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Top Pick Of The Week

September 4, 2007

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Anton Kozlik's Canadian Mustard

Of the thousands of specialty foods we taste each year, Anton Kozlik’s Canadian Mustards were not only a Top Pick Of The Week—they’re one of our top picks ever. Read why this brilliant mustard maker makes much more than “mustard.” Photo by Melody Lan.

WHAT THEY ARE: Our very favorite Top Picks Of The Week, chosen from the Top Picks of 2004 through 2006.
WHY THEY’RE DIFFERENT: Our 52 Top Picks Of The Week are already “the best,” so these are truly la crème de la crème—the products we dream about when we’re thinking about the best specialty foods we’ve ever had.
WHY WE LOVE THEM: We taste more than 3,000 products a year; by now we’ve tried perhaps 10,000. These are the 10 in 10,000 that make us the happiest. Taste them and you’ll know why!
WHERE TO BUY THEM: All are available online—information is included at the end of each full product review. Much to our chagrin, most of these amazing foods are in extremely limited retail distribution. We beseech every fine food retailer to put them on the shelf!
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The Best Of The Top Picks:
Third Anniversary Issue

It’s our third anniversary—the color edition of Top Pick Of The Week launched three years ago today. That’s 162 Top Picks, out of what must be more than 10,000 products that we’ve tasted. It’s much tougher to be a Top Pick than to get into Harvard.

We’ve created an anniversary edition of Top Picks—the “Top Of The Tops.” The rules were: only reviews from 2004 through 2006, and no chocolates. That’s because we’ve reviewed so much fine chocolate, we could do a Top 10 of chocolate alone. Instead, we’ve included links to our favorite chocolates at the end of this review.

Today we present five of our Top 10 favorite nibbles; the second five will arrive at the end of the month. Products we always hunger for, in alphabetical order, are Anton Kozlik’s Canadian Mustards, Blackwing Bison,* D’Artagnan Truffle Butter, Mashti Malone’s Exotic Ice Cream & Sorbet† and Willapa Oysters. You can click on these links to the full reviews or read the summaries below. As for us: We’re planning an anniversary buffet with these and the Part II list.
                                             
*Kosher and organic
†Kosher

  • Read reviews of more of our favorite products.
  • See the Table of Contents of the September issue of THE NIBBLE, plus the back issues archive and our most popular articles.
  • All of the Top Pick Of The Week newsletters are permanently archived on TheNibble.com, in chronological order and by product category.
     
THE NIBBLE does not sell the foods we review
or receive fees from manufacturers for recommending them.

Our recommendations are based purely on our opinion, after tasting thousands of products each year, that they represent the best in their respective categories.

 

Celebrate Our Anniversary

Williams-Sonoma Entertaining: Cocktail Parties 4000 Champagnes World Encyclopedia Of Champagne
Williams-Sonoma Entertaining: Cocktail Parties. Throw a successful cocktail party large or small, indoors or outdoors, elegant or casual. Recipes for food, drink and essential planning guides. Click here for more information or to purchase. 4000 Champagnes, by Richard Juhlin. Written by “The Champagne King,” who holds the world record for the most Champagnes tasted, this is an incredible reference volume—written with Juhlin’s notable sense of humor. Click here for more information or to purchase. World Encyclopedia of Champagne and Sparkling Wine, by Tom Stevenson. In addition to the bubblies of Champagne, this in-depth guide covers the sparkling wines of the world: California, Italy, Australia and beyond. Click here for more information or to purchase.

Anniversary Issue: Top 10 Top Picks, Part I

INDEX OF REVIEW

 

We didn’t select our Anniversary Top Picks this way—honestly. But you could make a terrific dinner starting with Willapa oysters, a main course of Blackwing bison accented with a few of Anton Kozlik’s mustards, potatoes mashed with D ’Artagnan truffle butter and a dessert of Mashti Malone’s ice cream and sorbet. We are getting very hungry just thinking about it!

Anton Kozlik’s Mustard:
Mustard That’s A Must

We love mustard—we own more than two dozen varieties, from “plain” Dijon to Champagne, Colman’s, garlic, honey, horseradish, lemon, Meaux, raspberry, shallot, walnut, watercress and our reigning favorite for the last several years, Roquefort. So when we heard of Anton Kozlik’s Canadian* Mustard, we didn’t expect much that was new and exciting beyond the lovely mustards we already enjoyed from Laurent du Clos, Maille and other gourmet brands. Boy, were we wrong. We’ve been busy thinking of reasons to give a mustard gift to everyone we know.

*It’s a birthright: Canada is one of the world’s largest growers of mustard seed.

Anton Kozlik’s makes 33 gourmet mustards. We have tried only six to date, but they make us long for the rest of the family. They have redefined what we think of as mustard: not an incidental condiment, but a flavoring we can build a dish around. They are smooth, urbane and surprising: “crossover” condiments that can be taken right from the jar and used as sauces, dips and more. Read the full review.


Anton Kozlik's Canadian Mustard
You can make this beautiful canapé in minutes: it’s just a slice of baguette topped with Italian salami (sopressata) and a dab of Anton Kozlik’s Triple Crunch Mustard. We added a pinwheel of enoki mushrooms for fun and flavor, but could have used a basil leaf, other herb sprig or nothing at all. Photo by Melody Lan.

