Category Archives: GLV Gourmet Tastes

SWEET BC BLUEBERRIES – Healthy Recipes

Packed with important antioxidants, vitamins and heart-healthy fibre, Blueberries are hard to beat

The beginning of a new year makes most of us take a second look at our diet, vowing to eat more healthfully, and take better care of our bodies to fight disease. It’s surprisingly easy – all thanks to one little blue superfruit. There’s no better way to increase your antioxidant intake, support local growers and satiate your tastebuds than with BC blueberries!

Full of essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, A and E, as well as potassium, calcium and magnesium, blueberries are an exceptionally sweet and delicious way for Canadians to achieve the Canada Food Guide recommendations to eat seven to 10 servings of fruit or vegetables every day. A 250 ml (1 cup) serving of blueberries – about the size of a tennis ball, contains 3.6 grams of dietary fibre, virtually no fat, and just 80 calories.

Over the past couple of decades, antioxidants have increasingly become the focus of health research. Antioxidants help neutralize harmful by-products in the body called ‘free-radicals’ that may lead to cancer and other age-related and degenerative illnesses. Researchers who ranked the antioxidant potential of 40 fresh fruits and vegetables found blueberries at the top of the list, earning them the nickname, ‘#1 superfood‘. This is due to the blueberry’s high content of polyphenols, the same types of compounds that provide the health benefits found in red wine and dark chocolate. In blueberries, the polyphenol that has most excited scientists is the same one that gives the blueberry its distinctive and wholly unique blue colour, a pigment called ‘anthocyanin’.*

New research has revealed additional anti-inflammatory benefits of the polyphenols that appear to greatly increase the disease-fighting power of the blueberry. Both antioxidant and the anti-inflammatory actions of polyphenols have been linked to a wide range of health benefits and improved treatment outcomes in a large number of age-related illnesses, including brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s** and Parkinson’s disease***, cardiovascular illnesses such as ischemic stroke^; metabolic syndrome, a frequent precursor to heart disease, stroke and diabetes^^; and improved urinary tract health.^^^

But the best news is how easy and delicious BC blueberries are to incorporate into your family’s daily diet, even in the middle of winter. So sweet that they’re known as “nature’s candy,” you can find them in the freezer aisle of your local grocery store year-round. Creating a healthy start to the day is a breeze – add an Apple, Pear and Blueberry Puree to your oatmeal, enjoy breakfast-on-the-go with a slice of Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Cake, or entertain a crowd with a Blueberry Breakfast Bake. Recipes for all three are below.

About the British Columbia Blueberry Council
The British Columbia Blueberry Council represents over 700 blueberry growers, located in some of Canada’s most rich and fertile farmland. Plantings of premium quality high bush blueberries top 8,100 hectares in British Columbia and produce upwards of 40 million kilograms of blueberries annually. With more than $1 billion in sales in the past five years, Canada is the third largest producer of sweet and juicy highbush blueberries in the world. Available fresh in BC from July through October, delicious BC blueberries are also frozen, dried, juiced, pureed and powdered, available for year round-distribution throughout Canada and around the world.

BC BLUEBERRY RECIPES

Apple Pear and Blueberry Puree

Ingredients

  • 1 small, sweet apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • ½ ripe pear, peeled, cored and diced
  • 4 oz (½ cup) fresh blueberries

Method

  • Remove any stems from the blueberries, then place all the ingredients in a small saucepan.
  • Just cover with water and simmer gently for approximately 5 mins, until all fruits are tender.
  • Drain (reserving the cooking water), then transfer the ingredients to a blender and puree until smooth. Use the reserved cooking liquid to thin the puree, if necessary.

Makes: 1 ½ cups

Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 ⅓ cups flour
  • ¾ cup quick-cooking oats
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoons salt
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries

Method

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.  Grease an 8-inch round baking pan; set aside.  In a medium mixing bowl combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  • In a 1-cup measure stir milk, oil and egg; pour all at once into flour mixture.  Stir just until moistened (batter will be lumpy).
  • Fold in frozen blueberries; spoon batter into prepared pan.  Bake until cake is golden and pulls away from sides of pan 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Cool on a rack, 5 to 10 minutes.  Serve warm.

