Mother’s Day Gift Guide 2015

Mother’s Day is nearing — 2 weekends away (Sunday, May 10th)! For those who are trying to decide what to give to your mom on her special day, ranging from chocolates (filled and in vogue bean-to-bars), wines, artisan beers and spirits (she might not be your typical mother and like the hard stuff), other sweets (like French macarons) and savory snacks (like cheeses and crackers):

These items are not listed in any particular order, except by category.

For ease of navigation, here’s the links to jump:
Chocolates, Confections & Desserts
Wines, Beer & Spirits
Other Food Items

Confections, Chocolates & Other Sweets

Ladurée x Mikimoto limited edition collaboration macarons

The French luxury pâtisserie Ladurée has released a collaboration macaron box with the revered Japanese jewelry company known for offering dazzling pearls, Mikimoto for Mother’s Day.

They created a limited-edition set of macarons, encased in a box that features an illustration of a pearl necklace. The confectionery treats are made with rose and lychee cream, and are meant to evoke delicacy and elegance. Also, the shells are crafted with a pearly finish, keeping to the sheen of Mikimoto’s baubles. And at $28 for six macarons, this truly decadent gift won’t break the bank.

John & Kira's Chocolates - Ladybug & Bee and Wildflower Collections

John & Kira’s Chocolate artisan chocolatiers based in Philadelphia, PA. Their chocolates are made with the finest ingredients sourced from urban gardens and small family farms around the world and the chocolates tend to be adorable animal or plant shapes.

This Mother’s Day they are featuring the Ladybug & Bee, Wildflower, and Enchanted Forest collections (9 piece box, $29.95 each). These whimsical chocolates are delicious. The Wildflower collection, the pink flowers are filled with a delicate white tea ganache and a touch of rose, while yellow flowers are filled a tasty rum-pecan caramel. The Ladybug & Bee are filled with a refreshing mint ganache (green ladybugs) and salted caramel (yellow bees; my personal favorite). The Enchanted Forest collection is a combination of salted caramel (purple mushrooms), white tea ganache with rose (pink wildflowers), and yellow butterflies are filled with their popular mint chocolate ganache filling.

Mariebelle Mother's Day Chocolates

Mariebelle Chocolate based in New York City is a luxurious chocolate brand named after Maribel Lieberman, its designer and founder. The signature chocolates are topped with quirky, colorful designs of silhouettes of mothers and children and curlicues of “thank you” and “Love Mom” messages. Despite the fun touches on this chocolate, you should take them seriously. The pieces have a good couverture-to-filling ratio, the thin coating snapping away to reveal intensely flavored doses of ganache. Some of the delectable limited edition flavors featured in this box are basil, rose, almond praline, guava, and cherry.

Videri Chocolate Factory - Spring Chocolate Pack

Videri Chocolate Factory is a artisanal, bean-to-bar chocolate brand based in North Carolina, started by three passionate chocolate lovers — Sam and Starr Ratto, and Chris Heavener. The Spring Chocolate Pack ($25.99) is a box of their limited, season inspired chocolates. It includes an incredible blueberry and milk chocolate and a pack of six bonbons (filled chocolates) containing banana jasmine, lavender, and lemonade ganaches.

David Bacco Chocolatier

David Bacco Chocolatier is an award-winning artisan brand out in San Diego, CA. Bacco was a former restaurant pastry chef. He uses his creativity with chocolate and uses a spectrum of flavors from chipotle peppers to lavender, creating an intoxicating mix of aromas and flavors with chocolate. His current Mother’s Day offering (16 piece $39.99) is a gorgeous assortment box of his delectable infused chocolates and a drawing by the artist Ponchi.

The chocolate bars ($8.99 each) of Olive oil et Sel Dominican Republic 74%, Bolivia 68%, Hawaiian 38%, Noisette Madagascar 64%, and 40% Jade Fleur de Sel were incredibly delicious and has the complexities of each of the origins the cacao comes from. The chocolate bacon bar is a slice of crisp bacon dipped in dark chocolate – delicious and a good balance of sweet and salty.

Mecha Chocolates

Mecha Chocolate is brand started and owned by a husband and wife based out in Haddon Township, NJ. They offer an excellent combination of sweet, salty and savory confections. This Mother’s Day, their assortment is a mix of seasonal caramels and ganaches that are handmade by chocolatier. Their salted caramels are my Achilles’ heel. It is superbly made caramel and the various salts gave each piece a different personality and finish in the mouth.