Bison
A bison strip steak is almost indistinguishable from beef, but you’ll notice a lack of marbling. When you bite into it, you’ll experience a sweeter meat flavor that’s cleaner-tasting because there’s so little fat to get in the way of the meat—and it’s more tender, too. Photo by David G. Freund | IST.

Blackwing Bison:
Home On The Range

If you’re looking for something exciting in red meat, we’ve found it: Blackwing bison. Bison has less fat and fewer calories than skinless, white meat chicken and an exquisitely fresh, clean red meat flavor. For red meat lovers, it’s a diet delight; for people who merely seek delicious food, bison from a top producer is a revelation. From Blackwing Quality Meats, it’s organic and kosher, too. We’ve had bison from other producers and are thrilled to the hoof by how remarkably tender and sweet Blackwing is. Even THE NIBBLE’s executive chef, who has cooked his share of bison, was wowed—he actually wrote a fan letter to the Blackwing folks.

We had Blackwing burgers, tenderloin and New York strip steak, all so magnificent that we lamented when the last bites were gone. With numerous cuts from back ribs to flank steak, bison can be slow-cooked. But the tender cuts are for rare-meat lovers. They’re so lean, they can’t be cooked beyond medium-rare or they become dry. Cooked rare, they’re a rare treat indeed. The line is certified USDA Organic and certified glatt kosher by Orthodox Union. Read the full review.

D’Artagnan Truffle Butter:
Everyday Luxury

Little things can make a huge difference. In the world of fine food, D’Artagnan Truffle Butter is one of the little things that can elevate and transform almost everything you eat.

Most people think that truffles are out of their league, and at up to $2,000 a pound, depending on the year’s harvest, there’s not much of an argument. Currently, black truffles can run at least $55 an ounce and white truffles three times that or more. As with other rare luxury foods like Caspian caviar, those who are captivated by their unique flavor feel that the occasional treat is worth it.

Fortunately, the gourmets at D’Artagnan, the nation’s leading purveyor of foie gras, pâtés and other goodies we adore, make black and white truffle butters loaded with big truffle pieces, bearing heady aromas and flavors that are pretty close to having a whole fungus. And the price of entry to the feast is less than $10. Resistance is futile. Read the full review.


Truffle Butter
Slather up: You probably wouldn’t use this much truffle butter on a piece of bread, but we get so excited by the flavor and aroma of those big pieces of truffle. Front, D’Artagnan White Truffle Butter. Rear, Black Truffle Butter. Photo by Melody Lan.

 


Mashti Malone Ice Cream
Sultans, shahs, Los Angelinos....and you can enjoy exquisite ice creams from Mashti Malone’s. Shown above, Saffron Rosewater Ice Cream with Pistachios, with a few Creamy Rosewater Ice Cream sandwiches for good measure.

Mashti Malone’s Exotic Ice Cream & Sorbet: Nice Ice, Baby

Alluring, exciting and definitely addictive, Mashti Malone’s Exotic Ice Creams and Sorbets, a selection of largely rosewater-based frozen delights, have been thrilling mainstream Los Angelinos, who for several years have voted it the best ice cream in town. Thanks to Federal Express, you can have it delivered to your doorstep overnight, frozen solid in dry ice and ready to excite local ice cream experts (i.e., you and your friends).

They might not sound like your everyday trip to the scoop shop, but in this lifetime, don’t miss the Creamy Rosewater, Rosewater Saffron, Orange Rosewater and Lavender ice creams and the Rose and Herbal Snow Sorbets. Throw out any unhappy reference to rosewater-flavored desserts you may have had. Once you’ve tried Mashti’s miracles, you’ll be seeing a lot more of the FedEx delivery truck.

The line is kosher, and Non-Dairy Rosewater ice cream made from soymilk is a parve, vegan and lactose-intolerant option. At the very least, get the three-quart assortment of our favorite flavors plus a package of sandwich wafers; but to quote Marlene Dietrich in Anna Christie, “Don’t be stingy, baby.” This ice rocks. The line is certified kosher (dairy) by Igud Hakashrus of Los Angeles. Read the full review.

Willapa Oysters:
Happiness On The Half Shell

It isn’t often that one of our Top Picks Of The Week is also a low-calorie, high-protein marvel. After all, our job is to find the best-tasting food, not the healthiest. When we find one that fits into both buckets, it is double happiness.

Such is the case with Willapa Oysters. We eat oysters on the half shell at least once a week, but now we realize that we had never really tasted a fine oyster until our shipment from Willapa Oysters arrived. They’re grown in beds in Willapa Bay, the cleanest estuary in America. They’re picked and overnighted to you the same day, avoiding the distribution chain, where they sit and fade. With Willapa, you eat an oyster that’s not only pristine from its surroundings, but as fresh as can be without a visit to the ocean. With shipping, the cost is what you’d pay at a restaurant, but the oysters are so much better. It’s an experience you won’t believe...and an indulgence you won’t want to give up, ever. Read the full review.


Pacific Oysters
Oyster heaven. At left, the large Pacific oyster; to the right, the medium-size Virginica oyster. Photo by Melody Lan.

 

 

We hope you enjoyed Part I of our Third Anniversary NIBBLE. Part II will be served on September 26th, and will be equally delicious. We’d like to thank these gifted artisans, and all of the specialty food producers, whose dedication and craftsmanship preserves our culinary heritage and provides us with such wonderful things to eat.

Karen Hochman
Editorial Director

FORWARD THIS NIBBLE to everyone who loves great food.



5 Favorite Candies ...

... Coming In Part II, September 26

 

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