Monday, June 3, 2013


Welcome to the third annual FOOD FIND edition. This year’s list is jam-packed with all kinds of new and exciting products, along with some well-loved favorites our readers felt were worthy of a second look. I've included a bunch of my own "FINDS" as well. So let's get started!
Last summer, as I made my way around the various tables at one of the city's larger farmers markets, I found myself marveling at a beautiful display of DUCK EGGS.

A good bit larger than the average extra large chicken egg, they called to me. Before I knew it, I had purchased a carton of six, and was on my way to making a four-star breakfast.

The next morning, I cracked open an egg and fried it up in a bit of butter. The first thing I noticed was how large the yolk was, and how golden, and the  white of the egg was far glossier than a chicken egg's, and more gelatinous. As a result, it took a bit longer to cook than a chicken egg.

So incredibly beautiful was the finished product, with its snow-white rim, and perfectly formed golden dome, that it looked  for all the world like an artist's rendering. 

Setting it down on a freshly toasted and buttered English muffin, I eased my fork into the yoke, causing all of its golden goodness to spill over and into the muffin's nooks and crannies and onto the plate. Happily, it was every bit as rich and delicious as it looked, and a wonderful way to start the day.

Reading up on these glorious eggs, I found that many European bakeries use them to intensify the flavor of their sponge cakes. But as the average sponge cake would have used up my entire stash, I chose instead to enjoy them one-by-one, fried sunny-side, over-easy or scrambled. The next time you're in the market for something new and delicious take my advice, and go for the gold!

Oh how I love the Bent and Dent section of the supermarket, where, on any given day, you’ll find a wide range of products you didn’t know existed, or weren’t ready to spend full- price for without sampling them first.

It wasn’t too long ago that such a FIND presented itself at my local market in the form of FOOD FOR LIFE’s EZEKIEL 4.9 GOLDEN FLAX CEREAL. This crunchy, tasty Grape Nut-like grind serves up healthful servings of sodium, potassium and dietary fiber, with no cholesterol,  trans fat or sugar. Punched up with a bit of cold milk and a scoopful of in-season blueberries or strawberries it is a filling, and fulfilling way to start the day.
Longtime readers may recall my recommending Duncan Donuts’ Turbo coffee: a wonderful, but pricey blend. Surely, I thought, there had to be something comparable at a more affordable price. And there was.

SPECIALLY SELECTED REGULAR ROASTED GROUND COFFEE is every bit as good as the high-priced spread, while costing about 40% less. I happen to like the medium blend, but Aldi’s also sells a milder version. Ground from100% Arabica premium beans, this German import is incredibly smooth and satisfyingly rich, with not a hint of bitterness. Having ground my coffee beans for years, I was nearly put-off by this vacuum-sealed brick, but thankfully, I gave it a try. It’s been my go-to blend ever since, and a major bargain at just $4.99 for close to a pound-and-a-half of coffee.

While this old-timey soft drink is apparently a New England favorite (it recently gained the distinction of being Maine’s official soft drink), this recommendation came from one of our southern readers, with a note that said simple, “Only the kind with sugar, no diet.”

What does MOXIE taste like? Well, Wikipedia describes its flavor as “unique” and “not as sweet as most modern soft drinks.” They go on to note that it is “described by some as ‘bitter’”. Hmmm. Flavored with gentian root extract (I never heard of it either), it was "reputed to possess medicinal properties” at one time. An acquired taste, MOXIE has won over generations of fans, including this native Mississippi reader.


Another Bent and Dent FIND, KNORR HOMESTYLE VEGETABLE STOCK is a real winner. KNORR's tiny tubs are loaded with flavor, and made for those of us who enjoy making soups and stews from scratch. Each package contains four small plastic containers resembling the jelly or butter packs you get at your local fast food stop. One small tub can make a subtle but noticeable difference in the end product, adding body to homemade soups, stews and gravies. KNORR suggests adding it to rice, mashed potatoes and pasta dishes. So go ahead, indulge― it is low in fat and cholesterol-free, and contains no MSG, or cholesterol. I’ve used both the vegetable and beef varieties to enhance my slow cooker beef stew and stove-top vegetable soups with excellent results.  
A Melrose Park, PA reader found this next FIND on a recent South American vacation. After asking the inn’s chef what spices were used in a particularly delicious dish, he gifted her with several packets of SAZÓN GOYA CON CILANTRO YACHIOTO WITH CORIANDER & ANNATTO.

