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Sargento Foods Introduces Sweet Balanced Breaks Snacks

Sargento Foods is giving cheese lovers a balanced way to satisfy their sweet tooth with the release of Sweet Balanced Breaks® Snacks. This new product combines the savory flavors of creamy, natural cheese with sweet ingredients like dried fruits and dark chocolate.

SARGENTO cropSweet Balanced Breaks Snacks add to the wide range of Sargento® cheese snacks. The four Sweet Balanced Breaks Snack varieties feature 5-7 grams of protein and fewer than 200 calories per serving.

“We have been thrilled with the response to Balanced Breaks Snacks, and we wanted to give our loyal fans even more variety and convenience in their snacks,” said Ryan Hemsing, Director of Marketing for the Sargento Foods Consumer Products Division. “The Sweet Balanced Breaks line lets people embrace their sweet side with the perfect balance of indulgence and real goodness.”

The tempting new combinations are:

  • Natural Cheddar Cheese, Raisins, Sea-Salted Roasted Almonds and Greek Yogurt-Flavored Drops
  • Monterey Jack Natural Cheese, Dried Cranberries, Banana Chips and Dark Chocolate Chunks
  • Natural Cheddar Cheese, Raspberry Flavored Dried Cranberries, Graham Crackers and Milk Chocolate Chunks
  • Monterey Jack Natural Cheese, Dried Cranberries and Dark Chocolate-Coated Peanuts

Sargento Sweet Balanced Breaks Snacks are available in packages of three 1.5-ounce snacks for a suggested retail price of $3.69. They can be found at retailers nationwide in the dairy aisle. For more information and product availability, visit www.sargento.com.

Jasper Hill Farm’s Soft Cheese Line Sweeps U.S. Cheese Championship

Jasper Hill cheeses have won multiple ribbons at the 2017 US Championship Cheese Contest, a biennial event that took place at Lambeau Field (home of the Green Bay Packers) in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This event is the largest cheese competition in the US, drawing entries from across the industry.

The competition was steep this year, with a record 2,303 entries of cheese, butter and yogurt, submitted by cheesemakers from 33 states, for a combined weight of 37,000 pounds. Wisconsin had the most entries by state, but Vermont was in the top five (alongside New York, California and Idaho). Forty eight judges oversaw the 101 categories.

In the Smear Ripened Soft Cheese category, the top four winners were Jasper Hill originals or Jasper Hill collaborations. Jasper Hill also took home a best of class award in the Brie & Camembert category as well as a best of class in Open Class: Soft Ripened Cheese.

For Smear Ripened Soft Cheese, the results were:

BEST OF CLASS: Willoughby, Cellars at Jasper Hill, with a score of 99.70
2nd AWARD: Greensward, Murray’s Cheese & Jasper Hill, with a score of 99.65
3rd AWARD: Oma, von Trapp Farmstead Cheese & Cellars at Jasper Hill, with a score of 99.60
4th PLACE: Winnimere, Cellars at Jasper Hill, with a score of 99.40.

For Brie & Camembert, the results were:

BEST OF CLASS: Moses Sleeper, Cellars at Jasper Hill, with a score of 99.40. The Moses Sleeper also made the list for Top 20 Finalists.

For Open Class: Soft Ripened Cheese, the results were:

BEST OF CLASS: Harbison, Cellars at Jasper Hill, with a score of 99.75

More about the winning cheeses

Moses Sleeper is an approachable and nuanced brie-style cheese. Beneath its thin, bloomy rind lies a gooey, milky core showing a complex array of flavors at peak ripeness: cauliflower, crème fraîche, and toasted nuts. The cheese’s historic namesake, Moses Sleeper, and his compatriot, Constant Bliss, were Revolutionary War scouts killed while defending a blockhouse along the Northeast Kingdom’s legendary Bayley Hazen Military Road.

