I have an unnatural penchant for simple, straightforward things. Design is one of them. When I was a kid I loved the no-frills aisle in my supermarket. To this day, simple food packaging gets me jazzed. Public Goods is the latest in the short line of cleanly designed packaging available. The trick to these companies is that the food needs to be equally as good as the package design. Yeah, we eat with our eyes but only until it touches our tongues. So when my first box arrived I admired the unboxing but then tore right into a pack of ramen. Slurping down the last little bits of noodles was the acknowledgment of quality and validation of the small membership fee that allows these inexpensive, yet quality, items to show up on my doorstep. They jumped off as a Kickstarter and now are in full swing with stock across personal care, household, grocery, vitamins and supplements, and pet supplies. We heavied up on the grocery department but threw in some dental floss for good measure. Pro tip 😉 Oral hygiene is key when you are always eating. If you’re fast, you might still be able to catch the sale they were running on membership this month.
All Pantry Stuff
We never thought of putting garam masala on cold greens either but a few nights ago we were treated to such a salad. A sprinkle of this quintessential Indian mixture onto crispy fresh fennel, juicy grapefruit supremes and the occasional candied ginger, worked better than I would have ever guessed in making our tastebuds dance. With a bit further investigation (Raiding our friend’s pantry) we discovered this triad of masalas from the late, great chef Floyd Cardoz in collaboration with Burlap and Barrel. Chef Cardoz passed from complications of COVID-19 in March 2020 but left a legacy through his compassion, teachings and artifacts, like these spices. Burlap and Barrel partners directly with small farmers to source spices that have never been available in the US before and help improve the livelihoods of their partner farmers. This collab was no exception. Working with Chef Cardoz’s wife and business partner Barkha Cardoz, as a memorial to his love for the cuisines of India and his passion for sharing them with the world, the three masalas are uniquely different but all Chef Cardoz. The garam masala is floral, sweet and aromatic. Second in the trifecta, the Goan masala has an earthy, pungent, gingery complexity flavor profile. Lastly, the Kashmiri masala brings the heat with a fennel, ginger and aromatic profile anchored by the Kashmiri chili. Aside from being great on your favorite greens, this trifector collection is a fantastic way to pay homage and connect with a chef who made a huge impact on the culinary world.
Adult cereal and adaptogens are quite old but both are fairly new to most of us. Dare I say trendy. Off Limits is a new cereal brand developed by Emily Miller, famous for all sorts of breakfast stuff like books and tours. Watching my grandmother eat her daily milk doused bowl of bran and wheat germ with a yuck face had me running for my Tony the Tiger well into my 30’s. These days, as a smarter, slower metabolism, dude an alternative was in order. We’ve highlighted some of these new cereal brands before. What takes Off Limits to the next level are these wonderful little adaptogens added to the crunchy O’s. Adaptogens are things you’ve heard of but don’t really know what they are aside from “they are good for you”. Originally created in 1947, I told you they were old, to describe a substance that may increase resistance to stress, today they promote other benefits such as anti-inflammation and hormonal balance. They have crazy names like rhodiola, schisandra and, most trendy, ashwagandha but they are basically roots and plants you can find in various parts of the world. Ashwagandha is the adaptogen in one of the two current Off Limits flavors, Zombie. The green O’s are made from rice, oat, and coconut flour with notes of vanilla and pandan. BTW, pandan is a Southeast Asian plant that when crushed gives off a sweet, floral scent. The other flavor is Dash. Championing a caffeinated female rabbit mascot, these dots are a chocolatey, coffee goodness guaranteed to pep you up. There are three different coffee ingredients in them. WOWO. No chill adaptogens in these. Together these two options get you up in the morning and put you down at night hence their claim that this is cereal for any time of day. As cereal nerds, we like that idea a lot. Aside from the quality and taste, the design of everything from the box to the website wins in our book. Emily partnered with Shepard Fairey’s Studio Number One for the character development and Pentagram partner, Astrid Stavro for the visual identity. She didn’t stop there. We opened this post with “old stuff but new to us”. Continuing on the old is new theme, they even brought back the free toy inside, although it’s not inside. It’s more a carnival ticket system approach. You accumulate tickets with each purchase and then can go shopping in their online toy store for stuff like mascot keychains and other fun tchotchkes. Next time you are hankering for your childhood, need a boost but hate 24hr energy, or need to mellow into slumberland drop some Off Limits in a bowl and fix that need in a most delicious and fun-loving way.
We love cereal but, in all honesty, we’ve been out of the carb for b-fast game a while. The occasional cereal milk cone from Milk Bar and my once a year splurge on an oversize bowl of the Great Tony the Tigers’ Frosted Flakes are about all the Saturday morning, five-year-old-kid impersonations I allow myself. Imagine my zeal when I realized a few boxes of this more than playful, yet almost none of the guilt, quad pack of keto-friendly cereal showed up at my door. Magic Spoon is doing god’s work, if your god’s name is Kellogg. As the disruption and bettering of just about everything these days continues with a heavy foot on the pedal, Greg and Gabi disrupted an industry built on sugar-coated grains with free prizes inside. Taking the four most popular cereals; Frosted, Fruity, Cinnamon and Cocoa and turning down the crap but keeping all the flavor is no small feat. Any of their keto-friendly, gluten and grain-free flavors barely have carbs, 3g net if you’re counting, and are packed with 12grams of protein. Considering a comparable bowl of Fruit Loops has 21 grams of carbs and 2 grams of protein, they quite literally flip the nutrition on it’s head. I know, what about your love for Toucan Sam, Count Chocula and the gang? Magic Spoon has that covered too. The boxes come with their own mascots and ride on sidekicks like Frosted Wizard and Flying Bunny. The team hasn’t produced any catchy jingles or wacky cartoon commercials yet but we wouldn’t put it past these guys to have animated mascots in the works. After all, they broke themselves into food disruption developing cricket energy bars so, this is an obvious second act. Uhh, sort of. As we learned when we were 5, pretty boxes and dancing animals only get you so far. If Magic Spoon tasted like the knock off Sugar Smacks your mom tried to pass off as authentic after a secret run to Pathmark we wouldn’t even be writing this story. So, product flavor is critical. First let’s talk about the shape. They went with the classic “O” for all four flavors. It took me a second to get past my love of the “flake” but on taste that quickly was forgotten. Each of the flavors was a time machine back to the 80’s right down to the last slurp of bowl milk. Impressed, I went in for a second round and decided the $40 a month subscription is as critical as my Spotify and Netflix monthlies. Speaking of, a little pairing of the two seem in order this Saturday morning. Here I come Papa Smurf.
You may think that here at FTHQ, we’re partial to utensils of the four-pronged variety, but we generally appreciate any and all cutlery that helps us deliver food into our perpetually hungry mouths. Although we’ve been known to nearly jump up-and-down in excitement about all kinds of eating instruments — knives, salad tongs, corn-on-the-cob holders, you name it — it’s been a while since tableware has gotten us as excited as these 100% edible and biodegradable utensils from Bakeys. With funding from a successful Kickstarter campaign, and an aim to provide a viable alternative to the billions of plastic utensils thrown into landfills every year, Bakeys has it covered when it comes to usability and sustainability. Turns out sorghum, an environmentally-friendly crop you may have never heard of, seems to be the magic ingredient. Not only does sorghum allow Bakeys to produce 100 edible spoons with the same energy required to make a single plastic one, it also prevents the utensils from degrading in liquids — a particularly important fact for the environmentally-conscious ice cream enthusiasts among us.
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.
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.