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California’s Only Grower of Real Wasabi

Monday, 7. April 2014 5:25

This is what real wasabi looks like.

This is what real wasabi looks like.

 

If you think that pasty blob of green garnishing your sushi platter is wasabi, think again.

The real-deal rhizome is as rare as it is pricey.

That’s why what you generally find on most sushi plates is actually a cheap concoction of horseradish, mustard and green dye, not the actual Japanese rhizome that’s extremely difficult to grow.

Nowadays, though, if you know where to look, you might find more of the real wasabi around. That’s because there’s now one grower in California cultivating it: Half Moon Bay Wasabi.

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Category:General, Going Green and Sustainable, Great Finds, More Food Gal -- In Other Publications, New Products | Comments (3) | Author:

A Dutch Coffee Ritual Comes to the Bay Area

Wednesday, 26. March 2014 5:25

Place a Rip Van Wafel on top of a hot cup of coffee to warm it before enjoying. You can see it start to sink in the center from the heat.

Place a Rip Van Wafel on top of a hot cup of coffee to warm it before enjoying. You can see it start to sink in the center from the heat.

 

So many great ideas start in a garage.

But this one had its humble beginnings in a dorm room.

Amsterdam-native Rip Pruisken was a student at Brown University when he grew homesick for warm wafels enjoyed with a cup of coffee — an afternoon pick-me-up ritual beloved in the Netherlands. When he couldn’t find any wafels in the United States, he set about making his own. He bought a waffle iron and started churning out batch after unsuccessful batch in his dorm room until he hit on going to Holland to study how they are made. Upon his return, he set up a stand on the main green of the university, selling his handmade wafels to curious classmates.

Armed with ingenuity and a knack for using the resources around him, he recruited engineering students to design an automated wafel press. Next, he joined with fellow entrepreneur Marco de Leon of Brazil to win the Brown Business Plan Competition. Emboldened by that honor, they relocated to San Francisco, lured by its fanatical coffee culture.

Now, Rip van Wafels are available in every Peet’s Coffee & Teas, as well as at Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco, Bay Area Whole Foods and the Atlas Cafe in San Francisco.

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Category:Chocolate, General, New Products | Comments (5) | Author:

Cutting the Mustard with Tracklements on St. Patrick’s Day

Monday, 17. March 2014 5:26

Tracklements Beer Mustard livens up any sandwich.

Tracklements Beer Mustard livens up any sandwich.

 

As you sit down to a big plate of corned beef and cabbage on this St. Patrick’s Day, don’t be stingy with the mustard.

After all, tender boiled meat and veggies just cry out for a smear of sharp mustard for a little more oomph.

Tracklements English mustards gives you several to choose from, too. The United Kingdom company is named for the arcane British word for condiments. The family-owned business started in 1970 and makes use of the organic mustard plants that grow in abundance on farmland just two miles from its factory.

Now, you can find the British import at Whole Foods, Andronico’s, Draeger’s, New Leaf Markets, Mollie Stone’s, and Lundardi’s.

Recently, I had a chance to try samples of its Wholegrain, Beer, Horseradish and Balsamic mustards.

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Category:General, New Products | Comments (4) | Author:

A British Columbia Mussel Flexes Its Muscle in the Bay Area

Wednesday, 26. February 2014 5:25

A simple pasta dish made extra special with new Honey Mussels.

A simple pasta dish made extra special with new Honey Mussels.

 

There’s a new mussel in town.

And is it ever extraordinary.

You can’t find it in retail stores yet. But you can enjoy it at some of San Francisco’s most discriminating restaurants, including Rich Table, Bar Tartine, Parallel 37, Foreign Cinema, and Ragazza.

The Honey Mussel is so named because of its amber-hued shell. It doesn’t taste of honey per se, but there is a hint of natural sweetness about it. It’s also impressively sized — with its meat taking up almost the entire interior of the shell. Even after cooking, there’s little shrinkage, as I found when I had a chance to cook a sample at home in a simple pasta dish. Indeed, it’s probably the plumpest, most tender mussel I’ve had the pleasure of eating.

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Category:General, New Products, Recipes (Savory), Seafood | Comments (10) | Author:

Cococlectic Delivers the Chocolatey Goods Plus a Food Gal Giveaway

Monday, 24. February 2014 5:25

One of the Twenty-Four Blackbirds dark chocolate bars in February's Cococlectic delivery

One of the Twenty-Four Blackbirds dark chocolate bars in February’s Cococlectic delivery.

Imagine getting a package of four premium, handcrafted chocolate bars delivered to your door every month.

If that isn’t a chocoholic’s dream, what is?

San Francisco’s Cococlectic is a craft bean-to-bar club that does exactly that.

The new company was started by Doreen Leong, who grew up in Malaysia and moved to the Bay Area to pursue an MBA. She worked in the corporate world for many years, but never felt fulfilled. Then, she hit on an idea inspired by her relationship with her sister, to whom she’d regularly send gifts of chocolate. Why not start a company for chocolate lovers like her who are always eager to try a great new bar?

Leong looks for unique products made in small batches from bean to bar. They are all dark chocolate, the favorite of chocolate connoisseurs. Plus, she likes the fact that dark chocolate has been reported to have certain antioxidant properties. None of the bars selected contain nuts or fruits or additional ingredients that might detract from the purity of the chocolate, itself.

Membership levels start at $27 per month. Each monthly shipment includes four chocolate bars. Membership also allows you to purchase more of the same bars if you find you can’t live without them. Those who sign up for a six-month membership receive a 1-month free trial membership for a friend.

Recently, I had a chance to try a sample box. February’s featured chocolate maker is Twenty-Four Blackbirds, which was founded by Mike Orlando in Santa Barbara. Chocolate making started out as a side passion to his real job as a marine biologist. His bars are hand-made from only two ingredients: organic cacao beans and organic sugar.

My box contained four bars: 68% Dominican Republic, 75% Madagascar , and two of the 75% Bolivian Palos Blancos.

An example of Cococlectic's monthly chocolate box.

An example of Cococlectic’s monthly chocolate box.

The bars are quite smooth on the palate. The 68% Dominican Republic, sourced from a cocoa-farming cooperative, boasts a lot of berry fruitiness with a fair amount of acidity. The 75% Madagascar is full of cherry and blueberry flavors balanced by earthiness and a hint of tangy citrus. The 75% Bolivian Palos Blancos is extremely creamy, with almost a vanilla presence, and hardly any bitterness or acidity.

Additional Twenty-Four Blackbirds bars (1.41 ounces each) sell on the Cococlectic site for $8 each.

CONTEST: One lucky Food Gal reader will win a sample gift box of chocolate bars from Cocoeclectic ($34 value). Entries, limited to those in the continental United States, will be accepted through midnight PST March 1. The winner will be announced March 3.

How to win?

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Category:Chocolate, Enticing Events, General, New Products | Comments (17) | Author: