In many places February is a cold and cloudy month—so much the better to treat yourself to a box of Larry Burdick’s Champagne truffles. Who needs a Valentine? You can enjoy them after Valentine’s Day, too. At BurdickChocolate.com.
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Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods
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Whole Foods Markets To Buy Wild Oats. In a strategic move to buttress itself against the expanding natural and organic foods businesses of Wal-Mart, Safeway, Supervalu and other major food chains, Whole Foods, the world’s largest natural and organic grocery chain, has purchased America’s second largest natural chain, Wild Oats. As mainstream supermarkets seek to expand their organic and natural food offerings, the move prevents Wild Oats from being purchased by a Giant Eagle, Harris Teeter, Stop and Shop or Publix—powerful food chains that would have used their strength and Wild Oats’ distribution to compete against Whole Foods. It is expected that Wild Oats stores will be converted to Whole Foods Markets.
Guinness Book Names Hottest Chile. The Bhut Jolokia chile from India has been named the world’s hottest chile pepper by the Guinness Book of Records. If you’ve had problems eating jalapeños at 10,000 Scoville Heat Units, don’t even think of going near the Bhut Jolokia, which is ten times hotter at 1,001,304 SHUs. The Bhut Jolokia is a naturally occurring chile hybrid native to the Assam region of northeastern India: Bhut Jolokia means “Ghost Chile” in Assamese. Previously, the Red Savina chile was considered the world’s hottest at 577,000 SHUs until April 2006, when the Dorset Naga tested almost 60% higher at 876,000 SHUs (originating in Bangladesh, it is actually sold with a health warning). The Scoville scale, developed by Wilbur Scoville in 1912, was created to measure the heat level in chiles. Read more about the Scoville Scale and see the comparative heat of chiles, along with our Chile Glossary.
Photo of Bhut Jolokia chile courtesy of Alibaba.com.
More Chocolate Research. The good news is that the flavanols in cocoa are helpful to mental function; the bad news is that because they are bitter, they tend to be removed from the cocoa during processing. New research from the University of Nottingham in England reports on tests given to young women who were asked to do a complex task while their brains were being studied with magnetic resonance imaging. Women given drinks of cocoa high in flavanols showed a significant increase in blood flow to the brain compared with subjects who did not drink the cocoa. Similar health benefits were found in a Harvard Medical School study of the Cuna Indian tribe in Panama. They drink cocoa exclusively. The researchers say that this raises the prospect of using flavanols in the treatment of dementia, marked by decreased blood flow in the brain and in maintaining overall cardiovascular health. But the cocoa typically sold in markets is low in flavanols, which usually are removed because they impart a bitter taste. Norman Hollenberg, M.D. of Harvard Medical School, said the findings do not mean people should indulge in chocolate—because of the added sugar calories and the fat (although cocoa butter is a heart-healthy fat). But in cocoa, a lot of fat is removed from the chocolate. “I see a bright future for cocoa,” he said. Last year, Mars introduced the CocoaVia line of chocolate products which is marketed as high in flavanols, and other major chocolate companies, including Hershey’s, have started to promote the flavanol content of their dark chocolates. But these are candies, which also are replete with the sugar and fat that Dr. Hollenberg (and most healthcare providers) advise against.
Chocolate Champion. For a year, those in-the-know have been waiting for Art Pollard and Clark Goble to put the finishing touches on their first bars of handmade, small-batch chocolate in their newly-built factory in Orem, Utah. Amano Artisan Chocolate has finally opened its online doors, and connoisseurs demanding exceptional dark chocolate can purchase their 70% cacao bars from Madagascar and Ocumare (on the northern coast of Venezuela). Layers of complexity leap out from each bar. Madagascar has strong fruity flavors that include hints of citrus and berry. Ocumare has rich cacao overtones and a well-balanced fruity component with hints of plums and other red fruit. Both are exceptionally well-made and have delivered on the buzz. Treat yourself to some today, at AmanoChocolate.com.
More Functional Coffee. The Houston-based Spava Coffee Company have joined the functional food movement, offering a line of coffee that has a function beyond a mere cup of joe. Through a patent-pending technique that does not affect the taste of the coffee, beans are variously fortified with ginko biloba, white tea, echinacea, rosehips, green tea, guarana, chondroitin sulfate and MSM. The enhancements are intended to provide increase mental alertness and short term memory (Clarity), strengthen the natural immune system (Immunity), promote natural weight loss by increasing your body’s ability to burn calories (Metabolism) and help overall joint health (Flexibility). Fortification isn’t calorie-free: As opposed to regular coffee which has zero calories, each 6-ounce cup of brewed Spava has about 57. Other lines of coffee have had functional benefits, including Fusion Coffee and Kosmo Well-Bean Coffee, both reviewed by THE NIBBLE in 2005.
More Delicious Pork. With the health-consciousness of the 1970s, Americans cut back on pork because of the fat, and switched to lean meats. Pork producers responded by altering feeding and breeding techniques to create “the other white meat.” By removing external and internal fat, pork has become leaner, but much of the flavor, tenderness and cookability have been sacrificed (ironically, often to be replaced with high-sugar, high-fat sauces). Now, with the Kobe/Wagyu frenzy for more marbled meat, Seaboard Foods returns pork to its tastier origins with the introduction of a well-marbled, grain-fed pork. The producer claims their Prairie Fresh® Prime product resolves all the problems associated with today’s ultra-lean pork while maintaining its nutritious traits—it has the same amount of fat as a regular pork roast! Infusing hand-selected PrairieFresh Premium Pork with a proprietary blend of lean pork trimmings to create abundantly marbled pork, the marbling creates delicious flavor, tenderness and juiciness, resulting in “a pork loin that is unsurpassed and on par with even the best Prime beef.” More information and recipes are available at SeaboardFoods.com. A tip: For the best pork roast, make sure you don’t overcook it. A meat thermometer is the best tool you can have in the kitchen to ensure a delicious pork meal. When the thermometer reads 155°F, pull your pork loin roast out of the oven and let it stand for about 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.
Ethical Foie Gras. Animal rights activists have rallied against the force-feeding of ducks and geese to fatten up their livers, claiming animal cruelty. An “ethical” foie gras, made from birds that have not been force fed, doesn’t sit well with them either. However, the “minimum-cruelty” product, produced in Spain by Pateria de Sousa, has won the Coup de Coeur, a prestigious award from the Paris International Food Salon, and has attracted the attention of British stores. It does not come cheap, selling at £16 for just 2-½oz (70g). The same amount of traditional foie gras costs £10. It is more expensive compared to the traditional way of making it, because the geese are fattened naturally prior to migration, when they are amenable to eating more. The product, called Ganso Iberico, can only be produced once a year. Production usually takes place before Christmas, but due to a mild winter in Spain, the geese are only being slaughtered this month. Stores like Harrods and Fortnum and Mason are considering importing the delicacy. Although the production of foie gras itself is banned in the U.K., the British are among the world’s largest consumers, enjoying 4,270 tons a year.
Ethical Foods. “Ethically sourced” food is a niche market that has gained great momentum in the U.K., but a new study from international research firm Mintel finds that it could become susceptible to growing consumer confusion and skepticism. Despite high awareness of key environmental concerns, 60% of British adults surveyed are not attuned to green and ethical issues, and as many 20% are “too busy to care.” An additional 17% are suffering from “green overload,” having become cynical about the whole movement, while a further 23% are simply confused about what they need to do to make more ethical choices. Mintel recently forecast that U.K. shoppers would spend over £2 billion on ethical foods in 2006, up by a massive 62% since 2002. These findings could have important implications for the growing “ethical” food industry.
Spice Bar. The Flavorbank Co. Inc., a Tucson-based pepper and spice wholesale firm that sells to more than 850 gourmet and specialty grocery stores around the country, has opened its own retail location features a "spice bar" where customers can make custom spice and pepper blends. While the company’s employees design and package spice blend by hand for shops around the country, now individual consumers can try their hands at becoming spice artisans, making special blends for themselves and for gifts. Might be the start of a trend!
Beer Rules The World. Beer is the universal beverage of choice for the second consecutive year, according to ACNielsen’s 2006 report on global food and beverage trends, What’s Hot Around the Globe - Insights on Growth in Food & Beverage Products. “Beer transcends cultural barriers and can be shared in any type of occasion,” said Bob Lachky, executive vice president of Global Industry Development for Anheuser-Busch Inc., in a press release. The beer giant sponsors an educational and lifestyle website, HeresToBeer.com.
