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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, September 25, 2012

Editor's Choice: Fire & Flavor Ice Box Dill Pickling Seasoning

I don't can. It smacks of effort and I don't have any counter space. But my best friend does. So, when I went to visit her in her lovely Arlington, MA home, I brought some canning stuff along, because what else are two girls who have been besties for 20+ years going to do? She swore to me that she had the right stuff for pickles, but it turned out the cucumbers had other ideas and grew a fuzzy green winter coat. Ah well. We rolled with it and decided to make Dilly Beans instead, with the Fire & Flavor Crispy Icebox Dill spices for canning. It was a rousing success.

This little packet of spices needs you have on hand: FRESH dill (there is dried dill included), garlic cloves (we used the cheater garlic, already diced and in the jar), vinegar, water and of course the veggies you are pickling.  Luckily my friend had all this stuff in her home because we started our canning adventure 1/2 a bottle of wine in at 11 p.m. Replacing the cucumbers with fresh green beans from the local organic farm was the wild card. We had both green beans and white green beans (stay with me here) which made for very attractive jars of canned stuff, which is not something you can count on. Home-canned vegetables can look like a science experiment at times, though they usually taste delicious. These were both attractive AND tasty.

The spice packet included is flavorful and aromatic. As soon as we opened it and put it in the hot water and vinegar, we knew this was going to go well. We made two double pints instead of the four pints the package calls for. I didn't get to taste the dilly beans, myself but the next week, my nephews consumed both jars of dilly beans in 34.59 seconds, I am told, and they asked for more. No greater endorsement than that.

-Elizabeth Dugan

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Editor's Choice: Chuao Chocolatier

As I’ve mentioned before, over the last few years I’ve developed a real liking of dark chocolate. It started out slowly, but now I actually prefer it. Every once in a while, however, there’s that appeal of milk chocolate. Milk chocolate is comfort food; it stirs up warm memories and brings contentment.

Speaking of comfort food, for good or for bad — one of my top comfort foods is bacon. It’s been a favorite since I was a kid. I remember we would buy it, cut from the slab at the local butcher shop. The taste was terrific. And so a great food love was born and has continued. 

So what if someone combined my favorite foods together? That’s just what Chuao Chocolatier ( has done. When the 2.8-ounce chocolate bar arrived in the office recently, I broke off a sample and left the rest for my colleagues. After three or four days of being polite, all bets were off and I squirreled away the bar in my desk drawer.

As I said, the bar brings you chocolate and bacon together. And, if that’s not enough, the company has added in a touch of maple syrup and bonfire smoked sea salt. You get a whole fiesta of flavors — the smooth, rich milk chocolate, bit of sweet and salty and then the great taste of crisp bacon. It’s a wonderful food treat that I have been enjoying the past few days.

I could see this chocolate bar in a variety of gift baskets —chocolate, of course, breakfast and housewarming or hostess gift come to mind. And, with the holidays coming up, it would be a fun stocking stuffer for a favorite gourmet.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Editor's Choice — LesserEvil Black & White Kettle Corn

My household is a snacking household. While I love to cook (and prepare dinner nightly), my husband and I always have an assortment of chips, crackers, dips and cookies to nosh on. So, he was thrilled when I trotted home one Monday evening with a large bag of LesserEvil Black and White Kettle Corn. Of all the snacks in the world, popcorn is my husband’s favorite. And, kettle corn reigns supreme. After devouring the bag, I was happy I hadn’t sampled it at my desk. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have made the journey all the way across town.

LesserEvil is a company that believes in snacking responsibly. Therefore, they’ve created a line of products that have remarkably high serving sizes with remarkably low calories. Now, you might say to yourself that this is an easy task when it comes to popcorn. After all, once the salt and the butter is removed, you have a snack that’s popped rather than fried. However, this becomes much more difficult when you throw in the additional caloric intake from chocolate (remember we had Black & White kettle corn) and the syrup (which transforms it from plain old popcorn). So, I was shocked by the tasty treat. First, I anticipated the chocolate covered corn to be sparse. However, there was an even — 50/50 distribution. Then, I assumed it would be light on syrup or salt (resulting in a treat that’s either overly savory or sweet depending on what’s missing). Neither was true. This was simply a small bag of evenly distributed, delicious kettle corn. A small bag that I wanted to eat every night! Retailers will be drawn to the company’s clever packing and convenient size, as well.

So, if you’re a house full of snackers and you’re looking to expand the snacking horizons, look no further. This healthy alternative is truly the lesser evil to fattening potato chips that spend a minute on your lips … and a lifetime on your hips!


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Editor's Choice: Organic Valley American Cheese

Have I told you how much I love cheese? I feel like I must have mentioned it before. All cheese. I love the stinky blues that clear out the sinuses. I like a sharp sharp cheddar that bites you back. I like a creamy Port Salut. I love it all. Even American, the red-headed step child of the cheese world. But those processed cheese slices leave something to be desired. No longer must I struggle with this! Organic Valley, the nation’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and a leading organic brand, has launched a new flavor: Organic Valley American Cheese Singles—unprocessed, 100 percent real organic cheese slices, as opposed to “processed cheese food,” perfect for grilled cheese sandwiches, lunches and snacks. Organic Valley is the only national brand to produce unprocessed, organic American Cheese Singles.

I am in love.

I found out this weekend that my nephews loathe the processed cheese that they are fed when they go to their friend's houses for lunch (along with the processed bread, fruit leather and sugar cereals. I am sure this does not endear them to the parent's of their friends but, what are you going to do? the kids know good food.) My nephew Max in particular, will point out to whatever adult is feeding him, "This isn't cheddar", or, "This is mild cheddar. I like sharp cheddar." The kid knows his cheese. I feel as though he would approve of the Organic Valley American Cheese, which is creamy and rich and tastes like a cheddar/colby mix. 

The beauty of American Cheese in general is it's gooey meltiness and how it is part of many kinds of American comfort foods. When I was a kid we put it on green beans, broccoli, Sloppy Joes, grilled cheese, burgers and hot dogs...basically anything that would stand still long enough to cover it in cheese. This is all that melty goodness without the processed flavor or bad-for-you chemicals. All the calcium and goodness with more flavor. Keep it coming, Organic Valley! Our love affair will last an eternity.

-Elizabeth Dugan