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Foodie Gift Guide

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Written by Team Project Foodie   
Thursday, 24 November 2011

ImageWant help finding the perfect gift for the foodie in your life?  We've picked out some great choices for foodies who love wine, cheese, entertaining, baking and more including stocking stuffers, gifts under $25, mid-price gifts and even over the top gifts

The Stocking Stuffers

ImageEven if you can't fly to New York anytime soon, you can still get a taste of Chef David Chang's wildly popular Momofuku restaurants with these handy Momofuku jarred sauces. They come in two varieties: Momofuku Asian Braising Sauce and Momofuku Clay Pot Cooking Sauce. The former is a savory-sweet blend of soy, mirin, pear, dark brown sugar, rice vinegar, apple juice and sesame oil that comes with a recipe for "Asian Braised Short Ribs" on the back of the jar. The latter is a sweet-tangy combination of soy, mirin, lemongrass, fish sauce, shallots, ginger, cinnamon and star anise that comes with a recipe for "Clay Pot Pork." The sauces are $16.95 each. Or purchase the two as a set for $24. Find them exclusively at Williams-Sonoma. — picked by Carolyn Jung

 

ImageWhen a whisk is too much and a wooden spoon is just not enough, bakers reach for the dough whisk-an exclusive from King Arthur Flour. Looking a bit like an old rug beater, this kitchen essential has a flow-through blade that makes quick work of everything from muffin batter to the stiffest yeast dough. $14.95 for the mini, and $16.95 for the heavy-duty model from King Arthur Flour. — picked by Peggy Fallon

 

ImageFoodies who love playing games will quickly become addicted to Foodie Fight Rematch.  The trivia game combines free-form, multiple choice and true-false questions in several different categories.  The questions range from simple to hard (the true-false ones get me every time!). With its small carrying box, Foodie Fight Rematch can easily travel to wherever your foodie friends gather, but you need not have a large crowd - it's equally fun with as few as two players.  $15.61 at Amazon.com — picked by Pam

 

ImageClassic mojitos require a muddler for the mint, and several other cocktails benefit from muddling too. Mashing cherries with basil makes a nice twist on the classic, or fresh cranberries can be muddled for fall cocktails. These wood muddles come in three styles. $17 each at C.S. Post & Co. — picked by Lisa Lawless  

 

ImageNeed just a little bit more for the stocking?  Measuring spoons (fancy or plain each have their place) and measuring cups (particularly the ¼ cup mini-angled measuring cup with tablespoon markers $8.32 at Amazon.com ) are great stocking stuffers year-after-year.  Small cookbooks are also great for stocking stuffers.  If your stuffing a baker's stocking then So, Sweet! - a collection of 50 baked good recipes from Sur La Table ($9 at Amazon.com) with recipes like Almond-Chocolate Spritz Cookies is a great stocking stuffer. — picked by Pam

 

Under $25 (but too big for the stocking…)

ImageAnyone who loves baking pies and tarts will surely appreciate this French-born rectangular tart pan with a removable bottom. In addition to looking quite chic, it makes serving a breeze. A mere $18 (Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table ) will breathe new life into your baking. (Round tarts are so last year.) — picked by Peggy Fallon

 

ImageThese stain-resistant, neoprene oven mitts look to be indestructible. And, you can toss them into the dishwasher for cleaning. Cloth oven mitts with burn holes may now be a thing of the past. $18.00 at Williams-Sonomapicked by Lisa Lawless   

 

ImageSt. Helena's Clif Family Winery makes a handy dandy wine pouch that is a perfect gift for friends who love toting some vino along in the great outdoors. These pouches are light, unbreakable, and supposedly have an 80 percent lower carbon footprint than two glass bottles, and 90 percent less waste and less landfill space than two glass bottles. The winery was founded by the folks who invented Clif Bars. Each pouch holds the equivalent of two 750-ml bottles and keeps the wine fresh for as long as a month after opening. Each pouch is a bargain $16.99, too. Choose either a pouch of crisp, unoaked Chardonnay or Cabarnet Sauvignon. Find the pouches online at ClimberPouch or ClifFamilyWinery. — picked by Carolyn Jung

