Fine & Raw and Pretty Darn Good!

Artisan chocolate straight out of Brooklyn!

When the Food Duo found out that Chelsea Market was going host 30 pop-up shops for the holidays, we upgraded a weekend shopping outing from maybe to must. With Mama Mac in tow, we headed down to the Meatpacking District (could you think of a worse name?) to sniff around and see what’s what. While navigating the crowded collection of cool, we spotted a table for a Brooklyn-based chocolatier called Fine & Raw. The table was loaded with samples, bonbons and bars of raw chocolate ensconced in snappy, fun packaging that have a handcrafted look.

According to their mission statement, Fine & Raw’s goal is to “save the world through silliness and chocolate! We craft artisan confections using conscious ingredients and innovative low heat techniques to keep the chocolate’s raw vitality and flavor.” That sold us… as well as the samples we gobbled up! With Mac in total bliss, we ended up buying the sea salt bar and mesquite bar.

The sea salt bar has a wonderful dark chocolate character with just a hint of saltiness to keep it honest. The mesquite was a tad sweeter with a sneaky, last minute bite. Because Fine & Raw uses high quality ingredients to make their yummy products, their their treats may be considered a little pricey (a bonbon is about $7.00, while a bar is about $8.50). However, the taste, flavor and handcrafted nature are totally worth it. Now, go get you some!

To find out more about Fine & Raw and to experience some chocolate greatness, visit

Kur Delights “Delight” The Food Duo

Nom nom nom…goodness!

One of the things we love most about going to vegan/vegetarian events is discovering products that we’re unfamiliar with. While taking in the vibrant atmosphere of the Green Holiday Festival in NYC in December, we came across a table for a product called Kur Organic Superfoods. Kur, which in Danish means “to restore to the natural or proper condition,“ is a Copenhagen-based company that sells organic, gluten-free vegan chocolate snacks that are healthier than many.

Since the Food Duo are not folks who shy away from accepting swag, we took samples of all three flavors (Brownie, Coconut Cream and Dark Chocolate Mint) and plopped into our goody bag with the enthusiasm of treat-or-treaters! We found Kur products to be tasty, moist and not overly sweet. I really liked Coconut Cream for it was a nice balance between the chocolate and coconut flavor in a little bite. Mac, the chocolate fiend, enjoyed all 3 and in a rare moment didn’t feel guilty about indulging in them. However, if she had to pick one,  it would be the Dark Chocolate Mint, as she loves that flavor combo.

Bottom line: We’d totally recommend them as an addition to your snack drawer…or closet.

To learn more and to buy Kur Delights and Kur Organic Superfoods, visit

The Evriholder Microwave Chip Crisper, aka the Best $5.99 Ever Spent

Potatoes, papas, pommes de terre, spuds or taters. Whatever you call them, we just love them! Potatoes come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. You can fry them, mash them, put them in a hash or pancake. One of the best way to enjoy them is simply in a chip.
While watching a kitchen show on a home shopping channel, I was impressed with a crisper sheet that you put in the microwave. However, the nearly $30.00 price tag was not attractive enough to make the call or click to buy. Since Mac had a Groupon for her favorite kitchen store, Chef Central in Hartsdale, which needed to be redeemed, we made a trip to see if we could find something similar to what was on TV.
After getting some friendly advice from a store associate, we were pointed to the Evriholder Microwave Chip Crisper. He said that the crisper worked better than many of the expensive ones on the market. Chips would be ready in 5-6 minutes. Plus, there was no oil needed. 
With a price tag of a mere $5.99, Mac was reluctant, thinking it would be of “infomercial” quality, being a 4-piece set of hard plastic with a mandolin-like blade as part of the orange lid. However, I was daring and trusted Mr. Store Associate. Boy, was he right! Plain ole slices of Russett potatoes turned into perfectly cooked chips that were light and didn’t need any seasoning at all. 
Since our first round with the crisper, we began playing with actual seasoning, like garlic salt and cayenne. Both were great. Soon, we are going to try this out with sweet potatoes and even apples. I think you can this crisper for even more than like. What about turnip chips, banana chips, etc. etc. The possibilities are endless. 
Seriously, this was the best $5.99 we spent in 2011!

Tis the Season for Pumpkin Pie…Soda!

We simply love Autumn. What is it about this time of year that makes us so happy? Is it the ideal weather or gorgeous foliage? Is it donning cozy, warm  clothes, or enjoying all the fun offerings at Fall festivals? Is it sipping warm cider or Halloween? Or is it the ubiquitous seasonal pumpkin products that that always crop up around this time of year? It’s all of these things and more!

Speaking of seasonal pumpkin products, did we ever come across a doozy at Whole Foods a couple of weeks ago. While looking for a product for her graduate marketing class, Mac stumbled across an endcap labeled “Pumpkin Pie Soda,” which was both odd and intriguing. So, you know we had to try it!

The “Pumpkin Pie Soda” is made by an independent soda maker called Maine Root. Maine Root’s products, which are organically sweetened and certified Fair Trade, are growing in popularity, sold in specialty grocers, like Whole Foods, as well as online. Though their top products are their root beers, they offer a variety of year-round flavors like their Sasparilla and Ginger Brew. They’re also not hard to find, being sold at national grocery chains like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, specialty shops and online.

As it turns out, the Pumpkin Pie soda is simply superb! It has the right amount of sweetness, and is nicely balanced with traditional flavors you come to think to be in a pumpkin pie, like nutmeg and cinnamon. We also love the packaging with its bold orange and green appeal. It’s no wonder why Maine Root won the Best of New England award at the 2010 Expo East New Product Pavilion. Too bad it won’t be available all year round! We may just have to stock up!

Foodbuzz Tastemaker: Pairing Up with Peet’s Coffee

With so many brands of coffee flooding the market, high quality java can sometimes slip through the cracks and go untried. We had heard of Peet’s Coffee during one of our many trips to Portland, OR. We had walked by one of their shops in the city, but never had the chance to try their coffee. Fortunately, thanks to Foodbuzz Tastemakers, we got to experience Peet’s Coffee, a company that was Starbucks’ original coffee supplier. We were eager to have some!

Recently, Peet’s has released 2 new flavors in their coffee line: Café Solano and Café Domingo. The Solano brew is a medium roast blend of African, Indo-Pacific and South American coffees with a floral essence with fruity undertones. While the fruitiness is subtle, there is a nice kick in flavor. The Domingo blend is also medium roast, yet has a smooth finish with more of a toffee sweetness that’s more pronounced than the Solano. 

For our taste-testing, we paired each blend with a dish to see how they complimented one another. First, we tried the Café Solano with our favorite breakfast, pumpernickel bagels with a vegan cream cheese schmear. With breakfast being our “pick-me-up” start of the day, we found that the a cup of this coffee’s floral and fruity notes worked well with the slightly sweet, yet unmistaken rye essence of the pumpernickel bagel. The added boost of coffee flavor was also complemented nicely with the cream cheese. It made for a yin-and-yang meal, to say the least! 

Later, we couldn’t wait to try to the Café Domingo blend, another medium roast coffee. The description of its smooth finish with toffee flavor definitely signaled it as a an afternoon or even an after-dinner drink. Having just gotten back from a trip to Cooperstown, NY with a bevy of apples, we had to pair the coffee with homemade vegan apple muffins with brown-sugar walnut topping (recipe to come) for dessert! The flavor of the coffee brought out the sweetness of the apples in the muffins. The combination just worked so well together that we even had seconds on the muffins and another “cuppa”

Fans of Peet’s, aka ‘Peetniks,” have been enjoying their rich and flavorful coffee for nearly 45 years, and for good reason. With lofty high standards for selecting and roasting coffee, as well as unsurpassed customer service, It’s no wonder why Peet’s has earned worldwide respect in the coffee industry. Needless to say, we fell in love with both coffees! You can’t go wrong with either one!

We are happy to now know that Peet’s Coffee is sold in local grocery stores and supermarkets. If you have a chance to try a new brand and brew, check them out. Let us know what you think!