Pizza Is Following In Its Global Footsteps. How about a pizza with that beer? Pizza has gone global. Thanks to American chains, you can find a Domino Pizza and Pizza Hut in such far-flung places as Bahrain, Bangladesh, India, Israel, Hong Kong, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Serbia and Sri Lanka. Pizza Hut is the world’s largest pizzeria franchise, with has 34,000 outlets in more than 100 countries (the most popular pizza is the deep-dish Pan Pizza). Each year, Pizza Hut uses 300 million pounds of cheese, 525 million pounds of tomatoes, and 200 million pounds of pepperoni, that, if sliced, would girdle the Earth twice and still have enough over to reach the moon. Domino’s Pizza has 8,000 stores in 54 countries and sales of $4.6 billion. But the world’s a big place, and clearly there’s room to grow. U.S. pizza-lovers by the way, eat 350 slices of pizza a second, or 400 acres (17.4 million square feet) per day, 3 billion pies per year. The country's 69,000 pizzerias comprise 17% of all restaurants. Americans’ favorite topping is pepperoni, but at only 36% of all orders, there’s plenty of opportunity for mushrooms, extra cheese, green peppers and onions. Surprise: mozzarella accounts for only 30% of all pizza cheese. The rest includes provolone, ricotta, parmesan and romano.
Hot Stuff in Albuquerque. Fiery Food lovers can attend the National Fiery Foods & BBQ Show in Albuquerque, New Mexico, March 2007. For those who like things hotter than the rest of us can tolerate, the event will be held at the Sandia Resort & Casino, and the main attraction will be the tasting of nearly every conceivable type of fiery food available in the U.S. It’s not just salsa and barbecue, folks: you’ll find everything from cereal and beverages to desserts. You can taste as much as your tastebuds will allow, and have the hottest 3-day “buffet” of your life. For more information, visit www.fiery-foods.com/shows.
Chinese Valentines Eat Purple Space Potatoes. Yes, Virginia, they do celebrate Valentine’s Day in China. The BBC, citing a story in China Daily, reports that lucky lovers in Shanghai enjoyed Valentine’s Day foods made from the Purple Orchid III potato, purple sweet potatoes grown from seeds taken on China’s second manned space mission, Shenzhou VI, last year. Experiments exposed seeds to radiation, different pressures and weightlessness. The potatoes were then grown on the beaches of southern Hainan Island. Supporters say space-grown produce can be more nutritious and hardier, though others say similar results can be obtained in laboratories on earth. The manager of the company that grows the potato admitted it was not much different in sweetness and smell, but tasted more “glutinous.” Thirty local chefs were invited to develop recipes, which included appetizers, salads, desserts and even an iced drink. Other restaurants then offered them on Valentine’s Day menus, since purple is promoted as a color of nobility and romance in China. Hmm....have they ever heard of Purple Passion parties?
You Give Me Fever: The Stimulation Beverage. Where is Peggy Lee when you need her? We could give her fever in the form of a red aluminum can containing a soft drink with a ginger vanilla flavor, it is made with nine organic herbs that are purported to increase the libido of both men and women. Delmond Newton, founder and chief executive officer of Fever Beverage USA, is adamant that “Fever is not another energy drink. It is a stimulation beverage. This is a brand new category.” The new beverage’s proprietary combination of exotic aphrodisiacs and natural stimulants comes in 14-ounce doses. The bright red bottles of Fever feature a stylized Cupid on a lion’s back.
How Healthy Is Chocolate? Chocolate publicists freely toss around phrases about “the health benefits of chocolate” although there have been no published clinical studies stating how much chocolate or in what percentage. In fact, astute physicians have warned that the sugar and fat in most chocolate offset the health benefits of the polyphenols. A Japanese physician and professor at Ibaraki Christian University, who specializes in “lifestyle diseases”—like hypertension and hardening of the arteries—has a different take. In an interview in the Japanese lifestyle magazine Shukan Gendai Dr. Hiroshige Itakura maintains that eating chocolate can help you lose weight—under certain conditions. The chocolate has to have cacao content of at least 70%, no more than 50 grams (1.8 ounces) a day can be consumed, and it should be broken up and eaten before or during each of the three main meals. Following these guidelines for a month could lead to a loss of 2 to 3 kilograms (4.4 to 6.6 pounds). Read our article on High Percentage Cacao Chocolate for more information.
