Archive for Uncategorized

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.

 

Leave a comment »

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.

Leave a comment »

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.
WP_000256

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.
WP_000254

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.

Comments (1) »

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.

Comments (2) »

Hot News on a cold day

The market has been open for over a year and a half now. In that time we have been learning as we go. With conversations and over feedback from our guests we are always striving to improve ourselves& exceed expectations. When we have a guest looking for a specific item they enjoyed back home in Germany, the conversation is usually followed by a call or email to our distributors & their importers. One thing that many of our guests have asked for is something hot to add to our sandwich menu. We have finally figured out a way to make this request a reality.

 

The Schweine-QThis week we introduced our new weekly hot special, and what a great week to start! Our usually hot & humid Florida day’s suddenly turned chilly. When everyone else was pulling out their coats & sweaters, Chef Josh wheeled out his smoker.  Using our whole pork loins he set to work. Once the pork was perfectly smoked he made an Aventinus BBQ from one of our popular German beers.

 

The pulled pork was so different in the most unique and wonderful way. Every bite was tender & juicy, falling apart with the unmistakable smoky flavor beneath the BBQ. The sauce picks up and carries the flavor profile of the Aventinus beer used in its creation.  It shared the rich wheaty, taste of the dopple bock.

I’m not a big fan of coleslaw’s.  I usually end up with the kind that is drowned in mayo and sits in the pit of my stomach, or so soggy it should be described as a soup. However I’ve learned from experience that Chef Josh…knows what he’s doing. So while I was little apprehensive at first I figured as always I’d be pleasantly surprised by his recipe.

It is almost sweet, not tangy at all. The shredded cabbage & carrots were all crisp & crunchy. It was covered with just enough sauce to flavor the bite. What I really liked was that it felt light & fresh, not heavy.

 

On their own the BBQ Pulled Pork & coleslaw were the perfect way to sit back and re-live summer cookouts just  one last time before the winter sets in. However when Chef Josh was planning  this out in his head he had a totally different idea in mind. The pulled pork goes on the sandwich WITH the coleslaw & a few slices of dill pickle. I can only imagine the look of horror on my face, but after a little while I remembered that when it comes to all things culinary Josh won’t let me down.  So I sat down at my desk with a Schweine-Q and dove in before I could psych myself out of it.  As usually I was glad I tried something new.  The heavier smoked taste of the hot pulled pork mixed very well with the cool light flavors of crisp coleslaw. Soft bread and small bite of the pickle rounded out the taste.

 

If you don’t think you’re ready to be tough like me and mix BBQ & coleslaw you can always enjoying the other way with coleslaw as a side dish. While we are running this special both the Coleslaw & BBQ are available for purchase by the pound.

Leave a comment »

Tasty Tomato Suppe

Chef Reno has been creating German specials for the weekends over at Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Café. I have been spoiled because he has such great ideas for use of the items we have in the market. Now when I wander the aisles he usually walks with me offering suggestions on what could be made & combined.  Today while wandering, I really wanted something sweet but decided that I would be better off with something a little more substantial. Halfway down the aisle I’m joined by the Chef and the conversation quickly picks up. After about 5 mins we agree that a soup would be perfect for today.

When he brought the finished product to my desk I smelled it before he reached me. The warm scent of tomato and herbs caught my attention first. I did my best not to be distracted while I finished the paperwork before me so that I could focus and enjoy a special soup, which was also difficult because the presentation of the soup was just so fancy.

Once the paper work was finished and moved a safe distance away from the bright red soup, I could really take in the smell. The scent of tomatoes and herbs was so wonderful and rich that I couldn’t discern anything else but the faintest smell of the cheese croutons.  The texture was not watery which I loved, especially since I had been talking about wanting something that was a bit more substantial.  What was a fantastic addition was the cheese croutons he made, lightly crunchy with the Gluten Free Panko Italian style breadcrumbs. Inside was the chewy, gooey goodness of melted provolone cheese.

