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Drinking a flower, like an Elf – ‘Blossom Water,’ inspired by nature

9 Mar

By Jackie Flaten

Summer in a bottle. That was my first impression upon sipping the tasty “Blossom Water” at the Fancy Food Show. Blossom Water is pure water infused with fruit and flower essences, lightly sweetened with agave and all natural.

The Massachusetts-based company, started in 2013, offers four flavors, aromatic and unique with the ephemeral tastes of summer: Grapefruit Lilac, Lemon Rose, Plum Jasmine and Pomegranate Geranium. 45 calories per bottle and 11 grams of sugar (16 oz. serving); non GMO, no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives; gluten- sodium- and caffeine-free.

bloswatI tried the Grapefruit Lilac, wondering how in the world these two flavors could be woven together but it worked – you first experience the refreshing tartness of grapefruit, softened by a delicate lilac finish.

I also sampled the Plum Jasmine with the same curiosity; the makers know what they are doing. The fruity initial note was balanced with the jasmine providing just a kiss of floral sweetness. These waters are sophisticated enough for any gathering.

Co-founders Steve and Trish, ardent gardeners, were inspired by the heady fragrances of their flower plantings a few years back. Could these aromas be captured into a drink? They managed to do it, quite well. The bottles are beautiful, too – Blossom Water employs a local artist to ”carefully hand paint each watercolor illustration so that it is a botanically correct representation.” Their story: http://drinkblossomwater.com/our-story/

Learn more about the company here: http://www.drinkblossomwater.com; they’re also on Twitter @blossomwater. You can purchase product online — http://www.chatsworthgoods.com/collections/beverage/products/blossom-water-sampler-pack — or look for a store near you, here: http://drinkblossomwater.com/find-a-store/ #blossomwater #drinkblossomwater #floraldrink #flowerwater

Pop. Burst. Wow. Meet the Citriburst Finger Lime, Caviar Citrus

1 Mar

By Jackie Flaten

Some of the new exotic fruits are gloriously showy – Day-Glo pink with lime-green tendrils, bold gold ovals with orange spots and vicious pokey spikes, moss green buckyball-esque…

On the other hand, you might not look twice at the Finger Lime, an Australian native that’s smallish, like a short fat cucumber, dark green and innocuous. It doesn’t scream intensity. The price tag might scare you off too.

But if you happen to find a rare Finger Lime or Microcitrus australasica, I highly recommend you buy it. Underneath the mild-looking skin are translucent tiny pearls of dynamite flavor. They’re hard to find, limited seasonally and fanatically sought-after by those in the know. The taste? Like most fruit, almost impossible to describe but I’ll try: “citrusy magical textural flavor explosion.”image

After discovering “Citrus Caviar” a few years ago at the Shanley Farms’ booth within Savor California at the Fancy Food Show, I was hooked. Its high-profile flavor accents anything it accompanies to the nth degree. Samples were served with yogurt as well as on their own. The pop on one’s tongue is reminiscent of the small orange sushi roe, but the taste is citrus, green, sweet and tangy all at once. Top chefs adorn everything from fish to salads to risotto and ice cream with these delectable dots.

The pop on one’s tongue is reminiscent of the small orange sushi roe, but the taste is citrus, green, sweet and tangy all at once. Top chefs adorn everything from fish to salads to risotto and ice cream with these delectable dots.

Poised to be the next great citrus, California farmers are scaling to larger markets. Shanley Farms, out of the California Central Coast, has trademarked their Finger Limes as “Citriburst’; they also provide Morro Bay avocados, kiwis, lemons, coffee trees, raspberry figs, goji berries and more (most produce sold to wholesalers). Citriburst Finger Limes are available for purchase online fall through early winter and also through several distributors including Whole Foods Market, Hy-Vee, New Seasons and Super Valu.

Shanley Farms founder Jim Shanley started farming in his retirement years, after a commodities career. His goal is to leave a real legacy for his family and generations to come. Starting with an avocado ranch, Jim was soon smitten with the first-to-U.S.-market possibilities of the Finger Lime micro citrus. The first trees were planted ten years ago, and begin fruiting in 2011.