Winnimere is a take on Jura Mountain classics like Vacherin Mont d’Or or Fösterkäse. In keeping with this tradition, this decadent cheese is made only during winter months when Jasper Hill’s herd of Ayrshire cows are enjoying a rich ration of dry hay. Young cheeses are wrapped in strips of spruce cambium, the tree’s flexible inner bark layer, harvested from Jasper Hill Farm’s woodlands. During aging, the cheese is washed in a cultured salt brine to help even rind development. At peak ripeness, this cheese is spoonably soft and tastes of bacon, sweet cream, and spruce.

Oma is an American original, made by Sebastian von Trapp on his family’s dairy farm in Waitsfield, Vermont. An approachable washed-rind, tomme-style cheese, Oma is made from the unpasteurized, organic milk of the von Trapp’s primarily Jersey breed cows. Oma balances pungent and sweet flavors with aromas of roasted nuts, cured meat and cultured butter. The paste is soft, almost pudding-like, but never runny. The thin, orange rind, often overlaid with white flora, is an earthy foil to the richness of the paste.

Harbison is named for Anne Harbison, affectionately known as the grandmother of Greensboro. Harbison is a soft-ripened cheese with a rustic, bloomy rind. Young cheeses are wrapped in strips of spruce cambium, the tree’s inner bark layer, harvested from the woodlands of Jasper Hill. The spoonable texture begins to develop in the Jasper Hill vaults, though the paste continues to soften on the way to market. Harbison is woodsy and sweet, balanced with lemon, mustard, and vegetal flavors.

Greensward is made by Jasper Hill Creamery, using a Harbison-based recipe. Fresh cheeses are then shipped to the caves of Murray’s Cheese where they are ripened and packaged for sale.

Steve Millard, Senior Vice President of Merchandising and Operations for Murray’s Cheese, has been driving this collaborative effort since the cheese’s inception. “I have been truly blessed by the opportunity to visit Jasper Hill every couple months and reconnect with my friends to the north,” he said. “Our collaboration with Jasper Hill on Greensward started as a special project for 11 Madison [restaurant] and has grown into an award-winning cheese that is sold in our stores nationwide. In Greensward we have the perfect match of superb cheesemaking coupled with impassioned affinage, both born of a continuous desire to achieve and repeat perfection.”

All of Jasper Hill’s award winning cheeses can be purchased where fine cheeses are sold, at Jasper Hill’s retail counter within the newly constructed Boston Public Market, or from Jasper Hill Farm’s online store. Greensward is only available at select Murray’s Cheese locations.

Bellwether Farms Introduces Organic Whole Cow Milk Yogurt

Bellwether Farms_OrganicCowYogurtThe Callahan family, Founders of Bellwether Farms, believe in using only full-fat milk for making their yogurt. Bellwether Farms Sheep Yogurt has for 10 years claimed front-row status in dairy cases across the US. Next month, Bellwether Farms will introduce its first Organic Cow Yogurt made with milk from Jersey cows pastured on a farm down the road from their Sonoma County, California, sheep ranch and creamery. The new Organic Cow Yogurt will arrive in freshly designed four-packs of 3.75-ounce transparent cups. Bellwether Farms sources fruit from Oregon’s Columbia River region to blend into Strawberry, Blackberry, Blueberry, and Spiced Apple yogurts “We know our customers appreciate the high quality of the fruit we source, and this cup reveals the fresh fruit ready to blend into the creamy yogurt,” says Liam Callahan, co-Founder, Cheese- and Yogurt Maker. “We source the best fruit and add the minimum amount of sugar necessary.”

Plain and Madagascar Vanilla flavors are also available. In addition to the single-serve cups, a 5.3-ounce cup is planned along with a 32-ounce foodservice size, in all six flavors. Northern California distribution is slated to begin in April.

Pastured Jersey cows give milk that is naturally high in heart healthy fats and nutritious A2 protein, and packed with essential vitamins and minerals. Bellwether Farms blends 12 live, active bacteria strains that work together to deliver the probiotic benefits expected from yogurt. Bellwether Farms doesn’t strain, drain or add stabilizers to make thicker yogurt. The creamy smooth texture comes naturally, coaxed by careful handling of the freshest milk delivered daily to the creamery.