 

ImageInventive mixologists are using all kinds of flavors in bitters these days, and there have been recipes in magazines for making bitters at home. These bottles come in just the right size with a small, squirt spout for adding a drop or two of homemade bitters to your cocktails. $23.95 at Cocktail Kingdom. — picked by Lisa Lawless  

 

ImageCloth napkins are ever so much more civilized than paper, and they're better for the environment, too. If you're hesitant to use Grandma's damask every day, check out these 100% cotton easy-care hotel linens available in ivory or white from Pottery Barn. Generously-sized dinner napkins are $24 for 6: cocktail napkins $12 for the same number at Pottery Barn . For a bit extra you can even get them monogramed, or purchase a matching tablecloth or runner. And best of all, linens ship free. — picked by Peggy Fallon

 

ImageSipping in Style… It's time to recycle those old jelly jars and start drinking out of grown-up glassware. These Venetian-inspired hand-blown tumblers are as suitable for fine wine as they are for your morning orange juice. A bargain at $24 for a set of 4 uniquely stunning designs at Wisteria . — picked by Peggy Fallon

The under $100's -- Kicking it up a notch

ImageHands down, this is the best pizza stone for the grill that I've tried. The Emile Henry round pizza stone is glazed, making it not only beautiful to behold, but a little easier to slide your pizza on and off of it. Founded in 1850 in France, Emile Henry is renowned for its dutch ovens and other ceramic cookware. It's no wonder that its pizza stone heats up so evenly. It's also easier to clean than other stones. You can wipe it off or put it in the dishwasher. The $49.95 stone is available in black at Williams-Sonoma or in blazing red at Sur La Table. — picked by Carolyn Jung

 

ImageWine & Cheese Pairings — It's hard enough to pick a great wine let alone picking a great cheese to pair with it.  Pairings Wine & Cheese makes both easy with hand selected combinations of delicious artisanal cheeses and wines that make both taste better.  Each pairing includes a bottle of wine perfectly paired with a half-pound of cheese; information on both the wine and cheese; and the option to purchase more of either at a discount.  Available as individual pairings (about $50) or monthly subscriptions in the Wine & Cheese clubs (price depends on number of months) at www.pairingswineandcheese.com— picked by Pam
 

ImageSeveral years ago a dear friend gave me a Michael Aram cake server as a special gift…and so the love affair began. Aram is an American-born artist who honed his metalworking skills in India in the late 1980's. His work can now be seen in many upscale gift shops and department stores; or check out his web site for a special selection of Christmas items and Judaica. My current obsession is a small hand-hammered stainless bowl nestled in an oxidized bronze olive branch. $79 for timeless beauty from Michael Aram. — picked by Peggy Fallon

ImageiPad owners already know how easy it is to cook directly from on-line recipes but depending on the type of carrying case or stand you have the logistics so can be less than ideal.  The ipad Joule by Element Case has a nifty little stand that doesn't tip over, lets you angle for easy viewing while cooking in 3 different positions and doesn't take up much kitchen counter space— the trifecta for the iPad using foodie in the kitchen! $99 at tekcases.   — picked by Pam
 

Over $100 and Big Ticket Items

ImageFried food lover's looking to limit their fat in-take now have an option - ActiFry is a low-fat fryer that only uses 1 tablespoon of oil to make French frys!  The ActiFry has a hot air distribution system that allows food to be fried with minimal oil while the food rotates inside the ActiFry.  I was surprised by the French fries it produced which are a bit crispier than oven roasted potatoes.  The ActiFry can make enough French fries for four people at a time, and it can be used for any sturdy fried food (the food is rotated in the pan so soft foods won't work as well), along with stir fry's, vegetables, and even risottos.  $249.95 at Amazon.com. — picked by Pam