* When baking, frozen blueberries should be very firm.

Makes: 8 portions

Blueberry Brunch Bake

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf (450 g) sliced, firm white bread, crusts removed
  • 2 cups (500 ml) frozen (not thawed) blueberries, divided
  • 4 ounces (100 g) light cream cheese, cut in 1/4-inch cubes
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups (500 ml) low-fat milk
  • ¼ cup (50 ml) sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon (1 mL) salt
  • ¼ teaspoon (1 mL) ground cinnamon

Method:

  • Butter an 8-inch (20 cm) square baking dish; set aside.
  • Cut bread in 1/2-inch (1.25 cm) cubes.
  • Layer half the bread cubes and half the blueberries in prepared baking dish; sprinkle with all the cream cheese; cover with remaining bread cubes and blueberries.
  • In a bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, salt and cinnamon; pour over bread.
  • Gently press bread down to absorb milk mixture; refrigerate, covered at least 20 minutes or overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C).
  • Bake, uncovered, until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.
  • Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Slice in 8 rectangles; serve with maple syrup, if desired.

Makes: 8 portions

Quick and easy fall meals, snacks and desserts featuring the best of B.C. blues

FRESH OR FROZEN BC Blueberries ARE ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS

Pull those frozen blueberries out of the freezer or pick up a few bags of locally grown from the grocery store.  It’s time to liven up meal time with one of B.C.’s best crops.  Frozen blueberries are perfect for quick breads, pancakes and desserts. They also add depth, colour and flavour to savory entrées. Beautiful blueberry sauces, spreads, marinades and chutneys present all kinds of meal options.

Mix up a batch of moist and seemingly decadent pumpkin blueberry loaf.  Consider a blueberry chutney, brie and grilled chicken sandwich – hearty, healthy and soooo delicious.  Warm up and fill up the family with blueberry-onion pork tenderloin.    Top the evening off with a classic blueberry betty or put a blue twist on an old favourite with blueberry rice pudding parfait.    Visit the B.C. Blueberry website for these, and many more, great recipes.

It’s pretty hard to top the ease and health benefits of cooking with B.C. blueberries – fresh or frozen.  Every half-cup serving represents one of the seven to ten recommended daily servings of fruit and vegetables by the Canada Food Guide.

Considered one of the leading “Superfruits” by North American researchers, the known health benefits of these little beauties continue to grow.  Absolutely loaded with antioxidants and bursting with tannins, eating blueberries is extremely beneficial – helping to stave off cancer, aging, heart disease, urinary tract infections and more.

British Columbians can feel good about BC blueberries for so many reasons.  Buying local means supporting over 700 Lower Mainland farmers who proudly represent one of the world’s largest blueberry growing regions as the rest of the planet continues to discover the “taste good-feel good” effects of BC blueberries.

About the British Columbia Blueberry Council

The British Columbia Blueberry Council represents over 700 blueberry growers, located in some of Canada’s most rich and fertile farmland. Plantings of premium quality high bush blueberries top 8,100 hectares in British Columbia and produce upwards of 40 million kilograms of blueberries annually. With more than $1 billion in sales in the past five years, Canada is the third largest producer of sweet and juicy highbush blueberries in the world. Available fresh in BC from July through October, delicious BC blueberries are also frozen, dried, juiced, pureed and powdered, available for year round-distribution throughout Canada and around the world.

BLUEBERRY-ONION SAUCED PORK TENDERLOIN

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3/4 to 1 pound pork tenderloin

2 tablespoons butter, divided

2 medium onions, sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup port wine or sweet sherry
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes

Directions:

Preheat broiler.
Broil pork, turning occasionally, until cooked through, about 20 minutes.
Remove to a platter, cover to keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter.
Add onions, salt and pepper; cook until onions are golden, about 10 minutes.
Add sugar; cook until onions are caramelized, 3 minutes longer
Add port wine or sherry, balsamic, blueberries and tomatoes, bring to a boil.
Remove from heat.
Thinly slice pork and serve with sauce.