Cocoa Industry Announces Cooperative Initiative to End Deforestation

Twelve of the world’s leading cocoa and chocolate companies agreed to a statement of collective intent committing them to work together, in partnership with others, to end deforestation and forest degradation in the global cocoa supply chain, with an initial focus on Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. The agreement, concluded during a meeting hosted by HRH The Prince of Wales, commits the participating companies to develop and present a joint public-private framework of action to address deforestation at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP 23) meeting in Bonn in November of this year.

This meeting, organized by World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), IDH-the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) and The Prince’s International Sustainability Unit (ISU), is the first of its kind covering the global cocoa supply chain. Senior executives from the 12 companies stated their commitment to develop an actionable suite of measures to end deforestation and forest degradation, including greater investments in more sustainable forms of landscape management; more active efforts in partnership with others to protect and restore forests in the cocoa landscape; and significant investments in programs to improve cocoa productivity for smallholder farmers working in the cocoa supply chain. Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are the world’s leading producers of cocoa, and many observers point to cocoa farming as a driving force behind rapid rates of deforestation in both countries.

Speaking at the event, HRH The Prince of Wales said, “Tropical rainforests play an absolutely crucial role in climate change mitigation and adaptation, in ensuring sustainable livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people and in conserving biodiversity. The most powerful direct reason for action is that deforestation threatens to undermine the very resilience of the cocoa sector itself, and with it the livelihoods of the millions of smallholders who depend on it. I am heartened that companies are undertaking to work up, in full collaboration with host governments and civil society, a Joint Framework of Action to make good on the commitments announced today, in time for COP 23 in November.”

According to WCF Chairman Barry Parkin, “Today marks a crucial step forward because 12 leading World Cocoa Foundation member companies have agreed to work together, and in partnership with others, to tackle the challenge of deforestation in cocoa. We look forward to more companies joining the effort and are grateful for the leadership provided by The Prince of Wales in convening today’s landmark event.”

The meeting brought together a cross-section of the world’s largest chocolate makers and cocoa buyers, producers and traders, including Barry Callebaut; Blommer Chocolate Company; Cargill; CEMOI; ECOM; Ferrero; The Hershey Company; Mars, Incorporated; Mondelēz International; Nestlé; Olam and Touton. Also present were ministers and senior government representatives of the two-leading cocoa producing countries – Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana – as well as France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom.

“Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s leading producer of cocoa, in 2014 signed the New York Declaration on Forests, the objective of which is the elimination of deforestation caused by agriculture. In respecting this commitment as it concerns the production of cocoa, we intend, with the support of the private sector, to undertake efforts to preserve our forests by improving productivity on existing cocoa lands and developing agroforestry approaches to sustainable cocoa production without deforestation. It is with great pride that we join with The Prince of Wales, World Cocoa Foundation, IDH and their partners in demonstrating this willingness to conserve, restore and manage forests for the benefit of all Ivorians”, said Marcel Yao, from Côte d’Ivoire’s Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Coordinator of the National Climate Change Program and National Executive Secretary for CN-REDD+.

Ghana’s Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Hon. John Peter Amewu said, “As the second largest producer of cocoa in the world, we are excited to be part of this noble step by The Prince of Wales, World Cocoa Foundation, IDH and private sector companies to work towards reducing the rate of deforestation emanating from cocoa production. On our part, we are poised to enhance the environmental governance regime in the cocoa sector and implement actions that will enable cocoa producers to adopt cocoa agroforestry systems and practices that are climate smart.”

The 12 companies will now engage in a planning and consultation process with governments, farmer organizations NGOs and other relevant stakeholders to build the joint framework to be unveiled at COP 23.

As farmers in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America seek new areas of land to grow crops including cocoa amid increasing global demand, WCF, IDH and ISU organized an industry commitment to end deforestation and forest degradation recognizing that deforestation is likely to increase in the future unless concerted action is taken. This commitment builds on the cocoa industry’s existing initiatives in partnership with producer country governments and other stakeholders to design sustainable cocoa development programs aimed at improving the livelihoods of the millions of smallholder farmers who grow cocoa.

Senior representatives of the Agence Française de Développement, Greenpeace, International Finance Corporation, Oxfam, Tropical Forests Alliance 2020, World Bank, World Resources Institute, and UN Environment, as well as other organizations, were also present at the event.