 

ImageThese domes likely fall into the very special gift category for most of us, but if the occasion comes along, their pretty colors and delicate shapes are lovely. They offer a stunning way to serve pastry and cheeses. $545 - $565 at Joe Cariati. — picked by Lisa Lawless  

 

Have foodie will travel?  If you've got a foodie on your list who loves traveling (and you've got the budget) here are some options to consider:


Disclosure: Items discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by vendors, publicists, and/or manufacturers.
Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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Last Updated ( Friday, 25 November 2011 )
 

Tasty Entertaining, Drinking and Eating

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Written by Team Project Foodie   
Thursday, 27 October 2011


This month's What's Tasty is a mash-up of delights for the foodie.  Whether you're looking for help entertaining, tea options, or hot from the oven breads we've got it…  

Bamboo Chic

ImageHave you ever seen those catalog ads for little plastic trays to carry appetizers, the ones that also have a built-in notch to hold the stem of a wine glass? The ad usually features a cocktail party filled with urbane-types chatting it up, each effortlessly balancing their personal stash of food and drink in one hand. Well, I've never been very tempted to try those trays-probably because I tend to talk with my hands. But if your friends are more subdued in their conversational skills, Totally Bamboo has made a good looking version out of-you guessed it-eco-friendly bamboo. But rather than destined to be hidden away until your next party, these dual-purpose 10 ½ x 6 ½ -inch Bamboo Puzzle Party Platters can be linked together and lined up on a buffet for an interesting serving piece.  Check out their web site www.totallybamboo.com for lots of other very cool bamboo gift items, many priced at under $20. —picked by Peggy Fallon

Sassy Tea

When life gets to be a bit much, not many things can calm and center me like a great cup of tea. That being the case, I'm always on the hunt for that next great brand to make the experience that much more satisfying. Enter Village Tea Company  (Dallas, TX), founded by a dashing, young, self-made man.  Village Tea Company offers teas such as Sassy Green Tea and Gentle Organic Lemon Ginger tea.  The quality of this tea is one that you can see as well as taste. Check them out at www.villageteaco.com. —picked by Heather Jones

Tandoor Flatbreads


ImageWant hot and tasty flatbread from the oven without making it yourself? Well, sometimes you can have your cake and eat it too… Stonefire Flatbreads use a commercial tandoor oven to produce authentic, buttery flatbread that will let you have that hot and tasty flatbread in minutes.  The instructions say to warm the flatbread in the oven, but I found that broiling a short time adds a bit of crispness to the outside that made them even tastier. Either way they offer a quick way to have warm flatbread (aka naan) with dinner.  And they store well in the freezer without compromising taste.  Available nationwide see www.stonefire.com for details. —picked by Foodie Pam

Disclosure: Items discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by vendors, publicists, and/or manufacturers. 

Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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Last Updated ( Friday, 25 November 2011 )
 

Eating Responsibly

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Written by foodie pam   
Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Do you eat responsibly? 

I know it sounds like a personal question along the lines of "Are you going to eat all of those cookies?", but how much you eat is not what eating responsibly is about.

So what is eating responsibly?  It's knowing where the food you eat comes from, how it is grown, how it is raised, how it is harvested, how it is slaughtered, how it is processed and how it is transported to your kitchen.  It is the knowledge that the choices you make in selecting the food you are putting into your mouth impacts more than you.  It means that when you choose to eat something that is inexpensive you understand the hidden costs of eating it.  Simply put, like drinking responsibly, eating responsibly means you consider the lives of others in your choices.

ImageLast month I was invited to a very special dinner in Des Moines Iowa in appreciation of the Hog Farmers who raise hogs for Niman Ranch.  The weekend long event included a tour of a working hog farm, educational presentations, a stop at the Des Moines farmers market (absolutely huge) and an awards dinner for the hog farmers.

