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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, December 17, 2013

Editor's Choice: Fusion Gourmet

It’s that time of the year. Most of us are well on our way to having enough cookies, candies and other treats in the next couple of weeks to last us through the winter. Come mid-January, however, we’ll be on the hunt once again for a little something sweet, but not too big, to go with coffee or tea, or as a mid-day treat.  

That’s why I was delighted to discover a box of Dolcetto Gourmet Cookies from Fusion Gourmet, Inc. ( that I had recently received as a sample. The cookies are bite-size crispy pillows filled with creamy fillings. They satisfy that wish for something sweet, without being too full. In my case, it was a delicious chocolate cream that brought happiness. The cookies are great with coffee or hot cocoa. They would also be good with ice cream or yogurt.  

Besides the chocolate, the all-natural baked cookies are offered in Café Mocha, Tiramisu and Coconut. The company has also recently introduced a 7 oz. Grab-and-Go 100 Calorie Bag.

For retailers, Dolcetto Petites would be a great impulse item. It would be good in a variety of themed gift baskets or looking ahead to next year, as a stocking stuffer.

Like they say, good things do come in small packages.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Editor’s Choice: PRESSELS Pretzel Chips (Everything)

American cities have a tendency to lay claim to certain foods, attacking counterfeits and taking bragging rights to new extremes. New York has a few items in their winners circle, but the boroughs’ introduction of the Everything bagel has made the breakfast fixe quite iconic. With its disgruntled varnish of sesame, poppy, caraway seeds and a distinct amount of salt, onion and garlic, the Everything bagel matches the frenetic melting pot of characteristics and cultures found in New York. Similar to the city itself, the bagel is complex. And don’t start to understand the schmear. It’s of course an unsaid culinary regulation in the city that a dollop of cream cheese just won’t do. Instead, bagel artists slather the high-fat, cheesy delicacy on thick, with over-sized spreading knives that rival wedding cake servers. When I lived Manhattan, my diet included weekly pre-work bagel purchases (“Everything, toasted with veggie cream cheese”), and it’s forever made a culinary imprint in my heart.

The Everything bagel is arguably one of the most “New York” items on a menu, and its crossover into other food staples is on-trend lately. From everything bagel-flavored pastas to hot dog buns, the mix of seeds and spices transitions to savory items with ease. But where the “everything” flavor is quite expected (and at the top of its game) is scattered on pretzels—crisps, buns, you name it.

The idea isn’t new, but it’s instead being reinvented for the all-natural food group. PRESSELS is making its debut in the U.S., and they’ve already got my vote for a great representation of the Everything flavor. PRESSELS is the first all-natural, non-GMO certified, pressed pretzel to hit the market, and a guilt-free snack that does my favorite New York-style bagel justice. They’re super thin and baked, with 80 percent less fat than a typical chip. They’re coated with garlic, black caraway, sesame and onion, but also available in Original (salted) and Sesame flavors.

Although I’m hard-pressed to find something I won’t dip in hummus or cream cheese (Everything PRESSELS were delicious in both), they’re seriously flavorful without anything added.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Editor's Choice: Arvinda's Butter Chicken Masala

WWJD, What Would Jessa Do?

Jessa is a character on the HBO Series Girls. She’s spontaneous, lives in the moment and throws all caution into the wind. Sometimes, I have to remind myself that I should be more like her. One of the ways I could be more adventurous, is by trying ethnic foods.   

Until last week, I had never prepared or eaten Indian food. I was worried it would be too spicy or that I wouldn't like it for some other reason. Then, my co-worker received some samples of Arvinda’s spice blends in the mail. He encouraged me to try them, and in a “What would Jessa do?” moment, I agreed to make Butter Chicken using Arvinda’s Butter Chicken Masala.

Arvinda’s is a line of spice blends (also known as masalas) that are roasted and ground in Canada. They allow home cooks, like myself, to prepare healthy, delicious and home-style Indian meals easily. The blends can also be used as rubs and marinades for meats, poultry, fish, seafood, vegetables and tofu. All of Arvinda’s spice blends are gluten, preservative and oil free.

The recipe that I used to make Arvinda's Butter Chicken Masala can be found here and it only requires a low to moderate level of skill to prepare and cook. I invited a friend who likes Indian food over for dinner that night. I was anxious about how it would turn out, and paid very close attention to the directions. After removing the pan from the stove, we (me much more nervously) dug in and to our delight, loved it! The seasoning was moderately spicy (although I am sure that if I had marinated the chicken for more than a few hours it would be hotter), was slightly tangy and tasted fresh. Next time I make this dish, I will make naan to go with it. The sauce is good enough to eat without the chicken.

To summarize, Arvinda’s Butter Chicken Masala was a hit and I can’t wait to try Arvinda’s Tandoori Masala which smells a even stronger…after all, that is what Jessa would do. 