Learn more about their products, and great story here: http://shanleyfarms.com/our-story/ Main website is here: http://www.shanleyfarms.com, and you can find them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. #fingerlimes #citriburstfingerlimes #citriburst #newfruit #newcitrus #microcitrus #wffs16 #amazingflavor

 

Curiously sweet tasty flames from Little Bird

25 Feb

By Jackie Flaten

Another great find at this year’s Fancy Food Show – Little Bird Curious Confections of Long Island City, New York. This award-winning chocolate with candied jalapenos is unique, deliciously super-hot and sweet. I started with the milk chocolate-covered jalapenos.

spicOnce owner Sara Meyer (pictured) determined for sure that I had survived that experience, I was promoted to the candied jalapenos realm. Yes, my mouth was in flames — but the good kind of flames. I like it hot, and am usually disappointed by packaging that touts “hotness” as a selling point. But not Little Bird. Woo-wee! Sizzlin’!

It all started when Sara made some chocolate-covered candied orange peels as a treat for her husband. They turned out so munchably great that she was inspired to try candying all kinds of things… but the candied jalapenos proved to be the showstopper, and Little Bird was born.

Now they produce (along with the original candied jalapenos), chocolate-covered candied jalapenos (milk, dark and white) and dark chocolate bark with crushed candied jalapenos. I saw on their Instagram @LittleBirdChoc an intriguing Jalapeno Simple Syrup too.

Little Bird has won several Scovie Awards (Scovies are for the best fiery foods in the world!) for their products and packaging. Buy their products at Amazon Little Bird Chocolates as well as several stores across the U.S. Retailers can purchase in bulk on their site also. Little Bird Chocolates on Facebook

Chocolate-Covered Salted Crickets and Spicy Superworms, Oh My!

25 Feb

By Jackie Flaten

We had a great time exploring the businesses under incubation by the non-profit La Cocina at this year’s Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco.

donbugiSuzanne (pictured) gave us an enthusiastic rundown of Don Bugito, a Pre-Hispanic Snackeria. Don Bugito has two new exciting products — Chocolate-Covered Salted Crickets and Spicy Superworms.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to chomp a grasshopper or the like, but I would have and definitely will when the next opportunity arises. You can get these tasty healthy treats at the La Cocina kiosk at the San Francisco Ferry Building; also check out: Don Bugito.

Learn more about the fine work La Cocina SF is doing to help fledgling food entrepreneurs, here: La Cocina SF.

The fascinating premise and mission of Don Bugito (from their website):

“Don Bugito, based in San Francisco and born at La Cocina, is a food company that offers tasty edible insects prepared as gourmet foods and treats. Monica Martinez was inspired by pre-hispanic and contemporary Mexican cuisine, specifically by the ‘bugs’ she snacked on as a child. This cuisine has been consumed by people in Mexico and within cultures throughout the world for thousands of years. Don Bugito is thrilled to be able to share new versions of these classic foods with an American audience as well as support a healthier world by providing a sustainable, ecological food.”

Winter Fancy Food Show: Tales from the Cornucopia

18 Jan

By Jackie Flaten

Resting my tootsies as well as my alimentary system after spending Sunday meandering through the almost never-ending aisles of the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. This is the premier national food and beverage showcase sponsored by the National Association of the Specialty Food Trade Association, a twice yearly event held here and in New York City (summertime) that has more than 1,500 vendors showing off their wares.

Last year was my first experience with this cornucopia of gustatory pleasure. I swore I’d be targeted and sensible this time around. I’d exhibit some restraint in the face of kindly people relentless in their sample pushing. Decided NOT to start exploring in the cheese and chocolate section as Angela and I did last year.

