Archive for December, 2012

champagnevinegar

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

Product Description:

Most versatile of the Chaparral bunch, this vinegar is light with citrus notes.  It’s perfect for any type of salad, marinade, or sauce.

I received this sample bottle of vinegar in my November Petit Amuse sampler box.  You can subscribe to Petit Amuse here.

What I Think:

Happy New Year!

And what better way to ring in the new year than with some Champagne?  Well, since I am not much of a drinker, I think I’d prefer to go with this Champagne Vinegar from Chaparral Gardens, thank you!

For the purposes of this review, I used this vinegar as a salad dressing for a basic green salad of romaine lettuce, cucumber, radish and carrots.  I didn’t add any oil, nor did I add any extra spices – just Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

And really, I didn’t need any more than that to have a very enjoyable salad!  I think that’s what I like best about this vinegar, is that I can enjoy a salad without the extra fat and calories that oil would add.  This has a really lovely taste to it.  I can’t tell you that I’m tasting the difference here that the champagne adds to the vinegar, because, this doesn’t taste like champagne … at least, not to me it doesn’t.  It doesn’t even hint at champagne to me.  What I taste is a crisp, light vinegar taste that tangy, but also a little bit sweet.  I notice the citrus-y notes as described in the above description.

My Final Thoughts:

This is really good.  It’s light and refreshing, and I like it a lot more than I thought I would.  To tell you the truth, I wasn’t all that excited when I received this in my tasting box in November.  Not that I was disappointed, really, but, let’s face it, it’s not as exciting as the other items in the November box.  However, this turned out to be a very exciting way to enjoy a simple salad!

cinnamonnutsProduct Description:

California-grown almonds are roasted to crunchy perfection, and then seasoned with  a blend of sweet honey, spicy cinnamon, and floral vanilla.

I received these nuts in my December Love with Food box, and they can be purchased on the Love with Food website.

Tea Suggestion:

These almonds make a delightful tea-time snack!  I enjoyed these nuts with a cup of Kyobancha from Tealet!  I thought this was a perfect pairing – the natural nutty tones of the Kyobancha and it’s delicious roasty-toasty flavor complemented the almonds so nicely … allowing the natural goodness of the nut to shine through the sweetness of the honey, the warmth of the cinnamon and the touch of salt.

What I Think:

Yum!

The best part about these is the cinnamon, it gives the sweet, candied nut just enough extra interest to keep it … well, interesting.  After a while, candied nuts – while delicious – end up tasting all the same, and it seems like this time of year almost every one of my tasting boxes has at least one type of candied or flavored nut in them.  I don’t mind this, of course, I enjoy these offerings, and they make a somewhat healthier option versus all the sweet candies and cookies that are also sent in the tasting boxes.

However, it’s nice when I open a pouch of candied almonds like this and find something just a little different about them … and with these, Nunes Farms added a touch of cinnamon (maybe a little bit more than just a touch!) to give them some warmth and spice without making them spicy.  These aren’t an ordinary “spicy-sweet” kind of candied nut, or even just a sweet candied nut.  They are really quite extraordinary!

My Final Thoughts:

Well, first of all, the pouch was too small, because the almonds disappeared too quickly!  (ha!) but, I loved the portion that I received.  These are crunchy, a little salty, sweet from the honey (but not sticky!) and have just a little exciting twist with the cinnamon note.  Really yummy!

limechiliProduct Description:

Made from nutrient-rich cassava, these gluten-free chips contain 30% less fat than regular potato chips. With an unforgettable crunch and an abundance of tempting flavors, Wai Lana Chips are a uniquely delicious, all-natural snack.

Tea Suggestion:

For these flavorful (and spicy!) chips, I recommend having something that is easy to gulp should your palate need a bit of quick refreshment after eating a handful of these chips … for that, I recommend iced tea, and preferably a white tea (white tea has natural cooling properties).  Try this Elderberry White Tea from Whispering Pines Tea.  I found the light, crisp taste of the white tea along with the tart berries really complimented the spicy, tangy taste of these chips nicely.

What I Think:

My second of four product samples sent to me by Wai Lana, I decided I’d try these because of the spicy kick and contrast in tastes that the name of the flavor promised.

And these definitely have a bit of a chili kick to them, but I like that it’s not an overwhelming amount of hot chili flavor.  The lime is prominent, and I like the contrast between hot and sour, with just a hint of sweet.

