Archive for August, 2011

Where to Buy:  Justin’s Online or in select stores

Price:  $9.95 for a 16-oz jar

Product Description:

People always ask me, what’s your favorite flavor?  And I think they expect me to give some P.C. answer that I love them all the same, but I don’t because that would be stupid.  Nuts can’t read, so whose feelings am I going to hurt?  You’re holding what I consider to be the most perfect tasting nut butter on the planet, and I’m not afraid to say it.

What I Think:

I was thinking of starting this review with something like “this is the best nut butter from Justin’s that I’ve tasted yet.”  But that is just a little precocious, since I have only tried two nut butters from Justin’s … including this one.  I still have two other samples to try from them.

But what I will say is that this is totally AWESOME!   Like, that eye-opening, Oh-My-Gosh what have I been missing kind of awesome!

Like my previous taste testing with the peanut butter from Justin’s, I chose to try this with a piece of toasted 8-grain bread and apple slices.  The consistency is as smooth as the peanut butter, and I needed to kneed the package of almond butter the same way I did the peanut butter, but that is about where the similarities end.

This Maple Almond Butter tastes richer and sweeter than the peanut butter.  It coats the palate with a delicious nutty, maple-y taste.  It feels thick, creamy and smooth.  There is a pleasing contrast between salty and sweet.  The flavor of the almond is very distinct, as is the sweet maple, and together these two flavors create the most amazing, delicious nut butter I’ve ever tasted.

My Final Thoughts:

Oh. My. Goodness.  I need a jar of this!   I love it.

Where to Buy:  Abe’s Market online

Price:  $11.79 for three 3-ounce bars

Product Description:



What I Think:

Although this is not currently sold on Foodzie, it was part of my Foodzie Tasting Box for August.  And I’m really glad it was!  This is so yummy!

Of all the items in this month’s box, this is the closest to a childhood favorite for me.  And, this is even better than any marshmallow squares I remember eating in my youth.  This bar is HUGE!  It is about an inch thick!  I actually have to break it apart to eat it!

This bar is everything that I want in a marshmallow treat.  It is sweet.  It tastes marshmallow-y with a strong buttery essence.  Delightfully crispy!   This is totally yum!

My Final Thoughts:

Delicious.  Easily the best rice crispy/marshmallow treat I’ve ever had.  I want more.

Where to Buy:  Justin’s online and in select stores

Product Description:

I like peanut butter so much I dedicated years of my life to creating an entirely new, one-of-a-kind way to make it.  I know what you’re thinking, how many ways can there be to make peanut butter?  Well, there are at least two.  What everyone else does and what we do.  And I guarantee once you try our way you’ll agree it is worth the effort.

What I Think:

As I mentioned when I received my Foodzie Tasting Box this month, I was very excited to have some of Justin’s nut butters in the box.  This is a product I have wanted to try since discovering it at Chuck’s.

For this tasting, I tried the Classic Peanut Butter a couple of different ways:  right out of the sample pouch, on a piece of toasted 8-grain bread, and on apple slices. I had to kneed the packet of peanut butter before opening it, which tells me that this peanut butter is prone to separation.  A bad thing?  No, it’s actually a good thing.  It means that this peanut butter doesn’t have any of those weird ingredients in it to keep it from separating.

My first impression:  this Classic Peanut Butter has a smooth consistency, similar to that you might find in a typical smooth peanut butter, but with one significant difference:  I can feel the tiniest chunks of real, roasted peanuts in this.  Not like a “crunchy” peanut butter texture, but, a superfine size “pebbles” of peanuts.  And, in my opinion, this makes for a more delicious product.

It tastes like smooth, creamy peanuts.  It doesn’t have sweeteners or other unnecessary ingredients.  The ingredient list is simply:  organic dry roast peanuts and organic palm fruit oil.  I like that.  While I am not a huge fan of peanut butter – I like it alright, but I am not one who eats peanut butter on a regular basis – I can say that if I kept this peanut butter on hand, I’d probably eat it more often than I do now.

