Archive for the ‘New Products’ Category

SQUIRL is a new take on traditional preserve and jam making.

Based in Los Angeles, SQUIRL only works with farmers who farm organically. The fruit is then preserved simply with a minimal amount of organic cane sugar, naturally occurring pectin and crafted in small-batch copper jam pans handspun by nearby coppersmith, David Burns, of Rough and Ready.

Preserves are a mix of the traditional, such as preserved Meyer Lemons and Moro Blood Orange Jelly, as well as more unusual ideas, including Mulberry & Thai Basil jelly, and Mandarinquat (a hybrid cross of Mandarin and Kumquat) spiced marmalade.

Long Beach-born jam-maker Jessica Koslow spent time working in pastry at the James Beard award-winning restaurant Bacchanalia in Atlanta, Georgia. When she returned to California, Jessica was attracted to the diversity of local produce – beautiful and honest snapshots of the state’s vigorous growing seasons.

Her preserves are made without shortcuts. In order to maintain the brightness of the fruit a batch can take up to three days to produce due to the stove-top pectin making process: SQIRL’s pectin is derived from seasonal fruits, which are soaked then cooked low and slow to pull as much pectin from the fruit and rinds as possible.

The results are meticulously crafted preserves that not only portray the wealth and diversity of California’s crops and its generous seasons, but also remind us of the value in the antique process of preservation. Sqirl — it’s the jam


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The continent of Africa is the second largest landmass on Earth, and is home to hundreds of different cultural and ethnic groups. This diversity is also reflected in the many local culinary traditions in terms of choice of ingredients, style of preparation and cooking techniques. And as such, it is a little difficult to generalise in terms of cuisine.

Variations on tastes and cooking techniques differ, depending on the environment as well as locally available fruits, cereal grains and vegetables, as well as milk and meat products.

It is a direct result of this vast difference in tastes and recipes, that leave African cuisine open to being led into the mainstream. Of course, the slow cooked stews of North Africa have already started to make the move into popular consciousness, with a flurry of essentials, such as preserved lemons, harissa paste and Tagines being readily available, while Southern African Brais and Biltong are relatively common. And yet, the culinary surface has only been scratched.

It’s against this backdrop, that I came across Kitchen’s of Africa. While not the first company to attempt to literally bottle the spirit of Africa (see Delta Spices and Marinades or Mama Africa’s Sauces), they are certainly one of the most stylish.

Based in Raleigh, North Carolina, Kitchens of Africa is a U.S. company, whose roots extend all the way to The Gambia, a tiny country in the western part of Africa, where founder, Jainaba Jeng was born and raised.  Her simmer sauces and jerk pastes allow authentic African cuisine to be easily prepared at home with fantastic results. Kitchens of Africa products eliminate the endless ingredient sourcing, lengthy prep work and countless hours of slow cooking. What once would have taken you hours to make, can now be on your dinner table in minutes.

The complete range consists of 3 jerk pastes, as well as Yassa simmer sauce – an onion based sauce that can be used for chicken or Maffé Peanut simmer sauce a  slightly sweet, spicy and tangy sauce that balances the rich and nutty peanut flavour.

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Seeing the light

Magma is a new mineral water. Neither sparkling or still, it is a unique proposition from Spain, presented in distinctive 500ml aluminium bottles.  Part of its USP is that from the moment the water is drawn from deep underground until it has been poured into a glass, this water has never seen the light of day: the bottle seals its contents from all elements, so that when the consumer first opens it, they experience the water as if it has just come out of the source.

The other part is that this water has a balanced combination of natural gas and bicarbonate – both elements that not only stimulate the taste buds, but cleanse the palate.

The Science Bit.

The Cabreiroa aquifer is a rainwater aquifer in one of Galicia’s best-preserved areas of countryside.  When the raindrops fall to the ground, they start a process that lasts over 200 years.  First of all, they run through the cracks in the granite massif and then they filter through layers of granite and quartzite.

300o metres underground, the water reaches a temperature of 100°C and mixes with the carbon dioxide from the magma as it escapes through the Regua Verin fault.  At this temperature, water mixes with the CO2 that rises up from the magma before it is pushed back to the surface.

After it has been filtered for a second time on its way up, the Magma water is collected at 150m deep underground and bottled.

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A traditional crop of the Mediterranean, I’m quite surprised that in my purchases of Olive oil, I have never thought to buy a bottle of Greek olive oil, tending to pick Italian, Spanish or even Australian before even considering Greek. In part, this is hardly surprising: Italy and Spain actually produce over 60% of the world’s olive oil.

But if the statistics are to be believed (and this from someone who wasn’t particularly great at A level Maths with stats), Greece actually has the largest per capita olive oil consumption in the world: which would tend to suggest one thing.  They’re keeping the good stuff for themselves.

