Category Archives: New Products

Napa Truffle Festival

Black Perigord truffles. The darker ones have been peeled already, hence their deeper black color.

Black Perigord truffles. The darker one has been peeled already, hence its more pronounced color.

 

Carefully tucked inside Chef Ken Frank’s walk-in at La Toque restaurant in Napa last weekend sat 20 pounds of prized black Perigord truffles. Valued at more than $13,000 — wholesale.

They were destined to be the highlight of dinners, cooking demos and special restaurant offerings during last weekend’s Napa Truffle Festival.

And they all came from Italy.

For the past five years that this festival has been held, all the truffles used have been picked in Italy and flown in three days later to Napa.

But some day soon — possibly as early as this coming winter — black Perigord truffles may be harvested right here in Wine Country.

That’s because a burgeoning industry is taking root in Napa and Sonoma counties, as vintners and other property owners are gambling on growing truffles.

The American Truffle Company, which organizes the festival, has partnered with these interested folks to sell and plant filbert and oak trees that have been inoculated with the truffle fungus.

Chef Ken Frank holding a plate of black truffle risotto with quail that was made in a demo by Chef Roberto Donna.

Chef Ken Frank holding a plate of black truffle risotto with quail that was made in a demo by Chef Roberto Donna.

Close-up of the risotto.

Close-up of the risotto.

Once the trees are planted, it takes about five years for truffles to form. This winter, the trees of vintner Robert Sinskey, the first local client that signed on with the American Truffle Company, will be reaching that mark. His may become the first Perigords to be harvested in Sonoma County. Already this year, teams of truffle-hunting dogs have shown a much greater interest in his 1 1/2-acre orchard than ever before, Sinskey says, indicating truffles may indeed be forming under his trees.

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Piggish for Tea

Steeping my Teapigs.

Steeping my Teapigs.

 

I am piggish for tea after trying samples of Teapigs.

I mean, you just gotta love the name right off the bat, right?

Plus, you have to smile at a tea company that has a sense of humor. Its Chamomile tea has a drawing of an easy chair on the package, while its Chili Chai is decorated with an image of a fire extinguisher.

The company is called Teapigs because the the founders are greedy for great teas. Get it?

On top of that, the company, which started in the United Kingdom in 2006 and opened a New York branch last year, works with the communities from where it sources tea to try to improve them in some way. Case in point, it’s now helping raise money for the Noel Orphanage in Rwanda, which is located in the same region where Teapigs produces its English Breakfast blend.

Of course, the real question is how does the tea taste?

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Chef James Syhabout Helping Oakland Schools, Restaurant Weeks & More

Chef James Syhabout gives back to Oakland schools. (Photo courtesy of the chef)

Chef James Syhabout gives back to Oakland schools. (Photo courtesy of the chef)

Chef James Syhabout’s Dine About Oakland Public Schools Initiative

Oakland’s native son and only Michelin-starred chef, James Syhabout has launched “Dine About Oakland Public Schools.” Under the initiative, 5 percent of all sales in January at his Oakland restaurants, Hawker Fare, Box & Bells, The Dock, and Commis, will be donated to a designated Oakland school.

Through Jan. 17, proceeds will go to Claremont Middle School. From Jan. 18-24, funds will go to Chabot Elementary. And from Jan. 25-31, proceeds will benefit Oakland  Tech.

Restaurant Weeks

Chef James Syhabout’s Hawker Fare, Box & Bells, and The Dock also will be among the restaurants participating in Oakland Restaurant Week, Jan. 15-25.

For those 10 days, a slew of restaurants will be offering special prix-fixe lunch and/or dinner menus for $20, $30 and $40.

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EXO — An Energy Bar With A Little Something Different

There are about 40 crickets in each bar.

There are about 40 crickets in each bar.

 

Unwrap an EXO protein bar and you’ll find something unusual lurking inside.

Crickets.

Yes, these bars have an unlikely ingredient — flour made from ground crickets.

Gabi Lewis and Greg Sewitz got the idea for these unusual bars when they were in their final year at Brown University after discovering the health and environmental benefits insects have. Indeed, according to them, insects are a source of protein in 80 percent of the world. Moreover, crickets are low in saturated fat and contain more iron than beef.

They figured the easiest way to entice people to eat insects would be to put them in a form they readily understood — a bar. So, they enlisted the help of Chef Kyle Connaughton, former head chef of R&D at The Fat Duck in England and former culinary director of Chipotle, to develop the bars.

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The Cookie That Eats Like A Chip

Take a look at how thin these cookies are.

Take a look at how thin these cookies are.

 

Cookie Chips bills itself as the cookie that eats like a chip.

Indeed, the round, wafer-slim cookies are as crisp and thin as potato chips. They’re as addictive, too.

Founder and Pastry Chef Joanne Adirim got the idea for them after her kids inhaled some just-baked cookies like a bag of potato chips.

The Gardena, CA company, HannahMax is named for her two children. It makes five flavors: Original, Cinnamon Sugar, Chocolate Chip, Sea Salted Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip.

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