Somehow, though, upon entering the Moscone South Hall, I found myself instantly in that very section, surrounded by alluring piles of cubed, sliced, crumbled and chunked bleus, fetas, cheddars, chevre and more. The owners and creators themselves are more likely than not to be the person behind the table explaining their product, which makes for a lot of fun and interesting conversations. People are passionate about their products and know their stuff. Thought this cheese tower in the shape of an elegant cake was beautiful, courtesy of Cypress Grove Chevre from Arcata, Calif., maker of rich and delicious goat cheese. Their new  Truffle Tremor is velvety and earthy :

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First stop (after cheese grazing) was Silver Moon Desserts Booth 304 in the California section, North Hall. We are so proud of our association with this San Jose-based top-of-the-line artisan ice cream & sorbet! Sheri Tate’s liqueur- and wine-infused concoctions are made with all natural ingredients, real fruit purees, Real California milk and laced with premium liqueurs like Cointreau and Prosecco. Silver Moon Dessert’s first retail line launched at last winter’s Fancy Food Show and immediately won accolades from industry and public alike.

They launched two new retail flavors at this show: Lavender Limoncello sorbet (oh my, deliciously unique and refreshing) and Real Bourbon Vanilla Bean, a lushly creamy classic aromatic with real vanilla beans and bourbon. Kudos to their outta site marketing firm, HellBent Marketing, that designs their gorgeous, evocative containers:

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More adventures:

Being a huge fan of Hint Water, particularly their Cucumber, Watermelon and Mango Grapefruit, it was of course a thrill to meet its refreshingly down-to-earth and savvy CEO Kara Goldin. She launched Hint, a naturally flavored bottled water without sweeteners or preservatives in May 2005. The company has garnered a tsunami of press coverage and happy hydrated fans since its inception.

Also in the liquid categories, I found A+ Minari to be very interesting. It’s a unusually flavored but tasty “liquified tea” which contains 26 percent extract from water parsley, sourced from South Korea and other Asian locales. Extracted under a patent-pending process andpurported to “dissolve fat cells” – HELLO! — and support liver function, the drink has “no pigment, artificial flavoring or preservatives, tranquilizer (!), and carbonic acid.” A+ Minari is the only company to have this product, created at Yeungnam University, on the market. Unfortunately I could not find a website on their collateral or online, but I did learn that Minari means Korean watercress, Korean parsley, Korean dropwort, water dropwort and has many other names. Distributed by Sae Earl Bio Food Corp.

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I didn’t discover what is now a diet staple, sushi, until well into my fourth decade. But I had always liked cavier, herring, fish and shellfish. Cavier, of course, was never a diet staple but I’d had enough to know I like it. So it was rewarding to try Canadian product Aqua Gourmet’s Vegeterian Cavier, NO cholesterol, NO calories and YES tasty! It’s made mostly from kelp and it maintains what I think is a big attribute of real fish eggs, the delightful in-mouth “popping”:

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And, for all you Baby Boomers who remember eating Flicks at the movies, the chocolate buttons that came in an easy to open and dump in your mouth tube, good news! Flicks are BACK! From their site:

Flicks Candy” is a chocolate flavored treat that has been around for over 100 years. It was originally developed by the Ghirardelli family in the late 1890’s, but wasn’t called “Flicks” until 1904. It was produced in San Francisco, and then later in San Leandro up until 1989. By that time, the machinery that produced Flicks had been continually operating for nearly 100 years, it had been damaged in its move to San Leandro, and replacement parts were no longer available, as the equipment’s manufacturer had been out of business since World War II. For these reasons, production of Flicks ceased in 1989.”

Until Jim Tjerrild changed all that. His family  acquired the Flicks trademark in 2004, and in 2005, acquired the original decommissioned production equipment that produced Flicks for nearly 100 years. After painstaking reassembly, Flicks are now being created again, this time in Fresno, California.

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Then there was the GarLic it! Company. Delicious marinated garlic, sliced and ready to go, coming in flavors like Spicy Chipotle, Sichuan Pepper, Thai Peanut, Tomato Curry and Savory Basil. I can see these becoming a diet staple. Very fresh and tasty.

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Many, many more wonderful finds: Kari’s Malva Pudding, Terra Sonoma Food Company‘s Saba & VerJus, Bacon Popcorn… Another dispatch to come from tomorrow’s explorations!