Vintners Hall Of Fame. The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) has named six Founders and two Icons to be inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame, alongside Pioneer Robert Mondavi. The honorees, determined by ballots sent to 70 top American wine journalists, will be officially inducted during a gala fund-raising reception and dinner ceremony on March 9, 2007 at the CIA at Greystone in Napa Valley. The awards are posthumous: these Founders are vintners whose early ventures planted the roots of the present-day California wine industry. The group includes Georges de Latour, owner, and André Tchelistcheff, legendary winemaker, of Beaulieu Vineyards; Charles Krug, who founded his eponymous winery in 1861; Agoston Haraszthy, a Hungarian nobleman and the Father of California Wine, who introduced Zinfandel to California and established Buena Vista Vineyard in Sonoma; Gustave Niebaum, the Finnish sea captain who established Inglenook Vineyard (now Napa’s Niebaum-Coppola) in 1879; and Brother Timothy, a science teacher who moved from the classroom to his order’s winery and established Christian Brothers as a leading winery in the 1930s. Icons, individuals whose achievements have contributed to the establishment and growth of the Californian wine industry, are two former professors from the University of California at Davis: Dr. Maynard Amerine, a renowned authority on wine, who passed away in 1998; and Harold Olmo, who helped grow the U.S. wine industry after Prohibition, and for much of the 20th century was the leading expert on identification of grape varieties in California. Tickets for the gala are $500. For information and reservations, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 1.707.255.7667. Founded in 1946, The Culinary Institute of America is an independent, not-for-profit college offering bachelor’s and associate degrees in the culinary arts and baking and pastry arts.
Photo: Agoston Haraszthy, founder of Buena Vista Vineyard, was previously sheriff of San Diego.
Favorite Products From The Winter Fancy Food Show. If you haven’t yet read our write-up of the Winter 2007 Fancy Food Show, “Best Of Show,” take a look at the trends and new products. Our favorite new discoveries at the show, earning our gold, silver and bronze stars, respectively, were Divine Pasta pasta sauces, Belizza Antioxidant Sorbets and Epicurean Butter compound butters. An honorable mention went to Whiffles wheat cakes—pita-size crunchy wheat cakes that are only 19 calories per biscuit. Unfortunately for most of us, this brand-new business, begun in the Berkeley Bowl in greater San Francisco, sells fresh-made Whiffles on the premises. If you’re not near Berkeley, you’ve got to wait until a Whiffles franchise comes near you—or buy a franchise yourself.
Hi-Energy Vodka. What do you get when you cross an energy drink with vodka? A new vodka brand that could have staying power among the scores of others vying for consumer and shelf space at stores and bars. Wingard Importers, creator of Everglo energy liqueur, has launched V2, a super-premium vodka from Holland that is infused with caffeine and taurine. Taurine is the essential amino acid found in Red Bull and other energy drinks. V2, made in small-batches, is distilled five times for flavor. Now, instead of mixing energy drinks with vodka to get the boost, consumers can enjoy vodka neat, or with their mixers of choice. The energy is built-in without the sweeteners, artificial taste or carbonation inherent in most energy drinks. After energy drinks came onto the scene and quickly became popular vodka mixers, this was a concept waiting to happen. Congratulations to Wingard for making a truly differentiated new vodka. Learn more about V2 at V2Vodka.com.
Help Alleviate Hunger With A Free Pasta Cookbook From Barilla Pasta. You can download The Celebrity Pasta Lovers’ Cookbook, enjoy great recipes from Mario Batali, Giada de Laurentiis and lesser-known pasta specialists like Harrison Ford, Faith Hill, Ashley Judd and Tyson Beckford. Plus, for each cookbook downloaded, Barilla will donate $1 to America’s Second Harvest—The Nation’s Food Bank Network, a national charity that secures and distributes more than 2 billion pounds of donated food and grocery products annually. Learn more, and download the free pasta cookbook here.
Pathmark Goes Organic With Wild Oats. Pathmark Stores, one of the leading supermarkets in the New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia area, is now carrying Wild Oats branded natural and organic products in all 141 store locations. Approximately 150 specialty food items can be found on the shelves of Pathmark stores, including imported Italian sodas, white balsamic vinegar, organic fruit spreads and flatbread crackers. Wild Oats, a nationwide chain of natural and organic food markets, currently operates 110 natural foods stores in 24 states and British Columbia. While the Wild Oats chain is expanding, its partnership with Pathmark more than doubles the locations in which its products are sold and introduces the brand to food-savvy metropolitan New York consumers.
