100 Tastes to Try in 2008: Perfect Prepared Foods
Old-Fashioned Candy Makes a Comeback
Smooth, sweet rods of RJ’s Licorice from New Zealand combine an intense anise flavor with a soft, chewy texture ($6; chefshop.com).
Exquisite Tea Blends
Long snubbed by purists, blends are finally being taken seriously. Paromi founder Paul Rosen sources full-leaf teas from top estates, then works with an herbalist to create unique flavors like black and Ceylon with almond and coconut pieces (paromi.com).
Artisanal nuts from Italy to Indonesia.
Brookfarm’s roasted nuts—tossed with sea salt, chiles and native herbs like lemon myrtle—are vacuum-packed to stay superfresh ($18 for three bags; amazon.com).
Two sisters make garlicky, spicy honey-sesame cashews from a family recipe and pack them in handcrafted bags and boxes, made from native materials like banana-tree bark (from $3; nutsplusnuts.com).
Mastri di San Basilio’s varietal almonds are so sweet and creamy, they almost taste like marzipan ($25 for 1 lb; cheftools.com).
Blue Hill at Stone Barns has extended its farm-to-table ethos: Servers now blend tisanes tableside using garden herbs like lemon verbena and rose geranium. The cart includes honey from the farm’s bees ($15; bluehillstonebarns.com).
New Must-Try Chocolates
For his Squrtles, Andrew Shotts of Rhode Island’s Garrison Confections creates a square version of the classic caramel-and-pecan clusters covered in chocolate ($8; garrisonconfections.com).
Salty Chocolate Bars
The pastry chef’s trick of adding salt to chocolate and sweets has crossed over to artisanal bars: L’Artigiano’s addictively salty sweets come in creamy milk and bitter dark versions ($9; worldwidechocolate.com).
Candy with Pop
Chocolate-drizzled popcorn is nothing new, but Dale and Thomas Popcorn turns the trend inside out: Its new line hides crunchy kernels inside chunky chocolate bars and fun bon bons (from $6; popstop.com).
High-quality ingredients are redefining frozen dinners.
Individually packaged in reusable white ramekins, Heavenly Soufflé’s decadent chocolate desserts are as good as homemade ($9; heavenlysouffle.com).
The line of superlative frozen dishes from Seattle-based Grace’s Kitchen includes tender pork with lightly glazed balsamic peaches and a perfect triple-berry crisp (from $6 at Whole Foods).
The L.A. café Cube’s frozen tomato and sweet kabocha-squash soups are smooth and satisfying ($5; cubemarketplace.com).
Koolfreeze makes the South Asian supercreamy ice cream known as kulfi, which gets its texture from boiled milk. The taffy-colored popsicles come in exotic flavors like saffron ($48 for a 24-pack; koolfreeze.com).
A delicious result of the recent blur between entrées and desserts: savory jam. Chef brothers Patrick and Terence Feury will sell their Meyer lemon-coriander jam in the market downstairs from their soon-to-open restaurant, Maia, in Villanova, PA.
The Best New Juice and Waters
A sweet, tart Asian fruit juice, it’s so impressively high in antioxidants that we predict this will be the next miracle drink ($3 for 12 oz; frutzzo.com).
This new, clear energy drink tastes like pure water, but one serving contains as much caffeine as a strong cup of coffee (from $1.70 for 20 oz; fyxxwater.com).
At last: unsweetened, delicately fruity waters that taste fresh, not fake. Certain flavors, like mango-açai, are certified organic (from $1.30 for 19 oz; drinktwist.com).
Muesli: The Next Granola
Muesli from abroad is making its way stateside. Our favorite: Southern Alps muesli from England, with plump, slowly dried, preservative-free fruit and lightly crunchy grains and seeds ($9 at specialty shops).