Back on home ground, she subsequently found the product at her local A&P. After receiving her email, I checked out the spice section of my neighborhood market, and found it there as well. Use this flavorful addition to enhance the flavor and color of meats, stews soups, poultry, pasta, rice, beans and veggies—particularly those with a South American flair.
From Germantown, TN. comes a rave review for ISIGNY STE MÈRE (Sainte-Mère) is one of KIRKLAND’S SIGNATURE FRENCH BRIES, produced by a small cooperative in Normandy. Packaged in a wooden round box, you’ll find it at Costco.
A Dutch reader recommends OLD AMSTERDAM PREMIUM AGED GOUDA CHEESE. “It is so tasty” he enthuses. “Some cheeses are so mild – this one is stronger and so delicious. I remember buying it at the airport in Holland. I never saw it again until I saw at Sam’s.” After receiving his note, I happened upon a featured display of the cheese at my local Kroger store. Pass the cheese, please.  
A toast to a Sarasota reader for sharing two of her favorite crackers with us. The first, WASA SOURDOUGH CRISPBREAD by Barilla America, the second, RYVITA DARK RYE CRISPBREAD. Each of these good-sized crackers serve  up 2 grams of fiber and 35 calories.  
A Murfreesboro, TN. reader, sticks with the standards, having a special place in his heart for NABISCO CHICKEN IN A BISKIT CRACKERS. introduced in 1964, these buttery biscuits are flavored with dehydrated cooked chicken – which makes sense, given their name.

Like Coca Cola and other international brands, Nabisco tweaks their crackers' formulas to suit each country's particular palate. As a result, the CHICKEN IN A BISKIT crackers you get in Australia, for example, may not taste exactly as they do here. In fact,  Wikipedia notes that "an independent chemistry lab detected "no protein from any meat species" in the Aussie version."   
Looking for a more exotic option?  Try ASTURI BRUSCHETTINI SNACK SIZE ITALIAN BLACK AND GREEN OLIVES BRUSCHETTA TOASTS.  Imported from Italy, they contain no preservatives or artificial flavors. These stamp-sized bites are crisp and dry with a real olive flavor, making them the perfect complement to savory spreads and toppings like Italian Dry Salami. Other Bruschettini varieties include Cracked black pepper, Rosemary and Olive Oil, Garlic and Parsley, and Classico Virgin Olive Oil. Our reader found them at T.J. MAXX.

MINERVA DAIRY MENNONITE BUTTER has been around since 1894, and with good reason. It’s butter the way your remember butter from your childhood days: fresh and— well, buttery, with 4% butter fat. You’ll find it at Fresh Market and other specialty food stores. Read all about it at Take my word for it; a little pat can make a big difference. 
BEURRE GRAND CRU COW’S MILK BUTTER is a true FIND. I’ve tried them all, and while Minerva’s Mennonite butter is a daily treat, this imported French butter from a century-old dairy in Poitou-Charentes, France is, to my mind, the best commercial butter out there.
What makes it so special? Well, according to their website, their butter is  “produced in barrel-shaped drums, where the cream is matured for 24 hours to allow the full development of flavor, and then washed with clear water to obtain a very pure, raw and perfumed butter.” All I know is that it is insanely good, while more than a bit pricey. It too is available at Fresh Market and other specialty stores.
SMUCKER’S ORCHARD’S FINEST PACIFIC GROVE ORANGE MARMALADE MEDLEY puts the rest of the Smucker’s line to shame. While at 50 calories per tablespoon it’s not exactly a low-cal alternative, it is a good bit less sugary than the original blend, while having a far more natural and intense orange flavor. A tasty combination of Navel, Mandarin and Blood orange juices and peels, it is absolutely wonderful on a toasted, buttered English muffin, and the perfect counterpoint to a full-bodied cup of coffee. 
I never thought I'd be recommending a prepackaged soup, but then again, Campbell’s new line of microwavable soups, known as CAMPBELL'S GO SOUPS are a far cry from the canned soups they are known for. They are both unusual and unusually good, averaging between 10 and 220 calories a serving.  

