Viking Blod

While my blogs usually start off with me walking the market and finding a new culinary treasure displayed on the shelves, this time it was actually my husband’s fortune.

A new mead has arrived at Magnolia Square Market, its bottle sets it apart from the myriad of shiny, colored glass beer and wine bottles. This vessel is ceramic and painted in black matte, which catches the eye with a red, white and gold label.  ‘Viking Blod’ if that name doesn’t inspire sense of intrigue you may want to check your pulse.  My husband said it evoked thought of Klingon Blood Wine, which considering the name is interestingly coincidental… It is a warrior’s drink!

Viking Blod a Nordic honey wine with hibiscus and hops added (they had my husband at “honey wine”).  Theo saw husband’s interest was piqued and handed him a bottle, so here we are sitting in the dining room after the kids are in bed, with mismatched glassware and a chilled bottle between us.

We were looking forward to sampling it all afternoon. We actually had mead (a honey wine) served at our wedding 10 years ago. They were both homebrewed by our friends and have set the bar pretty high for us when we have tried other store bought bottles. I am a big fan of sweet drinks so mead has always been a personal favorite, while my husband’s tastes lean more towards Scotch or beer.

DSCF0079 While neither of us are master brewers or sommeliers here is what we thought of Viking Blod.

The smell was very pleasant with flowery sweetness and hint of spice, it is 19% ABV and you can clearly smell it. It has a beautiful rose and old gold color, and we both noticed how the tears rolled slowly down the glass.

The first sip was sweet and easily recognized as a mead, and was much better than the last store bought mead we had tried.  I got flowery notes with a lite spice and a very pleasant taste that lingers on the tongue. I is definitely something I might take with me to the next girl’s night to share a few glasses with.

My husband found a smoky flavor, almost peat like with whisky but not as much. The hops were light and not at all overpowering and mixed with the spicy sweetness. It was something that he would want to drink out at camp surrounded by friends around a fire.

All around we feel that it is a wonderful drink to sit back and enjoy.

 

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Kipferl

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Growing up I was always a big fan of cookies and milk, such a sweet & simple treat that just seems to go together naturally.

My most fond memories are from when I got to help make them from scratch, but there are other times that I just remember going to the hair salon with my Grandma, where her hairdresser always had a tin of Danish butter cookies. My Grandma would sit under the hair dryer and send me over to get her a small cup of black coffee and some cookies. I always skipped the coffee until I got a little older and realized just how delicious a heavily creamed & sweetened cup of coffee could be.

While helping out in the front of the store last week, I happened to look up from where I was cashiering and across from me was our variety of Bahlsen cookie boxes.

Now when I say variety I mean it, there are some that are chocolate coated, dipped, some with crème filling, and others with fruits. There are crispy cookies and soft cookies; Bahlsen seems to have made it their goal to offer something to fulfill every particular cookie craving a person could have.

While I do love the options available, my heart got set on the Kipferl. In the trademark blue Bahlsen box it is a simple and plain looking cookie in the shape of a crescent.  The next morning I grabbed box and a fresh cup of piping hot coffee and took a seat at my desk. Since it was still early it was really nice to sit and enjoy a little peace before preparing for the day.  Just as I had expected the cookies have a delicious slightly buttery taste, and the only real sweetness comes from the light bit of sugar on the outside.

Made with finely chopped bits of hazelnuts it really blows pecan sandies out of the water.  They were moist and delicious and went so well with my coffee; it was just a wonderful treat and a fantastic start to my morning.

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Schoko-Reis

Last week Theo was chatting with a guest in the market about some of the great candy & chocolate that they enjoyed in Germany. When Christina got home from her visit last month we spent some time talking about the difference of the options found abroad. She said a common trend that she noticed was how in Germany the chocolates were smoother and not overly sweet. Most confections were either light & fluffy or packed with marzipan, fruits or nuts.  Taking a look at the candy & chocolate variety we are able to carry at the market that would seem to be the case.

When the guest came through to check out she had a package of the milk chocolate Schoko-Reis. It was then that my curiosity was really piqued and proceeded to eat away at the back of my mind until I gave in. I grabbed the same kind she had and went back to my desk to see what this was all about. Since my German comprehension is minimal at best I was at least able to understand the front of the package: chocolate with rice puffs.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I opened the package because for something so large the lightness in weight was a little surprising.  It is divided into 2 wide rows of 6 that were thick enough that I had to exert a little bit of muscle to snap the pieces apart. This is certainly sized for sharing with others!