Joost Oorthuizen, Executive Director of IDH, said, “We feel very privileged and honored to be leading the process in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana that will develop detailed Frameworks of Action as we look toward Bonn. In recent history, the cocoa sector has proven to not be afraid to address difficult issues like child labor, malnutrition, and poverty reduction, all in a non-competitive manner. This meeting provides a great starting point to expedite action on the deforestation issue in concert with other relevant stakeholders.”

Vermont Creamery Wins Big at U.S. Championship Cheese Contest

Vermont Creamery was honored for achievement in artisan cheesemaking this week with three awards at the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest (USCCC) held biennially in Wisconsin.

VC_MVCF_8OZ_2014Vanilla Crème Fraîche won “Best in Class” while Cultured Butter with Sea Salt and Maple and St. Albans both took third place in their respective categories.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized by our peers in the cheese community, especially in the good company of other Vermont cheesemakers,” said Allison Hooper, co-Founder of Vermont Creamery. “These awards are the result of our entire team’s commitment to quality and innovation in cheesemaking.”

VC_STALBANS_FULL_ANGLE_GMO_2016This is the first USCCC award for St. Albans, the newest aged cheese to join the lineup; in 2015, Vermont Creamery products took home five USCCC awards.

This year, the contest garnered a record 2,303 entries, up 22 percent from the previous contest in 2015. Forty-eight judges from nineteen states evaluated all of the entries across 101 classes. Vermont Creamery’s Cultured Butter with Sea Salt and Maple took third in a new category—flavored butter.

Wisconsin Sweeps Top Three Spots at 2017 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest

Marieke Penterman of Marieke Gouda in Thorp, Wisconsin, with her USCCC Second Runner-Up Marieke Gouda Belegen; Mike Matucheski of Sartori Cheese in Antigo, Wisconsin with his Grand Champion Sartori Reserve Black Pepper BellaVitano, and Terry Lensmire of Agropur in Weyauwega, Wisconsin with his First Runner-Up Cheddar, Aged One to Two Years, at the Cheese Champion Reception in Green Bay, Wisconsin on Thursday, March 9, 2017.

Marieke Penterman of Marieke Gouda in Thorp, Wisconsin, with her USCCC Second Runner-Up Marieke Gouda Belegen; Mike Matucheski of Sartori Cheese in Antigo, Wisconsin with his Grand Champion Sartori Reserve Black Pepper BellaVitano, and Terry Lensmire of Agropur in Weyauwega, Wisconsin with his First Runner-Up Cheddar, Aged One to Two Years, at the Cheese Champion Reception in Green Bay, Wisconsin on Thursday, March 9, 2017.

Wisconsin cheesemakers continued their historic winning streak at the 2017 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest, sweeping the top awards and 31 competition classes. With the title of Grand Champion Cheese going to Sartori’s Reserve Black Pepper BellaVitano, Wisconsin has won top honors at the country’s three major cheese competitions over the past year.

Little Mountain from Roelli Cheese earned Best of Show at the American Cheese Society Competition in July, and Emmi Roth USA’s Grand Cru Surchoix won the 2016 World Championship Cheese Contest, marking the first sweep of this kind.

“This winning streak is a testament to the tradition, innovation and commitment to excellence that Wisconsin dairy farmers and cheesemakers exemplify,” said Suzanne Fanning, Vice President, National Product Communications, of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB). “It’s further proof that Wisconsin not only makes the most cheese in the country, but the very best cheese, as well. This starts with producing the finest milk and maintaining the highest standards from the farm to the aging caves and beyond.”

Made by Master Cheesemaker Mike Matucheski, Sartori’s Reserve Black Pepper BellaVitano is an original Italian-style cheese hand-rubbed with cracked black peppercorns. The contest’s award for first runner up went to Aged Cheddar from Agropur. Marieke Gouda Belegen was the second runner up.

With a record-breaking 2,303 entries from 33 U.S. states, the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest is the largest technical cheese, butter and yogurt competition in the country. Wisconsin captured 60 percent of all awards, winning 184 awards total, including the top three titles, 62 Best of Class awards, 63 second place, and 56 third place awards.

