Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Top 10 American Cities for Candy

According to the National Confectioners Association

Hershey, Pa. – Living up to its nickname “The Sweetest Place on Earth,” Hershey, Pa. ranked number one with a 61 percent consumer rating. Trick-or-treaters of all ages can delight in free samples on a free tour ride at Hershey’s Chocolate World; dare to ride the more than 60 exhilarating rides at Hersheypark; and indulge in a chocolate treatment at The Spa At The Hotel Hershey. Both Hersheypark and Hershey’s Chocolate World will host trick-or-treaters the last two weekends in October.

New York, N.Y. – Fifty-four (54) percent of Americans want a sweet bite of the Big Apple. Home to landmarks like the imaginative and interactive M&M’s World, 16-story tall Hershey’s Time Square store, Jacques Torres Chocolate cafĂ© and Dylan’s Candy Bar, it doesn’t need to be Halloween in New York City to find treats on every corner!

Orlando, Fla. – Ranking third, 53 percent of Americans agree that sunshine and sweets can’t be beat. This Halloween indulge in the sweet treats at Downtown Disney’s whimsical candy, ice-cream and soda shops, including a replica of San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square!

San Francisco, Calif. – Fifty-two (52) percent of Americans say they want to go to Frisco for main attractions including Ghirardelli Square and renowned Scharffen Berger chocolate factory. Also nearby, explore fruity and fun Jelly Belly factory or see the world’s largest Pez dispenser (yes, it really works!).

Chicago, Ill. – Home to more than 100 premier candy manufacturers and attractions, Chi-town offers a taste for every trick-or-treater. Crack open a box of Cracker Jacks at landmark Wrigley Field, or take an evening stroll down Michigan Ave. for a glimpse of the illuminated Wrigley Building. For indulgent delights, visit one of five Ethel’s Chocolate Lounges and don’t miss the free treats on The Chicago Chocolate Tour.

Los Angeles, Calif. – Nearly half (48 percent) of adults say they’d like to get the star treatment at Disneyland’s Candy Palace with an extensive assortment of retro candies. And trick-or-treaters won’t want to miss nearby Godiva Chocolatier, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and famous See’s Candies factory.

Boston, Mass. – Forty-seven (47) percent ofAmericans want a taste of Bean town and its rich candy history. Crowned the 2006 U.S. Trick-or-Treat Capital, Boston is known for “Americanizing” Halloween by launching popular traditions like carving pumpkins, wearing costumes and trick-or-treating. Discover the treats of Halloween’s birthplace at they city’s popular Sugar Heaven candy shop or dip into The Chocolate Dipper for handmade chocolates packaged in unique Boston themed assortments like ‘lobster’ and ‘clam chowder.’

New Orleans, La. – At Halloween everything goes down easy in the Big Easy, like the classic pralines of the French Quarter and confections from local favorites including Evans Creole Candy Factory, Laura’s Candy Shop and Aunt Sally’s Praline Shop.

Las Vegas, Nev. – Cash in your chips and enjoy the sweet side of Vegas. Candy lovers can check out a replica of the M&M’s sponsored #38 NASCAR racecar and catch a 3-D movie at M&M’s World, or enjoy fondue for two at landmark Ethel’s Chocolate Lounge. This Halloween, treat yourself to Vegas Images’ chocolate poker chips as you learn the tricks of the poker trade.

Kansas City , Mo. – Kansas City entices more than a third (34 percent) of Americans with Russell Stover headquarters and Andre’s (Andre’s Confiserie Suisse) elegant Rivaz Tearoom. Don’t miss the creative artisan chocolates costumed in hand crafted designs by world-famous confectionery chef Christopher Elbow this Halloween.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Glacier Mints

A few years ago a British goods store in Annapolis sold Glacier Mints and got me hooked. I picked up a few bags every few months or so and was happy. Then they marked them up to about $5 a bag which annoyed me but only meant I bought one bag instead two or three (when they were selling for around $3) and had to make them last longer. Then they stopped selling them altogether which was completely annoying because I honestly think I made the hour or so journey down to Annapolis expressly for those mints the day I noticed they had stopped carrying them.

Fast forward to this year. I put Glacier Mints on my food wishlist (right side column for those of you reading this in a reader) and then about a month or so ago a reader named Mark contacted me. He had a British connection and offered to procure some for me. Then yesterday I got two bags from him in the mail! All is right with the world again.

Why do I love them so? From the website: "Fox's Glacier Mints are the leading, branded, boiled mint on the market. The sweets are produced using natural mint oils and no artificial colours and we ensure that only the best ingredients are used." They are super pepperminty but smooth and hard and perfect. My favorite peppermint to date.

Of course now that I look at the Fox's site, I see a variety I've never noticed before-FOX'S Garden Fruits- Rhubarb, Apple, Pear and Gooseberry hard candies. Be still my heart.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Kraft LiveActive

I am normally a extra sharp Cabot cheddar girl but I couldn't resist trying these new probiotic cheeses (also available in cubes) from Kraft. They taste just like regular cheddar but have live cultures like in yogurt. I frequently like to have a little bit of cheddar with an apple as a snack and these cheese sticks are a good way to add a little something extra.

They also make cottage cheese with "prebiotics" which are supposed to support good bacteria.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Success! Osem brand Israeli couscous

Finally I found Israeli couscous. And right at Graul's for only $1.40.

