Tuesday, February 2, 2016

FANCY FOOD FIND

I WAS NOT sure about the claims on the coffee sourced and roasted by TruCup. Lower acid? But how?
Unconvinced, I brewed up a few cups and downed them (on a tentative stomach-kind-of-day.)
Wow! Great coffee, no stomach issues. Call me impressed. TruCup definitely delivers all of the flavor of a bold cup of coffee -- minus the acid. Hard to believe, but true.
UPSHOT: If you love coffee but opt out because the acid hurts your stomach, check out TruCup, which is fairly new to the retail market. It's available in bean, ground and K-cup options. Bean and ground options come in mild-, medium- and bold-roast. K-cups come in medium and bold. A box of 48 K-cups is about $40. A 12-ounce bag on Amazon is about $10.50. Find it on Amazon.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

FANCY THAT

MORE THAN A WEEK after the fact, I finally have my TOP EIGHT list! It's the top-eight foods I tried during my 8-mile trek (yes, 8+ to be a bit more accurate) at this year's 2016 Winter Fancy Food Show at Moscone Center in San Francisco.
Despite the long, long, tiring day, it's so much fun to walk this massive annual show and taste what's new,  fun, and trending in the food industry. Experts don't always agree, which makes perfect sense to those who attend the show. It's huge. It's impossible to pinpoint all of the terrific foods that are served up. And that's an understatement!
Here are details on the top eight bites and sips that I happened upon. All items on this list are either on shelves now, or headed there in a few short weeks.
1) Blue Evolution Foods Marinara
This tiny startup is growing it's own seaweed and stirring it into a fresh marinara for a bold, umami-forward sauce that's entirely vegetarian and vegan.This is an impressive sauce. It's like health on a spoon -- that tastes delicious. The company also makes a pair of gluten-free pastas. $8-$9 per jar.
2) New Zealand Cheese
After tasting cheese from Wisconsin, Vermont, California and beyond, the standout was a bite of ultra-creamy, sweet-nutty cheddar from New Zealand. After a second bite, the person manning the booth shared a secret: This is the cheese behind the label of Trader Joe's New Zealand Cheddar. Good to know.
3) Mother-in-Law's Kimchi
The entirely organic and natural kimchi and its lineup of sweet-spicy Korean go-to sauce called gochujang prove that Korean food does not need to be unhealthy! The gochujiang comes in a range of flavors -- including some traditional, some not. The kimchee is made to order -- at least 15 hours in advance. The flavors are fresh and traditional to the region. The white kimchi is particularly good. Find it at some Whole Foods Markets. $9 per jar.
4) Saffron Road Chicken Enchiladas Poblano
No kidding, this is a really tasty frozen enchilada. As much as all of us hope that we can find time to make our own enchiladas, when time is short, this is a surprisingly delicious option. www.saffronroadfood.com
5) Republic of Tea Pineapple Tea
So many of this company's teas are awesome, but this pineapple tea bowled me over. It's naturally sweet due to the pineapple and has such a seductive aroma. This is the tea you want for your next party.
6) Sea Fare Pacific Wild Albacore Tuna
This troll-caught tuna fished in the waters off California, Oregon and Washington is everything you could ask for in a tuna. It's fileted, then put directly into a pouch -- no added salt, no water, no oil. The result is the freshest tuna you will ever taste. It's been available in 25-lb. food service size but will soon roll out in 6.4-ounce packets for $6-$7.
7) Suckerpunch Bloody Mary Mix
People strolled past this booth like there was nothing to enjoy -- HELLO People! The pickles are addictively crunchy and flavor-packed; the Bloody Mary mix pours thick and has so many layers of flavor that it trumps all other tomato juices. Both pickles and mix are about $9 on Amazon.
8) Tru Brew
After learning that this coffee is lower in acid, I had my doubts. Does lower acid mean less flavor? The answer in this case is "No!" Both the bold and mild versions of this coffee brew into ultra-fresh, sweet cups of coffee perfection. Even better that this coffee won't aggravate a sensitive stomach. The coffee is 4.6 times less acidic than most coffees. Extra-cool is that the coffee comes in K-cups.Amazon $40 for 48 cups.



