I wrapped up 2011 with a post waving goodby to some food trends and "hot" products that were not so hot and that I fervently hoped would disappear from the scene in 2012. This year I'm ending on a more positive note and spotlighting a grab bag of fairly new or little known food items I hope will stick around for a long time and think you might enjoy. Happy New Year everybody!
Bruce Cost's ginger ale I loved Bruce Cost's well-written ginger cookbook years ago, so had to stop and say hello when I discovered him handing out samples of his own brand of ginger ale at a food show last year. Yes, I liked his zingy, fresh-tasing ale as much as his book. In fact, his brew is addictive if you like your ginger ale with a lot of genuine ginger taste and associated kick of heat.
Chocolate Craft Colors “Natural Food Colors” I've been interested in avoiding the synthetic petrochemical food colors in my cookie and cake icings and decorations for several years, and have been using the line of all-natural colors pictured in the cookies at the top left. They are available from a few retailers and purchased directly (and promptly I might add) from the company on the Internet here.
Fran's Chocolates milk-chocolate-covered caramel with Halen Mon smoked sea salt--I'm not always thrilled with sea salt on my caramels, but, as usual, Fran's take on this still trendy confection is to die for. As she pointed out when I spoke to her at a food show, the choice of salt can make a huge difference. The highly touted Halen Mon North Wales smoked salt provided not only a hint of interesting flavor and aroma, but the crystals are softer on the teeth and add rather than detract from the silky candy texture.
Skillet Bacon Spread--Bacon anything is still hot and while many of the recent concoctions have struck me as trying way too hard, this spread is very good. It's flavor is pleasantly "bacony," in the same way ham spread is "hammy;" in fact it could probably be subbed for ham spread in many recipes. A container is perfect for keeping on hand to make interesting, yet fuss-free cocktail snacks.
Peppadew Sweet Piquante Peppers--Discovered growing wild in South Africa, these attractive yellow and red peppers would make a nice addition to a pizza, submarine sandwich or zesty soup or dip.
The yellowish one has a distinctive yet mild sweet pepper flavor. The red one has a bit of heat, though tears didn't come to my eyes. As the pic at the very top shows, they're sold jarred. They come whole and in relish form, and as a bottled hot pepper sauce. If, like me, you're a capsicum fan, you might want to try 'em.
Calendar Islands lobster stew and chowder--
These savory dishes are from a brand new company formed by 37 Maine lobstermen. Frankly, their products are as good as and maybe better than a lot of homemade versions. The company is modeled after the Ocean Spray cranberry growers' cooperative, and has partnered with Stonewall Kitchens, where the recipe development was done.