My Final Thoughts:

This tastes like smooth, creamy peanut butter … only better!

Where to Buy:  Botanical Bakery on Foodzie

Price:  $5.99 for 3.5 ounce package

Product Description:

Light the Fire Within. Life should be a bit more digestible. The delectable shortbread indulgence helps make it so. In Ginger Squared, enjoy the warm sweet aroma as it is complemented by the bright spicy gentle heat of crystallized ginger.

What I Think:

What I think is that these shorties are insanely addictive!

It takes a couple of these buttery rich, sweet shortbread bites before I really taste the heat from the ginger, but after those few, it becomes very gingery.  Never really HOT but delightfully warm.  The flavor of the ginger helps cut through some of the sweetness of the shortbread, creating a very pleasing sweet-savory experience for the palate.

But the best part?  With each bite, I get a bit of crystallized ginger!  That chewy texture in contrast to the melt-in-my-mouth, tender/flaky texture of the shortbread is in itself addictive.

The Botanical Bakery suggests pairing this with an Oolong tea, and I did just that!  I enjoyed this Strong Fire Oolong from The Tao of Tea.   Another great pairing would be a Yunnan like this Yunnan Gold from TeaVert, as the ginger in these cookies would probably bring out some of the peppery qualities of the Yunnan.  These delightful shorties helped to make my tea time even more special!

My Final Thoughts:

Before I opened this package, I thought that no flavor could top the delicious fennel pollen shortbread, but now, as I sit here, sad that this package is now empty… I realize that as much as I love the fennel pollen shorties, I love these even more!  YUM!

Where to Buy:  Woody’s Gourmet on Foodzie

Price:  $9.99 for a 3-ounce bottle

Product Description:

The rich color says it all. Instill the deep, rich, big flavors of real Merlot wine with the aromas of dry, smokey wood & you’ll arrive with this blend in hand. Our proprietary method of Wet InfusionTM blends essential oils from quality ingredients with sea salt. Subtly sophisticated & uniquely understated.

What I Think:

Have I mentioned how much I love Woody’s Gourmet Sea Salt blends lately?

I used this Smokey Merlot Sea Salt as a finishing salt on grilled steak and steamed green beans, and I noticed how just a sprinkling of this sea salt blend on my steak and green beans not only improved the flavor of these foods, but it also seemed to brighten the flavor of my iced tea (and no, I didn’t add the salt to my tea!)

The flavors described in the product description above are all present.  There are smoky wood notes as well as a sweet, fruity taste of Merlot wine.  These flavors are blended perfectly so that when used as a seasoning, the seal salt blend does not taste too salty, but, instead has a nice balance of salt, smoke and wine.  The overall result is a salt that tastes salty, a little sweet, with wood and smoke notes.  It is very savory and delicious, and my steak is positively mouth-watering!

My Final Thoughts:

I am finding myself replacing my usual condiments (steak sauce) with these salts.  My steak (and just about anything else!) just tastes better with a little of this salt sprinkled on it rather than being slathered with steak sauce.

Where to Buy:  Simple Squares on Foodzie

Price:  $29.99 for a package of 12 squares

Product Description:

Simple Squares are nut and honey confections infused with vanilla and herbs. Take one nibble and you will immediately taste the sweet honey followed by hints of herbs and coconut. It’s truly a unique flavor.

What I Think:

When I received these “Simple Squares” in my Foodzie Tasting Box for August (I received two) I was really unsure about them.  They were a product I had not yet heard of.  Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to open the Rosemary Simple Square.

And you know what?  This is yummy.  I really didn’t think I’d like it.  But, I am finding it difficult to stop eating it!  The ingredient list is simple:

Organic Cashews, Organic Almonds, Organic Honey, Unsweetened Coconut, Vanilla Extract, Sea Salt

These six ingredients are apparently simply put into a bowl (along with rosemary), mixed to incorporate the ingredients equally, and then shaped into bars.  They are not baked or cooked in any way.  They are raw.  They are simple… and they are simply delicious.