Phillip Ashley Chocolates

Phillip Ashley Chocolates is an artisan chocolate brand based in Memphis, TN started by Phillip Ashley Rix. Rix’s creations are luscious, unique, and uses superior fair trade chocolate. His gorgeous chocolates are vibrant in colors and flavors like his tropics influenced flavor like pineapple and Meyer lemon, blood orange with anejo tequila and Mexican vanilla, and others.

Woodblock Chocolate

Woodblock Chocolate is the first bean-to-bar chocolate maker in Portland, OR, started by Jessica and Charley Wheelock. Their passion and creativity for chocolate started several years ago, when they launched the business from their home kitchen. Their chocolates come in only a handful of variations, and all are made with 70% chocolate. The only other ingredients are cane sugar, and in some bars, salt and cacao nibs. If your mom (or anyone in your life) is a single origin chocolate connoisseur and purist, Woodblock is your brand.

Zoe's Chocolate Co

Zoe’s Chocolate Co started by Zoe, Pantelis and Petros Tsoukatos – three siblings who, along with their dad, George, started Zoe’s Chocolate Company to continue a three-generation tradition. They handcraft chocolates made using locally sourced ingredients and their chocolates are inspired by their Mediterranean heritage and classic American flavors. Their Mother’s Day assortment contains flavors like fleur de sel, hazelnut, pomegranate, caffe, and other delicious flavors. The blossom bar ($8) is a stunning deep dark chocolate bar is adorned with edible, organic, dried and crystallized pansies.

Nathan Miller Chocolate

Nathan Miller Chocolate was started by Nathan Miller, a former restaurant pastry chef who worked in famed NYC kitchens like Jean Georges and Aureole; currently based in Chambersburg, PA.

In 2010 Miller’s passion for dessert lead him to establish Nathan Miller Chocolate where his culinary skills, commitment to sustainability, and responsible business practices helped him form the small craft company’s early goals.

One of his dark chocolates, called 70 percent Ghana, has been named as a finalist in the 2015 Good Food Awards. His single origin bars are minimalist in preservation but meticulously treated. The mentioned bar is simply made of organic sugar from Paraguay and fair-trade cocoa from Ghana, letting the pure flavors of the ingredients shine. The Everything bar marries dark chocolate with almond, ginger, toffee, and coffee. As weird as it sounds, it’s hard to stop eating it. The 45% buttermilk bar is an intriguing mix of sweet milk chocolate but balanced off by the tart buttermilk blended in.

Tipsy Scoop Liquor-Infused Ice Creams - Chocolate Stout and Salted Pretzel & Hot Buttered Rum

Tipsy Scoop is a liquor-infused ice cream brand whose flavors are primarily inspired by cocktails founded by Melissa Tavss. All of the ice creams are 5% alcohol volume. These ice creams do taste like the cocktails mentioned on the label. The Hot Buttered Rum is rum forward and very delicious. Chocolate stout with salted pretzel was decadent from the intense chocolate and dark stout flavors but the crunchy salted pretzel bits made it interesting texturally. (Note: since this ice cream does have a fair amount of booze it will not freeze hard since it lowers the freezing temperature.)

Wine, Spirits & Beer

Champagne Billecart Salmon Brut Rosé

Champagne Billecart was founded in 1818 with the marriage of Nicolas François Billecart and Elisabeth Salmon, it is one of the few to remain family owned.

Since the early 19th century, seven generations of Billecarts have called Mareuil-sur-Aÿ home under the village’s patron saint, Saint-Hilaire. Famed throughout the world for its unrivalled soil and the renowned quality of its delicate Rosé, the majority of Billecart-Salmon’s fruit comes from all over Champagne, more especially from 40 grands crus of the Champagne region. Meticulous production techniques, from the use of their own cultured yeast to its long, slow, cool fermentation, ensure that the family still has 100 per cent control of production and distribution. The Brut Réserve (a blend of the three Champenois grape varieties: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier) is a beautifully harmonious and balanced wine. Indeed, all of the brand’s portfolio age very well, such is the House’s painstaking approach to producing the best possible champagne.

