Interesting New Flavors

Virginia shares her reactions to several new local food products.

One of the most interesting aspects of this job is the opportunity to sample new food products when they are about to reach the local market. Over the past few months, I 've received samples of bread crumbs, chicken stock, various spices and condiments ( you should see the amazingly diverse selection of spices and condiments in my pantry just now!), breakfast cereals, several flavors of instant mashed potatoes (yuk), imported chocolates (alas, all melted), plus wines and liqueurs (always shared with other writers). None of these items really warranted much mention, but there were also some serious keepers. The best of the bunch was a box of six Sweet Tango apples developed by apple breeding researchers at the University of Minnesota. These were undoubtedly the best tasting apples I've ever encountered - crisp, sweet, spicy - really marvelous for eating and with enough body to hold up well when baked ( or so I imagine). I liked them so much that all I could think about was all the things I wanted to make with them - caramel apples, holiday pies, apple dumplings, apple crisps - but there were only six of them in the box and they were eaten long before any cooking could actually take place. These remarkable apples won't even be on the commercial market until the fall of 2009, but I promise to remind you about them when they arrive in Austin stores next year.

At about the same time the apples arrived, the folks from Jake's Fine Foods dropped off some bags of their newest granola flavor, Simply Ginger. It's choc-full of candied ginger pieces and should be very appealing to fans of that particular flavor, like me, for instance. Partly due to the timing, the granola figured prominently in some of my baking ideas for the apples (topping for crisps, filling for apple dumplings, etc.), but I never managed to get them together. I did, however, use some of the granola in Cranberry Oatmeal cookies the other day and the ginger pieces and added crunch really boosted the flavor appeal of those cookies.
The other truly appealing recent samples were some Dazzle Pies ($14.99), new dessert products developed by the Whole Foods Market Bakeshop that are available in both local Whole Foods stores. The 8-inch pies have a graham cracker crust filled with luscious, creamy custard flavored with lemon, tangerine, or pineapple. The tangy lemon and tangerine were my favorites, no real surprise there. The pineapple was good, but the fruit flavor was a little too subtle. The consistency of the pies reminded me of a Key Lime pie made with sweetened condensed milk that I used to sell when I was in the dessert business years ago. These new delicious dazzlers can be cut to deliver eight slim or six generous portions and must be stored and served cold. Enjoy.

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