• 17Jul

    USApples has a weekly selfie (with an apple) contest. Two weeks ago, a photo of a guy in a cubicle with an apple on his head won a Dizzy Pig‘s gift pack. My picture of a pirana attacking me while I was eating an apple won last week, so today I was happy to find a box of Brooks Tropical‘s fruit at my door. In the box was a lime, SlimCado, dragon fruit, and red papaya.

    Next week’s prize is a Tajin seasoning gift pack. Having tried Tajin’s seasonings, I recommend entering the contest.

    Tajin Seasoning Gift Packs
    Tajin Seasoning Gift Packs

    Weekly deadlines are the next five Sundays. The contest rules are here.

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    – See more at: http://www.usappleblog.org/apple-summer-selfie-photo-contest-rules/#sthash.JnQ7IKN0.dpuf

    -JAY

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    – See more at: http://www.usappleblog.org/apple-summer-selfie-photo-contest-rules/#sthash.JnQ7IKN0.dpuf

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    – See more at: http://www.usappleblog.org/apple-summer-selfie-photo-contest-rules/#sthash.JnQ7IKN0.dpuf

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    – See more at: http://www.usappleblog.org/apple-summer-selfie-photo-contest-rules/#sthash.JnQ7IKN0.dpuf

  • 19Jun

    Crave Right cookiesCraveRight cookies are the newest craze in the natural foods market. After tasting and reading the “filler” ingredients in a lot of sub-par “healthy snacks”, they decided to create their own gluten-free treats from natural, ancient ingredients. As a small, start-up company from Alexandria, Virginia, they managed to succeed in not only creating a tasty snack, but also making their cookies completely allergy-free. They use no gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, nuts or corn in their products. Therefore, their products are also 100% vegan.

    I have to admit when I first opened my pack of Crave Right cookies, I was expecting to bite into something that tasted like cardboard. I mean when they cut out so many ingredients, what can they do with what’s left? However, I was Crave Right cookies 2pleasantly surprised. I have tried all three flavors- chocolate chip, brownie and the sesame cookie. Each has their own unique taste that tantalizes the taste buds. The sesame cookie even manages to trick you with an almost nutty after-taste, which I can imagine for someone who has to steer clear of nuts regularly would be a pleasant surprise.

    All in all, Crave Right cookies are a definite must-try for anyone who is trying to follow an all- natural, allergy-free lifestyle. Or even just for people who like a new tasty gluten-free treat. Enjoy!

    -JPM (Joyana)

  • 30May

    pinch coverWe have tried some great products recently, and can’t wait to tell you about them.

    Pinch Dumplings  are awesome. They sell them at various farmer’s markets including the White House Market and Reagan Building Market. My favorites are the Shrimp & Pork, Traditional Pork, Traditional Lamb, and Lamb & Leek. The shrimp texture really pops nicely in the Shrimp & Pork dumpling. I can’t get enough of the lamb or pork versions either.  The dumplings come with a nice dipping sauce. Dan (the Dumpling Guy) really knows his stuff!

    We recently wrote about  NAR Gourmet (Turkish) products in a Test Kitchen article. The producer has since sent me two more jellies to try, peach marmalade and apricot marmalade. Are they actually marmalades? No, they are jellies. Are they good? Yes, they both taste great and are and very spreadable.

    Rana_Ravioli_ArtichokeWe recently sampled a box full of Giovanni Rana Fresh pastas and sauces. We loved everything we tried, including the Marinara Sauce, Pesto Sauce, Fettuccine, Cheese Ravioli, Cheese Tortellini, and Spinach Ravioli, but our favorite my the Artichoke Ravioli. Cy had to go to Safeway and buy more Artichoke Ravioli and Marinara Sauce. Safeway even carries Rana’s fresh Lasagne Sheets.

    We’ve been shopping at the  Springfield Butcher recently. They have fresh seafood (crab cakes, bacon wrapped scallops, salmon, grouper), house made BBQ ribs, ground elk or venison, venison brats, and various cuts of beef, pork, and poultry.

    If you are into jerky, read about Duke’s Smoked Meats in this article about Savor (the beer show).

    I recently started using T-fal’s Ingeneo pans. They are actually quite good and easy to store because they have interchangeable handles and lids.