 

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Canada’s Cracker Queen expands business to introduce new all-natural Raincoast Cookies

Lesley Stowe Fine Foods’ products are now available in more than 4,000 stores across Canada and the United States

 Following successful expansion in the US and widespread availability in more than 4,000 stores across North America, Lesley Stowe, the creator of Raincoast Crisps, is adding a new addition to her specialty foods product family with today’s launch of Raincoast Cookies—a new line of all-natural, gourmet cookies.

What began as a small Vancouver catering business 25 years ago, Lesley Stowe Fine Foods has grown into a team of 60 employees with unprecedented 20 per cent year-over-year growth.

Like the signature Raincoast Crisps, the new cookies are available in a variety of flavours packed with all-natural ingredients including chicory root, flax seed and chia, and are fully manufactured and distributed from the company’s 20,000-square-foot facility in Richmond, BC.

“We built Lesley Stowe Fine Foods on the guiding principle of never compromising the quality of the ingredients or the integrity of the brand,” says Lesley Stowe, founder and CEO. “Our Raincoast Cookies stay true to that promise—they are baked in small batches with only the finest ingredients. It took us a couple years to bring them to market, but we think it was worth the wait.”

Available in three varieties—Apricot Ginger and Slivered Almond, Cranberry Hazelnut, and Chocolate Cherry Pecan to start—Raincoast Cookies are sold at fine food retailers throughout BC, including Urban Fare, and will be coming soon to Whole Foods Market. They are high in fibre and protein, and provide a healthier alternative to other snack foods on the market.

“More than ever, consumers are looking for great-tasting, well-balanced snacks to accommodate their busy lifestyles, which is why we created the Raincoast Cookie,” says Stowe. “We are very fortunate to have a strong and loyal customer base that continues to grow, and this has allowed us to expand across North America and now offer this delicious new product line.”

 

The Raincoast Cookie will initially be distributed in BC and then rolled out more broadly across Alberta and Ontario by the end of the 2011. More product information is available at LesleyStowe.com.

About Lesley Stowe

Lesley Stowe is a Parisian-trained chef who began her catering company 25 years ago in Vancouver. A culinary pioneer, Lesley helped to develop and refine the palettes of Vancouverites with her specialty fine foods store. The store’s success, combined with Lesley’s ability to predict and capitalize on food trends, resulted in the creation of Raincoast Crisps – a revolutionary snack food beyond compare. Also the author of her own cookbook, the Lesley Stowe Fine Foods Cookbook, Lesley is a regular contributor to other popular cookbooks including The Girls Who Dish series.

 

WINE-SWIGGING BEEF

NORTH AMERICA’S FIRST AND ONLY WINE-SWIGGING BEEF LAUNCHES DISTRIBUTION ACROSS CANADA IN TIME FOR BBQ SEASON

In perfect time to hit the grill this summer, North America’s first and only wine-fed beef has officially launched distribution. Found in the kitchens of fine restaurants and butchers across Canada, Sezmu Meats treats their happy cows with a litre of red wine for a full 60 days before they are finished. The result; a tender, more flavourful meat that promises to whet the appetites of meat lovers everywhere.

Based, naturally, in the heart of British Columbia’s wine growing region, the company was founded by farmers Darrel Timm and sister Janice Ravndahl. Inspired by chef Gordon Ramsay who fed beer to his pigs, Ravndahl opted for wine being made right at her doorstep in the Okanagan Valley to enhance the meat of her Red Angus cattle. Enjoying a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and shiraz wine, the hormone-free cattle range happily in the Okanagan pastures before they move to the feedlot for their wine-swigging program. Only because serving organic wine is cost prohibitive, the cattle can’t be labelled organic.

Under the expert guidance and fine palate of renowned chef Michael Allemeier, Timm and Ravndahl found the perfect formula and Sezmu Meats was born. Named after the Egyptian God of wine, Sezmu has tempted the taste buds of chefs who appreciate the meat both for its flavour and the fact that the meat is raised locally from a small farm operation.

“What stands out to me the most when I’ve cooked Sezmu beef is the rich flavour that is developed from the cattle being wine fed. My favorite cut to cook is the rib-eye. No need to marinate the Sezmu, just use salt and pepper and allow the natural flavour of the beef to come through,” says David Robertson at the Dirty Apron Cooking School.