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-jdf

Walking amongst the Foodies – tales from the SF Professional Food Society

31 Aug

By Jackie Flaten

Aaah, sampling delectable food… My first encounters with the delights of sampling was when the folks took us to cavernous Sam’s Club when we were kids. Even if it was not clearly identifiable or even tasty, if attached to a toothpick, it was free and had to be eaten. My tastes have matured and I’ve still not willingly turned down a free sample of any new or interesting food.

So imagine the thrill of attending the San Francisco Professional Food Society’s annual BBQ last week. The SFPFS is one of the country’s oldest organizations for professionals working in the food industry with nearly 400 members drawn from all sectors of the professional food world. Food journalists, chefs, artists, farmers, vintners and sommeliers, event planners, caterers, retailers, suppliers, food scientists, etc… They know their stuff — what fun to be in an setting where your passionate food professionals and artisans are all trying to impress one another!

SavorCalifornia.com, an organization that showcases the best of the Golden State’s amazing gourmet food and beverage industry, provided the food for the BBQ. Owl A and I wandered among the booths sampling with abandon. We were hard-pressed to find anything we DIDN’T like, everything was high quality and delicious.

Some highlights:

Terra Sonoma VerJus
Terra Sonoma’s Verjus is made from the vineyard’s first harvest. The artisanal Verjus,  produced in limited quantities, starts with the green thinning semi-ripe wine grapes. The delicious Verjus is an acidulant for cooking to use in place of Lemon Juice, Balsamic or Red Wine Vinegar or Rice Wine Vinegar, “used in place of vinegars in your favorite vinaigrette recipe, splashed over fresh cut seasonal fruit, used in place of water for steaming vegetables or light white fish, and used for deglazing pans to name just a few culinary uses...”
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Fentimans “Botanically Brewed Beverages”
Not a big pop drinker (yes, I said “pop” — I’m from the Midwest and on this subject refuse to fold to West Coast pressures), Fentiman’s sodas blew us away with their sophisticated and unusual flavors. They prefer to be called “Botanically Brewed Beverages” but are classified as sodas or soft drinks and are made with natural ingredients in the old-fashioned manner and lightly fermented. (Their packaging is appealing, too.)

We had the pleasure of speaking with the friendly and well-informed President of the US Division, Greg Warwick, who poured us generous samples, told us the story of Fentiman’s, and even gave us a surprisingly tasteful lesson in the sadly obscure Victorian art of “furtling”.
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Fentiman’s beverages are still made in the time-honored tradition by brewing and fermenting herbs and milled roots over seven days. (This compares to just hours’ production time for typical soft drinks.) Since its founding in 1905 with a Ginger Beer recipe, Fentiman’s has been brewing sodas in an array of unique flavors, including: Dandelion & Burdock, Curiousity Cola, Mandarin & Seville Orange Jigger. They opened a production plant in the US in 2007, have gotten some great press and accolades, and are working to expand their distribution sites. We’d love to see their product in stores across the country, they’re delicious and different.

Silver Moon Desserts
Silver Moon brilliantly paired its refreshingly light, lime and rum infused Mojito Ice with its exotic Mediterranean Pomegranate Martini, drizzled with a decadent rum-mint sauce. This dessert was the perfect ending to a perfect meal.
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Many more we’d love to talk about and will perhaps in a future posting. We got a big kick out of the caffeinated ebullience of “Travelin’ Joe” of Travelin’ Joe Espresso Catering, loved Sweet Earth’s Grilled Vegetarian Seitan, the first Seitan I can say with enthusiasm was delicious, and were happy to see others we had met at the Winter Fancy Food Show still out there and growing.
-jdf

Owl A with a famous spokesbean

26 Feb

Owl A with a famous spokesbean

Had to share this shot taken at the San Francisco Fancy Food Show — one of the Owls hanging with the famous Mr. JellyBelly! We met some terrific, passionate entrepreneurs at this National Association for the Specialty Food Trade event. More to come about some of the more unusual products we ran across…

-jdf www.mediaowls.com

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