A bold flavored chip.  I don’t really taste much from the cassava with this flavored chip because my taste buds are too preoccupied by the spicy chili flavor and the tart and tangy notes of lime.  The lime seems to be the strongest note here, and that suits me just fine, I like the way it tempers the heat of the chili just enough to keep me munching.

I find the texture of these chips to be really irresistible.  Crunchy, not greasy, and as I’ve described other chips from Wai Lana, very much like the onion ring-like snack chip, only thinner.

My Final Thoughts:

I enjoyed these chips … although, I don’t know that if I were out shopping that this is the flavor I’d pick.  I think I preferred the other two flavors I’ve tried thus far, but I do like this.  I just like the others better.

gingerbreadman

I had to quickly bite one of his legs off so that he wouldn’t try running away from me while I snapped the photo!

Product Description:

Sweetly spiced with ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and just a touch of black pepper, these tender cookies are a holiday favorite. Coated with a layer of creamy white chocolate on the back, it’s as if this Gingerbread Boy tried to make a snow angel!

I received one of these Gingerbread Boys in my December Love with Food box, and can be purchased on the Love with Food website.

Tea Suggestion:

With this spicy-sweet, flavorful treat, I wanted a pure blend, rather than something with flavors that might compete with the taste of the cookie.  I grabbed some English Breakfast Tea from Revolution!  It was perfect.  And who says you can’t have cookies for breakfast?

What I Think:

Yummy!

Growing up, gingerbread was really never part of any holiday tradition in my family.  My gramma was a fantastic baker, however, and she’d make all sorts of other cookies, including rolled sugar cookies, and she would cut gingerbread men shapes out of those and we would decorate them as if they were gingerbread men.  Those were good and very memorable, of course, because it was time in my gramma’s kitchen; but, I don’t think I actually ever tried gingerbread until after I was grown!

And I love it!  It’s kind of like a yummy spiced chai – but without the tea – in cookie form!  (forgive me, I tend to relate most things to tea.)  And this is a really delicious gingerbread cookie.

I love the flavor of the gingerbread here – this is what it should taste like!  The ginger is zesty.  I can taste the molasses, and I taste hints of cinnamon and clove.  It is pleasantly spicy, teetering just over the edge of what I’d call a peppery-hot-spice, but there’s enough sweetness from the white chocolate and molasses to this to make it more like a group of contrasting flavors rather than something I’d simply call “spicy.”

My Final Thoughts:

Really yummy!  I like it because I can taste the many flavors within the cookie.  It doesn’t go overboard with the ginger.  Everything is well balanced.  And the white chocolate coating on the back is a nice touch, adding some creaminess to the taste – just that little bit of something extra to make these something better than your average gingerbread boy!

chocolatebourbonbrownie

Photo from Knoshbox.
Click on the pic to go there.

Product Description:

The perfect balance of fudgey and cake, moist and chewy, these brownies are infused with pure Bourbon Whisky. Hints of Bourbon notes beautifully highlight the bittersweet chocolate flavors. The roasted & salted pecans add a crunch and burst of flavor that can’t be matched.

I received this brownie in my November Knoshbox.

Tea Suggestion:

The flavors in this brownie are really intense … you don’t need a tea with flavors that will attempt to compete here.  Instead, I found something that helped bring out some of the dimension in this tea.  I chose this Unsmoked Lapsang Souchong from Townshend’s Tea.  The hint of smoke from this tea accented the bourbon in a really delicious way, and it also helped reduce some of the cloying qualities of the brownie just a tad.

What I Think:

OK, the first thing that excited me about this brownie … besides the fact that it was a brownie … is the SIZE of the brownie!  It’s HUGE!  Seriously, it is approximately three and a half inches long by two and a half inches wide!  It’s almost an inch thick too!  Thick, rich, fudge-y goodness!

The brownie is indeed fudge-y.  Brownies are usually either cake-like or moistly fudge-y, this brownie is somewhere in between … fudge-y, yes, but there is a certain cake-like texture to this too.   It is deliciously decadent and chocolate-y, and so rich that I could not finish the confection in one sitting.

After consuming approximately one-fourth of the brownie, I started to get that “overly sweet/cloying” kind of feeling from the brownie.  This enormous brownie is best enjoyed over several sittings – or perhaps shared with someone (or a couple of someones!)

I taste a note of Bourbon here, but, it acts to accentuate the sweetness of the chocolate more than serve as a distinct flavor of its own.  Although, I won’t deny that I did feel a little “warm” after I ate it, as if I had just imbibed a wee bit of alcohol (or perhaps indulged in something sinfully chocolate-y).   And the pecans added a nice crunch to the brownie, although I found myself wishing that the pecans had been stirred into the brownie batter rather than just sprinkled on top of the brownies.  That is to say, I wanted more pecans in this brownie.