    -JAY

     

     

  • 16May

    I attended Savor (the huge beer show) in Washington, DC  last night. I sampled some great beer at the show, and will show you some of the highlights. Let’s start with the oysters, which of course are great with beer.

    The Choptank Oyster Company was shucking their Choptank Sweets (Chesepeake Bay oysters), and serving them with lemon or one of three great sauces (ok, one was really a Champagne gelée so if more of a condiment) . The oysters were tasty, and my favorite of the three sauces was the Szechuan Chilli Mignonette, but the shucker’s favorite is Agave Kaffir Sauce.

    I attended a Salon (class) at the show: The Art of Pairing Craft Beer and Jerky. The presenters were Justin “Duke” Havlick (Duke’s Small Batch Smoked Meats), Mike Lawinski (FATE Brewing Company), and Jason Oliver (Devils Backbone Brewing Company).  Salon description: “Duke’s Small Batch Smoked Meats teams up with Devils Backbone Brewing Company and FATE Brewing Company to show attendees that smoked meats and jerky make for a quick, easy, versatile and most importantly, tasty partner for craft beer. Four beers will be perfectly paired with smoked meats and jerky from small batch producer Duke’s.” (Yes, they were good pairings.)

    I was new to FATE’s products, but they have only been in business a but over a year. FATE and Duke’s Small Batch Smoked Meats are both based in Boulder, CO.  Devils Backbone is local favorite for me since it is brewed in Virginia (and is excellent).

    Green Flash & Pork Belly

    I like Green Flash, this beer, and Pork Belly Brioche, but IMHO this was an unsuccessful pairing; the beer overpowered the food.

    My favorite of the 4 jerky’s was the Island Teriyaki Beef Jerky because I loved the chewy (but not tough) texture; it was paired with Devil’s Backbone’s Schwartz Bier, a German Style Black Lager. I very much enjoyed FATE Brewing Company’s Moirai IPA (with it’s grapefruit reminiscent scent and flavor); It paired well with the Sweet Bar-B-Q Braised Pork Strips. The Spicy Bar-B-Q Beef Brisket Strips are nice because they are from a different cut of beef and is spicy; they were paired with FATE’s Barrel Aged Baltic Porter. The Traditional Dry Rub Beef Jerky is for the traditionalists; as someone who didn’t grow up eating jerky, it’s a tough chew for me since you have to gnaw on it. The Traditional Jerky (smoked with hickory and hops) was paired with Devils Backbone’s Striped Bass Pale Ale. BTW, Duke’s Shorty is delicious as well, although it was not part of the salon tasting.

    Most of the beer pairings were spot on, especially the ones paired with dessert. Below are some of the highlights. Yes, wild/sour beers and dessert pairing were common themes this year.

    -JAY

     

     

  • 30Mar

    Product Reviews:

    I used the new spice rub from Dizzy Pig, Bayou-ish, on various baked chicken dishes. This great tasting rub is designed for searing and blackening, but can also be used for baking or stir frying.

    I purchased two of Farmstead Ferments’ sauerkrauts from Relay Foods: the Apple Kraut (made with red cabbage) and the Classic Kraut. The producer is based in Charlottesville, VA, and creates raw, naturally-fermented foods and beverages made by hand in small batches. She uses “eco-locally grown” fruits and vegetables. You don’s want to kill the probiotics, so don’t cook the kraut. I use the krauts on good whole wheat Portuguese rolls with turkey sausages and mustard, but use a sweeter mustard (such as honey Dijon) with the (extremely strongly flavored) red kraut for the contrast in flavors. You can use this code (JXDVAG) to get $30 off of $50 on your first Relay Foods grocery pickup (they have pickup spots throughout the area) or delivery.

    I tried two of Saffron Road‘s simmer sauces: the Korean Stir Fry, and the Harissa. I used both of the sauces (separately) in chicken and vegetable dishes. Both sauces are tasty, and included combinations of flavors I didn’t expect (both include pear juice as an ingredient). I have a couple of other simmer sauces to try out, so I’ll report back on them later.

    I sampled a number of NAR Gourmet Turkish products. They products I tied are all are kosher (pareve), but only some are organic.

