Archive for August, 2012

This is the long overdue review of the Chile de Arbol spice that was featured in the “Some Like it Hot” tasting box from Foodzie (sigh, how I miss the old Foodzie … before all the changes when it was more like Etsy for food artisans).  This isn’t my first time trying the spice, but it’s the first time I’ve taken the time to sit down and compose my thoughts on this rather heated product!  Err… well, what I mean is, this spice has got some HEAT! 

Product Description:

Closely related to the cayenne chilies, it has a tonic, smoky, and grass flavor with acidic heat. The heat level is 7 and the Scoville Heat Unit is 15,000-30,000. This chili powder can be used in soups, stews, and sauces.

Learn more about Whole Spice on their website.

Photo from Whole Spice. Click on the pic to go there.

Taster’s Review:

For the purposes of this review, I sprinkled the Chile de Arbol powder over a couple of fried eggs.  Not a heavy sprinkling, because as I’ve learned from previous tastings of this spice that this does not require a heavy hand to taste it!

The amount of heat that this gives off reminds me of cayenne pepper.  But it also has a smokiness to it that almost reminds me of chipotle.  There’s even a hint of earthiness to this.  If one were to somehow “marry” the flavor of the chipotle and the heat of the cayenne, they’d have something a bit like this ground Chile de Arbol.  And I’m liking that!

I love the dimension of flavor that comes with this Chile de Arbol.  Sure, it’s got some heat, but as long as I don’t go overboard when I sprinkle it on something, it adds just the right amount of kick to my fried eggs, and I’m thinking that I may just have to try adding this to my taco meat the next time I make tacos, and to my chili the next time I make that.  This may even add a compelling dimension to a cup of hot cocoa the next time I’m in the mood for something creamy, rich and with a little bit of bite to it.

My Final Thoughts:

This has a nice amount of heat as long as it’s used with a careful hand, and it adds more than just heat to the dish.  It has a pleasant earthiness to it, and an enjoyable smoky tone that is somewhat reminiscent of the chipotle (just hotter!)  This is something I can see myself keeping in my spice pantry for when I make chili (I’ll be making lots of it in the cooler months ahead) – in fact, I think that this may be replacing the cayenne pepper that I normally keep for when I make chili.  This has about the same heat but will add some other desirable flavor to my pot of chili!

picture from Petit Amuse. Click on the pic to go there.

Product Description:

Smoky BBQ flavor with sweet mango and a hint of lime makes this chip a little sweeter than most BBQ chips but more addictive. To add even more charm, the chips are in the shape of whale tails. And of course, we love that the company is active in marine conservation!

These chips are available from Petit Amuse.

Tea Suggestion:

With chips, I like a tall glass of iced tea!  And I’ve really been enjoying the cold-brewed green tea selections from Den’s Tea lately.  Right now, I’m sipping on a glass of Pear flavored iced tea from Den’s Tea, and it tastes awesome with it.  I think that if I had thought about it last night when I was preparing my iced tea for today, and had I realized I was going to go on a snack attack and try these chips, I probably would have tried the Mango flavored iced tea from Den’s… but I didn’t.  The pear goes nice with it though… pleasantly sweet, with just the right amount of green tea flavor.  Very refreshing and accents the fruity notes of these chips very well.

What I Think:

When I first got my Petit Amuse sample box, I found myself wondering what was with the name “Whale Tails”?  But, then again, what’s with the name Doritos, or Pringles, or any other brand name out there, right?  But now that I’ve opened the bag of these Hawaiian Barbeque Tortilla Chips from Whale Tails, I get it!  The chips are shaped like whale tails!  Neat!

Look! A Whale Tail!

And they taste good too!  I found the idea of barbeque flavor on a tortilla chip to be a little unusual, since most of the tortilla chips that I’ve tasted are usually nacho or salsa or ranch, and barbeque is usually just on potato chips, but this is no ordinary barbeque flavor.  It has a delightful fruity twist to it.  I can taste the lime and mango in there.  YUM!  It adds a delicious sweetness to the usually tangy barbeque sauce flavor, and the sweet yet savory toasted corn taste of the chip adds a very pleasing contrast to this sweet yet zesty barbeque flavor.

My only real complaint is that I tend to prefer a thinner chip.  These are thicker, more substantial, and I suspect that is necessary to maintain the shape.  But I think that the fact that these are organic and that the company is an active contributor to ocean conservation is enough to give me cause to forgo the thinner tortilla chip for these Whale Tails.  (Not to mention the amazing flavor!)  Also noteworthy is that these are gluten free, and while that is not something that is important to me personally, I know that it is to many out there.