Champagne Billecart Brut Rose Salmon is a Billecart’s most celebrated champagne. It dates back to the 1940s has been passed down over the last few generations. A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, with part of the Pinot Noir vinified as a red wine, its pale and bright pink color gives way to an elegant and delicate nose of citrus fruits and red fruits. Perfect as a pre-dinner aperitif, on its own or with salmon and sushi, the Brut Rosé is quite rightly the benchmark for all rosés.

Courvoisier VS & Courvoisier VSOP

Courvoisier is amongst the four leading cognac houses in the world. Legend has it that the emperor Napoleon himself chose Courvoisier as his preferred cognac, therefore Courvoisier is often referred to as “The Cognac of Napoleon.” The company dates back to 1828 and since has its headquarters in the town of Jarnac.

Courvoisier VS is the entry level product in the range and is blended from a mix of Fins Bois and Petite Champagne grapes before being aged for between four and eight years in new French oak barrels. On the nose, it’s mellow toffee and dried orange peel, stewed prunes, and a hint of coffee. There is a touch too much alcohol on the nose, but only just and actually this is a very respectable aroma for a VS Cognac. On the palate, it’s spicy and sharp on the palate to start, but developing into rounder summer fruit flavors with a pleasant floral top note. The oak is at times a little dominating, but not unbearably so. The finish is short the sharpness means this is certainly destined to be a mixing Cognac.

The Courvoisier VSOP is a blend of cognacs up to 10 years old. Amber copper colored liquid with orange and red highlights. The initial aroma is somewhat restrained, but soon opens to reveal fine wood spices and sandalwood in front of some nice aromas of caramel and butterscotch melded into aromas of dried raisins and apricot. The cognac is approachable and smooth. Combination of fresh green grapes melded into butterscotch and hints of maple all of which is underlain by a foundation of fine wood spices. The oak and wood spices heat the palate lightly, but remain restrained which allows the fresh green fruit and the sweetness of butterscotch and maple to remain as the focus of my attention.

Maine Mead Works Meads

Maine Mead Works started and founded in Portalnd, Maine in 2007, hand-crafts wines made with honey, using the finest locally sourced ingredients. It is created by husband-and-wife duo Ben Alexander and Carly Cope along with award-winning South African mead-maker Dr. Garth Cambray and mead maker Nick Higgins.

All of their meads are made with 100% Maine wildflower honey and other locally produced ingredients, and then barrel aged with American oak. While many consider it a thick or syrupy drink, Maine Mead Works’ variety has a remarkably delicate and refined consistency.

The dry mead is a delicious mead that is crisp, dry and refreshing. The lavender mead is infused with locally grown lavender and it has the wonderful scent and flavor of the flower without being overbearing but still have the lightness of the dry mead. The blueberry mead is a medium-bodied mead, full of luscious berry flavor, slightly sweet, but in a refreshing and enticing way.

Taylor & Fonseca Port Wines

Fonseca Bin 27 Ruby Porto is a port blend of many different vintages and vineyards, which ensures a consistent product over the years. It is ready to drink when you buy it and most likely won’t improve much with age. Bin 27 does not have the complexity of vintage port, but for sheer enjoyment (and affordability of being under $20) it’s hard to beat. It is packed with sweet red and black fruit such as black cherries, blackberries and raspberries and lots of exotic spices on the nose, including black pepper, clove and nutmeg. Enjoy it with blue-veined cheeses, chocolate or after a meal. Serve it at cool room temperature. Drink the bottle within two weeks of opening. Fresh and grapey, with plenty of grip and power behind dark plum, chocolate and berry flavors that feature slate and pepper notes

Fonseca Siroco Extra Dry White Port is not like the usual red ports you’d encounter (like the Bin 27 above). This white port is crisp and dry, making it an excellent aperitif. Fonseca allows their white port to ferment for longer than other ports which gives the yeast time to metabolize more of the sugars, making for a drier port. After fermentation, the wine is fortified and then moved to oak casks for aging. The time spent in the casks lends the port nutty flavors and helps to give it a smooth mouthfeel. Though there are plenty of dry, earthy notes to this port, there are also lots of big fruit flavors and just enough acidity to balance everything.

Taylor Fladgate 10-Year Old Tawny Port is an inviting wine with ample fruit at the core, but with bittersweet edges of licorice, chicory, and coffee bean. These characteristics, plus some chocolate notes, tend to overtake the fruit on the finish, but the body, on the whole, is surprisingly delicate. Complex, yet a bit immature.

