Kate discovers Great Tastes For Dads, Grads, & Cooks, with products like Chilean Olive Oil, Smoky Chutney and Merlot Jam; Moroccan Foods; the How to Cook Everything Vegetarian App; Organic Kona Coffee; and Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar, plus picks some of her favorite recipes in What To Eat This Month.
by Kate Heyhoe
Need a gift for your favorite dad or grad? Or, maybe you're simply on the prowl for new flavors? These products have passed the test in our kitchens, and they may be just what you're looking for. From Chile to Morocco to Hawaii to Tunisia, these flavors span the globe, and a digital cookbook app adds extra inspiration for how to use them.
Chile is well known for its fine wines, and now it's bringing other fine foods to our shores. Like award-winning Las Doscientas single varietal, extra virgin olive oils, as well as Huerto Azul jams and chutneys. Las Doscientas means "The 200" in Spanish, and represents the 200 plots of farm land that were joined together to make the current Las Doscientas estate in the Maule Valley in Chile. The olives are estate grown, handpicked and then, for maximum freshness, first cold pressed literally within minutes of harvest. The oils are then packaged in a uniquely shaped glass bottle with a wooden, drip-free pour spout. The single varietals include the Arbequina, which is smooth and fruity and good for salads and lighter flavors, and the Picual, a peppery oil with robust intensity.
And for new tastes that are completely unique, the Huerto Azul jams and chutneys are handmade from all natural native Chilean fruits, wines, and spices. Huerto Azul started in the long winter days, when its founder would simmer native fruit and spices, local wine and sugar on a wooden stove. Today, these jams and chutneys are available as Onion Jam in Merlot Wine, Pear Jam in Merlot Wine, and—our favorite—the smoky and mildly spicy Fig Chutney with Merken. Merken is an indigenous smoky spice mixture made from Cacho de Cabra (Goat's Horn) chili and coriander seeds that has been used by the Mapuche tribes in the south of Chile for years. Serve it with goat cheese on breads and get ready for the compliments.
For more info: www.fosterfinefoods.com.
In the mid-1990s, founder and owner Mustapha Haddouch began importing the best Moroccan food products to James Beard Award-winning Chef Thierry Rautureau of Rover in Seattle. Today, his products are used in almost one hundred kitchens from the Pacific Northwest to the Southern States to the Northeast. Now, you can buy them online and in specialty stores. Mustapha's Moroccan fine foods include robust olive oils and salts, preserved lemons, numerous varieties of olives, capers, and spices, and spice rubs made specifically to bring out the best in different meats. In most cases, just a little bit of each product creates mouthful flavor blasts. And if you're into Moroccan cooking or celebrating the Jasmine Revolution, you'll definitely want some harissa, and ras el hanout. Some of our favorite picks include:
Argan Oil: Harvested by a co-op of Berber tribeswoman, Mustapha's Moroccan Argan Oil is a treasure unique to Morocco. Lighter than most nut and olive oils, Argan Oil has a light, nutty and buttery taste with a distinctly sharp finish. (Drizzle a little as a finishing oil.)
Preserved Lemons: Carrying a soft lemon flavor with hints of salty, sour and sweet elements, Mustapha's Moroccan Preserved Lemons are cured and packed in a mild brine solution.
Harissa: A spicy/citrusy paste from tiny red hot Moroccan chiles, Mustapha's Moroccan harissa is a traditional ingredient in Moroccan cooking, yet can be used in dishes as diverse as sauce béarnaise and Bloody Mary cocktails. It starts off on the palate as a rich, rounded flavor with heat that creeps in slowly; yes, it's hot, but not overwhelmingly so, and the overall profile is an enticing, complex flavor mix.
Ras El Hanout: A proprietary blend of more than 21 spices by one of Morocco's premier spice merchants, Mustapha's Moroccan Ras El Hanout is the most important ingredient in a Moroccan kitchen. But don't limit it to the Moroccan menu; it's great for grilled foods, with a dab of harissa on the side.
Find out more at http://www.mustaphas.com/.
Dedicated vegetarians and those cutting back on meat will appreciate the How to Cook Everything Vegetarian app, based on the book by Mark Bittman. Stuck in the grains aisle and wondering how to cook quinoa? Want ideas for building beans into your meal? Let your fingers do the walking, and the shopping, with this handy new food app. A well-done interface, with 2000 recipes, tips and illustrations. And for carnivores, the same folks make the app for Bittman's book How to Cook Everything, which is just as handy.
Whether it's brewed in the morning or after dinner, a fine cup of coffee makes any meal or celebration more special. So consider giving or serving a small-batch, Kona estate coffee.
The folks at Lyman Kona Coffee aren't just doing the right thing for the planet, they're winning awards for the rich, bright coffee beans they produce. Their coffee is sustainably farmed without pesticides or herbicides, using solar-powered equipment, in a process they say is "Certified 100% Organic from seed to cup." At their small plantation, they focus on the ripest dark-red cherry beans, grown in high elevation volcanic soil with nurturing Hawaiian sunshine, dowsing rain and ideal temperatures. Lyman Kona Coffee Farms is one of only a few "Certified Coffee Estates", designated by both Kona Coffee Council and by Kona Coffee Farmers Association. This indicates the coffee is Single Farm Origin Coffee or free of blends that decrease taste and quality. The certification means that one operator controls all phases of production.
With all the care that goes into these beans, they cost more than regular coffee, but special occasions and special people deserve a bit of a splurge. And it's always good to support people who help take better care of the planet.
For more info: LymanKonaCoffee.com.
Amoretti and their ingredients candidly appear on all the best menus. They're a supplier to chefs and bakeries, and now they sell to discerning home cooks. The products we sampled below provide the perfect kiss of flavor for summer's fresh produce and grilled foods. All three products are natural, kosher, gluten-free, vegan, and preservative and GMO-free.
Amoretti's Premium Organic Extra Virgin Kalamata Infused Olive Oil makes a great finishing oil, rich in kalamata olive flavor. It's a Tunisian oil, cold-pressed and certified organic with no preservatives or artificial additives. Use it for dipping, drizzling, and brushing on grilled vegetables, breads, pizza, pasta, or salad, to deliver a robust blast of kalamata olives.
Amoretti's Aged Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar is more of a balsamic-style product: it's not made with wine, as a true balsamic would be, and instead combines aged pomegranate and apple vinegar. But it still contains a deep, yummy flavor, with a balance of sweet, tart and tangy. Drizzle on salads and fresh fruit, as a glaze on meats, poultry and fish, or as a dipping sauce. (We like a teaspoon of it over macerated strawberries, spooned over vanilla ice cream, with a grind of fresh black pepper.)
And for all the love in one bottle, Amoretti's Premium Pomegranate Balsamic Vinaigrette blends both of the products above.
Note: Because both the Premium Balsamic Vinegar and Vinaigrette are made from aged pomegranate and not wine, they're some of the few kosher balsamic-style products on the market.
For more info: www.amoretti.com.
Copyright © 2011, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page modified June 2011
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