    NAR’s Organic Cumin and Organic Chili Pepper (flakes) are both good quality products; I used them together in a variety of dishes including home fries, and green beans. The Organic Chili Pepper arrived in a small glass bottle with a cork stopper, so, when I opened it, I half expected a genie to materialize. The Red Wine Vinegar and Early Harvest cold pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil are both good quality products, and what I expected; I used them on several delicious salads.

    NAR’s pressed Pistachio Oil is a new product for me, which is why I ordered it. It also took me a while to think of how I wanted to try it out. I considered making something with filo dough, or maybe a pasta salad, but did not have appropriate ingredients.  This morning, I combined the oil with butter and used it  to pan fry French toast with spectacular results. (We are talking spectacularly good, not spectacularly bad.) This is a great product.

    The last two NAR products that I tried were the Traditional Lemon Peel Jam and Traditional Mandarin Marmalade. They may both be traditional in Turkey, but I’m unsure that either one translates well to the US market.

    This particular “marmalade” isn’t what we (in the US) know as a marmalade (a jelly with some suspended slivers of rind), but a product that seems to be blended. As such, all you taste (besides a little sugar) is rind, and this is an overly bitter combination with an odd texture; I did not enjoy this product. My recommendation here is that NAR emulates how marmalades are made in the US (or even the UK, which is big on marmelades), in  order to produce a product appropriate to the market they are targeting.

    The Traditional Lemon Peel Jam is actually closer to a preserve than a jam, but I would describe it as candied lemon peel in syrup. The lemon peel is rolled up into little wheels, and aren’t really that enjoyable to chew on because of how big/thick the pieces are. Do I see possible uses for this product? Yes, if renamed something like “candied lemon peel in syrup,” I can see people using the candied lemon rinds and syrup in cooking, baking, and creation of  cocktails. You would chop the peels up to cook or bake with them.  I am sure they is a way to slice the peels up to use them to garnish a cocktail, and the syrup could definitely be used in cocktails.

    -JAY

  • 29Oct
    rsz_relayfoods

    This is what was supposed to be in the produce box, but they ran out of some items so made substitutions. It would be nice if this list was representative of what they actually gave me in the box.

    I recently added an ad/coupon for Relay Foods (a grocery pickup/delivery service) to the right side of DCFüd so that our readers can save $30 off of $50 on their first order. Relay Foods has many good quality products including those from local businesses and farms. I decided to try the grocery delivery service, and write this review about my experience with Relay Foods. I ordered $50 in groceries (total before adding the discount code).

    The Groceries:

    • Local Bounty Share Produce Box. Between the day of the order and the delivery, they changed the box to Fall produce. They should have sent me an email, so that I knew I’d get different produce than I’d ordered. The box did have good quality items, but some of the items in the Fall box were out of stock, so they replaced them with other items. Instead of 2 Asian pears, I received 1 pear but there was also 2 bell peppers instead of one. Instead of butternut squash,  received a small yellow summer squash. Instead of potatoes I received extra sweet potatoes.The greens in the box were organic mustard greens (that were actually from California while everything else seems to be local). The pear has a sticker identifying it as this Stemlit product (and organic); the pear was quite good.
    • Artisan Cuts‘ Freebird Whole Chicken from Artisan Cuts. Their description of the chicken: “These humanely raised chickens are grown in Amish Country, by experienced family farmers, who follow strict animal welfare standards. The chickens are free-roaming in well-ventilated, spacious barns, which offer more room than those of factory-raised birds. The chickens are vegetarian fed sun ripened corn and soybeans, and are never treated with antibiotics.” The chicken was very flavorful and obviously high quality; I will definitely purchase one in a future order.
    • Artisan Cuts’ Plainville Farms Ground Turkey – Fresh, 1 lb. I messed up the ground turkey meatballs by forgetting to add the beaten egg. They taste great, but are heavy and their texture is off, so can’t really judge the ingredient.
    • Family Ties & Pies‘ Mixed Berry Pistachio Scones, two Scones (frozen). I enjoyed the scones, and may try different varieties next time.
    • Mimi’s Whole Grain Cinnamon Rolls, Honey Whole Wheat, 6-8 Pack, 20 oz. These are very good when warmed up.
    • Mission Home Bakeshop‘s Homemade Honey Oatmeal Bread, 16 oz. This had great flavor and texture when used to make French toast.
    • Bombolini Pasta‘s Spinach Fettuccine, 16 oz. It arrived half frozen, but it should not have been frozen at all. When I cooked it, the pasta stuck together (because it is not packaged in one layer so it can be frozen), was gummy, and inedible. I let Relay Foods know about the inedible pasta, and they apologized, removed the item from my bill, and gave me a $5 credit to be used on a future item.