J.R. Revelry Bourbon

J.R. Revelry Bourbon is a new (released earlier this year) 90-proof bourbon. It’s quite oak-y with a lighter caramel and vanilla flavors on the palate. The balance between sweet and spicy comes from the cinnamon and earth flavors up front with some unique underlying notes of fresh fruit. The finish is moderate and simple with the flavors of fresh cinnamon and oak. I enjoyed this whiskey neat, with a splash, and in a cocktail and I enjoyed it all three ways. Adding a splash of water helped bring out more of the flavors in the bourbon and made them a bit more distinctive. Overall, this is a smooth whiskey that I would recommend to anyone wanting to try something new or the beginning bourbon drinker who is looking for a great entry level whiskey.

Smuttynose Brewing Company

Smuttynose Brewing Company is a brewery founded in 1994 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. They create delicious, award winning craft beers with their twist on traditional brews.

One of their summer offerings, Hayseed pours golden yellow with a white head. Aroma is lemon, wheat with a touch of pepper. The taste is approachable; wheat, pepper, lemon and a hint of hops. Great to have on a lazy summer day.

Shoals Pale Ale is their interpretation of a classic English beer style. Copper-colored, medium-bodied and pleasantly hopped with flavors of yeast, herbs and pine, and malt but tipping toward hoppiness.

Really Old Brown Dog is a full-bodied beer with high levels of dextrins. The color varies from rich, dark amber to a very dark brown. This style features fruity, caramel, malty flavors, giving it an almost port-like qualities. It is a hearty, full, dark, malty beer.

Robust Porter is their most award-winning beer. A dark, full-bodied ale was aroma was heavy on the coffee and dark chocolate notes with a tinge of sweet malts. The taste was resolutely robust with a deep and full roasted malt flavor that was slightly sweet but full of chocolate and slight hints of coffee.

Durty is a seasonal beer, giving a nod to the “mud season,” spring. It is an unusual beer pairing caramel notes of a brown ale with the hop aroma and flavor of a double IPA. It’s earthy, dry and different.

Kindest Find is an Imperial Red Ale with a big malt backbone layered with loads of juicy hops. Deep copper-amber tone and reddish highlights. This sits under a big, foamy cream colored head that hangs on. The aroma is on the sweet, malty side with subdued earthy hops and a hint of orange zest in the mix.

Bunnahabhain 12-Year Whiskey

Bunnahabhain 12-Year Whiskey is lightly peated for an Islay single malt and consequently is a light, fresh dram. Now at the higher strength of 46.3% – for more complexity and flavor. On the nose, it’s not a traditional Islay malt. It’s heavy on the oak, cherry, vanilla, and pecan pie. On the palate, it starts spicy then transitions to sweet caramel and vanilla, full body, almost no smoke or earthiness at all. It’s a unique dram and great for those who want something different.

Lakefront Brewery - Wisconsinite & Cherry Seasonal Beers

Lakefront Brewery is based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States. Lakefront is Milwaukee’s first brewery to grow from microbrewery to Regional Craft Brewery status, meaning 50% of its volume is all malt beers, or beers that use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor. Founded in 1987 by brothers Russ and Jim Klisch, several of its brands are named after Milwaukee neighborhoods, such as Riverwest Stein Beer and East Side Dark. The brewery was the first in the U.S. to bottle fruit beer since prohibition was repealed, starting in 1992 with the seasonal Lakefront Cherry Lager. The brewery often uses Wisconsin-grown ingredients, including Door County cherries.

Wisconsinite is an unfiltered Bavarian-style Weissbier is cloudy with pale straw to golden color. Despite its cloudy, thick appearance, it’s very light-bodied and bubbly, yeasty with gentle spicy accents that may include cloves, vanilla, and apple.

Cherry Lager is their spring seasonal pours a bright pink, lacy head on top of a brilliant red body as a lavish, fruit-forward aroma rises from the glass. The medium-light body is jam packed with bright Wisconsin Montmorency cherry tartness, followed by two-row pale malt and Mt. Hood hops. The flavor reminds me of cherry pie.

Bowmore Single Malt Whisky

Bowmore was established in 1779; one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland and nestles on the shores of Loch Indaal on the Inner Hebridean Isle of Islay. Bowmore is universally regarded as the best balanced of all the Islay malts, as characterized by its wonderfully rich and complex flavors.