It’a No Fun Being Green. The September 2006 national spinach recall has shaken consumer confidence in the safety of leafy green vegetables, according to a national survey by the Food Policy Institute at Rutgers University. Based on a survey of 1,200 spinach-buyers nationwide, six weeks after after spinach contaminated with E. coli bacteria was responsible for the deaths of three people and the illness of nearly 200, consumers were still avoiding green vegetables and were concerned with food safety. Pacific International Marketing of Salinas, California has stopped growing the baby spinach it previously added to salad mixes. Sales of salad mix fell roughly 50 percent after the September E. coli outbreak, and the mix is now selling only about 75 percent as well as it had been. Sales of conventionally grown bunched spinach are about 80 percent what they were before the September outbreak. Plummeting spinach sales have prompted the produce industry to seek federal oversight of produce handling and production to assure buyers that fresh produce is safe. For more information, visit the Food Policy Institute.
Some Favorite Products Are Now Kosher. With the impressive 15% annual growth of the kosher food market, more specialty food manufacturers are having their products kosher-certified. The King’s Cupboard Dessert Sauces, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week, are now kosher-certified by Kosher Overseers, KOAOA. The chocolate sauces are available in Bittersweet Chocolate, Espresso Chocolate, Mint Chocolate, Orange Chocolate, Raspberry Chocolate, White Chocolate and Key Lime White Chocolate; the caramel sauces in Granny Smith Apple Caramel, Pear Caramel, Spiced Walnut Currant Caramel [holiday season] and Raspberry Caramel. The sugar-free Chocolate Sauce is equally exceptional. The line is available at specialty stores nationwide or can be ordered online from KingsCupboard.com.
Photo at right: Profiteroles with The King’s Cupboard Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce.
Also now kosher are Seasoned Skewers, one of our favorite, no-calorie ways to add an enormous amount of gourmet flavor to meat, seafood and vegetables. They can be used for roasting, steaming or grilling. The company has just introduced new appetizer-size skewers, and will be launching dessert skewers shortly—which we’ll be reviewing in THE NIBBLE. Stay tuned! Seasoned Skewers are certified by Orthodox Union.
Photo at left: Seasoned Skewers.
Send A Vegetarian Meal. My Green Bistro, launched this month, will send exclusively vegetarian, chef-prepared meals anywhere in the U.S. Their gourmet fare, which includes dishes such as Lemon Pine Nut Ravioli with Artichoke Ragout and Basil Aioli and Porcini Mushroom Stroganoff, and appetizers such as Arancini with Goat Cheese Filling and Spiced Baked Olives, sounds very tempting! Prices range from $9.50 to $12.50 per meal, plus second-day or overnight delivery charges. If you can’t be there in person take your favorite vegetarian to dinner for Valentine’s Day, you can send dinner. Order online at www.MyGreenBistro.com.
Seafood Consumption Down. While pizza sales are up, seafood consumption is down, according to the National Fisheries Institute (NFI) which released its “Top Ten” list of the most consumed fish and seafood in the United States for 2005, the most recent year for which data are available. Seafood consumption in America was 16.2 pounds per capita in 2005, according to the most recent data from NOAA Fisheries, down slightly from 16.6 pounds in 2004. Compared to five years ago, overall consumption has risen 9.5 percent from 14.8 pounds in 2001. The top cats in seafood are (1) shrimp, (2) canned tuna, (3) salmon, (4) pollock [often the base of sea leg, or crab stick, and other surimi products) and (5) catfish, retaining the positions they held in 2004 and 2003. Rounding up the top 10 and shifting positions from 2004 are (6) tilapia, (7) crab, (8) cod, (9) clams and (10) flatfish, which beat out 2003’s tenth-place scallops to hold the position in 2004 and 2005. For more information about the National Fisheries Institute and the variety of sustainable seafood essential to a healthy diet, visit AboutSeafood.com.
Coke Acquires Fuze. Fuze, one of the last remaining independent core new age beverage companies, has been acquired by the Coca-Cola Co. Fuze markets several nutraceutical and vitamin-enhanced products that incorporate juices, teas and dairy mixtures. Coke’s bottlers had been pressuring the company to improve its non-carb offerings. THE NIBBLE reviewed Fuze’s sugar-free line, Fuze Slenderize, last year.
