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Biscuits! Courtesy of Nine Sons Rising.
F&W executive food editor and Supermarket Sleuth Tina Ujlaki names the year's best products for home cooks and last-minute gift givers.
1. PASTA: Molino e Pastificio Poschiavo
This is my favorite pasta at the moment, and everyone I’ve introduced it to has been equally smitten. Both the high price tag and the pretty, modern packaging kept me away until earlier this year, when I was looking for vermicelli and couldn’t find another brand. It definitely takes longer to cook than other pastas, but the wait (and the cost) are well worth it. The flavor is amazing and it's very easy to cook it just right. pastificio.ch
2. BREAD MIX: Dumbo Delicious from Baked Better
I love hearty, rustic super-grainy/-seedy bread, but a lot of the loaves I buy are too sweet for me. What I love about this organic mix, aside from the fact that it produces a hefty, grainy loaf with just a 5-minute time investment, is that I can sweeten it—or not—to suit my taste. bakedbetter.com
3. CHEESE: Challerhocker
Stocked by Murray’s, Challerhocker translates to “sitting in the cellar,” and this rich, wine-washed wonder is one of the most delicious Swiss cheeses I’ve ever had. It’s nutty and caramelly, with incredible depth and the most luscious texture you’ll find in a firm cheese. murrayscheese.com
4. CHOCOLATE: Dandelion Bars & Askinosie’s Black Licorice CollaBARation
Nothing tricked out about the bean-to-bar chocolate made by Dandelion in San Francisco, just deep, dark, pure chocolate flavor and a luscious mouthfeel. As for bars with add-ins, a week in Iceland convinced me that chocolate and licorice are actually great partners. The collaboration between Missouri’s Askinosie Chocolate and a licorice artisan in Ramlösa, Sweden, led to the incredibly balanced Dark Milk Chocolate + Black Licorice CollaBARation. The licorice is made with rice instead of the more typical wheat, so it’s also gluten-free! dandelionchocolate.com; askinosie.com
5. FROZEN BISCUITS: Nine Sons Rising
One of my favorite finds at the Natural Foods Expo last summer was the frozen biscuits from Nine Sons Rising company. Available in plain, buttermilk and cheese varieties, the small, square biscuits bake up super-tender, flaky and moist all at once, with a wonderful buttery flavor. 9sonsrising.com
6. POPCORN: Halfpops
Popcorn is certainly having a moment right now—we’ve had popcorn in every size and flavor it seems. My favorites of all have been Halfpops from Seattle, and they taste (and crunch) like a cross between a piece of popcorn and a CornNut, without the Styrofoam-like white portions. halfpops.com
7. FLAVORED SYRUPS: Morris Kitchen
Syrup is easy enough to make, for sure, but I just don’t do it. That’s why I love having the fantastically pure-flavored syrups from Morris Kitchen in my pantry. Made by a brother-and-sister team in Brooklyn, in flavors including rhubarb, ginger and spiced apple, the syrups are great in cocktails or sparkling water, in/on desserts, and I’ve used them in sauces for pork. morriskitchen.com
8. FISH SAUCE: Red Boat
The small batch, bourbon-barrel-aged fish sauce from Red Boat is amazing. I first tried it in Aspen this year at the F&W Classic, and I’ve been using it ever since in dishes that traditionally call for fish sauce, as well as in many Western dishes that don’t. It’s like my own personal secret ingredient! redboatfishsauce.com
9. CARAMEL SAUCE: Spoonable
I love the chewy sesame caramel sauce from this company—it has a deep roasty sesame flavor that is so nice with the rich caramel—I’ve even used it to make Bananas Foster. The peppered orange caramel sauce is great as well, especially with fresh strawberries and butter pecan ice cream. spoonablellc.com
10. PANFORTE: Marabissi Italian Panforte
Perfect for the holidays, and excellent on its own with coffee or Cognac or even paired with some cheeses, this particular panforte has it all in balance—it’s super-fresh tasting, not too dry or too moist and the nut-to-fruit ratio is just right. It’s best enjoyed in thin slices, so a good, sharp knife is key, whether you’re snacking or serving. marxfoods.com
Courtesy of Spicely Organic Spices.
F&W Executive Food Editor Tina Ujlaki applies her incredible cooking knowledge to explaining what to do with a variety of interesting ingredients.
Buying spices can be a big investment in two ways—spices tend to be pricey, and you sometimes have to buy way more than you need for a specific recipe you’re curious to try. I discovered Spicely Spices when I needed 1 teaspoon of pink peppercorns, and I was so thrilled to find a tiny box of them that contained just a little more than the recipe called for. The company packs its all-organic spices in larger jars too, but I’ve come to rely on the small boxes to sample spices I’m not familiar with, for spices that I don’t use very often and also for seasonings to pack in my bag if I’m going away for a week, or even just heading off to cook part of a holiday meal at a friend’s house.