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Ninja Master Prep

Bonnie: “Rule the kitchen with this new Ninja Master Prep,” boasts the makers of this new kitchen appliance.

They claim that this under-$50 Ninja could dice more evenly than my expensive food processor and chop ice better than blenders.

“Skeptical,” is an understatement.

So, when asked, I agreed...

Bryan: Ok, so I’m not going to lie. I definitely felt a little twinge of “infomercial” when first seeing my Ninja Master Prep. I mean, it slices, it dices… Don’t look at it the wrong way or it’ll kick your a$$! I heard the voice of kitchen gadget guru, Ron Popeil echoing in my head: “It’ll solve all your kitchen needs,” he whispered. “But I’ve heard that all before,” I answered.

Could it be true this...

Eric: To explain this in modern written language, OMG this product is not a WTF. The Ninja, or as I like to refer to it, “the little infomercial product that could,” is an appliance designed for the modern kitchen as well as for the fast-paced lifestyle many of us live. Similar to its infomercial nemesis, “The...

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Lucini Italia Delicate Cucumber & Shallot Vinaigrette

Bonnie: In general, the only time I add bottled dressings to my fresh salad is when I need to test them for Supermarket Sampler, my syndicated column where I review what’s new on the grocer’s shelf.

I prefer whisking together freshly squeezed lemon juice, a soupçon of a light vinegar, some Dijon mustard and some extra virgin olive oil. Sometimes I blend in fresh...

Bryan: The beautiful thing about a salad is that it can be whatever you want it to be. I was with a friend at a sports bar recently; though I wasn’t eating, most at the table ordered cheeseburgers (what else?) except my friend, who ordered a garden salad. He was being teased for his choice until he ....

Eric: I love a tasty salad dressing and, like my mother, prefer to create my dressing from scratch (the olive didn’t fall far from the tree). I have a pretty straight-forward philosophy on salad: if you’re going to go the distance and define it as I do — consisting of leafy greens and vegetables — then make sure to keep it...

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By |2017-09-04T16:40:45-04:00September 9th, 2009|Food & Drinks, xyz misc|4 Comments

Vinturi Wine Aerator

Bonnie: Last week, when in Des Moines, Iowa, I was at the home of Linda Funk, executive director of the Soyfoods Council. She served wine, cheese and chocolates. Soy foods, too.

Before sampling the edibles, I reached for the bottle of Charles Krug (2005) Peter Mondavi Family Generations to pour myself a glass, when there on the counter at the serve-yourself bar, I noticed...

Bryan: You’ve got to love science. Yes, yes. There is always something to be said for doing things the old fashioned way. We all have a romantic view of the way things used to be, but I must say that on more than a few kitchen gadgets, I see no need to turn back the clock. I don’t know anybody who would like to puree anything without the assistance of a food processor nowadays… So why shouldn’t ...

Eric: I’d consider myself more of a beer/bourbon drinker than a wine enthusiast, so when it was time to test the Vinturi aerator, I wasn’t as enthused as my mother and brother to break open a bottle and watch physics in action. With a degree in hospitality, and a few years of banqueting and restaurant service under my belt, I’m more than familiar with how to properly serve wine, as well as the many...

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Peanut Butter & Co Dark Chocolate Dreams

Bonnie: The Bite of the Best team first learned about Dark Chocolate Dreams from a community member who suggested we try it.

”If you like peanut butter and you like chocolate you will love this product,” wrote Barbara Allen. “I used to be able to find it only in gourmet shops and I am embarrassed to say that I would travel ...

Bryan: Raise your hand if you don’t like peanut butter and chocolate. OK, the two people out there with their hands up can simply stop reading now. For everybody else, listen up…. This stuff is good! I have to admit upfront that I’m a super fan of this flavor combo. A warm peanut butter cup is one of my all-time favorite candy choices and the cooler version, found by combining the two into...

Eric: I am probably one of the biggest peanut butter enthusiasts out there. On a daily basis I eat at least one peanut butter sandwich, usually switching between a combination of strawberry jam, Nutella or banana (although when I was growing up and visiting my friend Eric ...

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By |2017-09-04T16:44:31-04:00August 5th, 2009|Food & Drinks, xyz misc|14 Comments

California Cantaré Burrata

Bonnie: I was first introduced to burrata in the Puglia region of Italy, where it is said to have originated. (Pronounced BURR AH TA) This artisanal cheese is basically mozzarella with a luscious soft creamy interior that spills onto the plate as you cut into a ball of it. It truly was amore at first bite. I savored each bite of this runny cheese ...

Bryan: Growing up in New Haven (a strongly Italian-influenced food city), I thought I was pretty well versed in the ways and means of the mozzarella. I can still remember, as a little boy, going to one of the many specialty grocery stores in town (Luzzi’s Market) to pick up fresh bread and cheese. My treat on the way home always was a handful of bite-sized mozzarella balls, lightly dipped in ...

Eric: Ricotta cheese enveloped in a thin layer of mozzarella — do you really need any more explanation before adding burrata cheese to your shopping list. I highly doubt that our reviews of burrata will be the only factors influencing your decision to buy a package. Honestly, if you’re not intrigued just by the idea of what this product is, then I have to question your love of food. My mother...

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By |2017-09-04T16:49:46-04:00July 29th, 2009|Food & Drinks|8 Comments

Vande Rose Farms Applewood Smoked Artisan Uncured Ham

Bonnie: Uncured ham? I’d eaten uncured bacon, but had never handled uncured ham.

Having just started tweeting, I thought I’d ask the fellow foodies who I was following on Twitter: “Received an artisan uncured ham. How would YOU prepare it? All suggestions welcome!”

“Is it fresh pork or more like prosciutto?” asked a NY Times food writer who...

Bryan: Vande Rose Farms is not your average meat packer. This boutique farm has been raising award-winning Duroc hogs on its family farms for more than 100 years.

A growing number of Americans are finding out that our system of food has become overly industrialized. The facts are: Most store-bought pork doesn’t even bother to display the breed of the pig, let alone the land, environment or feed the animal was reared on. We, as a society, have become...

Eric: I think I’ve written it in an earlier posting, but to quote Homer Simpson, the pig is a “wonderful, magical animal.” Although it yields a variety of particular and delicious cuts, this week the focus is on smoked artisan ham, more specifically, the brined and smoked hind leg of the Duroc pig.

“What’s so particular about this ham?” was the first question out of my mouth when opening the ...

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By |2017-09-04T16:54:46-04:00July 22nd, 2009|Food & Drinks, xyz misc|8 Comments

Seeds of Change Madras Simmer Sauce

Bonnie: Simmer sauces are the new convenience food. Keeping a jar in your pantry allows you to make a meal with a foreign flare almost immediately as the sauces instantly capture various regional flavors that would require a mixture of many spices not traditionally found in the American cupboard.

When I first tested Seeds of Change Madras Simmer Sauce, I had no meat or fish on hand, but I did ...

Bryan: All of the attempts to reproduce my favorite Indian cuisines in my home kitchen have resulted in flops. There, I’ve admitted that aloud. I feel better. It’s not that my homemade chicken tikka masala was inedible, it just wasn’t what I wanted it to be. Over and over again. Though I hate to admit it, Indian food has been a definite shortcoming in my culinary development.

I’ve spent a good amount of time in kitchens (my own and those of many restaurants). Having been able to make...

Eric: As unlikely as it is, especially to readers of this blog, if you’ve never tried a curry sauce, Seeds of Change is a great company to start with. Aside from producing a variety of Indian-style heat-and-serve simmer sauces, Seeds of Change is a heavy promoter of the organic and sustainably grown-food lifestyle, especially with regard to all of its products. The company offers four varieties of the sauces, each unique in seasoning and level of heat. My opinion for the sauces, as...

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By |2017-09-04T16:55:46-04:00July 15th, 2009|Food & Drinks, xyz misc|7 Comments

Yves Tierenteyn-Verlent Fresh Mustard from Ghent, Belgium

Bonnie: “It’s the only place you can purchase this very special mustard,” explained my sister’s friend Hart as he asked me whether I’d like to take a drive with him to purchase it.

“Sure,” I said without asking any questions, as I was intrigued.

Hart and I were both houseguests at my sister’s home in Brussels during a cold and dreary February. I thought a short drive into downtown Brussels might be a fun — and interesting — outing. I’d recently...

Bryan: I love the story of Yves Tierenteyn-Verlent. It is a story of culinary romance, dedication, history and craftsmanship. Of food as art, as tradition, as a representation of a people and a place. The simple story of this mustard is a powerful reminder of what pieces of ourselves we choose to maintain as a society.

Modern Europe is formed from the cultural patchwork of thousands of cities, towns and villages spread across a number of languages and locations. With such diversity of backgrounds and geography...

Eric: There are a few condiments that I can easily live without: relish, BBQ-sauce and mustard. I’m sure there are others in my fridge that will never see the light of day, but these three, in particular, will never even see the inside of my fridge. There are a few tastes that just don’t agree with you (and if you love the taste of everything, then you haven’t tried enough). I will gladly eat just about anything, but mustard seed is one of those tastes that never ...

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SunChips, Original

Bonnie: Yes, it’s true. I am a registered dietitian and am recommending a chip. No, not for everyday eating. But when you do reach for a chip, which most people do more than occasionally, I suggest you try original SunChips.

These tasty morsels are good for you and for the environment. SunChips contain 30 percent less fat than regular potato chips (that’s only 6 grams instead of 9 or 10 grams total fat per serving). They’re deliciously crisp and delicately...

Bryan: Potato chips are terrible for you, right? Well, it turns out that this is not exactly true when you really take a look at it. To turn an Orwellian phrase: “All chips are equal, but some chips are more equal than others.”

Though most standard “potato chips” servings are heavy on saturated fat and sodium while light on just about everything of positive nutritional value, SunChips has somehow found a way to turn this equation...

Eric: Healthy chips that taste good: an oxymoron, or a simple truth? In recent years, with food companies and the FDA implementing buzzwords such as “heart healthy” and “all-natural,” there have been many products vying for the top position in the consumer’s shopping cart – even within the so-called “junk-food” industry. In past Bites we’ve written on ice cream, tortilla chips and even dips that are for the health conscious, so why should potato chips...

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By |2017-09-04T16:56:28-04:00June 17th, 2009|Food & Drinks, xyz misc|10 Comments

Buitoni Whole Wheat Linguine

Bonnie: By now, I’m sure you know that health professionals recommend that you eat three servings of whole grains a day. Luckily for all of us, finding grains is getting easier. Much easier.

For one, there’s the Whole Grain Stamp on many food packages indicating that the food contains at least a half serving of whole grains — an initiative spearheaded by Oldways Preservation Trust, a nonprofit food advocacy group in Boston. In addition, many food companies — Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice and....

Bryan: What’s not to love about fresh pasta? Americans have become so used to the dry variety, seeing fresh, soft pasta now seems like a delicacy, a treat, something reserved for a special occasion. Thankfully, in our ever-expanding food universe, there are companies like Buitoni that are trying to make us all remember that pasta can be a fresh component of our meals and not just an aging box of arts and crafts fodder, more reminiscent of a...

Eric: Fresh is the word to keep in mind when debating whether to purchase the Buitoni whole-wheat pasta the next time you’re at the supermarket. When you really think about it, unless you’re an Italian-American, how often do you really eat pasta? And when you do, would you prefer your meal to be fresh or dehydrated?

On average, I probably consume pasta three times a month, but when I do, I make sure...

By |2017-09-04T16:57:09-04:00May 20th, 2009|Food & Drinks, xyz misc|0 Comments

FlameDisk

Bonnie: Who doesn’t love the taste of food cooked on a grill? Because of that, I use my outside gas one all year round — except when the snowdrifts don’t allow me to open the screen door.

I’ve lugged charcoal, a chimney starter, newspaper, boxes of wooden matches and sometimes even a minigrill to tailgates, picnics and other outdoor gatherings. Sure it was a hassle, but there was no other option if we wanted grilled food. Until now.

Note: A chimney starter is a tall metal cylinder used...

Bryan: Cooking over an open flame imparts a different taste, texture and essence to foods that can simply not be duplicated. The love affair with the “open flame” has turned grilling into a staple of American cultural cuisine, with tailgating traditions and backyard BBQs woven through the fabric of our country’s culinary offerings.

If you grill (I do), you likely grill in two places — at home and “on the move.” Many, myself included, have...

Eric: One of my biggest problems is my inability to express what I’m thinking. Although the thoughts are clear to me in my head, when it comes time to verbally express them, I begin to trip over my words. The unfortunate part is that this affliction translates into my writing. Particular in this blog, I tend to put myself in the consumer’s shoes, and write what I would want to read if I were debating over purchasing a product. Here is my reasoning for...

Wolfgang Puck’s Chicken Pot Stickers

Bonnie: I looked forward to taste-testing Wolfgang Puck’s new line of all-natural appetizers. Wearing my food editor hat, I’ve met Wolf many times and had the privilege of him cooking especially for our editors’ group. I’ve never had a bad meal when Wolf was in the kitchen.

(Sshh… I think I’d loose my foodie status to admit that I’ve never been....

Bryan: Who’s better than Wolfgang Puck? Forget the over saturation of an Emeril or a Rachel Ray (no offense), this man is absolutely iconic! With commercial enterprises ranging from Home Shopping Network lines of cookware to his famous Beverly Hills dining establishment Spago, Wolfgang is a true foodie presence.

Though we have seen bits and pieces of it in home offerings before, Chef Puck is now introducing a line of all-natural gourmet appetizers, integrating...

Eric: Who doesn’t love finger-food? I imagine that for most people, the best part of any social event (aside from the gossip) is the anticipation of what there will be to eat, and finger foods (i.e. food that requires no manners to eat) are usually the highlight.

As a banquet manager and assistant food and beverage manager, I’ve coordinated, and have been guest at, more events than I can count. One of my favorite games to play at any event is “find...

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By |2017-09-04T16:58:17-04:00May 6th, 2009|Food & Drinks, xyz misc|6 Comments

Amy’s Teriyaki Wrap

Bonnie: Last month I had sent out an all-points bulletin to food companies as well as their public relations firms looking for some brand new low-calorie items for a shopping column in Better Homes & Gardens’ 2010 Diet issue.

I was inundated with suggestions, with many of the companies missing the point that I needed products to be new — not now, but in late fall 2009. But the good part of this exercise was...

Bryan: Snacking is a reality, people; everyone does it and there’s nothing wrong with it. Even those trying to lose weight should note that eating small “meals” throughout your day is a far better way to consume food than eating big meals in one or two sittings. Considering our grazing ways, what more can you ask for but a really healthy snack (or small...

Eric: Every time I tell someone about what I do for Bite of the Best (i.e. testing and reviewing food-related consumer products) I’m always asked, “How are you still skinny?” My standard reply is, “I eat healthy!”

I’m a foodie, and after testing and reviewing products for the majority of my life, I’ve gained complete respect for the...

You can now follow Bonnie on Twitter: BonnieBOTB

By |2017-09-04T16:58:46-04:00April 29th, 2009|Food & Drinks, xyz misc|5 Comments

Häagen-Dazs Five: Mint

Bonnie: I’ve always been a Häagen-Dazs ice cream fan, with chocolate chocolate chip and mint chip my two favorite flavors. But with 300 calories and about 20 grams of total fat (of which 12 is saturated) in a 1/2-cup serving, I just don’t indulge very often. READ: less than once a year.

Seriously, that’s what happens as you age. You can’t afford to savor a bowl of premium ice cream as often as you’d like since your activity often lessens because of bad...

Bryan: Bonnie called a little while back to let me know about a new line from Häagen-Dazs called “Five.” It is a strange occurrence that I would come across a new food product first, but I let her know that I had actually seen the line and had even tried one of the flavors to great reception. The fact is, I’m an ice cream lover, and there is rarely a trip to the grocery store that does not involve at least a stroll...

Eric: It’s amazing to me to think that all ice cream isn’t made with just five ingredients – after tasting all the varieties in the new line of Häagen-Dazs Five, I started to wonder why it is that ice cream manufacturers consult their lab technicians for ingredients rather than their local farmers. It later dawned on me—profit margins.

Like most people with a sweet tooth, I’m also an ice cream junkie and, unlike my brother, I do...

By |2017-09-04T16:59:28-04:00April 22nd, 2009|Food & Drinks, xyz misc|1 Comment

Sunkist Naturals: 100 Percent Tangerine

Bonnie: With one taste of this sweet nectar I was hooked on 100 percent pure tangerine juice. It’s not from concentrate; in fact it takes 2.5 pounds of fresh tangerines to make the juice for one 15.2-ounce bottle. The delicious result is rich in vitamins A and C and potassium. And like the rest of the Sunkist Naturals line, it contains no preservatives, no artificial anything. I like that. It’s my favorite of the Sunkist Naturals line, but — I’m sorry to share — the one that’s the least available. I’ve been told it will be on shelves again in May, when tangerines are in season in Florida. So keep [...]

By |2017-09-04T16:59:56-04:00April 8th, 2009|Food & Drinks, xyz misc|5 Comments

Baker’s Edge Brownie Pan

Bonnie: Most everyone loves brownies as they are easy to make — just combine a couple of ingredients and pour into a pan — and irresistibly decadent. Seriously, who can resist a warm brownie and a cold glass of milk?

Some, like my friend Jan and I, prefer the gooey insides of baked brownies. Others look for the crusty edges, wishing for more. These brownie-edge lovers will take delight in this heavy-gauge, aluminum maze-shaped pan. The Baker’s Edge Brownie Pan holds 11 cups of batter, about one recipe or (heaven-forbid) a box mix of brownies, resulting in chewy edges on each and every brownie.

One of my favorite recipes...

Bryan: Call me crazy, but I like the crust. I didn’t know that this was odd until I got into meals outside of my immediate family (all crust-lovers). I’m not saying I was that kid not peeling the sides off of a PB&J sandwich, but I was surely the kid that was picking up all my friends pizza crusts and unclaimed bread ends. There is something about the doughy end of a baked item, where all the goodness, crispness and chewiness seem to congregate. My aunt is the queen of crust-lovers and has actually given her husband...

Eric: Although I am the baker of the family, I probably eat the least amount of baked goods. One of the main reasons behind their non-appeal, aside from knowing what goes into the butter-laden concoctions, is that most brownies, cookies, etc. are “chewy” and soft, lacking a welcome “crunch.” Just like my brother and my mother who’d probably fight you with the bread knife for the ends of the bread, I also enjoy the part of a baked item where the so-called “crispness and chewiness” congregate. My longing for...

Donsuemor — Dipped Chocolate and Other — Madeleines

Bonnie: It’s funny how we trip over products that become our Bites.

Earlier this year, when in San Francisco to conduct a newbie networking seminar for the Fancy Food Show, I was standing in the New Product Showcase area, hoping to discover a product to consider for a Bite. I was looking into the glass cases displaying the new items when I almost fell over Michele Lanstra, assistant marketing manager for Donsuemor, who was about to put some of her company’s madeleines into the case.

“What do you...

Bryan: A day that will live in infamy. The arrival of the Donsuemor Madeleines was the worst offensive on my attempts at dietary restraint since the assault of the Sugabettens brownies of ‘08. Please don’t think I protest too much. I truly love the cavalcade of new and outrageous food products constantly gracing my doorstep. It’s just that sometimes the price I pay to bring our...

Eric: The day I received the package of the Donsuemor Madeleines, two thoughts went through my head: “How many can I eat before I realize I shouldn’t?” and, more importantly, “How do I hide them from my girlfriend?” The first question was answered rather quickly by the disappearance of nearly five of these delicious cakes, favoring the traditional versions over the...

By |2017-08-25T13:28:07-04:00March 25th, 2009|Food & Drinks|14 Comments

Q Tonic

Bonnie: One summer night when founder Jordan Silbert and his friends were enjoying both the summer breeze and gin and tonics, he happened to look at the ingredient list of both the tonic and his friend’s can of soda. (Something I habitually do!)

“Do you know that tonic water has as much high fructose corn syrup as Sprite?” he asked the group. “I thought it had no calories, like club soda.”

Wrong. Tonic water is mostly...

Bryan: It’s funny to think how some of our most revered beverages got their starts. Coca Cola, the world’s most iconic drink, was initially sold as medicine for five cents a glass; mixed with carbonated water, it was claimed Coca-Cola cured many diseases, including morphine addiction, headache and impotence. If that’s what I’m drinking with my cheeseburger, why should it be so odd to find that tonic water traces its roots back to British officers stationed in India? The soldiers went about...

Eric: Tonic water is an acquired drink taste, and just like certain foods in this world, it is one that I can gladly live without. It’s bitter, it’s tasteless and it doesn’t mix well with my favorite spirit, Bourbon. That aside, I can understand why some people live by it, either straight up, on the rocks or as a mixer with their favorite spirit. I know this because during the last two years I was in college, I started and successfully operated (with the help of a few friends) a cocktail bar named “The Alchemists.”

Part of the appeal of standing behind the bar...

By |2017-08-31T16:18:06-04:00March 18th, 2009|Food & Drinks, xyz misc|13 Comments

Bodum Chambord Double Wall Coffee Press

Bonnie: My first real memory of French-press made coffee was at the home of my coffee-loving friends Frank and Mary Ellen, as they always served coffee from a French press. A large French press. The coffee they poured after pressing was always full bodied, rich, deliciously satisfying and hot. But my second cup (which I accepted only once) was always lukewarm. I drink my coffee steaming hot. I immediately thought of them as I heard about the double-walled (AKA insulated) French press coffee makers.

Our Bite of the Best team tried two...

Bryan: There are few beverages that are truly revered like coffee; an aroma so intoxicating, a flavor so memorable, a warmth so comforting, a rush so powerful, a relaxation so tangible…. All this and more can be said about this ancient beverage turned modern elixir. And with billions of followers world wide, coffee just might be the world’s biggest religion. What’s not to love about coffee? Well… maybe, making it…. (C’mon, it is annoying sometimes… ahem, success of...

Eric: While I was studying in the Netherlands I would always start my morning (usually around 6 am due to the hospitality curriculum), with a large cup of French-press coffee. I never needed more than one American-sized cup, so I always opted for the simplicity of the Bodum 12-oz Chambord press, a compact unit that allowed for the perfect amount of brew.

I’d wake up early in the morning and start the therapeutic process of boiling water, grinding fresh coffee beans and plunging grinds. The aroma, not...

Planters Harvest Natural Nuts & Trail Mixes

Bonnie: I like everything about Planters Harvest line of 100% Natural Nuts and Trail Mixes with no preservatives or artificial ingredients. I also like that these have minimum sodium with the varieties ranging from a modest 40- to 100-milligrams of sodium per quarter cup of nuts.

As I’m sure you know, our government allows the following health claim on packages of many types of nuts: “Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.”

You won’t, though, find...

Bryan: When testing new food products here at Bite of the Best, we often receive the entire line…all varieties, all flavors, all options. We have generally found that we all inevitably gravitate towards one (or maybe two) types of a new product, selecting the truly best to write about here on the site. Today is different, though. Today we are letting you know about an entire new line of products: Planters Harvest 100% Natural. When a product is this good, you don’t split hairs about which ...

Eric: You’ve by now read about the nutritional value of the new line of Planters Harvest nuts, and are probably already drooling over the five varieties that the new line offers — but what about the value? Usually such “natural” products are overpriced and under portioned, leaving you with a empty feeling in both your stomach and your wallet. But the new line of Planters Harvest nuts contain a plentiful 9- to 11-ounces, with a price ($5.99) that competes favorably with the smaller ...

By |2017-08-31T16:18:06-04:00March 4th, 2009|Food & Drinks, xyz misc|18 Comments