Bowmore 12-Year Single Malt has a concentrated smoke, hay, charcoal, cayenne pepper, and vanilla on the nose. The silky, thickness of the mouthfeel is excellent, and the peat smoke notes are refined and well-rounded.

Bowmore 15-Year ‘Darkest’ Single Malt is named for the color instilled by a combination of bourbon and sherry aging followed by three years only in Oloroso sherry casks. The sherry is funky in the extreme, and the peat is murky and boggy in all of the ways that Ardbeg is not. On the palate, it’s light bodied. Lots of red-wine tannins, and the initial flavors are of red grape skins, and balsamic. Then, the peat takes over and asserts itself over the sherry with flavor of seaweed, mushroom, and soil. It has a long finish of fruit flavors freshen somewhat, becoming very cranberry-like, while the peat remains boggy and earthy.

Cana's Feast Wines

Cana’s Feast Winery is based in Oregon, fousing on making Pacific Northwest wines with Oregon sensibilities. They make wines from varietals originating in the regions of Piemonte, Tuscana, Puglia, Bordeaux, Southern Rhone and of course, the Bourgogne (Pinots). The wines are definitely inspired by their “Old World” origins and traditions, they are also unique expressions of the Pacific Northwest environment where they are rooted, and the frame of mind that characterizes life in Oregon. Some of the wines are light, expressive and easily approachable, while others are less restrained, showing great depth and ageability.

Cana’s Feast is located about an hour south and west of Portland, OR sand south of the Yamhill wine area. Located in a Tuscan style villa in Carlton, OR, Cana’s Feast focuses on several Italian varietals (Nebbiolo, Primitivo, Barbera), and Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Counoise, and Pinot Noir. With price points under $30 (except the Pinot Noir), Cana’s Feast offers a good selection of well-priced quality wines.

2012 Cana’s Feast Winery Joie de Vivre has a lovely ruby hue. Good, broad fruit with silky texture and balancing acidity. Style is more European and food-friendly. Enjoyable despite it is young. Southern Rhone-style blend of Syrah (55%), Counoise (28%), Grenache (10%) and Mourvèdre (7%).

2011 Cana’s Feast Winery Cabernet Franc has flavors of dark berry fruits like blueberry, black cherry with hints of tobacco, and savory herbs. Beautifully balanced and has the good structure.

2012 Cana’s Feast Winery Counoise has notes of black cherry, and raspberry combine with subtle hints of citrus, white pepper, and sandalwood. The delicate tannins are supported by a fine acidity, making this an excellent wine to pair with food.


Paradise Coffee Roasters

Paradise Coffee Roasters began in 2002 when R. Miguel Meza opened a small micro-roaster in Ramsey, MN with the help of his parents. He also developed relationships with farmers specializing in Hawaiian-grown coffee, bringing in the best of the best from popular origins like Kona and Maui. Over time, Miguel transformed Paradise into a true contender mentioned along with some of the biggest names in specialty coffee.

The Espresso Nuevo is a thoughtful blend of Brazilian, Colombian and Sumatran whole bean. It has a classic, dark Central Italian roast with multifaceted flavors and aromas. Espresso Nuevo is full-bodied with just a hint of mild acidity. There’s complex notes of cherries, lemon, vanilla and spices that yielded a rich, deep finish. This is a very fragrant blend, with pleasing aromas of brown sugar and wood. Perfectly enjoyable on its own as an espresso, Nuevo also really shines in milk-based drinks, such as a cappuccino or latte, where the flavors and fragrances additional dimensions to the beverages.

Peru Cajamarca is a sweet, gently pungent brew with notes of walnut, peach, and mint in aroma and in the cup. There’s a lovely crisp, balanced acidity and lightly syrupy mouthfeel.

Ethiopia Suke Quto Organic yields to an intricate brew. It is crisp yet juicy with notes of sweet honey, roasted cacao nib, tangerine, sandalwood and jasmine, in aroma and cup. Juicy, gently tart acidity. This is a cup that is an equivalent to a very fine scotch or Armagnac – it’s meant to be sipped and savored.

Metric Coffee Co.

Metric Coffee Co. is one of the latest additions to the Chicago coffee roaster scene. The company is a partnership between Xavier Alexander, former senior roaster and quality control specialist for Intelligentsia Coffee, and Darko Arandjelovic, owner of famed Wicker Park shop Caffe Streets has already earned a Good Food Award. They roast their beans in a customized 1960s Probat roaster UG15, an antique German roaster at the top end of specialty coffee roasting.

Their House Blend is their introduction their style of coffee. A blend of Brazil Mogiana, Colombia Huila, and Guatemala Huehuetenango, it has loads of sweetness and body with notes of brown sugar, honey, molasses and graham cracker. As the coffee cools, the layers start to peel back and give way to currant, spiced citrus and caramel. Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Konga is light-bodied, complex notes and aromas of jasmine tea, white peach, and a nice depth of lemon.

The Rwanda AA Kinunu Gisenyi is a delicious coffee comes from the Kinunu Washing Station, which sits on a slope overlooking the beautiful Lake Kivu. This coffee is an excellent light roast offerings that showcases an amalgam of dark purple fruits like plum, raisin, and grape and clean finish.

Various ReAnimator Coffee Beans

ReAnimator Coffee is a Philly-based coffee roaster who also won Good Food Awards for their beans two years in a row. All of their coffee beans have incredible complexity and each cup was tasty. Some were floral, citrus notes from the Rwanda Rubengera and Columbia Cauca (though a bit herbaceous here). The Guatemala La Pastoria is creamier and nutty. The Telemetry Blend is unique for being quite sweet yet fruity.

Other Food Items

Cheeses from Sprout Creek Farm

Sprout Creek Farm is a non-profit working farm and educational center located in Poughkeepsie, New York. Their Margie is a brie-like cheese; soft-ripened bloomy rind, with a fabulous silky texture and buttery flavor with notes of mushroom and hay. The Toussaint is a raw cow’s milk Alpine Tomme with a wonderful nuttiness and peppery bite. Kinkead is a raw cow’s milk cheese that is dense, creamy, sharp with a hint of pungency. Doe Re Mi is a versatile fresh goat chèvre is creamy and spreadable with a clean, delicate flavor.

Onesto Artisan Crackers

Onesto Artisan Crackers is a small batch cracker bakery based in Massachusetts. Their crackers are non-GMO, is gluten-, dairy- and preservative-free. They want to create a truly wholesome cracker. The crackers are available in four flavors: Sea Salt, Rosemary, “Hint Of Cinnamon” and Ancho Chile. While the flavorings are distinct in the chile, rosemary and cinnamon crackers, they don’t overpower the palate and serve to enrich the base flavor of the cracker.

Castleton Crackers

Castleton Crackers is founded in 2008 by Whitney Lamy in Castleton, VT. Castleton Crackers is an all-natural line of artisanal and hand-cracked crackers inspired by an 1800s recipe. Mixed, rolled, baked and cracked by hand, the wholesome, rustic looking crackers are available in eight flavors: Grafton Graham, Middlebury Maple, Rutland Rye,
Windham Wheat, Putney Pumpkin, Richmond Rosemary, Governor’s Cheddar and Alehouse Cheddar. Castleton Crackers contain no trans fats or artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. The crackers have lots of flavor that each flavor should have a particular food pairing like the herbaceous Rutland Rye is better served as a smoked salmon hors d’ouerve than with mozarella, basil and tomato.

Sequatchie Cove Farm Cheeses

Sequatchie Cove Farm is founded by Cheesemaker Nathan Arnold and his wife Padgett, in Sequatchie Cove, a town close to Chattanooga. They milk Devon Cows. Devons are an uncommon heirloom breed and there are only 600 registered milkers in the U.S. The cave at this creamery is particularly unique with water flowing around the floors to maintain humidity.

Cumberland is a Tomme de Savoie style cheese with a “motley” natural rind and semi-firm texture. Flavors of orange peel, cured meats and savory herbs dominate.

Coppinger is what the cheese maker calls a fontina style cheese and it is full of sharp tanginess, spice and a smooth meltable texture. Wheels are 9 lbs, raw cow’s milk, traditional rennet.

Dancing Fern is the best Reblochon style cheese made in the U.S. It is available in limited quantities at limited times. The milk is raw, just at 60 days when released.

