wonka when I shouted out things such as, “I can taste the sour cream! And the bacon bits! And green onion!” But seriously, you can taste it all, in addition to a hint of Cheddar and a distinct smoky flavor.

I was happily surprised to read that these crunchy chips are made with natural ingredients and contain zero trans fat. They are also a snack option for our vegetarian and kosher friends. Try some today, but don’t count on the bag lasting very long (I am not even going to tell you how little time it took me to finish it.)


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Editor’s Choice: Alter Eco

Rich is the first thing that came to mind when I took a bite of the Dark Chocolate Quinoa Midnight Crunch chocolate bar from Alter Eco. Crispy is the second thing I thought of as I ate the chocolate. With dark chocolate for richness and quinoa for crisp, I happily snacked on the large chocolate bar (3.5 oz.) for a little holiday treat while working between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

While I might have felt a little guilty for eating such a large piece of chocolate over the course of three days (after enjoying cookies, cheesecake and candy canes over my holiday break), I felt a little better knowing that Alter Eco is Fair-Trade Certified and USDA Organic. I know, I know. That doesn’t mean it’s healthy, but I’ll use any excuse to avoid overeater’s guilt during the holidays. All of Alter Eco’s products are vegetarian and gluten- and GMO-free.

The recent introduction of Midnight Crunch is perfect for Valentine’s Day, the company says, but I think the chocolate makes a thoughtful surprise (for yourself or someone you love) any time of the year. The ingredients, from Fair Trade cooperatives in Bolivia, are then baked for 72 hours using traditional methods in Switzerland.

Other chocolate delights include Dark Chocolate Velvet (with a hint of organic milk), Dark Chocolate Mint, Dark Chocolate Twist (the twist is crystallized orange peel), Milk Chocolate Moka, Dark Chocolate Almond, Milk Chocolate with Hazelnut and Milk Chocolate Cajou. While some Alter Eco sweets contain milk, Midnight Crunch is made with cocoa mass, cane sugar, rice-quinoa crisps making it vegan.

To learn more about Alter Eco’s line of chocolate and its rice, olive oil, quinoa, sugar and coffee, visit


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

January Top-Shelf Advice

We asked retailers:

"What is your best-selling product?"

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

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Editor's Choice: Mario Batali Tomato Basil Sauce

Even though I grew up in an Italian household, I never enjoyed the taste of tomato sauce until I was in high school. I’m not sure why, but I did have several cousins with the same “affliction.” Once my tastes changed, I became a total fan. In fact, it’s my feeling that tomato sauce can make just about anything taste better. So it wasn’t much of a sell for me to try Mario Batali Tomato Basil sauce (

While the pasta was finishing up, I opened the jar and the first thing I noticed was the great scent of tomatoes. As you pour the sauce out, I noticed that it is not solid like most sauce; the tomatoes were sort of suspended in the olive oil. It is because the bottle says there is no paste or puree added. I wondered how that would affect the taste. The sauce is made with Italian San Marzano plum tomatoes. The other ingredients are fresh basil, carrots and garlic. But enough of the recipe, how was it? Let’s just say Mario has done his family proud. The sauce is fresh tasting and flavorful. The tomatoes blend wonderfully with the olive oil. And the carrots add a nice touch. The sauce can make even a humble plate of pasta a gourmet treat and perfect for a cold Chicago night.

And if that’s not enough, it is produced in a green facility so you can really feel good about buying it. It comes in a 24 oz. jar.