Restaurants that proudly serve Sezmu Meat on its menu include Chambar Restaurant and the Four Seasons in Vancouver, as well as Aura at the Nita Lake Lodge in Whistler. Those who want to throw a Sezmu steak on the grill at home can purchase product at The Dirty Apron Cooking School and Delicatessen and Market Meats in Vancouver, and The Cup Bistro in Squamish amongst others.

Based in Kelowna, British Columbia, Suzmu Meats produces hormone free, wine-fed beef to fine restaurants and butchers. For more information, call 250-681-0580 or visit our website at www.sezmumeats.com.

Harvest Tours and the upcoming B.C. Shellfish Festival

With harvest tours and the upcoming B.C. Shellfish Festival, the world is your oyster this summer on Vancouver Island.

Eating an oyster from the waters around Vancouver Island is a way to taste the mysteries of the Pacific Ocean in a single bite. Oysters owe much of their particular qualities – flavor, size, color, shell shape – to the salinity level and depth of the water in which they are raised. Interestingly, though each of the 12 varieties of oyster from Vancouver Island has its own very distinct qualities, they all originate from the same seed, further underlining the importance of water depth and salinity in their flavor profile.

Consider the Kusshi. Named after the Japanese word for “ultimate” or “precious,” this perfect bivalve is now one of the most sought-after oysters in the world. Raised by only one shellfish grower, Keith Reid of Stellar Bay Shellfish in Vancouver Island’s Comox Valley region, this small (just over five cm) oyster is raised in deep trays, and an aggressive tumbling process after harvest smooths any frills off the unusually deep cup of its midnight-purple shell, making it easy to shuck without any breakage. The taste? A perfect balance of ultra-clean brackishness and a fresh, almost floral flavor, with a meaty mouthfeel due to the slight stress tumbling.

Chef Robert Clark of Vancouver’s C Restaurant , a global reference point for shellfish cuisine, calls the Kusshi a “little package of joyous oyster meat.” Clark often includes the Kusshi and its larger version, the Stellar Bay Gold, on his restaurant’s prized tasting menus. But as co-founder of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program, Clark loves Kusshi and other Vancouver Island oysters for their sustainability as well as their unbeatable flavor. “What I love about B.C. shellfish is that they’re a very well-monitored food source. Every oyster I serve is tagged, so I know where, when and how it was grown. Each Kusshi came from Keith, I can be sure of that.”

Oysters are fascinating as well as delicious; a visit to an oyster lease is a great way to understand the ocean as a living organism and better appreciate how these tasty bivalves spend their lives before we squirt them with lemon and down them with mignonette. The B.C. Shellfish Growers Association has mapped out a tour of Vancouver Island’s 12 oyster harvests, including five in close proximity to one another in gorgeous Comox Valley: The leases where Mac’s Beach, Fanny Bay, Kusshi, Komo Gway and Chef’s Creek oysters are harvested are within a few minutes’ drive from each other, and many, including Stellar Bay, offer tours for the public.

The B.C. Shellfish Festival in mid-June, which includes a chowder contest, an oyster-shucking contest and an open-air Chef’s Dinner, is also a great occasion to sample B.C. oysters and other shellfish, including clams, geoduck, sea cucumbers, mussels, urchins and other delicacies particular to Vancouver Island’s waters. Chef Clark of C is planning a dish consisting of one perfect, still-living Qualicum Bay scallop on the half-shell passed under the broiler and covered in piping-hot dashi seaweed broth.

“It’s a dish that fits the mood and fits the occasion,” he says. “We have access to the best shellfish in the world, so I want to take the product into account and showcase its delicateness and sweetness – I want to play with it as little as possible.”