Packaged in plastic pouches bearing photographs of well-scrubbed faces of young men and women, the soups heat up in 2- to- 2 ½ minutes, and offer the adventurous eater highly seasoned  versions of classics, as well as those that are completely new-to most American pantries.
Among my favorites: CAMPBELL’S GO SOUP GOLDEN LENTIL WITH MADRAS CURRY. A vibrant blend of coconut milk and tomatoes, lentils and tomato juice, potatoes, poblano chilies, cilantro, garlic puree and madras curry seasonings, soy sauce, turmeric and other spices, it is a treat to the taste buds.

I’m also a major fan of their CREAMY RED PEPPER WITH SMOKY GOUDA GO SOUP. Oh boy oh boy oh boy – if you are a flavor craver, go for the GO soups.  

CARDINI’S ALL NATURAL ORIGINAL CAESAR DRESSING is as close to the real deal as you can get without starting from scratch. And no wonder, it was Cardini who created the original dressing in his restaurant years ago. Two tablespoons will add 160 calories to your salad, but it really only takes one to get your attention. Among some (but not all) of the ingredients: soybean and olive oil, egg yolk, lemon juice concentrate, white wine and distilled vinegars, mustard seed, Parmesan cheese, garlic, onion, molasses, sugar and anchovies. MSG and preservative-free, it is a notch above the average bottled blend.
Tired of the same old same old? A Florida reader suggests you try GREAT RANGE BISON BURGERS. Just season with a bit of Worcestershire sauce and pop them in the broiler for seven minutes or so per side, and you’ve got one delicious burger.

“I always look forward to them" she writes, "and never get tired of them”. Naturally lean, bison— or buffalo (the terms are interchangeable according to GREAT RANGE) has less fat and calories and more protein and iron than beef, chicken and even some fish. Raised naturally without the use of hormones and antibiotics, they are a tasty treat. You’ll find them in the freezer section of your local market.  

DOCKSIDE CLASSICS PREMIUM CRAB CAKES are absolutely delicious. Loaded with real crab meat, these incredibly tasty cakes come four-to-a-package. Fresh, not frozen, they are about as easy to prepare as you can get. Just turn the oven up to 400 degrees, and bake (not fry) them for a short sixteen minutes. Up until I tried these tasty cakes, I'd always eaten my crab cakes cold But these delicious rounds are wonderful right out of the oven—in fact, I like them better that way.

DOCKSIDE packs a two-ounce container of cocktail sauce in with the crab cakes. Far superior than "America's favorite" bottled cocktail sauce, it is the perfect complement to these tasty cakes. 
These American-made crab cakes make for an appetizing appetizer, although at just 150 calories per cake, you can enjoy two of them along with a fresh salad, for a deliciously light lunch.
Looking for a fast and fabulous meal?  A seaside reader suggests you pick up a can or two of COLE’S FARM-RAISED SMOKED RAINBOW TROUT.  “They’re great right out of the can” she writes. “Just remove the skin–which literally takes a second or two...They're good any time of day",  adding, "and a great thing to keep on hand. Should the electricity go out, you have a meal.” 
Finding this particular product may take some doing, as it is noticeably absent from the company’s website. Ever resourceful, our reader found a supplier on
Last year frozen entrees turned the corner with the introduction of LEAN CUISINE’S innovative line of microwavable pouch entrees. They also bumped up their boxed line-up, adding some very tasty dinners, along with their highly promoted (but in my opinion, underwhelming) Salad Additions line.

Picking up the gauntlet, ATKINS recently joined the list of reduced-calorie frozen entree contenders, with a hearty group of slightly pricier meals. They may not look as artful as Lean Cuisine’s , but they generally offer larger portions that are both filling and satisfying.