Mr. Peanut Goes Organic. Mr. Peanut will be dancing to an organic tune next month when Kraft launches the first nationally branded, USDA certified organic nut varieties. But the dapper peanut will not trade his top hat, cane and monocle for organic cotton tee shirts and blue jeans when he introduces eight organic nut varieties, including Planters Organic Nut Mix (photo at right) and Planters Organic Cashews. Planters has the No. 1 share of market in the $1.4 billion snack-nut industry (35.3%). But supermarket sales have been experiencing flat growth while natural and organic products are enjoying double-digit growth—15.9% in 2006. Some people question if organic nut choices are even needed, claming that hulls and shells protect nuts from pesticides and herbicides—a key reason consumers choose organic foods. Others feel the pesticides can leach through. Either way, there isn’t any significant difference in taste and nutritional value between organic and nonorganic nuts. Consumer purchases of organic nuts may be motivated by the second reason people buy organic: to help the environment by selecting products that have not required chemicals to be sprayed and adhere to other conservation practices.
Spruced-Up Gin. Gin-lovers expect juniper berries in the distillation, but in addition, Rogue Spirits, a boutique distillery in Newport, Oregon has added spruce, cucumber, angelica root, orange peel, coriander, lemon peel, ginger, orris root, grains of paradise (a cardamom-like plant from Africa, Aframomum granum paradisi, which is rarely found in the West, and should not be confused with meleguetta pepper, black peppercorns from Ghana which are also called “grains of paradise”). The gin is made with “free range coastal water” (God bless creative marketers). Sizzle not withstanding, this gin apparently delivers the steak as well: it won the Bronze Medal at the 2007 World Spirits Competition, the only American-made gin to win an award. The Platinum award went to Broker’s Gin of England, the Gold was awarded to South Gin of New Zealand and the Silver went to Wellington Dry Gin of Venezuela. These boutique gins aren’t easy to find, so plan ahead for Father’s (and Mother’s) Day.
At the same time, the world’s largest brand of premium gin is sprucing itself up. Beefeater, now owned by Pernod Ricard, will be getting a facelift: The iconic bottle is undergoing a redesign that emphasizes the brand’s traditional London roots (it is the only gin still distilled in London), with “a fresh contemporary twist.” The new bottle design, which will appear this spring, is a more square shape with a refreshed Beefeater logo in a deeper, “more premium red.” Beefeater’s London origin is emphasized with the words “Made in London” embossed on the bottle sides, and the brand’s superior quality is reinforced with some of its many award medals on the front of the bottle. The redesign will be supported by an elaborate global consumer advertising campaign entitled “Forever London.”
More Is More. Americans are set to spend $13.7 billion for Valentine’s Day 2007, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). The NRF says that each of us will spend an average of $100.89 this year, up slightly from the previous year’s spending. For those of us who are just giving a small box of chocolate, that means there are a lot of big spenders out there. Jim Trippon, CPA, knows them: he’s an authority on the money habits of self-made millionaires. Trippon has released his annual list of the most outrageously expensive gifts to give your Valentine:
- Bombardier Global Express XRS Executive Jet: $48 Million
- Phuket Private Island In Thailand: $23 Million
- Renee Strausse For The Bride Wedding Dress: $12 Million
- Harry Winston Pear-Shaped diamond Drop Earrings: $8.5 million
- Stuart Weitzman Diamond-Encrusted Cinderella Slippers: $2 Million
- SSC Ultimate Aero Sports Car: $654,500
- Honma 24K Gold- And Platinum-Plated Golf Clubs: $52,938
- Hermes Birkin Cherry Red Ostrich Bag: $19,500
- Golf Round At Sandy Lane In Barbados: $2,300
- Bling H2O Water: $40 a bottle
The last of these items was recommended by THE NIBBLE. You can read the full review of Bling H2O Water here—and buy a case for Valentine’s Day. It’s no-calorie, and you can keep refilling the Swarovski crystal-encrusted bottles with gallons of $1.89 spring water from the supermarket.
Also, check this month’s Table of Contents for delicious and affordable boxes of chocolate and other gifts that some people—certainly we—would rather have than the executive jet, private island, sports car, and golf round at Sandy Lane.
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