Today’s the day of atonement. I only know this as an honorary member of “the tribe” having sat through my fair share of Yom Kippur dinners. This is the meal that breaks the fast of the past 24 hours. This was the day that sent all my Jewish friends home from soccer practice early to beat sundown in high school. The thing is, my jew crew didn’t really do the fasting part very well BUT they definitely did the breaking part excellently. The typical Jewish cuisine gets a poor rep. This, under the trained taste buds, is a falsely perpetuated opinion perhaps the same way Portlanders say it’s always grey in Stumptown. For context and as a case in point, I’ve sampled some incredible homemade gefilte fish that can go toe to toe with any cultural cuisine. To this end, Jewish food needs better press and a little more marketing oomph to jump the hurdle into main stream. Ashley Albert is spearheading the effort with her artisanal matzo company from Brooklyn, The Matzo Project. Salted, cinnamon or everything (as in bagel) are your delicious choices. You can’t pick wrong. We’ve tasted them all. You might be asking why I didn’t post this last week. That’s the point you should be stocking this year round. Eating it instead of chips or Triscuits. Plus, those of you who partake in the festivities, you’ve got Sukkot in five days. Stock up.
All Pantry Stuff
Ahh, the paleo diet. It’s an admirable regimen incorporating the simple foods the cavemen and women who went before us decided to place between their ancient incisors: fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, meat, eggs, and…crackers? Yep, peeps, you heard correctly – the cracker for the modern-day caveperson is finally here. The homo sapiens at Snackin Free have come up with Paleo Crackers for when you want your neolithic diet with the crunch and convenience of modern, packaged snack food. With only 16 grams of carbs, eight different varieties including Cinnamon Graham, Toasted Onion, and Cheddar N’ Chives, and tasty ingredients like tapioca flour, jalapeno powder, and Himalayan pink salt, there’s something for everyone to love – Neanderthal wannabes and otherwise.
Oreo’s has been playing with flavors for a while now. Some of them hit and some of them…meh. The latest in this line up of special flavor limited time releases is the Swedish Fish Oreo. I’m not sure who in the Nabisco test kitchen decided this would be a great combo. The only logical rational is that the facility is in Colorado or Washington State and there was more than just cookie experiments being conducted on this day. Seriously Cookie Lab guys, you’ve had some hits. Birthday Cake was a game changer. Cookie Dough, yes please. But fruit punch? Watermelon? Limeade? What were you thinking? I guess we don’t have a 100 years of cookie making and millions of dollars in quant qual customer research to back up our opinion. Whoever you people are our they with Blueberry Pie Oreo crumbs in the crevice of your couch please tweet at us your motivation. We’d love to hear all about it. In close, this isn’t meant to be a slander post. On the contrary, Oreo breaking from it’s 50+ years of stuff, double stuff, vanilla cookie stuff is a breath of fresh air. Keep ‘em coming. We love following the flavors. Can we lobby for spaghetti Carbonara? Seriously though, WTF, no cannoli yet?
We love our chips here in America. The ladies of Six Foods wanted to make something better than the potato chip that was also sustainable. Chirps Chips were born from cricket flour saving 1999 gallons of water compared to what it takes to make a cow. it used to be have your cake and eat it too. In this healthful thinking food climate it’s turned into have your chips and protein too. The Six Foods team has launched with three flavors, BBQ, cheddar and (the classic) sea salt. I couldn’t find much on their process just yet but I’m sure there’s more knowledge to be dropped soon as Chirps hit the shelves. For now dig into a combo pack.
I ate my first bug in Vietnam. It was a cricket.Legs and all. I followed that with tree grubs, grasshoppers, ants and beetles. None of those insects tasted particularly terrible but the texture was the palette killer, especially the cricket legs. As we run out of viable protein sources with the rapidly increasing world population, using insects to supplement traditional forms of protein is going to be a necessary move. The first step in that is hurdling the psychological obstacle course. Exo Cricket Flour Protein Bars takes the first big leap in the direction of the finish line. The key, get rid of the cricket legs. They do it by turning crickets into a fine “flour” and then making their bars from the fine grain. That leaves you with a virtually indistinguishable protein bar that’s not only tasty and effective but sustainable in the best way possible.