U.S. Championship Honors for Montchevre

Montchevre claimed seven awards at the 2017 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest®. Hosted by the Wisconsin Cheesemakers Association, the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest, is the largest technical cheese, butter, and yogurt competition in the country.

At the 19th biennial U.S. Championship Cheese Contest held Thursday, March 9 in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Montchevre received the following honors:

Class: Flavored Soft Goat’s Milk Cheeses

Best of Class, Truffle Fresh Goat Cheese Log

Second, Four Pepper Fresh Goat Cheese Log

Class: Flavored Soft Goat’s Milk Cheese with Sweet Condiments

Best of Class, Blueberry Vanilla Fresh Goat Cheese Log

Class: Semi-Soft Goat’s Milk Cheeses

Best of Class, Crumbled Goat Cheese

Class: Flavored Semi-Soft Goat’s Milk Cheeses

Best of Class, Apricot & Sage Crumbled Goat Cheese

Third, Candied Cranberry Crumbled Goat Cheese

Class: Hard Goat’s Milk Cheeses

Best of Class, Trivium (in partnership with Crown Finish Caves and Creamery 333)

A record-setting 2,303 cheeses, butters, and yogurts from 33 states participated in the 2017 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest.

ITO EN Debuts Ice-Steeped Cold Brew Teas for matcha LOVE and TEAS’ TEA Organic

ITO EN is launching a lineup of new ice-steeped cold brew ready-to-drink teas across two award-winning beverage brands, matcha LOVE®  and TEAS’ TEA® Organic. Each new beverage leverages authentic Japanese cold brew processes, ice-steeping the tea to bring out the smooth, naturally mellow sweetness of green and black teas. The new teas will begin shipping to retailers in May.

“Consumer demand for cold brew beverages is at an all-time high, and we believe the launch of our new matcha LOVE and TEAS’ TEA Organic Cold Brew teas will help us establish a new segment in the RTD tea category,” said Rona Tison, Senior Vice President of ITO EN (North America) INC. “Given ITO EN’s deep-rooted expertise in Japanese cold brew methods called Mizudashi, we feel there’s an enormous opportunity for us to take the leadership role for this innovative set. We’ve elevated the simple essence of our tea leaves and created a more delicate taste with a smooth, clean finish.”

ITO EN’s new cold brew creations provide an entirely new spin on conventional green and black teas. Ice-steeping the high-quality, premium tea leaves draws out a more nuanced, smooth taste that is refreshingly delicious. Product details include:

  • matcha LOVE Cold Brew: a truly cutting-edge creation in the matcha tea category, matcha LOVE Cold Brew is crafted with whole leaf green tea, finely ground matcha powder and chilled water. Simply steeped to deliver a smooth, subtly sweet taste, matcha LOVE Cold Brew will be available in two organic varieties: Matcha + Green Tea (unsweetened and Non-GMO Project Verified) and Lemon Matcha + Green Tea.
  • TEAS’ TEA Organic Cold Brew: bringing new dimensions to traditional favorites, the brand’s meticulous cold brewing methods provide a more refined and smoother taste than conventionally brewed teas. TEAS’ TEA Organic Cold Brew will be available in two varieties: Pure Green Tea (unsweetened and Non-GMO Project Verified) and Raspberry Black Tea.

Matcha LOVE and TEAS’ TEA Organic are currently available at natural food stores and specialty supermarkets nationwide, to include Whole Foods Market, Sprouts Farmers Market, Wegmans and The Fresh Market. Products are also available at ITO EN brand retail stores and online at Amazon.com. For more information on the brands, visit matcha LOVE at www.matchalove.com and TEAS’ TEA Organic at www.teastea.com.

A Taste of Anatolia from Ana’s Apron

By Lorrie Baumann

Paul Theroux was riding the Trans-Siberian Express three days east of Nishni Novgorod, the apple blossom land described by Amor Towles in “A Gentleman in Moscow,” when on page 471 of Theroux’s story about the trip, he was offered manti by a passing stranger. Theroux described the manti as steaming meat-filled dumplings. “I knew the word because I’d heard manti  for dumpling in Turkey and elsewhere,” Theroux wrote in “Ghost Train to the Eastern Star.”

