Thanks for the samples!
One very rewarding part of being a food blogger is the opportunity to try new foods. Food companies know that food bloggers have dedicated readers, so reviews of their products will not be lost on deaf ears. Its 'targeted' at you---through me. And since I am forever searching for good food, new food and 'what's next' when it comes to all-things-food... then I will be excited to try new products. And more likely than not: I will talk about it. I have a lot of respect for food companies that spend time reaching out to food bloggers---something about it feels very 'grassroots' and personal.
I love it when Fedex or UPS shows up on my doorstep with food: I am always curious about new products, love trying new things and will always be on the lookout for new favorite short-cuts, recipes and amazing nibbles.
That said: I now tell product companies that while I would love to sample their product, I don't always post about them. There are a lot of food blogs out there. I don't want to waste your time with bad products, mediocre recipes or useless ideas. My goal is to equip you and your kitchen with recipes you cannot live without, tools that have changed my kitchen experience and products that are worth their purchase. Here are some recent products I [and my family and friends] have sampled, and a few thoughts on each:
1. Jovial Pasta:this pasta has a great story. It is new to the market, can be found at Whole Foods and are ancient grains (cue: pure food fans getting giddy). I used the pasta with shrimp (a tribute---we just found out my 14 year old son is not allergic to shellfish). It was good; but I think this pasta would be best-suited for sesame pasta/Asian flavors. Bonus points for the packaging.
2. Barefoot Wine: this wine is all the rage with Wine Spectator, gaining kudos for its value. They sent me a bottle of their Barefoot Wine Sweet Red; it retails for just $7 a bottle. I will say this: not my fave for daily drinking. Its too fruity/shallow for me. However, next time I make a sangria---this fruity, affordable red would be a great base. (I usually use Beaujolais).
3. Ivars tartar with Lemon Zest:I actually make my own tartar. Just like I make my own fig jam, mayonnaise, red sauce, etc.--- it makes it a tad trickier to grab for the store-bought variety. But I had friends over the other day, and made onions rings plus homemade chipolte mayonnaise for dipping. I also offered: Ivars Tartar. It was fantastic to have both options on the table, since different people like different things. My son Caleb was all over the Ivars Tartar, and has mentioned numerous times how much he loves it. My friends---also at the table---said they usually make their own sauce too. They were impressed with Ivar's Tartar and especially its lemon zest. Don't want to make your own? Try Ivars; also check out their neato site.
4. Pretzel Crisps: Have you been noticing the flattened pretzels? I bought some the other day at Trader Joe's (TJ brand) and recently was sent three flavors of Pretzel Crisps from the Snack Factory. You can find them at Whole Foods; which means they are made thoughtfully without preservatives and nasty corn syrup or other unhealthy extras. My son tells me they are all the rage at school; when he brings them he always shares. His friends love them. They sent us plain, sesame and 'everything.' My favorite were the 'everything' Pretzel Crisps with hints of garlic, onion, poppy and caraway. Especially the caraway.
5. The American Lighthouse Cookbook: I have quite a few cookbooks to review. I adore cookbooks. I have a rotating stack waiting on my bed stand, 4 in my car to read while 'waiting' to transport kids to and from activities, and at least 2 go into any overnight bag. I still can hardly keep up. Mostly because I appreciate all the effort and love that goes into each one, I cannot say 'no'. Right before the holidays, I may have to have a cookbook giveaway. Anyone interested? The American Lighthouse Cookbook: The Best Recipes and Stories from America's Shorelines was fun, grabbing recipes and inspiration from America's peninsulas and shores, tiny islands and various coastal regions of our country. It is bursting with the bounty of the sea---not a bad idea if you want to insert more Omega-3's into your diet. Or perhaps... as a cool coffee table book for those of you with island cabins... (my problem is: my coffee table is buried under picturesque cookbooks!).