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Editor's Choice: Justin's Peanut Butter Cups

When I was asked if I could take my little nephew out for trick or treating a few weeks ago, I couldn't have jumped higher at the chance. Not only was it a great excuse to dress up in costume (which I did, as Chewbacca from Star Wars), but it brought back great memories of sifting through a pillowcase of candy, looking for the "good stuff."

In my day, the "good stuff" was any kind of king-size candy bar. After looking through my nephew's haul at the end of the night, it was pretty evident that his total volume of "good stuff" was way larger than what it used to be when I was a kid. Thankfully, my nephew is a kind, sharing sort of fellow, and as he sat surrounded by his candy treasures, he granted me permission to partake from his sweet stockpile.

I have a crippling weakness for peanut butter, so I was intrigued by the clean, white packaging of some Justin's Peanut Butter Cups that some unknown neighbor was kind enough to introduce into our lives. I popped the packaging open, and we both had one. The results were unanimous: this was the most delicious peanut butter and chocolate item possible.

To make the deal even sweeter, each individually-wrapped Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup is 100 percent organic, vegan and Rainforest Alliance certified. The company uses only the highest quality organic and fair-trade peanut butter in their products.

The company also works hard to lessen their environmental footprint. All of their cartons, boxes and caddies are made with wind power, while all packaging cardboard is made with 100 percent recycled paper. All ingredients are sourced as locally and sustainably as possible. For example, they get the nuts for their peanut butter from Georgia, not China, using local ingredients to support local economies and lower their carbon footprint.

Their peanut butter cups come in Milk Chocolate and Dark Chocolate. Retailers can order them in packs of 12. These would be great items to stick by the register almost anywhere. Learn how to order some for your store, or check out their other peanut butter-related products at Justin'


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Editor's Choice: Tribes-A-Dozen

For some of us, there’s nothing like the aroma of bread baking. I remember last summer one morning being in a cab in New York and as we turned the corner there was the delightful smell of bread baking and it continued for at least another block. It was a fine way to start the day.

Fresh-baked bread is one of the great comfort foods. It was always a treat to see a long loaf of bakery bread on the dinner table. I remember Tuesdays in college enjoying lunches of Italian beef sandwiches made with fresh-baked bread from the bakery down the street. Good bread helps create good memories.

The owners of Tribes-A-Dozen ( feel the same way about bread and also about carrying on tradition. They have introduced Voila! Hallah, bread mixes that make the traditional egg bread, known as hallah, challah, barches, brioche, kalács, osterbrot, or, simply, twisted bread. The mix is all-natural, kosher, and brings convenience to old world bread baking.

The mix contains everything and you only need eggs, water and vegetable oil. And full disclosure: Not much of a baker myself, I enlisted a friend to test out the mix. The dough rose properly and once baked produced a bread that was moist and full of flavor. It would be perfect to serve for any meal, large and small. 

The hallah bread is great on its own or as sandwich bread. It also makes terrific French toast. It is available in three varieties: Traditional Egg Bread Mix, Wholey Wheat Egg Bread Mix and Simply Spelt Egg Bread Mix.

For retailers, it would be a great product to stock for the upcoming holidays and winter weather.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Editor's Choice: Almondina Toastees

Now that Halloween is over, retailers have shelf space for more healthy and delicious snacks such as Almondina Toastees.

These crisps come in four delectable flavors; Cranberry Almond, Sesame Almond, Lemon Poppy Almond and Coconut Orange Almond.

Here at the office, we tried the Sesame Almond. They are thin and crunchy, and are bite-size with the perfect consistency which keeps them from crumbling and making a mess. They can be prepared with both strong and mild cheeses. I recommend serving them with goat cheese and preserves or with creamy havarti. They would also be appetizing paired with fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil and a balsamic glaze for a twist on a traditional caprice salad. Almondina Toastees can also be paired with coffee or used as a garnish for frozen yogurt.

Almondina Toastees are a lighter version of founder Yuval Zaliouk’s grandmother Dina’s Petit Gateau Sec cookie recipe. These Toastees are great by themselves as a snack or light dessert and remind me of a cross between a cracker and my own grandmother’s Norwegian Christmas cookies.

Unlike my grandmother’s Norwegian cookies, they are a lot healthier. Almondina Toastees boast no added fat or salt, don’t have preservatives and are dairy free.

Almondina Toastees make a great snack or dessert alternative to Halloween candy. I would recommend them for their versatility, easy preparation and consumption, and most importantly, their delicious flavor.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Editor's Choice: Jelly Belly Countdown to Christmas Calendar

The advent season is always special for me and my family. I have warm childhood memories of getting some candy and a handwritten letter from St. Nick at the beginning of every Advent. The letter would tell me that I had been very good this year (with some kind of specific reference to something that had been accomplished), and that he and my parents loved me very much. Even though I am miles away from my family now, I still get a handwritten letter from St. Nick every year; when I call my dad to say thanks, I can hear him smiling on the other end of the phone as he excitedly exclaims, without ever once owning up to it himself, "Wow, St. Nick wrote to you? Man, he is quite a guy!" I can't wait to hear from him again later this year.