Because it is a raw bar, each of the ingredients can be tasted, and each ingredient contributes its own uniqueness to this bar.  I like the contrast of the sweet, salty and savory.  The rosemary gives a sort of woody, resinous note to the bar.  The coconut offers its distinctive texture.  This is – put simply – a nutty bar that is slightly crunchy and chewy, sweet yet savory.

My Final Thoughts:

I didn’t really think I’d go nuts for this nut bar, but, I really enjoyed it.  I was very happily surprised.  But will that inspire me to buy these?  Probably not, because at $2.49 per bar, I find them to be a bit out of my price range.  Delicious, but a bit too expensive for my taste.

Where to Buy:  Martin Sidor Farms on Foodzie

Price:  $10.50 for six 2-ounce bags

Product Description:

Rave reviews by The Nibble “ Simple perfection: North Fork’s thick-cut sweet potatoes fried in sunflower oil. Nothing else is needed.” Our North Fork Sweet Potato Chips are all natural, no preservatives or transfat, cholesterol free, just slices of sweet potatoes, kettled cooked in sunflower oil. No seasoning or salt are added. This chip is plain and simple and needs no enhancements.

What I Think:

I’ve tried a few sweet potato chips in the past, and while I enjoyed the ones I’ve tried, they all seemed to lack … something.  Something that would have kept me munching. I don’t know what it was that I wanted or expected from them… but, I wanted something more than what they were. I had almost given up that I would find the perfect sweet potato chips.

And while these are not perfect, these are the best ones I’ve tried thus far.  Unfortunately, there is something off about them.  They taste … almost burnt.  When I first bite into them, they have a nice crunchy texture and a delicious sweet potato taste.  They aren’t greasy or oily (a good thing!)  But there is a somewhat over-cooked taste to them.

But not every one of the chips taste burnt.  Most of them are fine.  But occasionally (I’d estimate about 1/3 of the bags worth), I’ll bite into one that imparts a burnt-like flavor that is especially noticeable in the aftertaste.  It doesn’t overwhelm the palate; it’s more like a hint of burnt taste.  But it just isn’t… what I had hoped for.

Now… that being said, these are still the best sweet potato chips that I’ve tasted to date.  Will I order them again?  No, but, they give me hope.  Hope that one day I’ll find that perfect sweet potato chip… so I guess I just need to keep on trying!

My Final Thoughts:

I finished the package, so they can’t be too bad, eh?  Actually, they aren’t bad. Maybe my batch just happened to be a little overdone.  I don’t know.  They’re tasty, but not quite as good as I hoped.

This month, the theme of our tasting box is:  Childhood Faves, All Grown Up.

The childhood favorites box includes:  the cutest jar of ketchup ever from Sir Kensington’s Gourmet Scooping Ketchup, Marshmallow Crunch Bar from Full Bloom Baking Company, two Simple Squares (coconut and rosemary flavors) from Simple Squares, four pouches of nut butters (honey peanut butter, maple almond butter, classic peanut butter and chocolate hazelnut butter flavors) from Justin’s,  North Fork Sweet Potato Chips from Martin Sidor Farms, and Frrrrozen Hot Chocolate Mix from Serendipity 3.

The first thing I noticed this month is that there’s chocolate in there!  As a chocoholic, I tend to get giddy at the sight of chocolate.  But, I’m just as excited to try some of these other items, including the scooping ketchup, which is a product I’ve been intrigued by for months, but haven’t yet ordered.  Perhaps this sample will be the gentle nudge I need to order some!  I’m also very happy with the nut butters, as I saw these in Chuck’s Produce recently and considered purchasing some … again, these samplings might be just what I needed!

Also included in the box is a map card. Since my previous scans of these cards were pretty difficult to read, I’ve decided to discontinue including them in my post.

I’m so excited I don’t know where to start with these goodies!  Yummy!

Where to Buy:  Bari Olive Oil Company on Foodzie

Price:  $11.49 for a 250 ml bottle

Product Description:

Bari Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a pungent and very aromatic oil and is appreciated for its green, grassy flavor and piquant spiciness. This oil is the connoisseur’s choice and is often used as a condiment drizzled over foods just before serving.

