- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 25, 2006

VEGGIE RITZ

Tasting the new Roasted Vegetable Ritz Crackers may make one wonder where the Ritz of yesteryear are, but — and let’s be thankful the original Ritz are still available and are still the best with peanut butter.

The new version is made with real vegetables, say the folks at Kraft. The vegetables include tomatoes, red and green bell peppers, onions, parsley and carrots.

They taste like a veggie cracker, but they still have that pleasing Ritz crispness. The suggested retail price is $3.39. What next will they be puttin’ in the Ritz?

FRENCH KISSES

They are marketed as French Kisses, but what’s in a name? These are dried plums — formerly prunes, remember? — soaked in Armagnac and then stuffed with a silken foie gras mousse. These French Kisses were created by D’Artagnan and won the 2006 Outstanding Hors d’Oeuvre award July 10th at the Fancy Food Show in New York City. The show is sponsored by the National Association of Specialty Food Trade.

D’Artagnan is known for its gourmet products, especially foie gras, pate, sausages, smoked delicacies, organic game and poultry.

The company was founded in 1958 by Ariane Daguin, who recommends serving French Kisses with champagne or cocktails.

The D’Artagnan products are available in specialty stores or by calling 800/327-8246, Ext. 0, or visit www.dartagnan.com. French Kisses are available in packages of six for $20.50 or 18 for $55.50; they should be refrigerated until they are used.

GINGER POWER

Most domestic ginger ales are on the wimpy side. If they can be touted as a cure for queasiness from motion sickness and upset stomachs and other ailments, Reed’s Inc. of Los Angeles has a stronger remedy. Reed’s makes an array of drinks in which ginger is the star.

Reed’s Premium Ginger Brew is plenty assertive in its use of ginger and with “no preservatives and no artificial anything.” If that’s not strong enough for the genuine gingerholic, there’s Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew. And there’s Reed’s Jamaican Style Ginger Beer.

The ginger brews are also available with spiced apple, raspberry and cherry juices.

Reed’s makes ginger ice cream with Reed’s Crystallized Ginger Candy. Reed’s Ginger Chews, from Indonesia, are another step on the road to ginger nirvana. Another notable product is Virgil’s Root Beer, available in a party keg as well as bottles.

For information, call 800/997-3337 or visit www.reedsgingerbrew.com.

SAN JOAQUIN GOLD

From Fiscalini Farms in Modesto, Calif., come a variety of award-winning cheeses, some stocked by Washington-area markets. Fiscalini’s San Joaquin Gold, which gains a nuttier flavor as it ages, won gold medals at the World Cheese Awards in London in 2004 and 2005, while the company’s San Joaquin Cheddar was the only American cheese to win in the cheddar category in London in 2003.

The company also makes a smoked cheddar and seven other seasoned cheddars (caraway, dill, garlic, pepper, saffron, sage and tarragon).

Horsefeathers is a combination of San Joaquin Cheddar, sour cream and horseradish. Purple Moon is a 6-month-old cheddar soaked for a day or two in cabernet sauvignon from California’s North Coast. Annunciata is a whole-milk Parmesan cheese (genuine Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is made of whole and skim milk). Call 800/610-3276 or visit www.fiscalinicheese.com.

Here’s a recipe from Fiscalini:

San Joaquin golden baked onion dip

1 cup finely chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 cup crumbled San Joaquin Gold cheese

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (or less, to taste)

1/4 cup grated Annunciata Parmesan cheese

Paprika, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix onion with mayonnaise, San Joaquin Gold cheese and Tabasco sauce. Spread in a small baking dish or pie plate. Top with Annunciata cheese and sprinkle with paprika. Bake 30 minutes. Serve warm with crackers, pita crisps, flatbreads or raw vegetables.

THEWASHINGTONTIMES

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