    Other good products Relay Foods Carries:

    Virginia Vinegar Works. I’ve only tried the Heritage Blend Red (which is a good local product) but I noticed that they have the 500 ml White Heritage Blend and Chardonnay varieties on sale for $7.20 (instead of $12) right now.

    Holy Grael Sorbet. My favorite of Holy Grael sorbet is the Blackberry Lime.

    Cavanna Pasta. I am a fan of their Artichoke-Pesto Cannelloni and Spinach-Egg Taglierni.

    Moorenko’s Ice Cream. I have written about this company previously, and Relay Foods carry one of my favorites, the Honey Lavender.

    Soupergirl. We wrote about this soup company in 2009.

    Pickup and Delivery:

    Relay Foods has a map of their pickup spots. You can also get your order delivered (for a fee) or signup for monthly delivery service (for a larger fee).

    Customer Service:

    Relay Foods’ customer service by email and phone is excellent. When I noticed that the ground turkey I ordered was listed in my confirmation message as frozen instead of fresh, I called Relay Foods to change the item. The representative said they were out of fresh ground turkey, told me how to edit my cart, and told me to check the site in the next few days to see if it was back in stock. I let her know that I’d remove the frozen item and that they could email me if they have the fresh version in the next few days. The representative agreed and stated that she would call their butcher. I got an email the next day saying the item is back in stock, and added it back to my order. Customer Service (as mentioned earlier) also handled the issue with the spinach pasta in a positive way.

    The delivery person was running a half hour late (there was a 2 hour range), a customer service person called me at the end of my time range to let me know. When the delivery person (who was very nice) gave me the box (and I checked it out), there was a whole chicken I didn’t order. She told me I could keep it for free.

    So, yes, there were a few glitches here and there, but it is a new business. I will definitely order from Relay Foods again.

    -Jason

  • 11Oct

    MOO ThruSome of the best Ice Cream I have ever had is available at farmer’s markets. Moo Thru is an example of this; their ice cream truck can be found at the Reston Farmer’s market on Saturday mornings (or their store in Remington, VA). They even sell pints. Who wouldn’t want to buy dairy products – in this case, ice cream – directly from dairy farmers? Their chocolate ice cream was rich, chocolatey, creamy, and delicious, and the vanilla is excellent as well. They told me that if they find anyone making better ice cream, they figure out how, so that they can improve theirs. (I hope that information wasn’t off the record.)

    NicecreamNicecream Factory (no, spell check, it isn’t a typo) is an ice cream company that uses (mostly) DC’s locally sourced ingredients and unique freezing agent liquid nitrogen, to create the premium ice cream right before your eyes. I say “mostly” local ingredients because the same week they told me they would no longer have strawberry ice cream because it is out of season, mango was one of their flavors. And, chocolate, coffee, and pistachios aren’t grown locally either.

    The picture in this article shows their menu (for that particular day earlier in the season) but they do seem to have a good variety of flavors available for pint delivery or pickup, although I can get their ice cream at their Kingstowne farmer’s market stand for the next couple of weeks (until the market closes on 10/25).

    Nicecream’s products are very flavorful and delicious, with my favorite flavors of theirs being the pistachio (this is my favorite rendition of pistachio ice cream anywhere) , strawberry basil, and chocolate sea salt.

    -JAY

  • 06Sep

    Looking for an alternative to the usual processed grain noodles? King Soba Noodle Culture offers a range of delicious organic gluten-free options to choose from. I recently tried their sweet potato- buckwheat flavor and was blown away by these delicious noodles. With a sweet tangy flavor and crunchy, but satisfying texture these noodles will become your new favorite go-to in the pantry. And with a range of interesting flavors like pumpkin, ginger and rice, and brown rice and wakame you’ll never get bored. You can find these noodles on Amazon or on their website.

    What made this dish truly come together for me though was the new stir fry sauce I tried from San-J. The new San-J Mongolian Marinade and Stir-Fry sauce just debuted this past summer. It has the perfect blend of ginger and garlic along with a sweet finishing flavor. It’s also the first of the San-J sauces to be certified completely GMO-free! I love all of the San-J sauces, but I’m a sucker for ginger and this gingery sweet blend might fast become a new favorite for me.