Recommended for bread dipping, bean dishes, hearty soups, baked potatoes, grilled bread, vegetables, antipasti and boldly-flavored recipes. Perfect for grilling and drizzling.

What I Think:

In my email inbox this morning, I had a notification that my Foodzie Tasting Box for August had been shipped, so, I figured that it was high time that I review the last product from my July box.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure how to approach this review.  I am not what one would consider an olive oil connoisseur.  Not at all.   So I decided to do a bread dipping taste test.  I have a delicious bit of sourdough bread from Chuck’s Produce here, and I’ve cut it into chunks to not only taste this olive oil, but also to compare it to the extra virgin olive oil that I happen to have on hand.

Because I’m not that “in to” olive oil, I don’t really pay attention to which olive oil I usually purchase, I just look for “extra virgin”  (why?  I don’t know, maybe because it’s what Rachel Ray uses), and then I compare prices and purchase the most reasonably priced bottle…whichever that happens to be.

So, on with the tasting.  The Bari’s Olive Oil is quite tasty.  I can taste the notes as described in the above description.  I taste the grassy notes, as well as a hint of spiciness.  I can taste the olive.  It is light, but it also has a rich taste to it.  After eating a chunk of bread without oil (to cleanse the palate), I tried my “on hand” olive oil.  This one has less grassy taste.  What I taste primarily here is olive.  It is a very strong olive taste, and it is much heavier on the palate than the featured Olive Oil.  In comparison, there is very little complexity to my on hand product.

My Final Thoughts:

If you’re looking for an olive oil with a pleasing complexity that would stand on its own as a condiment, you’ll do well with this Bari’s Olive Oil.  Will I buy it again?  Probably not.  While I did enjoy the taste of this olive oil very much and am amazed at the different flavors it presented, I’m afraid that olive oil just isn’t my thing.  I generally only use it as a cooking oil, and use it as a component to salad dressing for my pasta salad.  But I am glad that I had the opportunity to try this, it was a very pleasant experience.

Where to Buy:  Benjamin Twiggs on Foodzie

Price:  $5.95 for 8 ounce package

Product Description:

You open a bag of Benjamin Twiggs Michigan Dried Cherries and before you know it – Poof! – it’s empty. You can’t help yourself. That’s because our dried fruit is processed, dried and packaged right here in northern Michigan. Plump and sweet, they’re delicious right out of the bag or a tasty addition to your salad, cereal, or muffins.

What I Think:

Delicious!  I love cherries, and these dried cherries really capture the sweet flavor of cherries while adding a nice, chewy texture.  I like that these are sweet but they also have a tartness to them.  They aren’t too sweet.  These are so nice and plump with a good, fruity flavor.

Wonderful right out of the bag (and quite difficult to stop munching on once you start!) I also love dried cherries on a green salad topped with bleu cheese dressing.

As tasty as these are right out of the bag, I didn’t want to eat them all like that.  Since this month we also received a bag of farro, I wanted to make a hot cereal of farro and cherries!  Here’s how I made it:

I started by melting some butter in my pan, and then adding the dry farro.  I cook it over medium high heat for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly, until I smell a nutty aroma developing.  Then I add hot water to the pan and bring it to a boil.  Once it is boiling, I lower the heat to a simmer and allow the farro to simmer for a half an hour.

At this point, I add a pinch of salt and some cherries to the pot and allow it to continue to simmer for about 20 minutes.  Strain, and add a pat of butter (if desired) or milk.  Eat!

This is an incredibly easy and yummy (albeit time consuming) way to enjoy both the farro and dried cherries.

My Final Thoughts: 

I really like these.  They are plump and of good quality.  Since they aren’t overly processed and don’t contain a lot of extraneous ingredients, I am able to enjoy the true flavor of the cherry.   I want to try Benjamin Twiggs Cherry Salsa!  YUM!