A great part of our household decor is the Advent calendar, that counts down the days until Christmas. We have a big, hand-knitted tapestry that hangs by the tree, with each day represented with a little pocket that gets filled with a small Christmas trinket as each day passes. It was always fun to be the one to put the last item in the pocket of the 25th, signifying that Christmas had arrived. 

So I was understandably excited to see Jelly Belly's new product for the 2013 holiday season -- the Countdown to Christmas calendar. The calendar is filled with 24 tiny bags of Jelly Belly Kids Mix jelly beans -- one for each day leading up to Christmas. The oversized and colorful advent calendar is poised to be a popular gift for the holidays, and would make a great little gift from your family's St. Nick.

The box is really quite large -- it's like the size of a big hardcover art book. It really adds to the fun and excitement of opening each numbered window. A colorful illustration depicts Mr. Jelly Belly in a winter holiday scene adding Jelly Belly jelly beans as ornaments to trees. The Jelly Belly Countdown to Christmas Calendar ships in 6-ct. cases.

The other great part about it is the Jelly Belly jelly beans, of course! The OU Kosher, gluten-free, peanut free, dairy-free, fat-free and vegetarian-friendly jelly beans come in such signature, true-to-life flavors as Bubble Gum, Cotton Candy, Orange Sherbert, Very Cherry, and Buttered Popcorn. 

So if you're looking for a fun and tasty treat to kick of the holiday season this year, head on over to Jelly Belly's website. It would look great on display in your store, and would certainly stand out as a unique item that kids and adults alike would love to have.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Editor's Choice: Walkers Shortbread, Inc.

If, as they say, virtue is its own reward – sometimes cookies can be an added bonus. To explain: While straightening out a food cabinet last weekend, I found some treasures from the Sweets and Snacks Expo. One treat I discovered was a package of Shortbread Fingers from Walkers Shortbread, Inc. (

The cheery red and green plaid package greeted me like an old friend.  The shortbread inside had the great, melt in mouth rich taste that I remembered. With the weather getting colder here in the Midwest, the shortbread is a perfect companion for a cup of coffee, or, maybe more appropriately, a cup of tea. It’s just sweet enough to be a light dessert. It would also be good paired with ice cream or fruit.

Pure butter shortbread is one of those great comfort foods. They are baked in the Scottish Highlands, with just four natural ingredients. They would also make a good gift and Walkers offers several varieties in an array of charming tins.

With the holidays approaching, the shortbreads would make a nice addition for retailers.  The packages would also be a festive addition to a gift basket. And, of course, you can always offer samples, so your customers can enjoy the goodness.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Editor's Choice: Aunt Aggie De's Pralines

If you're a retailer looking for something unique, sweet, delicious, and visually appealing to display during the holiday season, I have just the thing for you: Aunt Aggie De's Pralines.

The first thing you'll notice about these wonderful treats is the many wonderful packaging options. We here at Fancy Food received the beautiful gold gift box with a red ribbon (shown above), which more than one staffer commented on how nice it looked -- it would really make a snazzy gift. If you look on the company's website, you will also see some other really neat gift basket arrangements. There's baskets shaped like the state of Texas, a Kicker boot, a Santa boot, and even a Texas hat, all filled with the company's varieties of pralines. They also come in brightly colored striped tubes, each containing 8 individually wrapped pralines. There's no doubt that these would be perfect gifts for almost any occasion.

After getting inside the package, the next thing you'll notice is that these babies are BIG. Texas big! They make a great afternoon snack. These pralines are made with the highest quality, USA grown and processed ingredients in batches. Each one is still hand-dipped and chock full of pecans. An unusually large amount of pecans and consistent creamy texture set them apart and create a praline you can feel good about buying, eating and giving.

The creamy pecan pralines surprisingly melt in your mouth, despite being crammed full with pecans. It's a very rich, textured and flavorful experience with every bite. The experience is heightened even more with the addition of chocolate; the company also offers their pralines covered in high-quality Belgian chocolate. These would make terrific Valentine's Day gifts, offering a unique twist on regular ol' boxed chocolates. 

I really can't emphasize enough how great of a gift these would make. I gave a lot of these (since the ones that come in tubes are conveniently individually wrapped) away to friends, and without fail, everyone really enjoyed them (while making happy MMMMM! sounds). Whether for an impressive gift or for casual snacking, Aunt Aggie De's has something for you - head on over to their website for more information.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Editor's Choice: Frieda's, Inc.

There’s an old saying: You can’t judge a book by its cover. A treasure trove of specialty produce we recently received from Frieda’s, Inc. ( proved that applies to other things as well.

As we opened the box, some things looked familiar, such as the Zulu queen baby pineapple. Only 5 inches high, it can be used as regular pineapple. A co-worker who enjoyed it for breakfast reported it was very sweet.