Getting here

B.C. Shellfish Festival , June 17–18, 2011, Comox, 250-890-7561, bcshellfishfestival.ca
Stellar Bay Seafood , 7400 West Island Hwy., Bowser, 250-757-9304,
stellarbay.ca
BC Ferries , 1-888-BC-FERRY (1-888-223-3779),
bcferries.com
Comox Valley Tourism, 1-888-357-4471,
discovercomoxvalley.com
Tourism British Columbia , 1-800-HELLO-BC (1-800-435-5622),
hellobc.com

Hardbite Potato Chips Wants To Hear Your Voice In A National Contest

BC’s favourite potato chip company wants the entire country’s opinion in a soon-to-launch national contest. . While the potato chips are of top quality, loaded with flavor and not fat, and proud to be local, the names could use a serious kick, and the design concept needs a refresh.

“Natural HARDBITE Chips – a superior taste – minimally processed, artisan hand-crafted in the region for the region. We are not a mega corporation, nor a foreign conglomerate. We are approachable. We all live and work here. The fact that quality pays is both our biggest chance and our greatest challenge,” states Sepp Amsler, Owner and President of Hardbite Potato Chips.

The contest has two parts.

(1)     Rename the Hardbite product line.

(2)     Redesign the logo and bag.

There are seven flavours: All Natural, Barbeque, Rock Salt and Vinegar, Jalapeno, Wild Onion and Yogurt, Canadian Cheddar and Roasted Onion and Creamy Coconut and Curry. Participants are encouraged to be daring and creative with the renaming process. For part two, the sky is the limit. This is a fantastic opportunity for designers who want to add a high profile client to their portfolio. Winners will be chosen by a panel of carefully selected judges.

The contest winner of Part 1 will be given full credit and recognition in a press release, awarded a 2-night stay at a Canadian Fairmont Property and sent a year’s supply of Hardbite. The contest winner of Part 2 will also be given full credit and recognition in a press release, awarded a $1,000.00 and a 2-night stay at a Canadian Fairmont Property in addition to being sent a year’s supply of Hardbite. The contest begins February 21, 2011 and closes on June 21, 2011.

Some interesting points:

  • Hardbite is an award-winning artisan chip, but it is so different than regular potato chips that it shouldn’t be called a potato chip at all. 
  • Hardbites are chemical free. Only natural ingredients are used.
  • True kettle chip with an outstanding crunch
  • High in potassium, vitamin C. Source of folacin, iron and dietary fibre.
  • ‘All Natural’ flavor has only 30 mg of sodium per serving portion-competing brands range from 150-620 mg.
  • Flavoured with Himalayan crystallized salt, which formed millions of years ago. and is in its original wholesome, unaltered natural form. This salt is so powerful that only half the amount of salt is needed.
  • 100 mile compliant. Only uses locally grown chipper potatoes.

Hardbite is readily available in most health and natural lifestyle food stores, as well as in the Natural/Organic Section of large retail chains. For contest details visit http://www.vancitybuzz.com/ For more information on Hardbite Potato Chips go to www.homegrownfoods.com

Healthy Potato Chips? BC’s Very Own HARDBITE

Consumers have never been more health-conscious. After years of ingesting chemicals and processed ingredients and suffering from life-threatening side effects, everyone knows how important it is to read labels- after all, you are what you eat.

One man who has dedicated his life to preparing nutritious foods, through innovative methods, decided to step out of retirement and take on the ultimate challenge of producing healthier, yet delicious, potato chips. This statement is, arguably an oxymoron, but Sepp Amsler has achieved his goal.

“I take pride in Hardbite. My challenge to consumers is to savour Hardbite chips for 2 months and then try the competitors’ chips. In a recent blind taste test, the National Post rated Hardbite the number  1 chip against the other leading brands including Kettle, Ms. Vicky’s and TerraChips. Our chips contain zero trans fat, MSG, cholesterol and drastically reduced salt content, which is much lower than BC, AB and Ontario’s food guidelines”, says Sepp Amsler, President of Hardbite.

Hardbite is an artisan chip. Using locally grown chipper potatoes, these hand-crafted chips will never be perfectly symmetrical, regular in shape, nor will they have an evenly corrugated surface.

