Posts for January 29th 2009
While at this year's Fancy Foods Show, PartySugar and I stumbled upon this cheese, which had a frightening, Frankensteinian green color. After some serious coaxing by the cheese vendor, I decided to go for it. The cheese, which didn't taste nearly as scary as it looked, was like a pistachio-flavored cheesecake.
Despite hard times, coffee chain Starbucks continues to try new tactics. Two weeks ago, I introduced you to the company's tea lattes, its latest beverage to hit counters nationwide. But if lattes aren't your thing, Starbucks is hoping you'll reach for its new Tea Infusions instead, which are available in two flavors: Tazo Berry Chai and Tazo Apple Chai. I had a chance to give these drinks — a nondairy blend of Tazo black chai tea and fruit juice — a try. To find out how they fared, read more
Lovers of local artisan chocolate, be prepared for some bitter news: This week, Hershey announced plans to close the plant where Scharffen Berger chocolate is manufactured, as well as the factory where Joseph Schmidt chocolates are produced.
Although Hershey will continue production of the two brands, the chocolates will no longer be produced where they first became popular – in the Bay Area. The plants are not commenting, but a spokesperson from Hershey's headquarters said, "We will maintain the highest quality standard for all our artisan productions."
Both brands, founded in San Francisco, were pioneers credited for increasing the popularity of high-end, premium chocolates. Scharffen Berger, founded in 1996, made a name for itself with its discerning selection of cacao beans, its diligent roasting techniques, and the the chocolate's complex, smooth flavors. Its Berkeley, CA-based plant offered factory tours to local visitors.
I'm sad to hear this news, and a bit skeptical of Hershey's promise. After the company acquired both brands in 2005, it reassured customers that it wouldn't alter the businesses, and would most likely expand them. Hershey's insists it will maintain both brands' integrity, but the chocolate czar recently made the choice to switch to cheaper ingredients.
Does this signal an end of an artisan chocolate era? Will you continue to buy these brands?
When I think of the Super Bowl one drink comes to mind: beer. If you have a large crowd coming, consider getting a keg of your favorite beer. A keg should be ordered several days in advance and picked up the morning of the game. If your group is small, stock up on an assortment of brews and plenty of ice. To get the party going, make Jell-O shots. When guests arrive hand them a gourmet, mojito-flavored Jell-O shot. Instead of using the classic powder to make the shot, this recipe calls for gelatin, rum, and simple syrup. Start making the shots several hours before the game as they'll need time to set. Sound fun? Get the recipe when you read more
Take the Quiz
Last night's Top Chef was an interesting episode. The chefs cooked with Quaker Oats, Padma dressed up like a football referee, and contestants from seasons past made an appearance. Were you watching? Did you pay attention to all of the delicious details? Find out now when you take my quiz!
In the past few years America has experienced a major push to eat and shop local, as exemplified by events like Slow Food Nation and the growing popularity of farmers markets. But as technology advances more information online, eating local and the Internet were bound to converge somehow.The resulting product that's emerged? A new site called Foodzie.
This San Francisco-based website connects artisanal food producers with customers across the country. Modeled after the success of Etsy, the online handmade goods marketplace, Foodzie aims to create the experience of the farmers market online. Cofounder Rob LaFave explained: “You get a similar experience to a farmers market . . . but it is much more scalable. Ninety-seven percent of the country does not have this kind of access to artisan foodmakers.”
Above are some of my favorites finds from the shop. Foodzie is an ideal destination for shoppers who can't go to farmers markets. My only qualm is that the idea of eating locally — the whole principle behind the farmers market — gets lost when you're shipping products halfway across the country.
What do you think of Foodzie? Is it poised to be the next big online marketplace?
Looking for a hearty and delicious vegetarian-friendly recipe to serve at a Super Bowl party? Look no further than this open-faced sandwich. Although the ingredients are simple, the final dish is superbly balanced in flavor. It's a highly versatile recipe, so cater it to suit your needs. If you dislike broccoli, substitute a leafy green like spinach or arugula; if red peppers aren't your thing, use sundried tomatoes instead. Apply the same open-minded theory to the cheese topping: The recipe recommends gouda, but goat cheese, white cheddar, or gruyere would be melty and scrumptious. Learn how to make this dish: read more