THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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TIP OF THE DAY

Cocoa RimmerThe same rimmers used for chocolate martinis can be used for cocoa.   December 12th is National Cocoa Day. Take your presentation to the next level with cocoa rimmers, which add an extra touch of flavor and a festive look to the cup. There are rimmers just for cocoa, but cocktail rimmers for chocolate martinis, espresso martinis, peppermintinis and orange blossoms are essentially the same product. Or, make your own rimmers by grinding peppermint, chocolate or coffee hard candies to a fine gravel. You can mix the flavors or keep them separate. Then, just moisten the rim of the cup or mug with water (use a wet paper towel to get an even application), dip it on a plate of rimmer powder to coat, add the cocoa and serve. Yes, you certainly can top it with whipped cream and sprinkles! See more nifty cocoa ideas, guaranteed to make yours the go-to house for cocoa. Also, read the difference between cocoa and hot chocolate.

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REVIEW: BevWizard Wine Smoother

How many times have you opened a bottle of wine to find it tough, tannic, yielding no fruit? Maybe you drank it anyway, maybe you set it aside and opened another bottle, hoping for a better experience. BevWizard is hoping to give you a better experience the first time around. It’s a $28 gadget that claims to soften red and white wines and make them fruitier. If your wine is too hard, too tannic, too acidic, just snap the pouring spout onto the bottle, pour the wine through it, and it will be altered into a better state by the magnets inside, so say the manufacturers. In some cases, we found that it works. In our tests, it softened and brought out the fruit in reds that were 6 years or under. In the case of Barolo, it softened the tannins but we didn’t like the result. If you like gadgets and experimenting, you may want a BevWizard of your own. Read the results of our tests in the full review, in the Wine Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.   BevWizard

In some cases, the BevWizard pouring spout can help snatch victory from the glass of defeat.
 

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REVIEW: Big Island Bees Organic Hawaiian Honeys

What’s the latest buzz in the Honeys, Sugars & Syrups section of THE NIBBLE online magazine? Varietal honeys from Hawaii. We love this trio from Big Island Bees (no surprise, or we wouldn’t be writing about them). These unfiltered artisan honeys, collected by fourth-generation beekeepers, will open your eyes to the wonders of varietal honey. The ‘Ohi’a Lehua and Wilelaiki honeys are certified organic honey; the Macadamia honey, though not organic, has a complex, leathery nose with a touch of barnyard (that’s a good thing), tangy and citrus on the palate. Wilelaiki, a true connoisseur honey, is subtly smoky with a lingering, peppery finish. The most accessible (i.e., sweet and charming, everyone will love it—though it’s still distinctively varietal), ‘Ohi’a Lehua, is a creme-style honey that comes with a legend (beautiful woman turned into blossom to be reunited with her lover, who had been turned into a tree—doesn’t every family have one?). These Hawaiian varietals are pure, all natural, gourmet honey at its best. Each pairs with different foods; and at $9 a jar, makes a great house gift. Read the full review. Big Island Bees Honey
Wild for Wilelaiki: Varietal brilliance not found in a honey bear squeeze bottle.

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REVIEW: Matiz Olive Spreads

Tapenade
Tapenade is a versatile ingredient—here, used with chopped tomatoes to make a quick bruschetta.
  We used to have lots of time to make tapenade: to purchase olives, anchovies and capers (we put tuna in our recipe, too), blend everything in the food processor and serve the dip freshly-made with wine, beer and cocktails. These days, we’re lucky if we get home 15 minutes ahead of our guests. That’s why we were happy to run across these olive spreads from Matiz España, a company that specializes in sourcing and importing specialty gourmet products from Spain. They’ve scored three artisan olive spreads from the Catalan region: Traditional Olivada, Hot Olivada (just a bit of heat) and Sweet Olivada. They’re great for hors d’oeuvres, dips, bruschetta, enhancing sandwiches and more (we’ve used them to fill omelets and to accent goat cheese). The products are all natural, free of preservatives or chemical additives, gluten free and non-GMO. Read the full review.
Tapenade is the word given to olive spread in Provence, the region of southeastern France that is adjacent to Italy. The olives can be puréed or finely chopped, with capers and olive oil; some recipes, like ours, add tuna. The name comes from the Provençal word for capers, tapéno. Serve it with slices of baguette and/or crudités. Read more about our favorite dips in the Salsas, Dips & Spreads section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Rich Design Cookies

It’s not easy to find artisan fancy cookies these days. Aside from needing the requisite talent to make perfectly, uniform cookies (uneven drop cookies like oatmeal and chocolate chip are much easier), the high rents, low margins, inability to find good help and the willingness of customers to settle for more prosaic cookies have driven many would-be fine cookie artisans away from such a labor-intensive enterprise. Claire Rich has persevered, finding a way to practice her craft without the overhead of a storefront bakery or café. Her cookies are handmade in small batches, using top-quality ingredients. An assortment of cookies, about two inches in diameter, comprises refrigerator cookies, rolled cookies, sandwich cookies and yes, a couple of drop cookies because people want their oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip (read about the different types of cookies).   Chocolate Cookies
The Chocolate Cookies are simple and elegant.
Their handmade yet elegant visual appeal denotes something special, whether for a personal gift or party fare. Or, consider them an educational gift, for people whose cookie experience has been limited to sad, commercial fare. Read the full review in THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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