Among my favorites: ATKINS CHICKEN & BROCCOLI ALFREDO. The sauce is rich and relatively thick, and actually tastes like it’s made with real Parmesan and Romano cheesewhich it is).  The chicken pieces are tender, tasty and generous in size, as are the still kelly-green broccoli florets. Served with a simple salad and oil and vinegar dressing, it makes for a tasty and satisfying meal, and is a great option for those counting both calories and carbs.

Among ATKINS’ other offerings: Roast Turkey Tenders with Herb Pan Gravy, Beef Merlot, Crustless Chicken Pot Pie and Meatloaf with Portobello Mushroom Gravy. There are some interesting breakfast entrees as well, including Farmhouse-Style Sausage Scramble and Tex-Mex Scramble.  Belly up to the breakfast bar, and give them a try. I expect a full report.


A Memphis reader and Mississippi native is high on TALK O’ TEXAS CRISP PICKLED OKRA. Based in San Angelo, Texas, the family-owned company’s first major order was to Neiman Marcus some sixty-three years ago. While our reader didn’t specify, Talk O’ Texas offers both hot and mild versions. If you can’t find them at your local grocery store, you can order a jar or two or three directly from the company by calling their toll-free hot line (1-800-749-6572).  While our reader apparently likes them straight from the jar, the company’s website features fans’ recipes for everything from warm pickled okra gumbo dip to tacos and tartar sauce.  

We have a lot of Trader Joe’s fans among our readers, and this year’s TJ FIND comes from the Gulf Coast. At 200 calories per serving, gives it a B+. Their readers echoed our reader’s feelings, with comments like “Super good!”, “Great for two”, “Just tried it this week. Yummy!”, “Very good. Wonderful side dish!” and “So good and healthy!”
CIAO BELLA has appeared on our list before in the form of one of their ice cream offerings CIAO BELLA BLACKBERRY CABERNET SORBET, which tastes a bit like a frozen version of Welch’s grape juice. Deep purple in color, it is a heady contradiction of dense and lite, and the perfect warm weather treat. At just 110 calories for ½ a cup, it is a far lighter choice than CIAO BELLA ice creams, which tend to weigh in at more than double the calories. And yes, the list of ingredients includes honest-to-goodness blackberry puree and a wine cabernet reduction. Cheers!
A Tennessee couple following the Weight Watcher’s diet, clued us in to the joys of WEIGHT WATCHERS COOKIES AND CREAM and DARK CHOCOLATE DULCHE DE LECHE ICE CREAM BARS (both just 120 calories per bar, with less than 5 grams of fat). “They’re yummy: seriously dark and chocolaty”  they write, adding that they’re also fans of WEIGHT WATCHERS STRAWBERRY SMOOTHIE BARS, which, at just 60 calories, are a bit slimmer, but then again, so are they!

FELIX LINGONBERRIES top one reader's list of toppings. Delicious hot or cold, and straight out of the jar. this Danish is as versatile as it is delicious. “I like it on pancakes” she writes, but goes on to say that it’s also terrific on French toast, over brie, a bowl of ice cream or cereal, adding that “it would be great on a croissant.” Mais oui.
Recently, a super-sized version of a Kroger Supermarket opened in Memphis. The widely expanded store includes a large and intriguing International section. Two Memphis readers, unknown to and independent of each other, sent in similar FINDS from the British section. 

Reader #1 finds McVITES DIGESTIVE PLAIN CHOCOLATE COOKIES downright irresistible. After passing on her FIND, she couldn't get them out of her mind, and headed for her local market for a 'fix.' Upon returning, she shot me an email that said it all: "Dark choc. Yum!!"

Reader #2 is a fan of McVITES as well, but prefers their HOBNOBS and FRUIT SHORTCAKE COOKIES. The Hob Nobs are covered in dark chocolate, while the Shortcake cookies, he says, are light and crispy, similar to Newton’s new fruit cookies.

I have been a die-hard fan of Paul Newman’s Medium Salsa for years. A moderately-priced, high quality product, it’s one of those delicious but happily low-cal foods that, when paired with a stalk of celery or chip, can take the bite out of hunger.
As I eat a good bit of it, I found myself looking for a less expensive, but equally tasty alternative to my brand of choice. After trying numerous versions of various brands, I found the answer, in, of all things, a store brand.

