Interesting New Flavors
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.