My Final Thoughts:

I really like these a whole lot.  If I happen to see them in my local natural food stores (which is usually the only place I’ll find things like this locally), I’ll put a bag in my shopping cart.  I might even order some more from Petit Amuse at some point, I think that the flavor is so tasty that I’ll probably want  more of this in the future.

Photo from Petit Amuse. Click on the pic to go there.

Product Description:

Thanks to the folks at Caramoomel, you can now have dessert wine any time of the day. This jelly tastes exactly like ice wine because it’s made of ice wine! It would be perfect as a special treat for yourself, an impressive addition to any brunch, or a great gift for any dessert wine lover.

This Ice Wine Jelly is available at Petit Amuse.

Tea Suggestion:

Well, since I found this jelly to be rather enjoyable on my breakfast toast, I decided to enjoy a cup of delicious black tea to go with it.  I selected this Sun Moon Lake Red Tea from The Essence of Tea.  The rich, sweet flavor of the tea made a perfect accompaniment to the wine-y flavors of this jelly.  A really tasty pairing… this is the kind of breakfast I’d enjoy waking up to any day.

What I Think:

I held off trying this for quite a while for a couple of reasons.  The first is that I already have quite a few jellies open in the fridge, and I didn’t want to open another.  But the second reason was probably the main reason:  the idea of a wine-flavored jelly seemed very weird to me.  Now, normally, I jump at the chance to be adventurous when it comes to culinary delights (although there are some things where I draw the line), but for some reason, I just didn’t find the idea of Ice Wine Jelly to be very tasty.

Boy, was I wrong!  This is really very good.

For the purposes of this review, I spread some of this jelly on toasted, buttered 8-grain bread as well as scooped up a dollop of the jelly and ate it on it’s own.  I wanted to get the truest flavor, and I felt like that would deliver.  This tastes like Ice Wine.

Now, a disclaimer:  I don’t know that I’ve ever really tried ice wine.  But I have tasted Ice Wine infused/flavored tea, and this tastes very much the way I remember those teas tasting.  Sweet and grape-y.  Fermented grape.  A hint of grape-ish sourness.  Overall, a very pleasant taste.  This little jar of jelly won’t be in my fridge for long, no more need to worry about having too many jelly/jam jars in the fridge!

My Final Thoughts:

I don’t usually like grape jelly (my least favorite of the jelly selections in the grocery store, I only buy it when we’re on a very tight budget and I’ll be using it for my daughter’s peanut butter and jelly sandwiches), so I am doubly surprised that I am enjoying this as much as I am.  I don’t know that I’d buy it again, because as much as I enjoy it, I find other less expensive jellies to be just as enjoyable.  However, if I were looking for a unique gift for a wine enthusiast on my list, I might get them a jar!

About Bernod Group:

After a combined 30 years of natural retail and restaurant food experience,
what drives us?

Nothing less than a passion for novelty, and a keen taste for quality.
Our key aim is to research and develop food products and flavor profiles that set new standards for innovation.

Learn more about Bernod Group on their website.

Tea Suggestion:

What a lovely alternative to the traditional tea-time treat this Ginger Caramel Gourmet Popcorn made.  I enjoyed this popcorn with some Fengqing Dragon Black Pearl tea from Teavivre.  The richness of the tea brought out the ginger flavor just a little more, and the caramel notes of the popcorn seemed to bring out more of the sweetness of the tea.

What I Think:

As I mentioned before, after my review of the Organic Cherry Vanilla Cotton Candy from Bernod’s SpinCity, Bernod Group sent me a few of their popcorn selections to try.  This is one of those popcorns, and it is the last popcorn from Bernod’s I have left.  How I managed to keep it this long is surprising to me, I had to keep it well out of sight to keep it out of mind.

I knew I’d love this Ginger Caramel Popcorn … I love caramel corn, and I love ginger, and I figured the addition of ginger to the caramel would amp up the spice level a bit.  And I LOVE the combination of spicy and sweet!

The first couple of kernels that I popped in my mouth tasted very much like the original Caramel Popcorn from Bernod’s.  Sweet and crunchy with just enough chewiness from the caramel to give it an interesting contrast in texture.  The buttery flavor of the caramel.  But … I didn’t taste much from the ginger.  Then, after the third or fourth bite, I noticed a heat starting to develop.  Yeah, that’s the stuff!

It never becomes overwhelmingly spicy, and I don’t think I’d want it to.  I enjoy the level of ginger here.  It adds just enough peppery spice to it to offer contrast and to keep the flavor interesting enough to keep wanting to have another bite … which becomes sad when you reach the bottom of the bag!

