Fruit-and-Cheese Plate Reconsidered
The trend: all-natural fruit pastes, preserves and conserves in a wide variety of flavors and textures, meant to be paired with specific cheeses. Imported from Canada, Palette Fine Foods sour cherry and lemon balm preserve is ideal with goat cheese, while the spiced quince preserve is perfect with nutty cheeses like Parmesan. Made in Wellington, New Zealand, 34 degrees apricot paste is great with soft cheeses such as Brie or camembert, and its plum is terrific with aged Cheddars. High Desert pear conserves and the company's other flavors are made with organic fruit from founder Bill Manning's Kiva Orchard in southwest Colorado; try the cherry conserve with a nutty Manchego. DETAILS Palette Fine Foods preserves: $6 for 6.3 oz; palettefinefoods.com. 34 degrees fruit paste: $7 for 4 oz; 34-degrees.com. High Desert conserves: $9 for 7 oz; 866-248-6584 or highdesertfoods.com.
Flavor to Go
California Harvest's Travel Spice Kit is a makeup-bag-size container filled with tiny tin canisters of 15 top-quality herbs and spices, such as cinnamon, chili flakes, curry powder and a barbecue blend. Great for weekends away, or small kitchens. DETAILS $12; 800-469-6478.
Inspired by a spice collection her mother gave her as a wedding gift, Huma Siddiqui sells spice kits through her company, White Jasmine. A starter set includes green and black cardamom, turmeric and coriander; spices are also packaged individually. DETAILS $35 for a starter kit; whitejasmine.com.
Nirmala Narine developed her first spice blends as a six-year-old cooking for her family of 12 in Guyana. Her company, Nirmala's Kitchen, offers unusual choices such as Ground Bush Tomato from Australia. DETAILS $65 for a set of six tins; nirmalaskitchen.com.
Smooth & Tart
O Olive Oil, based in San Rafael, CA, has introduced O Porto Vinegar, made from port. Barrel-aged for four years, the vinegar is less sweet than balsamic, with a smooth, balanced flavor. DETAILS $10 for 6.8 oz; 888-827-7148 or ooliveoil.com.
Kingslake & Crane has turned its delicious, crunchy breakfast granola into a sophisticated sweet by dipping it in artisanal Scharffen Berger dark chocolate. DETAILS $3 for a box of 4 clusters; 800-615-6220 or kingslakeandcrane.com.
Williams and Bennett sauces come in six flavors such as Fleur De Cacao and Bourbon Vanilla. Just heat them in the microwave and pour them over cake, ice cream or fruit. DETAILS $10 for 7 oz; 561-276-9007.
Paris Caramels fig-and-walnut sweets, made with whole pieces of fruit and nuts, are cleverly packaged in shiny, fig-colored foil. DETAILS $13 for a box of 18; 800-209-6141 or crossingsfrenchfood.com.
A Coconutty Idea
Americans Mark and Maura Rampolla were living in El Salvador (he was an executive at International Paper, she worked in public health) when they came up with the idea for Zico pure coconut water. Popular in tropical countries, coconut water is refreshing, slightly sweet and a bit rich. The canned coconut water that is currently available in the United States at Asian and Latin food stores, unfortunately, is generally of poor quality. Mark, inspired by the multitude of vitamin-fortified waters now on the U.S. market, decided to start selling superior versions of the coconut kind, which is naturally high in potassium (11 ounces has more than a medium banana does) and fat free. Made from green Malaysian coconuts grown in Brazil, Zico comes in cardboard cartons to encourage on-the-go sipping. Look for it in three flavors: natural, mango and passion fruit-orange peel. DETAILS $2 for 11 oz; 866-SAY-ZICO or zico.com.
Originally in Bali to study organic farming methods, Ben and Blair Ripple started Big Tree Farms five years ago after being given a small piece of land by a local English professor. Today they're one of Indonesia's biggest producers of sustainably grown produce. Working with the people of a small Balinese fishing village, who have been hand harvesting sea salt for centuries, Big Tree Farms is now selling this sea salt, packaged in beautiful polished coconut shells. The salt comes in four textures: The fine-grain is almost fluffy; the coarse-grain is shaped like small, hollow pyramids. DETAILS $10 for 5 oz at Gourmet Garage; 212-941-5850 or gourmetgarage.com.
Already popular in Europe, Himalania salt, mined from the Himalayan Mountains, is now being sold in the U.S. Its generic cardboard packaging seems incongruous with the lovely, crunchy pink salt inside. DETAILS $10 for 8.8 oz; himalania.com.
Crisp-flavored, hand-harvested sea salt from the Cape Herb & Spice Company is sold in recycled-glass grinders. DETAILS $5 for 3.3 oz at Chelsea Market Baskets; 212-727-1111.
Produced by Lily Barberio. Text by Ruby Cutolo.