Tuesday, November 24, 2015


CARBS ARE A luxury for those who watch their weight -- or blood sugar. For that reason, when it's time for a carb-heavy meal, it should be not just good, but TERRIFIC. To that end, two really great options landed on my desk in the last few weeks.
First was a stash of incredibly beautiful, top-notch pasta samples imported from Panaia, Italy. It's called Rustichella d'Abruzzo. The three extra-long, gorgeous colored spaghetti samples sport primarily Italian descriptions, but they're stamped with a few English words, thank you! Their flavors, which come from squid ink, chili peppers and spinach, are definitely understated, but the colors are awesome and the texture of the pasta is amazing. Find these at the Pasta Shop in Oakland and Berkely or at www.markethallfoods.com 
THE OTHER suggestion is an invitation to "slow down, roll up your sleeves" and make your own ravioli (eeeeeeek!) with an incredibly gorgeous and ingenious handmade wood rolling pin of sorts. The Fonde Ravioli Rolling Pin from Repast Supply Co. is unlike any other -- it is made specifically to roll over two layers of pasta dough with filling in the middle. The idea is to smash the layers together and create uniform ravioli (unlike the UFOs that have been served at my table.) Love this. Even if it doesn't get used often, it's the perfect foodie gift as it's useful and a gorgeous decorative item. The 17-inch model is $99; a 12-inch pin is $79. Find the pins at Williams-Sonoma or online at www.repastsupplyco.com If you want to see this really cool tool in action, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvMqJN577_U&authuser=0

Monday, November 23, 2015


I AM A PURIST when it comes to whipped cream. I want the real stuff. But I am also fully aware that it's not good for me -- and a whole lot of other people who will come to my Thanksgiving table. I might offer up some of the real thing this year, but I am also going to bring to my pie spread a bowl of TruWhip, a new whipped topping that's just so much better for you.

It's made with natural ingredients had delivers just 25 to 30 calories per 2 tablespoons, depending on the version you choose. It has a bit of fat from palm kernel oil but gets it's texture from tapioca. If you're not opposed to whipped toppings -- or if it's a standard at your pie table -- opt for this one. It's MUCH healthier than most similar products as it contains no transfats and no artificial ingredients. For more info, check out their site: truwhip


WHO KNEW YOU could actually make bitters yourself? If you did, then you're way ahead of me. A new book by Mark Bitterman, "Field Guide to Bitters And Amari," ($19.99, Andrews McMeel) is a gorgeous, leather-like handbook that shares recipes for bitters -- and how to use them.
The text talks about the origin and usefulness of bitters in the diet, the role bitters play in cocktails, and also shares recipes for using bitters and amari. It's really a must-have book for anyone who loves bar sports. Find it on Amazon.

Sunday, November 22, 2015


FANS OF HUMMUS who love pureed chickpeas any which way will have fun checking out the new line of hummus-everything from Hummusphere Foods. The company, suffice it to say, has gone rogue on hummus, infusing it with smoke and even turning it into salad dressing.
The applewood-smoked hummus flavors definitely have attitude. They deliver a crazy smoke-punch that's interesting -- if a little too smoky for my taste. Flavors include a super-spicy Jalapeno Black Bean, a slightly spicy Fire Roasted Red Pepper, a slightly strange Thai Coconut Curry and a classic, of course.
Even more adventurous are the company's new hummus salad dressings. The flavors are unique and punchy -- and low in fat. Find all of Hummusphere's new offerings at select Whole Foods, Fresh Market and Safeway. www.hummusphere.com.

Friday, November 20, 2015


MENTION A VARIETAL and most fans of wine are likely to have few favorites. But it's also fun to invite a few new labels to a party -- to taste something fresh and unique. To that end, here are details on a few interesting -- and promising -- white wines that have filled my glass in recent weeks.
The Dreaming Tree Everyday White Wine, $15
This light white wine made from a handful of different Central Coast varietals is the kind of wine that you don't have to overthink. It's light, crisp, and clean. It has a touch of sweetness. The wine is getting extra attention since it is made by Dave Matthews of Dave Matthews Band. www.dreamingtreewines.com
McBride Sisters Truvee 2014 Chardonnay, $13.99
From Monterey County, this is a very pretty example of tradition at it's best. The wine is oaked but retains a lush hit of pineapple-apple-citrus flavors. The wine is made by two sisters who just recently jumped into the business earlier this year. www.truveewines.com
Ruffino Prosecco, $10.99
This super-popular and easy to find Italian sparkling wine is found on most store shelves for a very good reason: It's a really nice wine. It's creamy, smooth and slightly sweet, with delicate bubbles. Sip this with appetizers or alongside a hefty brunch plate.  www.ruffino.com

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


I HAVEN'T HAD much time with it so far, but I love the design of the new Cuisipro Turkey Baster. The silicone "shower head" tip on this thing is genius, as it keeps chunks of turkey and whatnot from being sucked up the tube. That tip is interchangeable with a silicone brush that takes the splash and mess out of basting. Or use the baster with no tip at all. It's a smart tool. It disassembles for cleaning and it comes with a 25-year warranty if you take the time to register it. Find it on Amazon for about $22. www.cuisipro.com