My Final Thoughts:

I absolutely loved this Ginger Caramel Popcorn from Bernod’s… it just might be my favorite yet.  When I spoke to Bernod’s about the availability of this product, I was told that it can be found at HomeGoods – and I did find the original Caramel Popcorn at my local HomeGoods.  But I didn’t see any of the other popcorn flavors from Bernod’s there.  I don’t know if that is because they just didn’t have it in stock at the time or if they do not stock any other varieties other than the original Caramel…. if you find this product any where else, be sure to let me know!

This picture is from Knoshbox. Click on the pic to go there.

Product Description:

There is nothing like the sweet flavor of these Belgian Liege Waffles with crispy crunchy pearl sugar crystals! Imported from Belgium.

These Belgian Pearl Sugar Waffles are available in the Knoshbox’s Marketplace for a limited time.

Tea Suggestion:

Because I normally associate waffles with breakfast – I had to reach for a black tea because black tea  goes best with breakfast (maybe that’s a bit too traditional, but there you go).  Try this Shagadelic Breakfast Blend from The Tea Spot!  It’s “really groovy, baby,” and it turns this Belgian Waffle “snack” into a sweet, light meal of sorts.

What I Think:

This product had me scratching my head for a while.  A packaged waffle?  Packaged as a snack?  Really?  It just sounded kind of weird.  I guess I come from the school of thought where waffles are for breakfast, and are best when served freshly cooked right off the waffle iron.  My youngest daughter loves the frozen waffles … and that’s her usual breakfast choice.  But, when I want waffles, I drag out the old waffle iron and I make ’em from scratch.

So this Belgian Pearl Sugar Waffle packaged like a treat – like an alternative to a big cookie or a muffin – just seemed so different and unusual and really quite odd.  But hey,  I was willing to give it a shot.

For the purposes of this review, I heated the waffle in the oven for a few minutes (not enough to really get it hot, but, just a little warmer than the room temperature waffle).  I cut it in half to try one half as is – no topping whatsoever … and with the other half, I just couldn’t resist trying some of the Bing Cherry Sauce and Preserves that was also included in this month’s Knoshbox.  (The sauce is really yummy, by the way, and I’ll be reviewing that a little later).

While I did have my doubts, these are really yummy!  They are sweet … the same kind of sweetness you might get from a muffin … but in waffle form.  I can even taste (and feel the texture from) the little pearl sugar crystals in this, and this adds a really tasty (albeit sweet) dimension to the waffle.  The texture of it reminds me a bit of the sugary crumb topping you might find on a muffin … and here it’s been baked right in to the waffle.

And to tell the truth, I like this better without the topping than with it.  Without the topping, it reminds me a bit of a funnel cake, but a little more dense and because of the denseness it has a real hunger satisfying quality to it.  With the topping, it is really sweet – still delicious (and I’m loving the Bing Cherry topping) but just a little sweeter than I wanted.

My Final Thoughts:

Yeah, I really didn’t know what to think about this waffle thing when I first got it as part of my Knoshbox, but I really enjoyed it and I think it fits in with the “fair” theme that Knoshbox selected as it’s theme for August.  Tasty – if I saw these in the grocery store, I’d buy them again.  I don’t know that I’d place a special order for them online, but, if I happened to be at the store and saw them on the shelf, I’d add a couple to my cart.

Product Description:

Peppermint NuStevia Alcohol Free Liquid is finally here. Once you have add this to your tea or coffee, yogurt, or sparkling water (makes an awesome sugar free soda), you will not know how you lived without it.

Learn more about this product here.

Learn more about NuNatural on their website.

What I Think:

Not too long ago, I received a wonderful surprise via UPS – a box of NuNatural Stevia products!  I did not expect it, so big thanks goes out to my SororiTea Sister TeaEqualsBliss aka Jennifer (here’s a link to her personal blog) who arranged for NuNatural to send it to me to try.

Now, I have never been one to mince words when it comes to stevia.  Quite frankly, I don’t care for it.  I have found one or two products that include stevia as an ingredient that I’ve enjoyed, but more often than not, I can discern the flavor of the stevia, and when I can … I’d rather I didn’t.  That is to say, that I’d rather the stevia was not in that product when I can taste the stevia, and I usually CAN taste the stevia.

That’s because stevia usually has a very odd sort of flavor that is somewhat chemical/somewhat herb-y and even a little bitter in a bad way.  It has a funky aftertaste that I just don’t like.  It’s not a pleasant flavor.  And I want to enjoy my food and drink, so I’d rather the stevia was not part of my food or drink.