I have to admit, some of the fruit, while vivid in color, looked a little frightening. Pieces had lots of horns, thorns and prickly things. The dragon fruit, aptly named, has green-tipped scales. The fruit itself has earthy taste, something like a pear, but not as sweet.  I’ve tasted passion fruit juice, but never thought about using it to top ice cream.

I discovered in the box, a treat that brought a flood of good memories. It was a bunch of red bananas. My great-grandfather worked selling fruit and my mom had told me about red bananas. Growing up in the Midwest and only having yellow bananas, it almost seemed like the stuff of myths. I put it aside to try after lunch. The red banana had more substance and a little sweeter flavor than a yellow banana cousin.

But the biggest surprise, was yet to come. It was something called rambutan eyeball -- and it was hairy and strange looking. My Chinese co-worker was very excited when she saw a bag of them.She said the fruit is very popular. Interestingly, she didn’t know its name in English. Anyway, she picked up one, cut it open and insisted I try it. Out of its skin, the fruit had a slippery texture, but the taste was rich and a little sweet. I could see why it was so highly prized. She happily took home the remainder of the bag.

That was my introduction to exotic fruit. For gourmet retailers, I could see a selection of these fruits as a way to bring interest and color to your produce section. And of course, sampling would be ideal.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Editor's Choice: Perky Jerky

If you've read any of my previous blog posts, you may have come to realize that I am pretty slow on the uptake for many seemingly basic food-related things. I don't really cook that well. I don't have a barbecue grill. I don't usually have any salad dressing but ranch. I mean, I didn't even know what a pomegranate was.

I'm not really proud of my profound ignorance of most food-related things, but while we're at it, I may as well tell you about another one: Until recently, I was totally oblivious to the concept of protein.

I am, and always have been, a very active person. I play all kinds of sports, run all over the place and generally always try to stay moving. However, due to the fact that my diet consists mostly of garbage, I never really paid attention to the health benefits of eating well. 

Of course, time is a cruel and hilarious thing, and eventually I realized the need to start taking care of myself by watching what I eat, otherwise I will need an entirely new wardrobe consisting of much larger sizes. In the interest of wrapping up this super long intro, the moral of the story is - I learned about protein, and its benefits in an active lifestyle like mine.

Enter Perky Jerky. We have gone on a jerky-eating rampage in the office over the last year or so, and one of the ones that really stood out was this energizing, all-natural product. Perky Jerky is made with a seven ingredient marinade, which includes Guaranaa berry from the Amazon that is commonly found in energy drinks. That makes it great for a quick pre-game boost, busy moms on-the-go, or a mid-mountain hike snack. It's a functional morning desk snack and the perfect munchie to survive a long road trip. Satisfying and portable, it's perfect fuel to do, well, whatever it is that you do.

Perky Jerky comes in turkey and beef varieties, with delicious flavors such as Sweet & Spicy, Teriyaki, Hot & Bothered, and their original recipe. They are low calorie, low in fat, gluten-free, and high in protein. There's no nitrates, preservatives or MSG. 

So if you're looking for a new, trendy, healthy snack alternative, I would recommend you check this out. It's an energy drink in tasty jerky form, perfect for people like me, who can always use a boost of energy before zooming off to wherever it is we're going.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Editor's Choice: OXO

As September moves along, the Halloween sections in stores continue to expand. And if Halloween is here, can the holiday baking season be far behind?  I’ve noticed an emphasis on getting kids involved in the baking of holiday goodies. I, myself, have fond memories of making Christmas cookies with my grandmother over the years. Today many families want to start a holiday baking tradition.

Thinking about the season, there was a clever product I saw at this year’s International Home and Housewares Show that would be great for a family that bakes together. It is a 4-Piece Mini Measuring Beaker set from OXO ( The pieces look like, as described in the name, chemistry beakers and will add some extra fun.

The beakers stand on their own and are designed for measuring and pouring smaller amounts of ingredients, such as food coloring and extracts. The funnel shape and spout on the top make filling and pouring simple. The sizes also would be perfect for young helpers’ smaller hands. And for some kids, the beaker concept would definitely add an element of “cool” to a baking project.

When the baking is done, all four pieces are dishwasher safe and nest inside each other for easy storage. The beaker set would be a good add-on gift for a cook or in a baking products-themed basket. In addition, in a store they can be a colorful part of a baking products display.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The world's greatest travel mug

About a week after I came back from the NY NOW show, someone from Zak! Designs shipped me one of the company’s flagship Insulated Travel Tumblers. Unfortunately, the printing on the shipping label was degraded to the point where I couldn’t tell who sent it to me. So instead of a personal thank-you note, this post will have to do.

Dear Unknown Angel:

The Zak! Insulated Travel Tumbler is wonderful. It is ten thousand kinds of awesome. It is the greatest thing since sliced bread, Chinese checkers, and every other kind of applicable cliché.

The tumbler has the elegant simplicity and functionality of the very best designs. It’s a double-wall tumbler that holds about 1.5 cups of liquid, which is the perfect amount for my morning coffee.