Shakerag Blue is a 2015 Good Food Award winner. Its name is derived from both the beautiful wilderness area atop the Cumberland Plateau, as well as an old Prohibition era method of alerting whiskey makers to approaching revenue agents. Shakerag is a crumbly yet dense blue-veined cheese cloaked in local fig leaves which have been soaked in Southern whiskey. It starts out creamy and spicy but finishes sweet with the spicy twang lingering.

Gary West Meats
Gary West Meats' Ham, Roasted in a berry maple, mustard glaze

Gary West Meats is a brand of smoked meats that has been in business since 1966, operated by a company of the same name, based in Jacksonville, OR.

It’s a second generation-run family business first started by, none other than, Gary West. But the company’s meat products goes back further to Gary’s grandfather Fred West, who taught the old family recipes to Gary. In 2004, West sold the business to his daughter and son-in-law. In addition to jerky, the company also makes smoked hams, turkeys, and sausages.

Their jerkys consistently have an initial light sweetness. But a bite into a piece provides a light beef taste with a moderate amount of smokiness. A moderate saltiness to this, but not strong either. I’d say that it’s a moderate saltiness. They are too easy to eat through while watching Netflix!

The Pitt Half Ham is sourced from a Idaho Ranching Cooperative. Hams are brined and smoked over hickory chips. All our Hams are fully cooked. I served my ham baked with a mustard, berry maple glaze and my family devoured it for brunch one weekend.

Pulse Roasted Chickpeas

Pulse Roasted Chickpeas‘ motto is ‘snack with a purpose.’ The se organicchickpeas are high in fiber and protein, low in fat, with no added sugars. But most importantly, they are delicious. Original chickpeas are dark roasted enhancing the nutty flavor and crisp texture. It tastes similar to soy nuts, but extra crunchy. Spicy lemon zest chickpeas are boldly flavored with lemon, cayenne, cumin, garlic and paprika. It’s better than the average potato chip since it’s well seasoned and it’s very crunchy. If you want something a bit more sweet, there is the vegan dark chocolate bark; vegan raw chocolate that’s barely sweetened with organic coconut sugar and the crunchy roast chickpeas to deliver that texture element you’d want in chocolate bark.

Ozuké is a Denver, CO based pickling brand started by Willow King and her partner Mara. hey started making live, raw krauts and kimchis in their home kitchen to enjoy with their families and friends. The results were so outrageously delicious that they went full time to a dedicated factory. They were recognized with a Good Food Award for their unique and addictive umeboshi plums and cherries (as they named it as “cheriboshi”). The umeboshi is wonderfully pickled. Not too tangy and has less salt compared to the commercially made ones. The cherry version is fruit forward and is great with cheese plates and cocktails.

Crosstown Sweets Jams & Preserves

Crosstown Sweets makes high quality artisanal jams using local, seasonal fruits from their backyard, the Hudson Valley in New York since 2011 by Albane Sharrard. Her wonderful jams are incredibly delicious. The Concord grape jam is what I yearn to taste every early autumn. Intense Concord grape flavor and is sweet but doesn’t go into saccharine territory. The apple and fennel jelly is not too sweet since it’s tamed by the fennel’s anise flavor and would be great on roast pork. The strawerry and shiso jam is a beautiful jam that has sweet strawberries that reminds you of spring with fresh breath of air, so to speak with the bracing shiso.


Mastering Pasta by Marc Vetri with David Joachim & Franklin Barbecue by Aaron Franklin & Jordan Mackay

Ten Speed Press has two exciting cookbooks this spring: Mastering Pasta by Marc Vetri and Franklin Barbecue by Aaron Franklin.

Mastering Pasta by Vetri is a book that combines Marc’s passion, cooking philosophy, and lifetime of culinary knowledge. It is a beautifully photographed and highly educational book. It is written for those who have the time and desire to learn about how to make pasta and gnocchi by hand, master the technical aspects and techniques of cooking, and work with exotic, high-end ingredients.

Franklin is known for his rise to barbecue dominance at Austin destination Franklin Barbecue, Franklin had no desire to distill his offerings like brisket, pulled pork, and sausage, into traditional recipes. It’s essentially a guide to the craft of smoking meats.

Franklin Barbecue offers directions and advice for a do-it-yourself smoker-building and explanations for why wood, fire, smoke, and meat behave together the way they do.

Peru: The Cookbook by Gastón Acurio

Benu by Cory Lee

Phaidon has two Michelin-starred chefs’ tomes released this season. Benu by Cory Lee and Peru: The Cookbook by Gastón Acurio.