From the label:
"Israeli Couscous is a unique toasted pasta, produced exclusively by Osem
in Israel. Like regular pasta, Israeli Couscous is made from hard wheat and
water. But instead of being dried, Israeli Couscous is toasted in an open flame
oven. It has a rich, nutty flavor, it absorbs flavor easily, and the surface of
each pearl-shaped piece picks up sauces, reductions, and herbs."

It has actually been a big week or so for grain type foods. I found quinoa, wild rice, quinoa flour and farro all with in a number of days, all of which have been tricky to find in the past.

Friday, October 26, 2007


Any thoughts on spreadable butter? I can't say I've given it much thought but after seeing this cute Save the Toast campaign for spreadable butter with canola oil I am a little bit more interested. I wonder if it tastes like butter or some weird butter-oil hybrid?

The site really is clever, there is even a petition to stop the horrors of cold stick butter tearing innocent slices of bread. Of course, you could just let the butter warm up a bit before you use it but who thinks of that?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Cocktail Contest

This a little far away, but since it concerns my new favorite bitter, Averna, (think Unicum but slightly sweeter) I couldn't resist posting.

This January, Averna and Imbibe Magazine are hosting a contest to find the best mixologist using Averna. This "American Idol of Cocktails" will travel through five popular US cities (New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami) in the hunt for a great new drink recipe. Under the watchful eyes of our prestigious judges, five semifinalists will travel to Sicily and wow with their creative Averna ideas. Your spin on this classic amaro could win you the $2,500 grand prize shopping spree in Sicily! This is your chance to redefine an Italian legend.

Get practicing now!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Chocolate of the Dead

My top pick for Halloween candy this year? Vosges Day of the Dead skulls. Stylish and available in three equally yummy varieties.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Reality of Reality TV

Not being able to cook or even be in one's kitchen for days on end is a surreal experience for someone who, like me, spends the majority of her time there. Waiting for the final doors to be made and put on and the lazy susan repaired by the crew so I can unpack my food and equipment and having to do the waterproofing of the cabinets ourselves (not to mention spending $70 for those supplies) is totally unexpected. You'd think everything would be done before they left, but it wasn't.

I am hoping to get into the kitchen to cook at least a little bit today, if for no other reason than I'd like to eat something other than Chinese takeout, deli food and Italian Nutella slathered on bread. Cross your fingers this all gets resolved soon.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Recipe Writers Handbook

I got the Recipe Writer's Handbook out of the library recently. It is basically full of common sense type things- don't assume your readers are expert cooks, uses standard terms and measurements, use generic names, specify the variety of vegetable etc. It really isn't of much use to me now, after writing original recipes for over three years, but it is a good resource and gives tips on how to give a recipe out over the radio and on television.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Recently I was offered a free coupon for new Frescetta PizzAmore presliced frozen pizza. Now, I haven't had a frozen pizza in years but I knew that events were coming up that would keep me busy so I thought why not give it a shot. We picked it up at my local Safeway, Matt popped in the oven when I was on the way home from teaching my cooking class Wednesday so it was ready when I got home. I didn't have the highest of hopes, but you know what, it was pretty good. It avoided the usual frozen pizza pitfalls-soggyness, over sweet sauce and dry crust. There's this baking tray that really kept the crust crisp and much closer to "take out pizza" than other frozen pizzas I've had.

We did have to recut the "presliced" slices, but that wasn't a big deal to us. It was not as good as homemade pizza, but very good for frozen pizza. I think it would be good to keep on hand for those nights when you just can't think of anything to make.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Regional Foods

What are some of your favorite regional foods? Baltimore has steamed crabs, coddies (I'm working on a recipe to share) and smearcase. How about your hometown? I am especially interested in regional foods that you generally still only find in that particular region. For example: Philadelphia might be the birthplace of the cheesesteak, but you can get it just about anywhere, while coddies are pretty much only found in Baltimore area delis and are virtually unheard of elsewhere.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Pompeian Pomegranate Red Wine Vinegar

I was at Grauls yesterday and while it is a tiny store, they have a huge selection of oils, mustard, vinegars and the like. On my way out I spotted a bottle of pomegranate infused red wine vinegar which is bottled right here in sunny Baltimore by Pompeian. It was like $1.30 so how could I resist? And how often is vinegar positioned to be a impluse buy near the check out? I have to support that.

Anyway, it is really tasty. I see on the website that they also make a pomegranate infused balsamic vinegar which sounds even better. Now I have to come up with some new recipes that really show off vinegar.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Chili Sauce Lures Fire Brigade

I heard this on NPR and it reminded me of the time when Matt was making a Thai curry and added the chili paste directly to the hot oil creating a gas that nearly killed me. Ah, memories.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Mo's Bacon Bar

The lovely Heather was nice enough to pick me up the much coveted bacon bar this weekend*. It was as delightful as I had hoped-smoky-salty and very chocolately. I wish it was a slightly darker bar (what is up with Vosges "dark milk chocolate"? I can handle the hard stuff) but the bacon was really good, slightly chewy so you knew it was bacon, but not fatty or anything. Makes me want to pair bacon with chocolate more often.

*At Ma Petite Shoe for you locals. Where I heard they were giving them away for free this past weekend but she didn't know that until afterwards and they made her pay.