In addition, the close up photo of these brownies show flakes of what I am guessing is sea salt, I would have liked a little more of that in my brownie … I didn’t see any sea salt flakes atop my brownie.  I think that the extra salt would have helped to cut through some of the sweeter/cloying notes, while helping the flavors to better express themselves.  I got a wee bit of a salty note as I ate the brownie, but, there really wasn’t enough of it to call this a salty/sweet kind of treat.

My Final Thoughts:

I absolutely loved this brownie.  I love that it was so enormous that it was actually two servings rather than one!  It was delicious, I could feel the effects of the Bourbon a few minutes after eating the brownie (seriously, I am having to correct some typos as I may be slightly tipsy after eating this brownie!) and I could also definitely taste the Bourbon but I liked that it wasn’t a strong, protruding flavor that overwhelmed the rich chocolate flavor.  And it is indeed a delicious, dark chocolate-y delight.  More pecans would have made this brownie a “10” … as it is, I’d rate this an 8.5.

Well, technically, when this published, it will have arrived yesterday.  But on the day that I wrote this review (yesterday) … it arrived today.  Confused yet?  I am, and I’m the one writing it.  I can only imagine how confused the reader must be at this point.

DecKnoshboxSorry about that.  It’s just … the arrival of my Knoshbox is one of the highlights of my month … it is, without a doubt, my favorite sampler box that I subscribe to.  The only thing better than getting my Knoshbox in the mail is getting tea in the mail.  Now, if Knoshbox were to do a tea-time theme one month … that would be absolute perfection.

The theme this month, though, is “The Holiday Collection” – and I’m really happy about it too, because the box was filled with delights to appeal to my sweet tooth.  Two treats from Butter + Love:  Gingerbread Mustache Cookies and a Jam Cookie Sampler.  From S’more Bakery, there was a package of “The Pepp” s’mores.  There’s also a chocolate bar from The Ticket Kitchen (that name may sound familiar to anyone who’s read my blog for a while, the Ticket Kitchen makes those amazing hot chocolate on a sticks!) and finally a “Snow Witch” white chocolate brownie from Fat Witch Bakery.

My goodness!  What an amazing bunch of sweet goodness!  My sweet tooth is ready to dive right in!  Please keep watching my blog for individual reviews of each item!

AmericanVintageWineShallots

Photo from Goodies Company.
Click on the pic to go there.

Product Description:

These irresistible wine-infused cracker snacks are like savory shortbread. They’re crisp, flavorful and jazzed up with a trace of white wine, mellow shallot and a hint of cayenne-induced heat. Enjoy them solo, dipped, spread, topped or as a topper!

I received a small sample box of these cookie-ish crackers in my Goodies Box for November. 

Tea Suggestion:

Since these are wine-infused crackers, I decided to grab a wine-inspired tea to enjoy along with them.  It was a fantastic pairing!  I went with this White Tea Riesling from Vintage Tea Works and I loved how well the fruity flavors of the tea played with the savory notes from these crispy, cookie-like crackers.  It was a delicious snack!

What I Think:

These are some of the most unique crackers that I’ve ever tasted … they look more like a shortbread cookie than a cracker, and they do have a similar texture, but, they are not quite as buttery as a typical shortbread cookie.  Nor are they sweet – these are savory!

The first flavor I notice when I bite into one of these crunchy snack crackers is the flavor of the shallot.  It is a sharp onion flavor, a little spicy but also a little sweet.  After eating about three of the crackers, the cayenne really caught up to me, and I could feel the peppery heat on the back of my throat, a heat that spread to the back of my tongue, and slowly crept up to the very tip of my tongue.

I didn’t taste a whole lot of wine flavor in these.  Most of the time, it’s like, if it’s there, it’s really subtle.  And then every once in a while I’ll taste a bite and I can really notice the wine.

My Final Thoughts:

I really liked these!

The back of the sample package of these crackers suggests a list of different foods to eat with these crackers, like cheese, dips, soup or salad … but I ate them on their own with my cup of tea, and found them to be marvelously flavorful just like that.  If pairing these with a food, I would recommend choosing something that had a subtle flavor on its own because the flavor of these crackers/cookies gets intense, and it’s really enjoyable, I think that if I were to choose a strong cheese some of that flavor would be overwhelmed, and I wouldn’t want that!