ImageFrom the top it looks like any other chocolate treat; when I flipped it over I was surprised to see that it looked almost like a rice crispy, which shows just how packed it really is with rice puffs. As with any first bite of something chocolaty it’s a pleasant experience. It’s is just as sweet & smooth as I have come to expect from German chocolate, and exactly as Christina said, not overly sweet. The rice was far fluffier than I had expected since I was thinking of a rice crispy or a Krackle bar. This was similar to both but still very distinctive because it was so packed with puffed rice. I think that because of the rice it just felt so light, not heavy like most of my normal chocolate driven indulgences. 

As good as the milk chocolate is I can only imagine how wonderful the dark chocolate would be.  Perhaps one of my wonderful readers can come in and try one for me, since I have two weddings to prepare for next year I have to better with my sweet tooth….guess next time I’ll be writing about a salad.

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Schweinebauch

Recently we welcomed a new member to our group behind the counter; sometimes trying the products for the blog can serve as a valuable training opportunity.
WP_000326Looking into our deli case with all the new additions from Stiglemeier with our new guy Jason,  the first item to catch our eye is the Schweinebauch, bacon stuffed with beef & pork.  The outer skin of the bacon is chewy while the inside is a bit greasy with a wonderfully mild taste of pork & beef with hint of the onion used in the seasoning. The texture on the inside reminds me of a course bologna.

After a small sample of the Schweinebauch itself I wanted to see how it would be used on a sandwich. Not wanting to make a plain sandwich, Sydney stepped up and went about making a simple and tasty meal for us to try.

Sautéing some peppers & onions, she rolled the veggies into the slice with a light drizzle of Dijon mustard, then grilling the roll for a few minutes before placing it between two slices of our Bierbrot.

The combination was absolutely astounding, I knew it would be a great mix but we were all surprised just how good it was. The schweinebach picked up all the flavors of the onion & red peppers, with the Dijons flavor came across as a more sweet than spicy. The bierbrot rounded it all out with its unique taste.

For added spice we added a side of the Dijon for dipping but it wasn’t really needed. What we did enjoy was the Sweet Red Cabbage that is a familiar side from Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Café; it has a sweet and tangy profile from the Granny Smith Apples used in the recipe.WP_000329

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A Meaty Treat

It’s always exciting when we get new things in the store and last week was no exception. We have been working on making it possible to get in the quality products from Stiglmeier Sausage Co. for some time. At long last we are able to bring in 40 new items to add to our deli case and freezer. Some of them are more familiar and easier to recognize, others…not so much, but that is why I am here writing about all the fantastic food from Germany and other parts of Europe.

Stiglmeier ButchersThe nice thing about Stiglmeier is that like the Hollerbach’s it is a family owned operation. Anton & Gertraud Stiglmeier immigrated to Chicago where in 1960 they started the Stiglmeier Sausage Company, using traditional Bavarian and other German recipes.

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The items I’ve tried today are 3 smoked sausages that can be eaten directly from the display case.

Kilometer- Smoked, Spicy Hungarian Sausage. Not overly spicy, especially at first after a moment there was a very pleasant burn, very tasty. Blows a slim jim out of the water, more moist with a nice pepper taste.

Gyulai- Smoked, Spicy Hungarian Sausage. Spicier than the kilometer, meatier, crunchier skin, densely packed but softer than a pepperoni stick

Debreziner- Mild, Smoked Pork Sausage of German origin. The least spicy but still so full of flavor. It was also slightly more fatty than the other two.

<Stiglmeier information found on http://www.stiglmeier.com/story.aspx

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Home Sweet Home

Last month I went on a two week adventure, spending time in South Korea, Hawaii & Southern Utah. Over that period I tried a variety of cultural food, treats & local favorites. As a person who enjoys trying new and exciting things I was in absolute heaven! This was my very first trip off of the continent & out of the country. I’ve been dreaming for years about traveling the world and realized that I’ve been settling by experiencing the cultures through their food.

Now I realize that a taste is not enough!

Because I want to get back out there and get lost in another new and faraway place I just need to get back to work and start planning!

Speaking of work…. Now that I’m back home and over my jetlag I started walking the floor of the market and chatting with my co-workers about food ideas to write about. Our discussion turned to a couple of guests that had been in earlier that day who had asked some questions about our specialty flavored pastas, specifically our Chocolate, and Gingerbread pasta.

I had tried the Chocolate pasta before and liked it. Then again what’s NOT to like about chocolate and a scoop of ice cream?

Dessert pasta is something I had never heard of, or even imagined until we opened the market and it came in with our first deliveries. Theo had to explain it to me and gave me a few examples of how it could be served because I just kept thinking Chocolate…Pasta?