While you might thing the educational presentations would focus on how great Niman Ranch is—surprisingly they were heavily weighted on education rather than marketing.  At the hog farm tour we learned how they ensure not only a consistent and high quality product but that the hogs are raised with care.  For example, the hog farmers must qualify to be  providers and are constantly scored on the quality of their product.  We also learned that breed, as well as how the hogs are treated, including reducing stress, are important for a great tasting piece of pork. 

ImageOn the hog farm tour we saw hogs ranging from 4 days old to several months old playing, eating and living on open ground.  And while they clearly were a bit unsettled with all of us imposing on their life, in general they seemed stress free.  We learned that the land on which the hogs are raised this year will rotate to another location next year so that the land can replenish itself while performing other duties.  This is in stark contrast to hogs raised in confinement with streams of manure cycling by and where stress is the way of life rather than the exception.  Ironically, yet not surprising in our profit driven world, we also learned that hogs raised in confinement facilities are cheaper to raise and as a result, the individual farmer may be a dying bread. 

ImageThe educational presentations continued the next day focusing on sustainability with a panel of experts from across the country discussing what sustainability is and how we achieve it.   Later that night we enjoyed a pork-centric dinner while the hog farmers received awards for the quality of their product.  Overall the weekend was very educational, and of course tasty, as we were served wonderful dishes made with pork the entire weekend.

So how does this fit in with my question of eating responsibly?  Honestly, it is the basis for the question.  A weekend of observing people passionate about the product they produce made as great an impression as the various educational aspects of the weekend.  And while I can't say I've consciously thought of eating responsibly for very long, indirectly I've been doing it for a while with my choices of eating locally, eating seasonally, shopping at farmers' markets, and making as much of my own food as possible.   Yet, I admit, until the weekend in Des Moines I bought meat at the grocery store without thinking of where it came from or why that was important to understand (beyond that higher quality meat tastes better).  I failed to ask myself was the animal raised responsibly and if not what impact does that have?  Does this mean I will never again buy meat in the grocery store without an assurance of how it is raised?  No, because sometimes we have very limited choices, sometimes money is tight and sometimes we are rushed. But, armed with the knowledge of the impact of my choices, I will try whenever possible to make a responsible choice.

I hope you will do the same and that the next time someone asks "Do you eat responsibly?" you can proudly declare you do.

Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 28 September 2011 )
 

Tasty Fun in the Kitchen and Beyond

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Written by foodie pam   
Thursday, 18 August 2011

Whether you're looking for some fun while cooking, a handy condiment, a great Spanish wine, or a weekend of wine tasting, you'll find it in this month's What's Tasty...

ImageI"m not sure my mother actually said this, but I'm sure someone's mother tagged the phrase—"Dress for the job".  That's why construction workers don't wear suits and chefs wear aprons, but nothing says that an apron has to look like a rag.  Still, I admit accessorizing in the kitchen with a gorgeous apron isn't something I'd normally fall head-over-heals for. Yet... I have thanks to Flirty Aprons: fashionable aprons that add a little extra something to time in the kitchen! The aprons come in fun-named styles like Sugar n’ Spice, Strawberry Shortcake, Very Cherry, Frosted Cupcake, Sassy Black and more. Frosted Cupcake adds fun in everyday cooking but Sassy Black has a chic flair to it that will be perfect for me to wear while finishing dinner at my next dinner party.  They also have matching aprons for kids, although Strawberry Shortcake is probably a better choice for that than Sassy Black!

ImageYes, I know, I know tomato season has barely ended and here I am talking about canned pasta sauce.  But even the best of us don't always have the time, energy or desire to make our own sauce.  Or perhaps you have a lack of tomatoes as I did this year (I'm blaming the weather...).  Whatever the reason commercial sauce has its place.  La Famiglia DelGrosso — a family-owned pasta sauce producer that has a line of sauces inspired by family members.  Each sauce matches with a family member's memories that inspired the flavors such as Aunt Mary Ann’s Sunday Marinara,  Aunt Linda’s Arrabbiata Memories and Uncle Bo’s Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.   Not only is it fun to read the inspirational memories but the different sauces are also fun to try and they taste good too!
 