I’ve been off the sugar for three weeks now. When I say that I mean refined white to complex carbs. I’ve lowered my intake levels don’t to 10% or less of my diet. What I miss most is pizza and pasta. When I saw Seamore’s I Sea Pasta I was intrigued. It was the pictures on their website that did it because we haven’t been able to get our hands on a bag to try yet. It looks like perfect pasta. Delicious (looking) with clams and garlic. I’m posting because of the innovation. I love how technology, creativity and production can be married to make new foods do old tricks. I mean, tell me you don’t want a plate of seaweed tagliatelle and clam sauce? We’ll update this once we taste some but for now pop over and bask in the beauty of their website.
I met Hansen Shieh in the “new” products aisle at the Fancy Food NYC. He was first in a long line of new vendors and the Earthy. Spicy. Tingly. did it’s job. It drew me right in and had me asking for more. That more was a couple spoonful of Hansen’s truly deep sauces. Incredible flavors on their own, how he can bottle them that way is even more impressive. Typically the jar of sauce looses something from mom’s kitchen to co-packer. Aside from the sauce Hansen knows his stuff, tells a great story and is super gracious. Closing deals is a big part of the show and not being a buyer, I sometimes have trouble focusing purveyors to talk beyond the sale. Not the case with Hansen. Since that talk, we’ve had some Earthy Spicy Tingly in the pantry at all times.
Farraday had the quintessential British welcome when I approached his booth at last month’s Fancy Food Show. With a mix of excitement and proper malaise he asked if i had ever tasted wasabi mayo as I starred at what looked like a bunch of interesting chutneys. Pre-occupied I sort of blew off the question with a yes which triggered Farraday to turn up the volume and swear I had never tasted anything as smooth and balanced as his. Focused in now on his Surinamese chutney, his increased decibels punched me into attention. I did try the unique and satisfying Surinamese chutney but the Wasabi & Mango Mayo was the show stopper. He was right about the balance and texture being the best I’ve ever tasted. The wasabi levels were just right. So perfect just some dipped veggies is the way to consume this killer product. Sad news is he doesn’t have US distribution yet so a pop over the pond is the only way to get his treats right now.
I didn’t even know that sweet pepper relish was a thing when I dropped a sample spoon of the luscious condiment on my tongue. After 3 hours walking the aisles of the massive Fancy Food Show, you get a little tasted out. By that point, you are not expecting to taste something that excites you the way this did. As my tastebuds transmitted the sweet and spicy to my brain, Andrew Schiavetti, founder of Fourth Creek Food Co., smiled widely as if to say, “I’ve been seeing reactions like this all day.” On second bite, I knew I was hooked. “What is this?” I asked as if it came from another planet. Ready with the answer, the rep, explained in detail but all I heard was “amazing”. The story I missed, because my brain was focusing on taste, was one of those my-mom-made-this-awesome-so-we-jarred-it-for-your-pleasure type stories. The best part is their whole line is this good and I am subsequently addicted to bruschetta made solely of their products. Thanks mom Fourth Creek.
I love Indian food almost as much as Italian food. The difference in cooking them couldn’t be further from each other. Italian cooking usually includes three main ingredients cooked together for a short period of time. Indian cooking is the exact opposite. The husband and wife team behind Masala Mama Simmer Sauce decided to jar up their Calcutta food education to combat this very problem. Creating Indian sauces from scratch takes a long time. Many times, two full days. They have successfully captured three of the most popular sauces of India. Vindaloo, Tikka Masala and Goan Curry. That’s three quarters of the cooking. The taste passed my mother-in-law test to round out this A+ recommendation. Now you can have butter chicken on Tuesday. Uhh, and probably lunch on Wednesday too.
