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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 30, 2010

Editor's Choice: Justin's

Some years back, we used to frequent a great Hungarian restaurant in our neighborhood. It was there that at the end of the meal, we were presented with two crepes, one apricot, and one, with what we were told, was a hazelnut filling. Like many of my food adventures, it started out with me being curious. But one taste of the creamy, rich filling dessert and I never looked back. From then on, I always ordered the two crepes with the hazelnut filling.

I tell this story because as good as hazelnut filling is by itself, blend in chocolate and it approaches a whole new level. So you can imagine my enthusiasm at being able to sample the latest product to arrive at the Fancy Food office — Justin’s Natural Chocolate Hazelnut Butter (

I packed up the jar and decided to reserve the tasting for a weekend treat. As I read the label, I noticed that it contains no dairy and is gluten-free. After I opened it, I gave it a couple of stirs, just like just-peanuts peanut butter. Then spooned it on to some raisin toast. And there it was, the great smooth rich taste of hazelnuts and chocolate. It made a delicious blend with the raisins. I can also see it with waffles, crackers, with cookies dipped into it, with fruit or maybe even topping vanilla ice cream.

It doesn’t need refrigeration, so it can sit in the cabinet for the next taste treat. By the way, it comes in a 16-oz. jar for those of you who have to share.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Editor's Choice: Derry Church Artisan Chocolates

I know I’m not the only one who associates tastes and smells with memories and places. An example: One whiff of maple syrup, and suddenly I am four years old again, eating breakfast at the countertop as my grandma reads "Go, Dog. Go!" out loud.

Eric Cayton, executive pastry chef and chocolatier for Derry Church Artisan Chocolates ( is a true master when it comes to linking flavors to geography. He sent samples of the company’s gourmet chocolates to the editors at Fancy Food, and we were thrilled with the guide that was included. It featured photos and descriptions of each of the chocolates in the box, and we noted how each chocolate was named for a different international city or area. Even the shapes of the chocolates were reflective of their names.

One of my favorites in the box was Tangier, inspired by the Moroccan city of the same name. With a swirled top that evokes imagery of towering minarets, Tangier is made with an organic African honey and tangerine-juice reduction with toasted ground cumin seed and cayenne pepper in a bittersweet chocolate ganache, The chocolate encapsulates exotic flavors that immediately drew my mind to all things Moroccan.

Other favorites among the Fancy Food team were New Orleans (a ganache of fresh banana puree, brown sugar-rum sauce and cinnamon), San Francisco (made with Northern California organic Black Mission figs) and Oaxaca (featuring spicy chipotle peppers pureed into a white-chocolate ganache).

Derry Church’s chocolates are made with organic creams and butters from local farms; the company uses 100-percent natural ingredients and no artificial flavorings or preservatives. Try these chocolates and prepare for a deliciously exquisite escape — no plane ticket required.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Editor's Choice: Drink Me Tags

There’s a great wine shop just down the street from my house, so wine and champagne have recently become my go-to hostess gifts. The other day, I got an e-mail for the Drink Me Tags gift tags and discovered this company had created a product I never knew I wanted.

The idea is genius, really. Drink Me Tags aren’t as pricy as a reusable wine bag or as wasteful as a wine-bottle gift bag. The cards, which hang around the bottle’s neck by ribbon, are designed by Val and Sara Rossi, a mother-daughter design team. The tags are designed with sayings like “It’s 5 p.m. Somewhere,” “Grape Therapy,” “Conserve Water,” “Put a Cork In It” and “Drink me.” The gift tags are attached to a loop of ribbon with a metal brad, so that they hang cleanly on the shoulders of any wine bottle. The website allows customers to individually pick their favorite tags to order.

What an ideal add-on at the cash wrap! And with nothing like it available in my neighborhood, the tag is truly unique. The complete line of Drink Me Tags can be viewed online at Also, for vineyards, wine stores, wedding and corporate gifts, Drink Me Tags will personalize tags with logos and business names.

- Mary

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Editor’s Choice: Signature Flan

One of my favorite ways to dine is to order tapas, the small plates of food that I first encountered at a Spanish restaurant. As you probably know, it’s a great way to get to try a lot of different foods during one meal. But no matter what I eat at these meals, I always make sure, as the saying goes “to leave room for dessert.” That’s because, besides the other good food, the desserts include flan, another one of my favorite things.

So imagine my delight when a box from Signature Flan ( containing an assortment of single-serving-sized flan arrived at the office recently. Hearing the news, I stopped typing mid-sentence and headed for the refrigerator. I hadn’t had lunch yet, but I wanted to make sure I squirreled one away for later.

When I got back to my desk, one of my co-workers was enjoying her selection but was looking for help in finishing it. That was my first taste of Pineapple flan. It turns out, the pineapple adds a little more sweetness, but it blends nicely with the traditional rich taste and great sauce, which we discovered under the flan. It was a delicious pre-lunch treat.

It was my day for new flavors. Since the vanilla flans were the first ones to go, I had chosen a coffee flan. It was the perfect afternoon choice. The rich taste of coffee, the creamy flan, with the great sauce — can’t get much better. Except maybe enjoying it at an outdoor cafĂ© on a sunny day with guitars in the background. But if you’re like me and can’t do that at the present time, try the flan and imagine.

By the way, Signature Flan contains no artificial colors or flavors, comes in 4.5-oz. container and is available in vanilla, coffee, pineapple and cinnamon.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Editor’s Choice: Rishi Tea

When I was in college, I had a favorite coffee shop downtown that I would frequent on a pretty regular basis. Warm, inviting and full of students typing away on their laptops, it was a great place to relax and people-watch (one of my favorite pastimes). It was here I discovered — and soon became enamored with — chai, a great alternative to coffee or tea.

Up until now, chai has been a drink that I only order at coffee shops. It’s always been a mysterious, spicy-sweet concoction that I never even imagined I could recreate at home. That has all changed, thanks to Rishi Tea ( All I have to do is mix the company’s rich and flavorful Masala Chai Concentrate with warm milk, and in minutes, I have a deliciously comforting drink.

The concentrate is an organic, kosher, vegan, gluten-free and Fair Trade-certified microbrewed blend of spices and vanilla infused with a sustainably harvested, single-origin, forest-grown black tea. The best part about the Masala Chai Concentrate, aside from its unbelievable flavor, is the fact that proceeds from each sale benefit Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots Program (, a global, youth-driven organization that participates in projects to promote care and concern for animals and the environment.