ImageIn recent months I've tried several Spanish whites.  I wasn't on a specific quest, I was just looking for something other than a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.  To my surprise not only did I find a great tasting white but one that  won't break the bank. Albariño (US $15) is a crisp, fruit-forward wine from the signature varietal of Spanish winery Martín Códax.  Had I been on a quest it would have been very successful indeed!

ImageSpeaking of wine, if you live near the California Central Coast and enjoy wine then you may want to check out Sunset SAVOR the Central Coast.  This 4-day event includes area winemakers, chefs, and artisanal food producers.  On October 1, Paso Roble's will host Paso Glow—a food and wine dinner under the stars and with star chef Celebrity Chef Cat Cora.  Better yet, until midnight August 25th, Travel Paso Robles Alliance is offering a chance to win tickets to the events. Get all the details on the contest at the Travel Paso Robles Alliance website

Disclosure: Items discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by vendors, publicists, and/or manufacturers.

Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 17 August 2011 )
 

What's Tasty: Breakfast, Gourmet Treasures, Wine and Dining…

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Written by foodie pam   
Monday, 23 May 2011

A Wholesome Breakfast

ImageWhile I love a hot cooked breakfast, I'm not much of a morning person so I often resort to cold cereal for breakfast.  If that rings a bell with you or if you prefer not to search for a recipe prior to your first cup of coffee then Jack and Jason's Pancakes may be a great option for you.  Unlike many prepared pancakes Jack and Jason's are made with organic ingredients.  And they are made with whole wheat flour which gives them a healthful slant.  They do require measuring milk and mixing an egg but otherwise are a prepared mix.  Available flavors are original, blueberry, banana walnut, double chocolate and pumpkin spice. 

A Daily Treasure

ImageDaily Gourmet provides a daily blast of new food products combined with great deals for the savvy foodie.  Dubbed as a 'personalized guide to the world of gourmet food' the Daily Gourmet offers great deals on gourmet food items.  For example, today's deal is on a two-bottle set of single-varietal Vino Vinegar.   Both of the vinegars are award winning.  The Syrah vinegar won a 2009 Gold medal and the Merlot vinegar won a 2010 double-gold both at the Sonoma County Harvest fair.  We recently had the pleasure of testing out these vinegars which have the character of their corresponding fine wine translated into a tasty vinegar.  The Daily Gourmet offer for this two-bottle set is $22.00 which includes shipping.  Normal retail price is $30 + shipping.  Other Daily Gourmet offerings are both equally cost conscience and tasty.   

Adult-Style Summer Fun

As the weather turns warmer we're happy to adjust to open windows, shorts and patio dining.  Similarly, our wine choices need to transition; those bold red wines become less appealing and lighter wines make it to the table more and more frequently.  A rising trend we've observed this year is the Rosé. Be it a Sangiovese Rosato from Silverado  Vineyards in Napa, a Jaboulet Parallel 45 Cotes du Rhone Rosé from France, or an El Coto de Rioja Rioja Rosado from Spain, Rosé provides the cool refreshing crispness of a chilled wine while giving you a hint of their bold red cousins.  Indeed a Rosé is almost like having your cake and eating it too…

Foodie Find of the Restaurant Kind

Last up, while I don't normally talk about restaurants this find deserves a great big shout out.  Located in a modern version of a barn, BarnDiva (Healdsburg, CA), quite simply knocked my socks off last month when I dinned there.  The flavors were bold, innovative and refined all at once. And unlike many restaurants the greatness followed thru all the way to dessert.  If you find yourself in Healdsburg I recommend giving them a try.

Disclosure: Items discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by vendors, publicists, and/or manufacturers. 

Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 14 June 2011 )
 
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