I have a long commute, and if I don’t want to get up for work in the middle of the night, I have to pack my breakfast the night before and eat on the train. That means everything is either on my lap or on the floor. What I need in a travel beverage container is stability, absolute lack of leaks, and easy access to the contents.

The Insulated Travel Tumbler delivers all this perfectly. Press down on the top, and the tumbler is imperviously sealed. Pop the top back up with the push of a button, and you can sip your coffee through a perfectly vented hole in a top that’s tilted at just the right angle.

It’s lightweight, sleek and holds its temperature beautifully. It also comes with a screw-on infuser top for steeping loose tea (the only kind worth drinking).

My coffee habit is now safe. Thank you, Zak!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

August/September digital issue of Fancy Food Magazine Available NOW!

Dear Fancy Food Reader,

Welcome to the August/September digital issue of Fancy Food & Culinary Products.

FF Aug/Sep Cover
This Month's Featured Content:
• Bowled Over
• Set A Merry Table
• Dips With Zip
• Food Fete 2013
• Seven
• Flavor Focus

• Retailers Respond
• Ad Index

New Feature:
Now Viewable on all devices

Please Note:

The FF digital requires NO special downloads or applications to view in its entirety on any device.... 

Please click HERE to begin reading now!

We hope you enjoy this issue and all future digital issues of FF. Feel free to contact us with your thoughts and feedback at

The FF Team

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Editor's Choice: bah BAH Hot Sauce

This may sound absurd, but I had no idea what a pomegranate was until about a year ago. By some sort of conspiracy of circumstance, I had somehow never run across one for most of my life. I knew of pomegranate, but never in certain terms. I always just assumed it was something you ate at a super classy event, served next to caviar and champagne. I'm not really sure where that thought came from, but I'm pretty sure at some point, I've said something like "Hmmm, yeeeeees the pomegranate was exquisite, good sir. Do bring about another batch, won't you, old sport?" in my best rich-guy accent.

To make a long story longer, I eventually discovered pomegranates were sold at Wal-Mart, subsequently ate one, and loved it. I feel classy doing so, even though the mess it makes is decidedly unclassy (but worth it).

So now this new hot sauce from bah BAH Hot Sauce came in the mail the other day, and I was intrigued by the picture of the pomegranate on the bottle, not to mention the fact that someone would put pomegranate in hot sauce. It turns out bah BAH only mixed the two together by accident. Sauce creators Shima and Bobby Marhamat are foodies who love cooking, and one day accidentally mixed natural pomegranate with a homemade hot sauce. They were so amazed by the taste, they knew that they had to get it out into the world.

The result is a unique blend of heat and tangy, giving anything you use it with an unexpected and delightful kick. As a bonus, this all-natural sauce doesn't include any sugars, oils or preservatives. AND! Did you know that pomegranates have several health benefits? Compounds found only in pomegranates called punicalagins are shown to benefit the heart and blood vessels. Punicalagins are the major component responsible for pomegranate’s antioxidant and other health benefits. 

Wholesalers and retailers should keep their eyes open for this product, as it is available to the public as of today, September 10th, 2013. Give it a shot - check out for information on how you can carry it in your store.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Editor's Choice: Milton's Baking Company

We’ve all been there. You want something to snack on, not sure what, just something. But like many other people, I am trying to make healthier snack choices. Milton’s Baking Company ( understands this and they recently sent us a selection of snack crackers that make healthy snacking a tasty choice.

The baked crackers are multigrain, have just the right amount of crunch and come in a variety of flavors. My personal favorite is the Blueberry Multi-Grain crackers. Made with real blueberries, they are sweetened with honey – but not overly sweet. They make a nice mid-day treat.

I also, naturally, had to sample the Chocolate Multi-Grain crackers. Again, the crackers are made with real chocolate and not too sweet. They are perfect for satisfying any chocolate cravings.

The crackers are also available in Original Multi-Grain, Honey Multi-Grain and Honey Corn. And I should mention, that although we did receive the crackers as part of the unofficial “feed-the-editors program,” one of my colleagues liked the Original Multi-Grain crackers so much, she went out and bought several boxes of them. That’s high praise, indeed.

