FEB product reviews: olive oil, crackers, bowls and a GIVEAWAY!
We consume olive oil like it is going out of style. It is my primary cooking oil, the way I lightly coat vegetables for roasting and part and parcel to our family's Italian year abroad (read this fun post on 'Olive Oil Tasting'). California Olive Ranch sent me this bottle. Hey ranch guys? Thanks. It's fantastic. Bottom line? I will be buying this product in the future. Took my midday arugula and tuna salad up a whole notch. I save your oil for dipping bread, making sandwiches and on salads---not for cooking. The flavor is worthy of straight consumption.
One of the fantastic side effects of being a food blogger, is that companies selling food products and kitchen tools know we are a great resource for 'talking' about their gear/goods. I don't just let any tool into my kitchen, and am a bigger fan of make-my-own than off-the-shelf. Though I adore trying new things: new foods, new tools, new wine, new flavor profiles. I am always tracking the next best bite, and quintessentially curious about new useful tools for my kitchen. I am 'all in' when it comes to finding new farms, foods, ingredients and just-launched products.
And admittedly, with the products and cookbooks and pantry and fresh goods that come my way: I am consistently impressed with the reach companies make toward bloggers. Way cooler than a TV ad; way more personal, way more honest.
Kashi sells a variety of TLC crackers; they were kind enough to send me Asiago, 7 grain, Honey Sesame, Cheddar and Fire Roasted Veggie flavors. (You can find their crackers at Whole Foods). The flavors are true to form, the honey is sweet with a slight sesame aftertaste. The sundried is sharp in flavor; the Asiago would make a friendly appetizer---with some cheese and fruit. The crackers are small and firm. There are a lot of fantastic crackers on the market, and we have our established favorites... Although the one TLC cracker I would buy again is the cheddar. They went first, they went fast.
Speaking of crackers: Westminster Crackers sent me a box of classic 'oyster crackers.' I don't know about you, but I grew up cramming oyster crackers on top of tomato soup. They taste just like I remember, though I grew up on a different brand... what was it? Now, when I don't have creamy tomato soup handy, I toss a bag in my kids' lunch. Better than chips, I figure. Oh, and in a pinch: I put them in my small food processor and make bread crumbs. Thanks Westminster from Vermont!
Extra love: Westminster Crackers has agreed to send a box full of their 'soup-toppers' to one of my lucky readers. SO all you have to do is comment below by March 2 midnight (PST). Then I will randomly pick a winner and announce by March 5.
OMG you have to buy one of these MixerMate bowls. Sometimes, I am sent kitchen tools, use them once and give them away. But what a thrill when something comes my way, and immediately becomes part of my 'regular kitchen use.' I am smiling as I write this, because this bowl comes in 4 colors: white, blue, green and red. And I thought it would be prudent to pick white, since it was the best 'color' suited for my kitchen. Well, my son saw it and asked about the toilet boil. It seriously looks like a... squat pot. I know that sounds mean, and I intend no disregard to the company behind this brilliant bowl---far from it. I recommend this multi-purpose bowl. Its shape would just be better suited to a color other than white. Just go with me on this one.
Why we LOVE it: it doesn't move all around, having rubber on the bottom to grip your counter. It is the perfect form/shape/size to use with you hand held mixer. I use it to make whipping cream, salad dressing, dips----anything requiring an electric mixer. I use it to stir anything, really. The sides are engineered such that you can pour out of each edge without making a mess. It is easy to grab, hold, tip---you name it. Honestly I have as much affection for this utilitarian bowl as I did for those well-designed tongs that I raved about. I am all about smart people out there, working on form and function to better my kitchen experience. The bowls might look funny: but they are designed brilliantly. High accolades.
Finally: wine. I like knowing the gamut of wines from 'daily' to 'special.' If I was loaded: 'special' would be 'daily.' But seriously: inexpensive wines can be good, too. I often ask my 'wine guy' what is the best under-priced, over-looked wine... best bang for my buck. Usually, it is not a name brand. It's a brilliant wine suffering from lack of brand awareness---my favorite! It means I can buy it and enjoy it at its under-priced worth, right up until the point where they become 'big.' Then you can pull stories like: I knew you when you were a nobody... I saw your worth before the wine snobs elevated you... I was loyal before magazines and restaurants profiled you... THAT is the wine I look for. I had one bottle of Bear Flag Wine (Dark Red Blend). I liked it and aim to buy it again to verify my hunch. I am intrigued. A weekday wine, inexpensive but unafraid. Honorable mention: they had a genuine artist concoct a fanciful label. Why not?
And lest I forget: Happy Chocolate Souffle Day. You didn't know? February 28 is chocolate souffle day. Who knew each day had a dedicated food? For the record... some are very, very weird. Really, a whole day? Dedicated to: Quiche Lorraine (May 20), Whiskey Sour (Aug 25), Cotton Candy (July 31) and Greasy Food (Oct 25). Foodfest 365 was sent to me by Adams Media. A pile of daily oddities. Don't laugh: it makes for great toilet-room reading.