But now, I’m tasting these NuNatural stevia products for the first time, and I must say that I’m incredibly impressed.  The first product I tried was the Pure Liquid Peppermint NuStevia.  This Pure Liquid offers stevia in a whole new way – at least, it’s new to me.  I’ve had stevia as a powder and also as a leaf.  It’s better as a leaf than the powder, but neither really interested me enough to say I really enjoyed it.  But … I’m REALLY ENJOYING this Pure Liquid Peppermint NuStevia!  And I’m shocked and amazed to be saying that.

For the purposes of this review, I brewed some of this Bailin Gongfu Black Tea from Teavivre.  I selected this tea because I happened to have it handy this morning, so it became my morning cup of tea.  So this afternoon, I resteeped the leaves, and decided to add seven drops of this Pure Liquid NuStevia into my mug of tea … I figured, hey, since it was a resteep anyway, if it didn’t work out, I’ve not sacrificed too much.  I already had a rich, delicious cup of this tea this morning, and this is just a resteep.  (And just for the record, this tea resteeps beautifully!  It is nearly as vibrant and flavorful as the first.)

What I taste, primarily, is the peppermint.  It is crisp and cool and refreshing to the palate.  And then I notice the sweetness of the stevia.  But I don’t notice much of that funky, chemical-y taste that I usually taste when it comes to stevia.  I’m not going to say that I taste NONE of it, because I do taste some of it.  But, as far as stevia products go (or even as far as alternative sweeteners go), the flavor is very slight in comparison to the other products I’ve tried, and it is only when I’m really honing in on the flavors that I notice it.  While taking a casual sip … well, it really isn’t a strong enough flavor to notice.

Basically, what this tastes like to me is that I melted a candy cane in my cup of tea.  Now, I don’t think I’d want to use this on the first infusion of this particular tea … mostly because the peppermint flavor is STRONG and I don’t want the peppermint to overwhelm the delicious flavor of the tea.  That cup I’ll drink straight up.  But for a resteep, this is really delicious, and something that I’ll use again.

After such a successful tasting with my tea, I decided to pour myself a glass of filtered water and add a few drops to it… and see how I liked that.  And it is here that this product REALLY shines.  I taste no chemical taste.  I taste no funkiness whatsoever.  It just tastes like peppermint water.  Not like mouthwash or liquified toothpaste … but more like liquified peppermint chewing gum.  It is pleasantly sweet and minty … and quite simply delicious.

My Final Thoughts

Wow… I really did not expect to like this product.  As I said, I don’t like stevia.  But I do like NuStevia!  I love it in a glass of freshly filtered water.  It’s so refreshing.  I think I’ll try it in lemonade … and I think my oldest daughter will also love this, as she does enjoy peppermint, even more than I do.

Thank you NuNatural and TeaEqualsBliss for allowing me the opportunity to try this product! 

I was so excited about my Petit Amuse Box today that I started opening it before I even stepped inside the house!  I loved my first box so much that I couldn’t wait to see what was in this month’s box!

And my excitement was well deserved.  This month’s box offers four different treats to amuse my palate!  I cannot wait to start sampling (but I must … because we just got home from a very filling meal at Famous Dave’s and I’m not able to eat another bite … and as full as I am, I certainly wouldn’t be able to really enjoy these treats.

This month’s box includes a small package of Sweet & Salty Cashews from Nuts & Nuts (and it may be “small” but it is pretty heavy for its size!), a bag of Hawaiian Barbeque Tortilla Chips from Whale Tails, a Himalayan Pink Sea Salt Caramel and a Madagascar Vanilla Caramel – both from CC Made, and finally, a package of Alfajores from Sabores del Sur.  My only disappointment from this box was the Alfajores  … and that’s only because they arrived broken into tiny bits.  I’ve tasted and reviewed these Alfajores from Sabores del Sur previously though, so I’m not really complaining about the broken cookies.  (No use crying over broken cookies?)  I know I’ll still enjoy them!

I’m very excited to start trying these treats … maybe once my stomach settles I can try something.  But for now, I’m content with thinking about it!

To get your own monthly Petit Amuse sample box, subscribe here.

EDITED TO ADD:  about a week after I received my Petit Amuse box, I received another box from Petit Amuse which contained a full-sized package (6.7 oz) of the Salted Rosemary Shortbread from Lark Fine Foods.  This gift was sent out to make up for the fact that the Alfajores arrived damaged in the first box, and in an email from Petit Amuse it was explained that a special gift was sent out to all current subscribers who received the tasting box.  A very wonderful gesture.  EXCELLENT customer service – bravo Petit Amuse!