The crackers are great just for snacking or can accompany a sandwich or top off a salad.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Editor's choice: SEN CHA Natural mints

If you want to freshen your breath, but don’t want the kind of mint that could freshen the bark off a tree, try the mints from SEN CHA Naturals. SEN CHA’s flagship mint is its Green Tea Leaf, which is genuinely refreshing with a wonderfully subtle flavor of, yes, green tea. It’s made with “organic green tea powder and extract.” It also bills itself as having the antioxidant properties of a genuine cup of tea. (Side note: All leaf tea of every color, as opposed to herbals, comes from the same plant, Camilla sinensis. The difference is in how, and how long, it’s aged.)
SEN CHA has branched out from the Green Tea Leaf flavor: Its newer flavors include Tropical Mango, Pink Dragonfruit, Bombay Chai, Moroccan Mint, Fuji Apple and Island Guava. Its one-at-a-time dispensing package is designed in an eco-friendly way that complements the product’s natural image: It’s an all-paperboard tube-in-tube. The consumer simply twists the tubes to expose a half-circle aperture and shakes out the mint.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Editor's Choice: Farm to Market Pickles

I grew up in a pickle household. Whatever we had for lunch was almost always accompanied by a pickle. My parents would try to find ways to sneak pickles in things that I wasn't really expecting to ever have pickles in them - meatloaf, salads, even ice cream (!) weren't immune to a pickle boost. We even practice the tradition of hiding a Christmas pickle in the tree. Whenever someone picks their pickles out of a sandwich, I will always be the first to claim them.

That being said, I was more than happy to try out the new line of pickles from Best Maid Farms, called Farm to Market Single Barrel Pickles. The Farm to Market specialty label denotes honest ingredients and true sustenance, combined to produce a riot of color and authentic purity. Fresh from the farm, these pickles are the “bread and butter” of Best Maid's yearly crop, and are carefully crafted from their single barrel recipe. Best Maid was founded in 1926 by the Dalton family in Mansfield, TX, giving the company loads of experience in producing the most delicious pickle flavors you won't be able to find anywhere else.

And the flavors in the line are truly special. I was immediately intrigued by the Bloody Mary pickles, and had a moment of snack nirvana when a co-worker suggested trying them with some chips and hummus we had in the office. The refreshing and peppery tomato brine was a nice spicy way to liven up the day.

The Sea Salt and Peppercorn variety went great with chocolate (a personal favorite combo of mine), while the Chipotle Lime flavor were covered in a roasted jalapeño brine with just the right amount of lime zest. The Farm to Market line also has a classic Baby Dills variety, as well as a Garden Fresh flavor that was fresh enough to almost be put back on the vine.

Each variety contains no artificial flavors, high fructose corn syrup, or artificial coloring. They're low in calories, and make a great snack, regardless of what time of day it is. The jars and packaging have a nice clean, classic feel, and would look great in any store. Contact them today to find out how you can stock these tasty treats.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Editor's Choice: CookieZen

As readers of this blog may know, I am very fond of desserts of all kinds, and always on the lookout for new treats. I’m happy to report that the quest for a great cookie, a continuing journey, made a delightful stop this week thanks to CookieZen LLC ( I have to admit, I’ve never been too sure what “zen” exactly meant, but if it has anything to do with happiness – these cookies create it.

I sampled the Sea Salt Chocolate Oatmeal flavor. The first thing you experience is the crunchy yet chewiness of a good oatmeal cookie. Then you discover the taste of smooth, rich bittersweet chocolate chips joined with a little bit of vanilla. And to add another dimension, the contrast of the sea salt topping. All in all, a very happy experience.

These rich cookies are said to pair well with red wine or would make a nice ending to meal. They, of course, would be perfect for snacks. In fact, the company has introduced a four-pack CookieZen Bites package that you can take along. You can even store them in your desk drawer since best of all — although they have no preservatives — the cookies last for nine months.

The cookies are also available in Zesty Lemon. And as an added bonus, the company has recently introduced a gluten-free line, which has a six-month shelf life.

For retailers, with the holidays coming up, these four packs make a good stocking stuffer or can be used in a variety of gift baskets.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Editor's Choice: Gator Ron's Heavenly Barbecue Sauce

It's summertime here in Chicago, and for me, that means it's time to barbecue as many nights a week as possible. Unfortunately, I don't actually have the room at my apartment complex to be able to do so that often. Also, I don't even have a barbecue grill. Right away, you can see the kinds of problems I'm dealing with.

Thankfully, I can mooch off of my friends and their more grill-enabled living areas. Their condition: bring food or condiments with you. Their condition for me specifically: you work at a food magazine. Bring something REALLY good with you. 

Right away, I knew I would knock them over with Gator Ron's Heavenly Barbecue Sauce. I use it myself at home on all kinds of grilled products like chicken and shrimp, and I was confident it would be a perfect addition to any outdoor BBQ occasion. 

I was totally right - we put it on several different meats, including burgers, chicken, and ribs, and the crowd response was unanimous - Gator Ron's is amazing, and I must be some kind of BBQ genius. While the latter may be a wildly inaccurate perception, there is no doubting the big taste of Gator Ron's. To make things even sweeter, Gator Ron's all natural sauces and mixes contain no gluten ingredients and are low in calories. 

Gator Ron's also works towards an important cause. The company works to enhance awareness of ALS while raising money to fund ALS research to develop effective treatments for ALS patients, and ultimately find a cure.  A percentage of all profits of Gator Ron’s Zesty Sauces and Mixes are donated to the Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins.