DSCN0352Some of this came back to me when I stopped in front of Kader Ucar and Hasan Ertas (wife and husband) at the Winter Fancy Food Show. They were standing in front of a banner identifying Ana’s Apron, and what they had on a table in front of them was a little plate of Ana’s Apron Manti, which Ucar, who is Ana’s Apron’s President, described as traditional Anatolian-style manti. Anatolia is the Asian part of Turkey, she further explained.

Ucar is also the Founder of Palo Alto Pasta Co., which owns the Ana’s Apron brand. It’s a woman-owned and operated business located in California’s Bay Area. Ten percent of the company’s profits are dedicated to children’s charities around the world. “’Ana’ means ‘mother’ in Turkish, and I founded this company with tremendous support from my mother. We are using her artisanal old recipe in our Manti pasta, and she now lives permanently with us. We wanted to name our Manti brand after her to show our gratitude to what she has done for us. You can almost always find my mother at home with her apron on cooking amazing Anatolian dishes for lunch and dinner,” said Ucar.

The Manti are little filled dumplings about the size of a marble and the shape of a tiny purse, and they’re available from Ana’s Apron in four varieties: Spinach & Feta & Olive, Five Cheese, Beef & Onion and Chicken & Thyme. They’re similar to Italian tortellini, but they’re based on recipes that Ucar and her family have been making for seven generations. “We sell it the way we eat it in our own family. Some of our most frequent customers are families with young children. Our Manti pasta is a small bite size, so even a three-year-old can eat it without any parental help at the table. Kids love our pasta!” Ertas said.

Ana’s Apron packages the Manti for sale in 10-ounce pouches that serve two and sell for about $6.99 from the grocer’s freezer case. The product is also available in 3-pound pouches for food service and in a family pack.

They’re prepared by dropping the frozen dumplings into boiling water for two minutes and then traditionally served topped with plain yogurt and then tomato sauce on top of that. For customers who are buying their tomato sauce in a jar instead of making it themselves, a simple marinara would be an appropriate choice, Ucar confirmed.

The Beef & Onion variety provides 36 percent of a daily value of protein per serving, and the Spinach & Feta & Olive variety is also rich in protein as well as iron, Ucar said. Shelf life in the grocer’s freezer case is nine months, and Ana’s Apron is currently distributing the products in the Bay Area, with production capacity ready for expanded distribution beyond that. “We’ve been working on it for the last eight months, and we’re ready to take on bigger orders,” Ucar said.

For more information, visit www.anasapron.com.

La Piana Imported Balsamic Vinegars Now Available in Northeast

Italian Foods Corporation’s imported La Piana® balsamic vinegars of Modena now are available in the northeastern United States through Shaw’s and Big Y.

Shaw’s is now carrying the La Piana Bronze Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena and Silver Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena at its 155 stores in five New England states through Chex Finer Foods of Mansfield, Massachusetts, according to Francesca Lapiana-Krause, Italian Foods General Manager. Big Y has added the Bronze Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, also through Chex Finer Foods, Lapiana-Krause said.

The vinegars are imported from the Modena region of Italy and made from the juice of Trebbiano grapes grown in the region. These produce a rich, sweet and pleasantly acidic balsamic vinegar with intense, but well-rounded, flavor, Lapiana-Krause said. La Piana Bronze Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena has a density of 1.18 and a sugar level of 400 to 430 grams per liter. The Silver balsamic vinegar has a density of 1.25 with sugar at 540 to 570 grams.

Italian Foods Corporation also carries Gold Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena with a density of 1.32 and sugar at 750 grams along with a line of Romantica vinegars and balsamic pearls. Suggested retail prices of the vinegars, which come in 8.4-ounce decorative bottles, are $16.47 for the Bronze, $22.65 for the Silver and $36.04 for the Gold.

More information about Italian Foods Corporation is available online at http://www.ItalianFoods.com and https://www.Facebook.com/LaPianaItalianFoods or by calling 1.888.516.7262.

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