Friday, October 24, 2014

8 for $9 'til 10

IF YOU CAN COUNT, you want to keep the newest Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar meal deal in mind. It's called "8 for $9 'til 10." Similar to the super-popular happy hour offer, "5 for $6 'til 7," this deal features a selection of drinks and dishes that are $9 each between 8 and 10 p.m.
 
If you're thinking "$9 isn't cheap. What's the big deal?" that's because you haven't been to Fleming's. The steakhouse serves up incredibly awesome sides along with some of the best steaks you'll ever eat. Even better, they serve 100 wines by the glass, thanks to a unique bottle-closing system that enables them to keep wines fresh from the first to the last glass.Last week, Chef Jay Cruz invited a few people in eat through the menus -- from bar food to main dishes. Yikes!! The spread included fresh seafood, empanadas with a ridiculously delicious poblano sauce, savory ahi tuna tacos topped with jicama slaw, lobster lettuce wraps and flatbread topped with filet mignon. What's worth mentioning is that every dish was packed with memorable flavors.
 To make sure every bite was enjoyed, a glass of the new Fleming's signature wine was shared; an incredibly rich, dense and grape-forward 46 Diamonds Cabernet Sauvignon from the highly esteemed Howell Mountain AVA in Napa Valley. The wine is a 2009 Cabernet blend created at Ladera Vineyards. It's not on the special menu, but it's a wine worth checking out. It's $20 a glass; $80 per bottle. www.flemingssteakhouse.com

 
 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

HUMMUS IN THE HAND

 
Photo by Jolene Thym

I LOVE HOMEMADE hummus. I like deli-made hummus. And I'm OK with this ridiculously convenient new hummus made by Pacific. While it lacks the creamy texture of a homemade hummus, it's OK -- and it's something you can keep on hand in the pantry at all times.
Now, I have to admit that I was a little tweaked about the idea of hummus in a box. But once I got over the box issue and actually tasted this stuff, I was surprised at the authentic flavor, and also at the success of the various hummus flavors in the lineup. There's a roasted garlic, My favorite is this red pepper hummus, which even has bits of roasted red pepper in it.
Honestly, his hummus would be perfect if you put it in a blender and added a touch of oil and a splash of water. www.pacificfoods.com
 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

MORE BETTER FUN

Photo by Jolne Thym 
WHEN IT COMES to kids, fun is key. This fall, companies have rolled out more than a few new products that are healthier, more natural versions of traditional lunchbox items. Drazil Kids Tea is a bright-flavored drink that is made from herbal tea blends and fruit juice. It has half the calories of traditional juice boxes but all the flavor, thanks to the bright essence of herbals such as hibiscus, rose hips and rooibos tea. $4.99-$5.99 for a pack of 8 at Berkeley Bowl, Andronico's, Draegers, and other markets. Raley's is expected to add them to the shelf soon.
Hoping to replace the typical yogurt-stick are the new Lifeway Organic Probugs, pouches of yogurt-like kefir -- think milk-drink -- that has more probiotics, less sugar and none of the oddball stabilizers and artifical colors of mainstream yogurt sticks. The 4-ounce pouches are like yogurt, but with much thinner consistency. They have100 calories each. I love that they come in fun flavors like "Orange Creamy Crawler" and "Goo-Berry Pie." Find these at just about every market you can think of.
 

Monday, October 6, 2014

CATCHY FLAVOR


Photo by Jolene Thym
 I LOVE KETCHUP every which way. I like it hot, sweet, spicy and hopped up with just about anything and everything. I tried a whole lot of unusual ketchups earlier this year, when I wrote a Taste-Off feature article about ketchups, but this new flavor by RedDuck Ketchup is definitely the most unusual. And I like it.
The ketchup, an organic, artisan ketchup that's made in small batches, has pumpkin at the front, followed by the acid of tomatoes mixed with a warm cinnamon, apple cider kick. It's sweet and sour -- perfect for bumping up flavor on a burger or for using as a dipper for a grilled cheese or a pile of fries. It's $8 for a 12-ounce jar -- just the right price for gifting season. The ketchup is stocked in lots of stores in Oregon, where it's made, but it hasn't found shelf space here in the Bay Area yet. Find it online only.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

CHOCOLATE SOLUTION

 
Pascha Organic makes a lineup of dairy free bars and chips.
SEVERAL MONTHS AGO I went to the Chocolate Salon event in San Francisco, where I ate a whole lot of chocolate... including at least a dozen different dairy free, gluten-free confectons and bars. I liked some of them, but not a single bite I had compares to Pascha Organic's line of chocolate bars and chips. This is not compromise-chocolate. This is killer chocolate that everyone can eat. It has pure, decadent, rich chocolate flavor, unmuddled by coconut or other odd oils and flavors.
Instead of dairy, this chocolate gets its creaminess from pure cocoa butter. The products are all made in a dedicated allergen-free facility. My favorite bar? The 55% Chocolate with Goldenberries. Yum.
The chips are $6.95-- $7.95 per bag; the bars are $22--$28 for a 5-pack. Find them online at www.paschachocolate.com

Friday, September 26, 2014

MEET THE NEW MEATS

 
Photo by Jolene Thym. Sandwich from South Coast Deli, Santa Barbara
THE GREAT NEWS about all of the bad news about childhood obesity is that companies are taking the news seriously. They're working hard to create new products that are way better for kids, cutting sugar, fat, calories, sodium -- and preservatives. 
Among them is the lunchmeat giant Hillshire Farm. This fall, Hillshire launched a better-for-you line of lunchmeats called Hillshire Farm Naturals. The thin-cut meats, including ham and turkey roasted in different ways, have about the same sodium, fat and calorie content, but they're made without preservatives or other artificial ingredients. The result: Better, fresher flavor. An 8-ounce package is $4.49 at most stores.
Another healthy option at some stores are the new deli turkey slices by Diestel, ridiculously fresh slices that are literally freshly, thinly sliced turkey breast in a package. These come in lots of great flavors, including one that's salt-free.
P.S. This photo does not picture Hillshire Farms nor Diestel's cold cuts, but it COULD! In fact, IF these coldcuts had more pork choices, I could pull it off. This is the "Three Little Pigs" sandwich from South Coast Deli in Santa Barbara. It's triple pork topped with shredded and dressed salad. Memorable. If you're in the area, go there. You will be happy you did. It's on East Carillo.