Some key points:

  • 100 mile compliant.
  • Only natural ingredients are used
  • True kettle chip-outstanding crunch, which inspired the name.
  • High in potassium, vitamin C. Source of folacin, iron and dietary fibre.
  • A labor-intensive process- manually-raked and handcrafted in small batches
  • Conduct factory tours.
  • ‘All Natural’ flavor has only 30 mg of sodium per serving portion. Competing brands range from 150-620 mg.
  • Flavoured with Himalayan crystallized salt (formed millions of years ago). This salt is in its original wholesome, unaltered natural form. All 84 known elements can be found in this crystal salt within which all life evolved. This salt is so powerful that only half the amount of salt is needed.
  • Seven flavors: All Natural, Barbeque, Rock Salt and Vinegar, Jalapeno, Wild Onion and Yogurt, Canadian Cheddar and Roasted Onion and Creamy Coconut/Curry. Canadian Cheddar and Roasted Onion

 

Hardbite can be sampled at the Vancouver Convention Centre on Jan 30 and 31st during the BC Food Expo. Hardbite is available in most health and natural lifestyle food stores, as well as in the Natural / Organic

Section of large retail chains. For more information and to view a complete list of retailers, visit www.homegrownfoods.com

Simple Sodas

Cut the Fancy and Up the Fizz – Drinkers delight in fresh twist with launch of Simple Beverages’ new line of Simple Sodas

It seems these days you need an advanced science degree to understand the beverages in today’s marketplace. What with vitamin this and zero-calorie that, plus a whole bunch of strange and extra things that seem far too complicated for just a beverage. Enter Simple Soda. With gourmet flavour and no unnecessary extras, new Simple Soda offers real taste and real ingredients, for real people.

“Simple Beverages has taken a step away from the over-complicated, hyped-up drink market. We’re excited to present a new soda that has gourmet taste, and fun, fine ingredients, all clad in a plaid bottle” says Arif Ahmed, co-founder of Simple Beverages.

With so many people stressing about what they put into their bodies, Simple Beverages let’s drinkers enjoy the simple, sensory pleasures of soda drinking that have served every generation so well. 100% Canadian, and local to Vancouver, BC, Simple Soda drinks are brewed and bottled in small batches to ensure the highest quality taste profile.

The only complicated part of the Simple Soda drinking experience comes from making the choice between four fantastic new flavours: Rootbeer, Vanilla Cream, Orange Cream and Black Cherry.

Simple Soda uses natural flavourings combined with light carbonation to create a creamier taste profile. High nodes of vanilla allow for a simpler, not-so-sweet tasting soda in comparison to others in the marketplace. Sodas are free of complications, just the way it was always supposed to be.

Available at Choices Markets, Urban Fare, select IGAs and Nesters, for $1.69-$1.99. Keep it Simple, and keep it real – www.simplebeverages.com.

Whole Foods Market celebrates the ‘re dei formaggi’ – Parmigiano Reggiano

One of Italy’s most famous culinary jewels, Parmigiano Reggiano, is taking centre stage at Whole Foods Market throughout the month of February as talented cheese mongers sharpen their skills for a variety of in-store tastings and the much-anticipated ‘parm cracking’ ritual!

In an attempt to break its own Guinness World Record set in 2008, Whole Foods Markets across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. will simultaneously break into hundreds of wheels of 24-month-aged Parmigiano Reggiano on February 27 at 12 p.m. PST. Using traditional tools from Italy’s Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano, cheese mongers will carve and portion each 85-pound wheel in approximately half an hour – truly a sight to be seen.

A versatile cheese featuring nutty and sweet flavours and a creamy and crystalline texture, Parmigiano Reggiano makes a perfect addition to a variety of recipes or a delightful treat all on its own. Whole Foods Market is proud to offer the best Parmigiano available – hand-selected with the help of artisan producers in Italy, the cheese is carefully aged for two years to bring out the richest flavour possible.

Leading up to the big event on February 27, Whole Foods Market is creating a series of fabulous recipes using this incomparable cheese – we’ve included our favourites below – and is hosting tasting events throughout the month. Customers are also invited to participate in an online recipe contest for a chance to win a $500 shopping spree, authentic cheese knives and gift baskets. From now until February 10, shoppers can go to Whole Foods Market’s Behind the Rind website www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/behindtherind/ to share new and innovative ways to enjoy delicious Parmigiano!

Did you know?