I took it home boiled it in milk and gave it a whirl. I enjoyed its unique taste and texture hot out of the pot with a scoop of cold vanilla ice cream it worked well. So when we got to talking about the Gingerbread pasta I was only hesitant because I couldn’t think of a way it could be served, which is where my co-worker Chris comes into play.
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He walks through the store & kitchen grabbing a few items and in no time he tells me that it’s ready. I walk into the kitchen and in true Chef form he has a fancily dressed plate with a mid-day dessert. His creation: Gingerbread Pasta in Apple-Cinnamon Ragout with Lingonberry Sorbet.

The gingerbread pasta was the exact texture that I had remembered from the chocolate one I had tried. It was slightly dense but not enough to make it chewy. The flavor is very mild and combined with the strong and often overpowering taste of Granny Smith Apples & Cinnamon. Overall the taste reminded me of the Hollerbach’s apple strudel that we make.
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The lingonberry sorbet he made using a jar of our Maintal Wild Lingonberry premium fruit spread, which is delicious with its whole berries. I’ve never had fresh, made from scratch sorbet before. It was overly sweet but still wonderful with the frozen texture and berries, I let it soften a little and it became like a sugary fruit smoothie.

On the bright side of having so many sweets mid-day I have been able to power through writing this blog in record time, whew Sugar RUSH!!!

Anyone out there have a recommendation for my next adventure?

Gingerbread Pasta in Apple-Cinnamon Ragout

1 Granny Smith Apple- peeled and cut in small cubes

¾ cup Apple juice

9 tbl Sugar

1 tsp Cinnamon

2 tbl chopped Pecans

Starch (to thicken ragout)

Brown the sugar in a sauce pan and then add juice. Let the sugar dissolve and add the apples & cinnamon. Let simmer for 3 mins and mix starch with a little bit of water. Add starch mixture slowly to the apple till perfect consistency (it has to be creamy, not to thick). Set aside and let it cool down.

Boil water (or milk if you prefer) add the gingerbread pasta and 6oz of sugar. Cook for 9 mins, strain and keep pasta warm.

Lingonberry Sorbet

½ jar of Maintal Wild Lingonberry fruit spread

¾ cup Sugar water

2 shots of Raspberry Schnapps

Mix all ingredients together and freeze.

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Stuffed Yellow Peppers

Well it is about time I got back to writing about the tasty food in our market!  Like always I was taking a stroll through the market when a spotted a jar that had lost its label.  Since it was in its proper spot it was easy to tell that the poor naked jar was one of our Hungarian products from BENDE, Stuffed Yellow Peppers. I looked to see if I could find where the label had fallen to see if there was any way to fix it, but alas it was long gone. Since we can’t sell an item without a label I decided that fate had intervened and it was to be my newest subject.

007As always, when I have an item that I don’t have any experience with I start asking around (it is so handy that I work around so many chefs). I went first to Chef Garyn, who is a 3rd generation Hungarian American, to see if this was something he was familiar with. He said that he had seen it used with food that was similar to Antipasto; the other Chefs agreed that the best way for me to sample this was with salami. Up front Chef Josh gave me a small handful of our Cittero salami slices & cut up the end piece for me to use.

Back at my desk I laid out the salami pieces and popped open the jar. “WHOA!!” was the exact reaction to the smell that hit me in the face. The smell of yellow pepper was so overwhelming that it took me completely by surprise. I love hot & spicy things but even I was concerned that I may end up regretting this one. I forked out all 7 of the peppers and added them to the plate to take pictures, the smell was quick to abate and I began to feel more at ease while I took photographs.

Finally I took a deep breath and began. Now I’m not real orthodox when it comes to how I sample everything, I took a big slice of salami curled it around the bottom of the pepper making a salami and stuffed pepper taco and took a bite.

I was relieved that the pepper was not as hot as I had been working it up in my mind. The pepper flavor & heat are what I tasted first, followed briefly by a subtle taste of vinegar before the pepper came back with more of a light burn while I savored the crunch of the cabbage and meaty taste of the salami.014

With the following peppers I tried different ways to dress them up for presentation (maybe I was playing with my food a little). I stuffed salami wedges in the sides, it was not a pretty look and when I ate that one I felt like I was just eating a plain stuffed yellow pepper, and it hid the flavor and texture of the salami and made me realize that the salami slice actually helps offset the hotness of the pepper.

The best way I found was simply to cut the pepper in half and wrap it into a salami roll. I was only able to coerce two of my coworkers into giving them a try and they each had different reactions to how hot the peppers were.  The one agreed with me that it was just within the threshold for being really spicy but still enjoyable enough that neither of us felt a need to go scrambling for a glass of milk. Our other coworker felt it was really spicy and said her mouth was on fire.

I believe that if this was cut up used in an antipasto salad with some pasta & chunks of salami and served cold it would be a big hit at a summer gathering.

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