I was drawn in by their packaging and hooked by Isabel Freed’s California vibes. I didn’t even need to taste the mustard selection but I’m glad I did. Horseradish has the tendency to blow out your mouth. Most of the condiments containing this potent root are strong enough to make your sandwich all spread, overshadowing everything else except maybe the bread. The difference with Wilder Horseradish Mustard is that it’s as mellow as a california drive up the coast. In food speak, that’s referred to as balanced. Which makes a huge difference when you want to taste all those carefully chosen layers of your Saturday afternoon hoagie. If the sting of horseradish isn’t your game they also produce a classic mustard and a honey jalapeño version. Both of of them complete with the same California vibes mixed through each jar.
Last weeks Fancy Food Show takeover was a lot to eat through. We’re still full from tasting. From the best Regalis stood out. Their display table at the Brooklyn Good Food Show consisted of two small black garbage bags growing rare mushrooms and a live whole king crab. Needless to say it drew a crowd. Speckled between the spectacle was their consumer product line. Caviar, to dried mushrooms to truffles. I opted for the oil tasting as Massimo had sufficiently schooled me on the chemical truffle oil gag. The Regalis guys told me the put the truffle near the oil not in it and let the oil absorb the scent. Skeptical I pressed them about the types of truffles and the process. They said the taste was much less bold than the typical truffle oil because of their process. It resulted in a pungent smelling oil with a very light truffle taste. Impressed, I decided to give them some props for their method and take some home for food combo tasting. Regalis makes an Organic White Truffle Oil as well as a black. You can this and the rest of their line direct from their website.
Speaking of that Maine trip, we also discovered Pemberton’s Puttanesca, another Maine business with a great origin story. Ever heard of Death by Chocolate. Yep. That’s right. Pemberton’s. That first product quickly went from local favorite to legendary status. How did they get to a jar of sauce? Simple really, they are about small batch, traditional classics, handcrafted with care. That allows them to explore a lot of different products from sweet to savory. As you know, we’re usually a discerning crowd when it comes to jarred red sauce but this puttanesca delighted our tongues and makes for a quick fix when we’re two tired (read busy) to start from scratch.
Last year I explored Maine for the first time ever on a four day road trip. As I pecked around Portland to Belfast to the LL BEAN HQ, I found lots of great bites. One of my favorites was the very publicly applauded, yet new to me, Raye’s Mustard. With 100 years of history and what seems like as many flavor concoctions, there’s a version for everyones taste. Boasting small batch crafted, high in antioxidants, gluten-free, low sodium and no GMOs, makes you love it even more. Founded in the family smokehouse to produce mustard for Maine’s burgeoning sardine industry, the origins story only adds to the quintessential American dream story. We dig the Raye’s Horseradish Mustard on a roast beef sando, in fact, we knocked back one of those today.
Our want for coffee is currently insatiable. What we need, that’s another story. Since we’re staggering around these days in seemingly one of two states, red-eye wired workaholics or free trade, caffeine deprived zombies, a chewable cup of coffee seemed like the next logical step to get you from your bed to your barista. Think of all the moments Go Cubes Chewable Coffee will come in handy. After that chewable cigarette for example. The 68th slide in a 112 page powerpoint slide during your weekly status meeting. Running down the jetway as you just make your 6am flight to Chicago. We could find moments like these all day. As younger and cheeky as we just were, the idea of a chewable coffee with all the flavor and all the benefits is just what the nation ordered.
The equivalent to a mic drop, Sir Kensington’s has just perfected an eggless mayonnaise using aquafaba. “Say whaaaat?” you ask. Yep. They not only perfected an eggless, mayo without using soy but they are using by products from a hummus company to do it. We love bi-product reclaimed goods and process. In short, when you cook chic peas in water the liquid that remains in aquafaba. It has very similar properties to eggs so they thought, “Who’s dumping tons of this aquafaba down the drain daily?” Hummus companies were the obvious, and low cost, answer. Now part of their avocado oil mayo, organic mayo made with sunflower oil and their classic, Sir Kensington’s Fabanaise rounds out the Mayo department not only with a smart recipe but with an innovation waste management solution. It tastes great too.