KROGER THICK AND CHUNKY MEDIUM SALSA is everything a salsa should be: chunky, flavorful and light, it has only 7 calories a teaspoon. Most prepackaged salsas add an intense amount of cilantro to the mix—an herb I tolerate in small portions. I tell you this because both the Newman and Kroger varieties contain little if any cilantro. If you can’t live without it, you might want to pass this FIND by, but it would be your loss

Like potato chips, once you’ve started eating Walmart’s GREAT VALUE TRAIL MIX, it’s hard to stop. The reader who sent in this FIND was looking for something else, and unable to find it, decided to take a chance on the store’s house brandwhich, it turns out, was loaded with nuts, raisins and M&M’s. Sometimes you find something special when you least expect it!

KIND ALMOND & APRICOT BARS are the go-to snack for another reader.  A healthy but satisfying alternative to the all-American candy bar, these crunchable, munchable bars are “filled with apricots and nuts.”  
SNACK FACTORY GARLIC PARMESAN PRETZEL CRISPS are, according to one reader, flat like a chip, but with a definite pretzel bent. His wife adds, “They’re baked, and lighter and crispier than regular pretzels, but still fairly salty.” At just over ten calories per chip, you can eat a pretty good-sized handful without feeling guilty.  You’ll find them at, among other places, Walmart and Garden Ridge.
While rechecking the spelling of my coffee FIND on the Internet, I came across a page loaded with comments from foodies who adored another Aldi's import: CHOCEUR MILK CREME BARS. These European chocolates are heavenly, to say the least. Priced at just $1.99 for 7.05 ounces (11 individually wrapped bars), they are far superior to the higher priced chocolates found in specialty stores.  The 'creme' isn't cream, but "intensely rich" white chocolate, tucked inside a milk chocolate coating. Dipped into a hot cup of coffee, these rich and chocolately bars are astoundingly good!

P. S. If you're a fan of hazelnuts and raisins you'll want to try the CHOCEUR FRUIT & NUT BAR as well.  It comes in one large block of chocolate that you can break off into smaller blocks, and is loaded with whole hazelnuts. Truth be told, all of their chocolates, be they dark, light, white, nutty, crispy and/or fruity, are totally delicious.

Looking for something to stave off hunger without packing on the pounds?  A Mid-South foodie points to DAVID ALL NATURAL PUMPKIN SEEDS from CONAGRA FOODS. These all-natural, fresh-roasted nuts are incredibly edible, right down to and including their shells. Once on DAVID’s website, I was dazzled by a dizzying display of their products, including an amazing variety of sunflower seeds. Just as chips and pretzels have gone from straight to sassy, sunflower seeds, it seems have blossomed into Bar-B-Q, Ranch, Buffalo-style Ranch, Nacho Cheese, Dill Pickle, Jalapeno Hot salsa, Hot &Spicy and Reduced Sodium versions. It boggles the mind.  
Our last FIND comes from a North Carolina reader, who casts her vote for 350 CHEESE STRAWS.  If you’re from the South, you know all about cheese straws. If not, I can only tell you that they look a cross between a golden-colored French fry and a similarly-sized accordion, and, at their best, are cheddar cheesy, light and crispy. Produced in Beaufort, North Carolina, they're hand-baked in small batches, and available in selected shops in both North Carolina and Georgia. The rest of us can order them on-line at Packed in an eye-catching tin, they are perfect for both giving— and getting!
And so ends THE THIRD ANNUAL FOOD FIND EDITION. Thanks to all of you who shared your FINDS with us. Next time around, I’ll be introducing you to PHYLLIS & HAROLD: a documentary that tries to uncover the reason one couple met, married and stayed married for nearly sixty years. This fascinating film was written and directed by the couple’s daughter: cinematographer Cindy Kleine and co-produced with her director/producer husband, Andre Gregory, best known for his on-screen turn as a cinematic version of himself in MY DINNER WITH ANDRE. 

Till the next time...


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