  • A traditional product dating back almost 1,000 years, only Parmesan cheese made in one area of northern Italy can bear the name Parmigiano Reggiano.
  •  After one year of aging, each wheel that passes the test is branded with an oval certification mark and then left to continue aging. Whole Foods Market only carries 24-month aged Parmigiano – 12 months beyond the time required to prove authenticity.
  • The unique crystals found in Parmigiano, called Tyrosine, are formed when the proteins in the milk break down during the aging process.
  •  “Parm cracking” is a centuries-old art of opening the cheese wheel so that the internal crystalline structure, with its characteristic crumbly texture, is left fully intact.
  • Old Italian cheese mongers say that breaking into a 24-month aged Parmigiano is like “cracking open happiness.”
  • Parmigiano is a practical decadence for those watching budgets and calories and the cheese can last for weeks in the fridge.

 In its first-ever attempt, Whole Foods Market set the Guinness World Record for “Most Parmigiano Reggiano Wheels Cracked Simultaneously”, with nearly 300 wheels opened at 176 stores.

Pairings and Recipes

Parmigiano Reggiano is excellent on its own – broken up into cubes or slivers on a cheese plate – or as a perfect complement to soups, salads and entrees. Here are some delicious serving suggestions and recipes that highlight the subtle bite, sweet nuttiness and “pleasant fireworks” it ignites on the tongue.

  • Pair with wine jelly, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction, thickly sliced charcuterie, fresh fruit, nuts or honey
  • Sprinkle slivers on a salad of sliced fennel and oranges with toasted walnuts and extra virgin olive oil
  • Grate over grilled zucchini, butternut squash or pears
  • Add slivers to an omelette with sautéed mushrooms and prosciutto
  • Serve with a light-to-medium red wine such as a Chianti or a sparkling white wine such as Prosecco

Parmigiano Reggiano Crisps
Makes about 20 crisps
http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/81
These savoury crisps are a simple and irresistible snack with a glass of wine or a decadent garnish for risotto, Caesar salad or creamy soup. Can be prepared several days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container.

Ingredients
1 cup grated (not shredded) Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Pinch of cayenne pepper, espelette pepper or freshly cracked black pepper (optional)

Method
Preheat oven to 300°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix cheese with thyme (and pepper) in a bowl. To form each crisp, spoon 2 to 3 teaspoons of the cheese mixture onto a baking sheet, spacing the piles 2 to 3 inches apart. Lightly press cheese with the back of a spoon or your fingers to flatten each pile into a 2-inch circle.

Bake until slightly browned on top – 8 to 12 minutes. Remove baking sheets from oven and cool for a few minutes to let crisps firm up. Slide parchment off baking sheet and use a spatula to loosen the crisps. They should be slightly flexible, but will harden as they finish cooling. Repeat process with remaining mixture.

Allow crisps to cool completely before storing in an airtight container, layered between sheets of waxed paper.

Nutrition
Per serving (5 crisps/20g-wt.): 90 calories (50 from fat), 6g total fat, 3.5g saturated fat, 20mg cholesterol, 310mg sodium, 1g total carbohydrate (0g dietary fiber, 0g sugar), 8g protein

For more information on Parmigiano Reggiano please visit the Whole Foods Market website at
http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/parmigiano-reggiano.php

ilove olive oil

ilove2Many know that New Zealand’s lush, broad landscape provides perfect growing conditions for vineyards delivering quality vintages all over the world. Many are not aware that this same landscape also provides a haven for olive groves. Ilove olive oil captures the pure taste of New Zealand’s rich, green pasture providing a distinctively herbaceous and grassy style of olive oil.

ilove olive oil comes from a collective of 30 New Zealand growers united by their passion – and love, for producing olive oil. By paying close attention to the quality of the fruit, the growers play a pivotal role in creating this ultra premium, cool climate extra virgin olive oil.

Ilove is sourced from growers around the Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay regions in the lower North Island of New Zealand. This region lends ilove its full-bodied and fruity taste – similar to renowned Sauvignon Blancs made from grapes grown in the same region.

Made by 30 growers and New Zealand’s top blender, ilove olive oil is a locally produced unique product that is now available in select locations across North America.

www.iloveolivenz.com