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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, June 29, 2010

Editor's Choice: Sea Stones

Last winter, I was roaming the aisles of the New York International Gift Fair’s Handmade division, when the owner of Sea Stones stopped me. It was early in the show, so I had plenty of time to ask questions about the wine accessories (my favorite gift to buy myself).

Capturing the beauty of the Northeast coastline, the New Hampshire-based company uses rocks smoothed and shaped by the waters they come from. With stones gathered from private rivers and beaches, Sea Stones turns the stones into wine bottle stoppers and my new favorite, On the Rocks, a set of granite drink chillers. Think of them as more sophisticated versions of the plastic ice cubes popular for picnics.

I adore the natural aesthetic of the entire line, and the beauty of the product is only furthered by its functioned. Chilled stones gently cool spirits, so the flavors aren’t lost as they would be when ice is added. The chilled stones also prevent melting water from altering the taste. The set of six stones come with a hardwood tray to store and freeze in the freezer.

The handcrafted items are also one-of-a-kind finds. The items are designed by Mother Nature rather than a team of artists, so the stones’ grain and coloring is as natural as it gets. Sea Stone also makes wine glasses with recycled glass and stone, and the company provides merchandising displays for large orders.

For more information about Sea Stones’ products and its stone-replacement program, visit, and look for the company again at the NYIGF in booth #9340.

- Mary

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Editor's Choice: Dave's Gourmet

Growing up in an Italian household, pasta and sauce was always part of our Sunday meal. This week’s choice, Dave’s Gourmet Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce (, however, takes the concept in a new direction, and I was looking forward to trying it. It turns out I wasn’t the only one intrigued by the concept, and since the sauce is in a family-friendly size jar (25.5 oz.), I decided to take the tasting on the road — actually down the block. I also had a bag of some good-size, tubular, ridged pasta that I figured would be perfect for capturing the sauce.

In the interest of good reporting, I let one of my dinner companions take the first taste of the al dente-cooked pasta and sauce. An audible “ooh” followed by a "this is really good” was the reaction. Taking my first bite, I agreed, as I was greeted by the creamy texture and sweet taste of the butternut squash as it blended with garlic (of course) and the taste of roasted red pepper. It was delicious and made the pasta choice, which captured the sauce so well, such a good idea. In fact, our other companion used some bread to soak up the last bit of sauce before going back for seconds.

I could also see the sauce on cheese ravioli and tortellini. The company also suggests using it for lasagna. All sound like delightful meals to try really soon.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Editor’s Choice: Earth & Vine

Mustard, in my opinion, is one of the most versatile condiments available. I use it on sandwiches, dip French fries in it and mix it with olive oil and vinegar for quick, fresh vinaigrettes.

So when I received a sample of Earth & Vine’s ( Tangerine Habanero Mustard, I was excited to try it, especially because the flavors seemed so perfect for summertime.

The first thing I noticed about the mustard was its bright, tangy, citrus flavor. It balanced well with the classic, earthy undertones of the mustard, and was enhanced even further with a pleasant kick of habanero.

With summer barbecues on my mind, I can’t wait to try marinating pork tenderloin with the Tangerine Habanero Mustard and throwing it on the grill. The company offers a variety of other suggested uses, too: blending it with roasted potatoes, using it as a dipping sauce for fried zucchini and more.

Earth & Vine’s Tangerine Habanero Mustard is gluten-free and 100-percent natural. And if you’re looking for proof that this mustard is a winner, take into consideration the fact that Earth & Vine received a gold medal at the Napa Valley Mustard Festival for this flavor.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Editor's Choice: Theo Chocolate

We don’t get many vegan candy samples here in the Fancy Food office, so I was delighted when Ashley stopped by my desk and dropped off a bar of Theo Chocolate’s Peppermint Stick dark chocolate candy bar. The 3.-oz sweet is organic, fair-trade certified and mighty delicious, if I do say so myself.

The rich dark chocolate was a perfect complement to the peppermint flavor. I’m not one of seasonally themed food (if it’s good I eat it year-round), but I can say with confidence that vegans and non-vegans alike will love this holiday candy. In fact, it’s packaged as a holiday treat in a red wrapper adorned with candy cane and snowflake images.

While Peppermint is a traditional holiday flavor, the company has surprising, creative nontraditional flavors and pairings, too. Take the Chocolate & Beer pairing kit for example. The concept is simple, but one that is rather unique. Theo Chocolate takes five of its favorite bars and matches them with different beer suggestions that will enhance the chocolate flavor. I think this is a great idea as I imagine the same people interested in fair trade-certified chocolate may also be interested in micro brewing and beer sampling (coworker Lacey, home brewer and Chef magazine editor, comes immediately to mind).

Theo Chocolate stands behind its products. Its openness is proof of the company’s integrity. Locals and visitors to the Seattle area are invited to tour the facility and learn about chocolate and how the company creates its chocolate by hand.

For more detail, visit You can also read about the company in the July issue of Fancy Food, available at the Summer Fancy Food Show.

- Mary

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Editor's Choice: Partners

Like many of us, I’m always on the lookout for midday treats that can be stashed away in a desk drawer. That being said, I collected several samples during our recent mission to the Sweets & Snacks Expo. One of the “finds” is the selection of Get Movin’ products ( from Partners. I recently tried several from my stash.

The bite-size Olive Oil and Sea Salt crackers have a nice crunch. They have a full, rich taste, even though they are low in fat. The package says they are all natural, so it’s something you can feel OK about. And the 0.75-oz. bag is the perfect size for a midday snack or maybe even as part of a small meal. They are also available in Honey Wheat, Olive Oil and Sea Salt, Four Cheese Multigrain and Roasted Garlic and Rosemary.

Besides the selection of crackers, the company also has a group of Get Movin’ cookies. The Cinnamon Crisp was the next tasting. Again, the cookies are bite size. The cinnamon is sprinkled on top, so you can have that nice texture and burst of cinnamon flavor, then the rich cookie part. Again, they are all natural and another great midday treat. The cookies come in 1-oz. bags and also are available in Chocolate Vanilla Swirl and Lively Lemon.

As I said, a fine addition to the snack drawer and with the good weather finally here, they are the perfect size for a take-along treat to enjoy outdoors as well.