    I prepared my quick and easy meal by getting a pre-chopped Asian stir fry vegetable kit from Trader Joe’s. I then boiled my noodles and tossed the veggies and San-J sauce in a skillet at medium-high heat until all of my veggies were soft. I then drained my noodles, combined the veggies with the noodles and served. Delicious dinner in less that ten minutes. You can’t beat that.

    -JPM (Joyana)

  • 13Aug

    Tyrrells ChipsTyrrell’s is an English Potato chip company that makes high quality chips in small hand cooked batches. After growing in leaps and bounds in the UK since the company’s beginning in 2002, they have now launched seven new flavors here in the US. Unlike most of the repetitive potato chip flavors you usually see lining the shelves in the grocery stores, Tyrrell’s offers a range of unique flavors each experimenting with a tantalizing mix of ingredients. These are chip flavors you’ve never seen before, like Cheddar and Chives or Worcestershire Sauce and Sun-dried Tomato. My personal favorite was the Sweet Chile and Red Pepper.

    All the varieties I tried have the perfect balance of texture and flavor. Light and crunchy like a kettle chip, they’re the perfect snack for cocktails and entertaining. Since the chips are hand cooked, they do not feel greasy or leave a residue. If you’re looking for a satisfying new snack to add to your pantry, Tyrell’s Potato Chips are a can’t miss. Only word of caution, they may be addictive. Enjoy!

    You can even win chips through a variety of contests on their website.

    -JPM

    Editor’s note: Tyrrell’s Chips were represented at the summer Fancy Food Show in DC.

     

  • 31Jul

    I recently attended the Fancy Food Show in New York City, and as you can see in the above gallery, some great products were featured. I also got to test out some exhibitor’s product samples (many of which were sent to my home). Some sample highlights include:

    Nielsen-Massey’s Pure Vanilla Extract is a great product which I have substituted for my regular vanilla extract in my morning oatmeal.

    I’ve been grilling with Char Crust‘s spice rubs. I was always a fan of the Tunisian Fire and Bamboo Curry varieties, but their new Holy Mole is a hit on grilled chicken.

    I’ve tried some great Israeli products, including Olia’s Coffee Vinagrette (great as a grilled chicken thigh marinade), Shelley Anne‘s Whole Rye Crackers (these are addictive but the label isn’t clear on which seeds and grains are used), Neviot‘s Grape Flavored Water (my room mates downed it), and Baracke‘s Classic Halva (at only 99 calories per bar, the vanilla with pistachios variety was tasty).

    Citriburst Finger limes are long thin limes that you cut in half and squeeze to drop the tasty little lime pearls into a drink or seafood dish.

    I have been a fan of Chuao Chocolatier for quite some time. Some of my favorite Chuao chocolates include the Orange-A-Go-Go (dark chocolate and a combination of orange and the citrus fruit used in Earl Grey Tea (bergamot)), Pop Corn Pop (milk chocolate with little crunchy bits). and the Triple Nut Temptation Bar (Dark Chocolate with whole roasted almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios). These chocolate bars are gluten free.

    Tortuga has always made some excellent Caribbean rum cakes (in a variety of flavors), but I also sampled two of their coffees (Rum Cream and Rum Liqueur) and two of their hot sauces (Jamaican Jerk) and Pepper sauces. The rum flavor combined well in both coffee varieties, so if you are a fan of both rum and coffee, these are the products for you. I made a batch of wings, and used each of the hot sauces on half the batch, and the wings all came out spicy and wonderful. I do thinks its funny that the spices listed on the jerk sauce bottle are “approved spices.” Approved by who and for what? I’m guessing the spices include allspice.

    Pukka makes some of the few herbal teas I actual like. Whoever blends the flavors knows what they were doing. My favorites are the Love (organic rose, chamomile & lavender), After Dinner/Calming (organic fennel, chicory & cardamom), Green Chai (fair trade organic herbal tea with sweet cinnamon & star anise), Three Ginger (organic ginger, galangal & golden turmeric), and Vanilla Chai (fair trade organic herbal tea with cinnamon & sweet vanilla).

    -JAY

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