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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.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Editor’s Choice: Numi

This week I had the pleasure of tasting a savory tea, an experience that was completely unique to me. The Garden Sampler from Numi includes two tea bags each of Tomato Mint, Carrot Curry, Fennel Spice, Broccoli Cilantro, Beet Cabbage and Spinach Chive. I tried the Spinach Chive and the first thing that struck me was the magnificent aroma that came from the cup as the tea bag was steeping in the hot water. The smell was so enticing and it filled the kitchen with a warm, pleasing scent of herbs and spices that were nestled in with the vegetables.

I let the tea bag steep for about 10 minutes as directed. After my first sip I was pleasantly surprised with the full-bodied blend of the decaf tea and the rich flavor that was not quite a soup, but much more than a tea. I was able to fully discern the steamed spinach leaves flavored by hints of lime, dill (one of my favorites), coriander and garlic.

Some suggested uses for this savory blend are as a low-calorie snack to hold you over between meals, to complement a light lunch, as a brew for cooking rice or noodles, or as a companion when at your desk and need a pick-me-up for that afternoon slump. Undoubtedly there are many more uses for this category of tea. Even better, Numi’s Savory Teas have five calories or fewer, are Certified Organic and Verified Non-GMO.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Editor’s Choice: ALTAR

Last Friday was Valentine’s Day and I thought it would be a good time to sample an herbal martini from ALTAR. According to the company, ALTAR is “the world’s first premium Herbal & Botanical Mood Mixer curated to be enjoyed alone as an ‘Herbal Martini’ or paired with fine spirits as a craft cocktail mixer.” I was curious about that and found it very appealing to have a nonalcoholic cocktail choice available that additionally featured all natural and wholesome ingredients.

So my husband and I sampled Restore, which included a base of heirloom tomatoes, yellow bell peppers, tomatillos, jalapeno pepper, Spanish lemon thyme, cucumbers, smoked sea salt and linden flower layered with white Worcestershire sauce. Additionally there is white peony tea blended with an herbal tonic of wild cherry bark, English plaintain leaves and goji berries.

The thing that immediately struck us was how fresh and flavorful it was, and how it had subtle undertones of a traditional Bloody Mary, one of my favorite beverages with alcohol. Although you can pair this with premium tequila or vodka, I say, why would you want to? This is so good on its own with the vibrant flash of flavor notes and little unexpected hints of surprising ingredients. It’s nice to have this choice for the nondrinker and I think a lot of people will appreciate that. I’m looking forward to trying the other flavors with guests when I have company; I know they will find them interesting and appealing.

The ALTAR collection consists of five flavors or moods: APHRODISIAC, BLISS, CHI, CHILL, and RESTORE. Each is curated with 13 to14 totally unique ingredients ranging from single estate teas, organic fruits and vegetables, spices, herbs and botanicals. Each ALTAR ingredient is thoughtfully sought, grown, harvested and procured in order to create the finest and purest beverage.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Editor’s Choice: Char Crust

Char Crust dry-rub seasonings do exactly what they claim: seal in the juices. And this makes for a very lovely flavor dimension that perks up an ordinary meal. In fact, I think I’m kind of addicted! I sampled the Amazin’ Cajun on some burgers and it was so easy to use. I simply dredged the hamburger patties completely and, as recommended, drizzled a little oil to prevent sticking. I then broiled them and my family and I loved and enjoyed some wonderfully kicky burgers that were both spicy and sweet. This particular blend contains cayenne pepper, onion, garlic, oregano, and what is referred to as “a mélange of other Mardi Gras flavors.” Yes, definitely! But I didn’t stop there, because this is a versatile rub. I also added it to some zucchini, onions and peppers to coat along with oil. I then baked as a side dish. This was a perfect accompaniment to our wonderful dinner that made us yearn for summer days here in the snow-covered streets of Chicago.

Char Crust makes nine other flavors of rubs that create a savory crust to seal in the juices of meats, seafood and vegetables. They include: Original Hickory Grilled, Roasted Garlic Peppercorn, Ginger Teriyaki, Hickory & Molasses, All American Barbecue, Southwest Chipotle, Sun-Dried Tomato & Garlic, Roto Roast and Java Buzz.

I look forward to trying some of these on the outdoor grill as the weather warms up!


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Editor’s Choice: Earth & Vine Provisions

I really like it when a product offers unexpected combinations of ingredients giving your taste buds a happy sensation. That’s what I found when I tried Earth & Vine Provisions line of Vinaigrettes. Flavors like Raspberry Shallot, Honey Pear, Blackberry Balsamic and Tangerine Chipotle gave some pop to salads and could easily pair well with chicken, seafood and fresh vegetables. When it comes to something this good, I hate to admit it, but I can easily just eat it off the spoon!

Founders Ron and Tressa Cooper embarked on a culinary adventure with their appreciation for all-natural, whole foods, local farmers and a time-honored tradition of preserving when they began the company. They knew that this gift of great tasting food had to be shared with the rest of the world. All products are made from 100 percent natural ingredients (utilizing as much California grown ingredients as possible.) Earth & Vine Provisions offers more than 60 jams, sauces, beverage elixirs and dressings, some of which are International award winners.