Monday, January 25, 2016

YALLA TIME

FREMONT JUST GOT LUCKY. Opening today just a few steps away from Whole Foods is a restaurant called Yalla -- one in a small, locally based chain that specializes in Mediterranean food that is ultra-fresh, fast and delicious.
The menu includes everything from plates to wraps to salads, each one made with some of the same basic elements. Diners choose their protein, then move down a counter to select their sides. Options include extra-creamy baba ghanoush, carrot slaw, Turkish red cabbage slaw, seasonal beet-kale salad, couscous, potato salad, tomato-feta green salad and more.
Every bite of food I tried at the preview late last week was awesome. Standouts include the chicken shawarma -- so great with a drizzle of tahini on top -- and the fire feta, feta mixed up with chile sauce that deliver a rich, salty kick. Also good are the steak skewers and the salmon skewers. They also serve felafel, but I didn't get a chance to try them.
Plates that include a protein, rice, lentils, veggies and three sides is $9.95. Salads are $8.95 and wraps are $8.50, kid's meals are $5.95. Sides are $1 each with an entree. Important detail: If you possibly can, leave room for the seriously delicious tart Greek frozen yogurt topped with crumbled baklava. It's $2.95.
Yalla has fairly limited seating -- it's about the size of a Chipotle restaurant with a similar layout. But the food is served up quick. An added bonus: The restaurant also serves beer and wine for $5 per glass. To order online or look at the menu, go to www.yallamedi.com

Friday, January 15, 2016

HELLO, JAMIE!

REALLY COOL NEWS for HelloFresh, the East coast-based meal kit company. As successful as this venture is -- nationwide -- the company just got the one thing it lacks most... an awesome chef to provide recipes.
After sampling a set of meals from the company a few months ago, I had to admit that while I loved the convenience and the meals were OK, they lacked personality. They were just a little bit boring -- and sometimes a little out-of-whack in terms of flavor. I expect that the glitches will basically disappear in the months to come, as the company incorporates fresh, inventive and simple recipes from Jamie Oliver, an icon of the fresh/fast cooking world. Oliver, who has a passion for eating fresh, is teaming with HelloFresh to help home cooks turn the meal kits into something special. 
In addition to the great reciipes, HelloFresh has agreed to donate a portion of each box sold to Oliver's Food Foundation, an organization that helps teachers integrate food into teaching by funding gardens, a community based cooking program, and a chef's apprentice program for teens. For more info on signing up for the HelloFresh meal kit delivery service, go to www.hellofresh.com 

Friday, January 8, 2016

BETTA MEZZETTA

FOR YEARS, the Napa-based Mezzetta Family has been turning out solid products. But in recent years, the family has upped it's game in a major way. Not only are they the go-to for terrific peppers and olives, but the company is now producing a huge lineup of specialty olives, spreads and pasta sauces that are making quite a culinary statement.
For example, their variations on red pasta sauce: Plum Tomato, Whole Garlic and Sweet Basil, Truffle, Porcini and Cream, Calabrian Chili and Garlic (to name a few.) What's great about these sauces is that they're all very different and they all deliver unique flavors.
A few months ago, I had a chance to try some of their spreads, including a serious Sundried Tomato and Basil and the Olive and Parmesan Garlic. Both bring tons of flavor to an Italian sandwich -- or a baked potato, a bowl of pasta -- you name it.
If you're planning an Italian meal, you might wat to browse the options. Look for Mezzetta products at most grocers. Since they have so many different items, each store is likely to carry only certain ones. Finer grocers are likely to have the best ones. www.mezzetta.com

Gadgetry

IT PAYS TO be picky about the gadgets you add to your kitchen. A lot of them sound like a great idea -- but they are often designed to do a task that another tool does just as well. That said, it's fun to discover a new gadget that works well -- and is worth adding to an already overflowing kitchen. Here are details on a few new worthy gadgets.
Microplane Rotary Cheese Grater
This comfortable grater has a sharp circular grater that turns cheese or chocolate into a pile of ribbons instantly. It's easy to use and easy to take apart for cleaning. You can get by with a simpler tool-- but why? This is perfect for family style meals.
Mr. Coffee Automatic Milk Frother, $49
It's compact, simple to use, easy to clean and it works like a champ, turning a splash of milk into a cup of foam. If you're a fan of cappucinos or lattes, this is definitely worth the counter space. Think Valentine's Day surprise!
Bonjour Salad Chef Dressing Mixer, $20
If you are fine with bottled dressings, you don't need this. But if you like fresh dressings that take seconds to mix, then this takes all of the work out of the task. Dump everything into the bottle -- there are handy marks on the side of the bottle so you don't even have to measure -- blend and that's it. Simple, compact and really useful.