If you're looking for a versatile barbecue sauce that works well on a variety of items, I recommend you try Gator Ron's out. It's great with not only meats, but snacks, hors d’oeuvres, and side dishes like spicy orzo or hot artichoke gratin. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Editor’s Choice: Wind & Willow soup

If you love soup but you hate cooking it in hot weather (or just hate cooking it period), there are lots of alternatives. And they don’t all have to come out of a can.

Wind & Willow has been producing high-end soup and other gourmet products for more than 20 years. Their soups are all dry mixes, which makes them easy to prepare, but they’re also customizable, says co-owner Renee Tentenhorst: “I think that people like to be able to kind of customize and put their own spin on things, but we don’t all have time to be chefs and take a lot of time in the kitchen.”

The soups come in flavors that include Spinach & Romano, Smoky Harvest Chowder, Roasted Red Pepper Asparagus and Tortilla con Queso. Their best seller is Baked Potato (shown) and new flavors include Minestrone and Grilled Cheese and Tomato.

I tried the Broccoli Cheddar single-serve packet. (They also come in six-cup stovetop sizes.) It couldn’t have been easier: Nuke a cup of water for one minute, add the powder, zap it another 45 seconds, and voila. Very savory and subtle, without the overpowering saltiness that characterizes so many prepared soups. A definite keeper.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Editor's choice: illy issimo iced coffee

The folks at illy issimo recently sent us a selection of iced coffee. It included an “espresso style” 6.8-ounce can and several 9.5-ounce bottles with other standard coffeehouse flavors, including cappuccino, mochaccino and latte macchiato.

This piqued my interest for two reasons:

1) My previous job was at a trade magazine for coffeehouse owners. Prior to that, there were only two varieties of coffee for me: instant and the other kind. But I learned all about espresso drinks and all their variations; it’s a fascinating subculture. I also developed a serious caffeine habit, leading to:

2) My current job requires a long train commute, which means that if I don’t want to get up before dawn, I have to pack breakfast the night before and eat it on the train. With my new caffeine jones, iced coffee has become an important part of that breakfast, at least during the summer.

So I was in a position to appreciate illy issimo’s cold-coffee offerings and compare to Starbucks’ Frappucino, which is the only brand of bottled cold coffee available in my supermarket. Verdict: A slight but noticeable advantage, in my humble opinion, for illy. They’re both very sweet, but the coffee flavor comes through more with the illy product, and paradoxically, there’s less of an aftertaste.

Neither is very much like the iced coffee you’d get at a coffeehouse—not unless you load the coffeehouse product up with milk and sugar. But they’re very filling and very convenient, and to a commuter like me, convenience rules.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Editor's Choice: Love Your Health, LLC

Like many people, I try to eat healthy. Meals don’t present much of a problem, but snacks are another thing. I’ve tried a variety of healthier snacks, but most of them either lacked taste or tasted strange. And so the search continued. Last week, however, I discovered a keeper.

It is Love Your Health ( SoyMix and I literally found the package in a bag I had taken home in the midst of our recent office move. The picture on the bag looked inviting and I was curious about the taste.

I was amply rewarded. It turns out there is a whole array of tastes. The soynuts are dry-roasted. They offer a combination of salty and sweet, with lightly sea-salted and honey-toasted varieties. And then — the bonus reward for healthy snacking — there’s the dark chocolate-covered soynuts. But, as if that’s not enough, the soynuts are blended with U.S.-grown pumpkin seeds and Sweet n’ Juicy dried cranberries. It is a delicious festival of flavors and textures.

The mix is only 120 calories per serving, low in sodium, with no cholesterol or trans fat. 

It’s great as a solo snack, but you could also top yogurt with it or pair it with fruit. It can also be used as party mix, even paired with cheese. The mix comes in a bag that can be resealed, so you can scoop some out, put it in a small container and take it along.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Editor's Choice: Gearharts Peanut Butter Pups

If you've read this blog, you know that I am a fan of chocolate, peanut butter, and chocolate with peanut butter in it. It's not surprising that I loved these Peanut Butter Pups from Gearharts Fine Chocolates - they feature premium milk chocolate and Virginia artisan peanut butter, and are then decorated with a dark chocolate face and toasted almond ears. The puppy-faced treats are extremely cute and would make a great gift.

I am also a fan of dogs - to be specific, shelter dogs. Cursed with a tiny apartment and a huge heart for dogs, I have never been able to have a dog of my own so far in life. To get my puppy fix, I spent time volunteering at Chicago Animal Care & Control, and fell in love daily with every dog there. I was overjoyed to spend time with these friendly and lovable pups, but left feeling empty because of the enormous quantity of dogs that were brought in daily, knowing that many would inevitably not get adopted. 

That's why I love that Gearharts has decided to donate 5% of sales for their Peanut Butter Pups to Companions for Heroes, a terrific organization that provides companion animals, skilled companion dogs, and service dogs obtained from shelters and/or rescues, who might otherwise be euthanized, free of charge to active duty military personnel, military veterans, and first-responders recovering from the psychological challenges they suffered during service to our country. C4H increases public awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and other challenges confronting our country’s heroes; and rally’s support for animal welfare and the adoption of shelter and/or rescue animals.

Tim Gearhart, the owner of Gearhart's Chocolates, started cooking as a Marine in Kuwait. He's created a quality chocolate item and partnered with a great organization to make something to be proud of. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Who invented the Piña Colada?

An e-mail crossed my virtual desk (actually, the virtual desk of former editor Brooke Smith) from a publicist for the Caribe Hilton, bearing what was touted as the recipe for “the original Piña Colada.”

This touched off a distant memory of my first (and only) trip to Puerto Rico. As my bus rolled through San Juan, I spotted a plaque on a wall declaring the building to be the birthplace of the Piña Colada. It was the kind of plaque you could spot from the street—as big as a window.

I no longer remembered exactly where that was, but a little Googling revealed it to be, not the Hilton, but a restaurant in downtown San Juan called La Barrachina. More Googling, and I learned that the Caribe Hilton and La Barrachina have been locked for decades in a rum war over who truly originated the popular drink. According to Team Hilton, their bartender, Ramón “Monchito” Marrero, invented it in 1954; the plaque at La Barrachina claims it to be “The house where in 1963 the Piña Colada was created by Don-Ramon Portas Mingot.”

For an excellent explanation of the controversy, see this post on “Wanderlust and Lipstick,” a travel blog by Lanee Lee. Lanee’s post includes the dueling recipes; the Hilton one almost exactly matches the recipe in my e-mail.

I have to say, they both sound good, but since the Hilton one uses heavy cream and fresh pineapple, it might have an advantage (for the tastebuds, if not the arteries). Judge for yourself—here it is:

The Original Piña Colada: 


2 oz. white rum
1 oz. coconut cream             
1 oz. heavy cream
6 oz. fresh pineapple juice
½ cup crushed ice

Add the rum, coconut cream, heavy cream and pineapple juice together in a blender. Add the ice and blend for about 15 seconds or until smooth. Serve in a 12-ounce glass. Garnish with a fresh pineapple wedge and a maraschino cherry.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June/July's Digital Issue of Fancy Food Magazine is Now Available for Viewing

Dear Fancy Food Reader,

Welcome to the June/July digital issue of Fancy Food & Culinary Products.

FF Jun/Jul Cover
This Month's Featured Content:
• Savor The Sauces
• All-Star Snacks
• Spread It On Thick
• A Taste Of The Sweet Life
• Mustard Magic
• Stirring It Up
• Bake Up Some Memories
• Ghoulish & Gourmet
• Seven
• Flavor Focus

• Retailers Respond
• Ad Index

New Feature:
Now Viewable on all devices

Please Note:

The FF digital requires NO special downloads or applications to view in its entirety on any device.... 

Please click HERE to begin reading now!

We hope you enjoy this issue and all future digital issues of FF. Feel free to contact us with your thoughts and feedback at

The FF Team

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Editor's Choice: Guittard Gourmet Baking Bars

I can't imagine a situation in where I turn down the opportunity to try some chocolate. Even if I was told that if I were to eat one more bite of chocolate, someone would kick me in the shins and steal my wallet, I would still probably take the chocolate. I can always get another wallet, and I can be distracted from the physical pain to my shins by candy. Gimmie the chocolate!!

As if chocolate in bar form wasn't irresistible enough, Guittard Chocolate Company had the genius idea to put THREE of their 2 oz. gourmet baking bars in an attractive box package. These all-natural, Fair Trade certified products are a great way to infuse your desserts with elegance, style, and taste. And I will also vouch for the idea of simply eating it by itself.

The three varieties sampled were Semisweet, Bittersweet, and Unsweetened, with each being made with 64, 70, and 100 percent cacao respectively. When you see a number such as 64 percent cacao on these bars, this means that 64 percent of what is in that bar comes from the cocoa bean as chocolate liquor and added cocoa butter. The remaining 36 percent is mainly sugar. The higher the percentage on the package, the more chocolate there is in the product. Which means the Unsweetened version is an all-out cacao explosion. I made some hot chocolate with it, and it was tremendous. I can also imagine that using this in brownies would be an awesome idea.

The quality of Guittard chocolate is undeniable. The flavor is so incredibly rich, that you know you are enjoying a truly gourmet item. Guittard Chocolate is made with shade-grown cacao, the overall quality of which is superior because the delicate pods are protected from excessive direct sunlight during development. Guittard's emphasis on shade-grown cacao also means the jungle environment surrounding the cacao is preserved. Guittard has over 135 years of custom chocolate making and conching experience, and some conching formulas have been handed down over four generations.

If you're looking for top-notch baking chocolate to use in a recipe, or just want some rich, delicious chocolate to snack on, you can't go wrong with Guittard. The packaging is attractive, and these new boxes would certainly stand out in your store. For more information, check out