Category Archives: New Products

SugarRoti — An Explosion of Flavor In Every Packet

A tuna sandwich to end all tuna sandwiches -- thanks to SugarRoti's Fish Nu Spice blend.
A tuna sandwich to end all tuna sandwiches — thanks to SugarRoti’s Fish Nu Spice blend.

I just ate one of the most delicious tuna sandwiches I’ve ever had — all thanks to Oakland’s SugarRoti.

This new, women-owned company that opened during the pandemic makes 15 different, single-use Indian spice blend packets of mostly organic ingredients.

The $8.99 packets are an especially convenient alternative to buying a host of separate spices that end up as half-filled jars gathering dust in your pantry.

The company was co-founded by Bina Motiram and Dana DuFrane, who met in the corporate world before deciding to join DuFrane’s passion for design with Motiram’s for cooking.

The spice blends, sold in compostable packets, are each designed to work with a specific ingredient, such as beef, chicken or eggs. But that doesn’t mean you can’t mix and match, according to your own whims. For guidance, each packet comes with a simple recipe on the back. More recipes can be found on the SugarRoti web site.

The spice blends come in one-use packets.
The spice blends come in one-use packets.

Just note that the spice blends need to be toasted or heated to fully bring out their flavors and aromas. They are not necessarily designed to be used as rubs on meats because many of the blends contain whole spices.

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What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 9

These non-alcoholic grape juices drink like fine wines -- without the buzz. Featured in the glass is the new Castello di Amorosa Gewurtztraminer Grape Juice.
These non-alcoholic grape juices drink like fine wines — without the buzz. Featured in the glass is the new Castello di Amorosa Gewurtztraminer Grape Juice.

Castello di Amorosa Non-Alcoholic Grape Juices

Maybe it’s because so many of us took to imbibing more during our cloistered time at home in the pandemic, but now in the aftermath, there’s been a definite uptick in the thirst for non-alcoholic alternatives.

Which makes Castello di Amorosa’s debut of three new non-alcoholic grape juices all the more timely and on trend now.

The winery may be better known for its wines, as well as its dramatic winery that’s modeled after a 13th century Tuscan castle. But these grape juices will surely add even more luster. That’s how good they are, as I found when I was sent samples recently to try.

Aside from their screw caps, these are nothing like the grape juices found on the shelves of your local supermarket. They come in three varieties: Muscat Canelli Grape Juice, Sparkling Grape Juice Red Blend, and Gewurztraminer Grape Juice. They are packaged in 750ml bottles and are made from the same fine varietals, meaning they each taste markedly different from one another and are not just saccharine-sweet, but boast the sophistication and complexity of actual premium wines. To be sure, these grape juices are definitely as sweet as soda or even dessert wines, so they’re made for sipping, not gulping.

The grape juices are made much like the wines, with the grapes hand-harvested, then pressed, with the resulting juice chilled to 32 degrees. The only difference is that no yeast is added to convert the grape sugars to alcohol.

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Add A Sweet Lift to Easter

Easter gets even more fun with Lift's chick truffles.
Easter gets even more fun with Lift’s chick truffles.

Fellow U.S. Marines nicknamed Brandon Busch “The Candy Man” for this lieutenant colonel’s major sweet tooth. It was a passion he took rather seriously, too. So much so that the heavy-lift helicopter pilot spent any downtime during his deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan reading textbooks from the Culinary Institute of America.

So, when he segued into civilian life to pursue a Willy Wonka-like dream, Busch couldn’t resist naming his business Lift Chocolate in a nod to his former occupation, as well as to the feeling he hopes to impart in anyone who enjoys his chocolates.

Indeed, his creations are sure to lift your day, especially on Easter.

I had a chance recently to try samples from this Boulder, CO chocolate shop, opened in 2017 by Busch, a graduate of the pastry program at Johnson & Wales.

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New Potatoes with Mustard Oil Herb Salsa

Get acquainted with mustard oil with this punchy potato salad.
Get acquainted with mustard oil with this punchy potato salad.

Some like it hot.

Not the scorching inferno down the throat type.

But a clear-the-sinuses, combustion-of-the-nose kind of way.

Like wasabi or horseradish.

Only, this happens to be golden, viscous mustard oil.

It offers a similar kick in the nostrils, but also has a sharpness and nuttiness. It also has a high smoke point, making it versatile enough to use either as a finishing or cooking oil.

I had a chance to play around with it after receiving a sample of Yandilla Mustard Seed Oil ($22.95 for a 500ml bottle), made in Australia.

The only FDA-approved mustard oil.
The only FDA-approved mustard oil.

It bills itself as the only food-grade mustard oil in the United States that is FDA approved, thanks to its very low level of erucic acid.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 24

Mel Canares' fried chicken sandwich -- photographed on the hood of my car.
Mel Canares’ fried chicken sandwich — photographed on the hood of my car.

Cocina Canares, South San Francisco

Mel Canares doesn’t really have a name yet for his fried chicken sandwich joint — at least one that’s printable in a family blog (ahem), as evidenced by his Instagram handle. Cocina Canares, another moniker by which he sometimes refers to it, actually doesn’t even have a real bona fide structure, either.

Instead, Canares, a former corporate chef for Genentech, cooks and serves his fried chicken sandwich out of his backyard in South San Francisco.

He serves one thing, and only one thing — that sandwich.

And he does so only one day of the week — Sunday.

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