My mind was reeling with the combined flavors, such a decadent and delicious soup.  After a few minutes the soup was gone and I was left sitting at my desk suffering the usual sadness that accompanies the end of a really good meal. What is wonderful is how Chef Reno wrote everything out so that again I can share the recipe with you.

Ingredients:

1 Can – La Valle Peeled Tomatoes

1 Can- Rega Tomatoes with Basil

1 Clove- Garlic

1 – Onion

1 – Tomato

1 1/2 Tblsp- Bouillon

½ Tsp- Salt

1 Tblsp- Sugar

1 Tsp- Basil (dried)

1 – Egg

1 cup- Flour

½ lbs- Provolone Cheese

1/2 bag- Ian’s Gluten Free Panko Breadcrumbs, Italian

How he did it:

Cut onions in cubes and sauté in Olive oil.

Then puree with Tomatoes and sugar, basil & garlic. Strain the seeds.

Add ½ cup water & simmer for 10-15mins

Season the soup with bullion and salt

Cheese croutons

Cut cheese in cubes

Bread cheese cubes:  Flour- Egg- Breadcrumbs

Panfry them in Olive oil until light brown color

Once cool enough to handle, add to soup.

In case you would like to re-create the fantastic presentation Chef Reno used in the picture above he lightly drizzled Pesto, and heavy whipping cream to make the design.

The above is exactly what Chef Reno used and it was enough to feed 4 of us with extra cheese croutons to go around!

Now I LOVE fresh tomatoes, so I had to ask how many whole vine ripe tomatoes it would take to make this soup without having to use the canned kind. He said it depends on the size, but 6-8 should be about right to make the same amount.

Leave a comment »

Who’s Hungary?

Today I wanted to try one of several jarred items that always seem to catch my eye and draw me in. We have a few BENDE  products and they all look very appetizing, for today I chose the Hot Mixed Salad. Looking at it through the glass I am imagining it will taste like a spicy cole slaw.

Theo described this to me as being the Hungarian version of Kimchi.

Reading over the label is a habit I’ve gotten into lately, this is how I discovered that this is a product of Hungary (also a ½ cup serving is only 20 calories!)

BENDE Hot Mixed SaladPopping the jar open at my desk I was pleasantly overwhelmed by the aroma of vinegar & sweet pickles. Spooning out the contents for pictures I noticed that the cuts and slices of pickles, cabbage, onions, peppers and green tomatoes were not evenly cut…a strange thing to notice but I’ve worked in the kitchen and know the difference between veggies that were cut by hand & the ones that were put through a slicer or processor.  The overall look was that of a handmade salad.

The first bite was a small adventure, with a light taste of vinegar, followed by flavors of pickle, and then the heat. I enjoy spicy foods so for me the fire was a bit of a surprise but not overwhelming. The texture was just as I had expected, similar to cole slaw. The heat stayed with me for several minutes afterwards making my mouth all tingly.

Sydney was walking by and was curious enough to try a bite. We brainstormed for a minute about how it would taste great as a sandwich.  I handed over the jar and she disappeared into the kitchen to see just what would be great with a mixed salad.

Who's Hungary?Upon her return a few moments later she described what she had done.  Using one of our fresh brotchen as a bun she melted a slice of Munster cheese over some Ziguener Turkey.  A light spread of mayo on the bun and a spoon full of the heated hot mixed salad.  Sydney said that it gave the meat a nice sweet flavor when cooked but the spicy bite was milder afterwards.  I packed more of the salad on to my half, making the sandwich a fun mix of hot and cold. The gooey melted Munster was fantastic with the crunch of the cool mixed salad. All together it tamped down the spiciness from a pronounced taste to a more of an accenting flavor.

Overall it is delicious; I ended up finishing the remainder. I’m now looking forward to the next few hours to enjoy the left over heat that I can still taste.

Leave a comment »