Benu is a 3* Michelin restaurant in San Francisco, CA. Lee is presenting the book as a 33-course tasting menu in which the reader experiences the drama and poetry of Lee’s cooking through recipes and beautifully written essays detailing his inspirations and motivations. Lee, who spent eight years at the French Laundry in Napa Valley and also cooked at other three-star restaurants around the world, has created an unapologetically ambitious menu that includes everything from tagliatelle in a sauce made with what he calls “pristine chicken livers” (soaked for 12 hours in milk) to squab stuffed with Chinese dates and pine nuts. The 256-page book includes 150 photographs and illustrations. Images feature photography from across the globe, with an emphasis on “Lee’s culinary and cultural influences including Korea, Hong Kong and San Francisco.”

Peru by Acurio features 500 traditional home cooking recipes from the country’s most acclaimed and popular chef, Gastón Acurio.

One of the world’s most innovative and flavorful cuisines, Peruvian food has been consistently heralded by chefs and media around the world as the “next big thing.” Acurio guides cooks through the full range of Peru’s vibrant cuisine from popular classics like quinoa and ceviche, and lomo saltado to lesser known dishes like amaranth and aji amarillo. For the first time, audiences will be able to bring the flavors of one of the world’s most popular culinary destinations into their own kitchen. This book is for the curious home cook who wants to understand what Peruvian cuisine is.

The Larousse Book of Bread by Eric Kayser

Another Phaidon published book is The Larousse Book of Bread by Eric Kayser. Yes, the famed Parisian bread baker and international upscale bakery chain owner of Maison Kayser. This is “a back to basics” stylebook, aimed at re-teaching the lost art and honesty of bread, bread making, and real ingredients. Throughout the beautifully photographed and deeply educational pages, readers can feel author’s love and knowledge for flour and yeast and the way they come together to form the alchemy of bread. The scent of yeast fairly wafts from the pages, and the author’s knowledge, passion, and enthusiasm emerge like a slowly rising loaf.

A great book for the novice and intermediate baker, The Larousse Book of Bread provides wonderful information about the history and science of bread making to help illuminate the process. The lavish and deceptively simple pictorial demonstrations accompanying each recipe are inspirational, and the recipes themselves are broken down well, offering helpful hints to would-be bakers.

To view more photos of the items featured on this guide, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE for the full photo set):
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Website: https://www.laduree.com/en_int

John & Kiras
Website: https://www.johnandkiras.com

Website: http://mariebelle.com

Videri Chocolate Factory
Website: https://viderichocolatefactory.com

David Bacco Chocolatier
Website: http://store.bacco-chocolatier.com/

Phillip Ashley Chocolates
Website: http://phillipashleychocolates.com

Zoe’s Chocolate Co
Website: http://zoeschocolate.com

Mecha Chocolate
Website: http://www.mechachocolate.com

Woodblock Chocolate
Website: http://www.woodblockchocolate.com

Nathan Miller Chocolate
Website: http://nathanmiller.myshopify.com

Champagne Billecart Salmon

Website: http://courvoisier.com


Website: http://www.taylor.pt/en/

Maine Mead Works
Website: http://www.mainemeadworks.com

J.R. Revelry Bourbon
Website: http://jrrevelry.com

Lakefront Brewery

Smuttynose Brewing Company
Website: https://smuttynose.com

Website: http://bunnahabhain.com

Website: Bowmore

Cana’s Feast Winery
Website: http://www.canasfeastwinery.com

Paradise Coffee Roasters
Website: http://www.paradiseroasters.com

Metric Coffee Co.
Website: http://metriccoffee.com

ReAnimator Coffee
Website: http://www.reanimatorcoffee.com

Sprout Creek Farm
Website: http://www.onestofoods.com

Castleton Crackers
Website: http://www.castletoncrackers.com

Sequatchie Cove Farm
Website: http://sequatchiecovefarm.com

Gary West Meats
Website: https://www.garywest.com

Website: http://ozuke.com

Tipsy Scoop
Website: http://tipsyscoop.com

Crosstown Sweets
Website: http://www.crosstownsweets.com

Pulse Roasted Chickpeas
Website: http://www.pulseroastedchickpeas.com


I shoot, eat, and drink. My full time job is a hospital administrator. Moonlighting as a freelance photographer and food and travel writer.