Of course, with the global financial meltdown, and the Greek economy needing a shot in the arm, the good stuff finally seems to be making its way out on to the global market – complete with style and flair.

Products from Esti



Originally established by two brothers in 1912, in Kalamata, Esti has grown to become one of the largest producers in Greece.  They grow a unique variety of olive called Koroneiki, named after the historic town of Koroni, in the Messinia region of the Peloponnese.

Koroneiki olive treese produce fruit that ripens between November and December and produces an excellent quality olive oil with exceptionally low acidity, a deep and bright green colour, with a fruity, bittersweet taste and smooth feeling of various fruits with a predominant apple taste.  Today, not only does the company produce oil, they have also branched out into olives and vinegars.


Oils from Candias


Based on the island of Crete, Candiasoil produces Extra Virgin, Organic and PDO olive oils.  The Extra Virgin and Organic oils use the native Koroneiki olive, while the the 3 PDO oils are from 3 distinct areas, namely Peza, Sitia and Viannos.  Each bottle is beautifully presented.


In a clear, sleek, glass flask simply engraved with a modern Greek letter logo and hand-sealed by a special silicone cork, exists one of the most expensive olive oils available today.  At 150 Euros for 1,000 ml, Lambda is branded as the first luxury, ultra-premium extra virgin olive oil in the world.

Lambda’s olives are pressed within eight hours of picking and processed through careful cold extraction. Then workers fill and label each flask by hand, without any machinery, to limit the harmful oxidation process which can affect taste and quality.

Lambda olive oil

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I love weekends.  Aside from getting all those pesky chores done, they are a time when you can kick back and enjoy a leisurely breakfast.

An often prepared dish at ours is pancakes with the ubiquitous maple syrup.

Maple syrup is a syrup usually made from the xylem sap of sugar maple, red maple or black maple trees, although syrup can also be made from other maple species such as the Bigleaf Maple.  In cold climate areas, these trees store starch in their stems and roots before the winter; the starch is then converted to sugar and rises in the sap in the spring. Maple trees can be tapped and the exuded sap collected and concentrated by heating to evaporate the water.  Traditionally, the sap starts to run in March, but with this years harsh winter, things have slowed down somewhat.

It turns out that most of the world’s maple syrup is from Canada. But I don’t think they have yet to export the amazing creations from Ninutik.

Coco - hand painted maple chocolates

Elegant, modern, distinctive – these are the words that describe the spirit of Ninutik design. Their intent is to present maple syrup – a Canadian cultural icon – through the lens of design, art and sugarmaking. Ninutik products are designed by Dianne Croteau and Richard Brault, the founding partners of Studio Innova.

For several years Dianne, Richard and their young son Andre made small quantities of syrup from majestic sugar maples on protected land along the Niagara Escarpment. What started as a personal harvest soon evolved into a design exploration featuring maple syrup and sugar as the medium.

BOUQUET 6 is a bouquet of sweet maple sugar lollies

Their design process begins with an idea followed by a simple sketch for discussion. When moulds are needed, a drawing is prepared and sent to a master mouldmaker. Samples are created in their studio kitchen, and tested and tasted for flavour and texture. Packaging is made to exacting specifications to ensure that every gift is presented with quality and elegance.

Cube 57

Cube 57 is inspired by Canada’s First Nations who kept their maple sugar in hard cakes. NINUTIK revisits this early tradition by offering a hefty handcrafted cube of pure maple sugar. As delicious as it is stately, each Cube 57 is unique in colour and texture with marbled veins, small bubbles or white flecks.  The delicate flavour of maple sugar enhances sweet and savoury dishes alike. Cube 57 can be grated like a fresh parmigiano reggiano cheese. It comes presented in a solid maple finger-joint box with hand-rubbed beeswax finish, made in Canada. 

Bubble 80

BUBBLE 80 is an exceptional limited-edition gift that marries the mastery of glass artist Brad Sherwood with the purity of maple syrup. Ninutik commissioned Sherwood to create these precious bubbles by hand, and in small quantities. Each is blown from borosilicate glass, a special high-temperature glass commonly used for scientific purposes. Presented in a solid maple finger-joint cube with hand rubbed beeswax finish.

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Having your cake and eating it

I love cake.

This statement alone explains why exercise and sensible eating should be the way forward. In theory.

The cakes of my youth are still around – Victoria Sponge, Orange cake, Glace cherry cake, but it is surprisingly difficult to buy ready made versions that have that winning combination of butter, sweetness and moist crumb.

The current trend for cakes seems to be layered and decorated, as popularised by TV shows such as Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes.  The problem has always been finding the same types of tools and other paraphernalia used by the professionals.

Duff Goldman from Ace of Cakes has just launched his own line of products. Like his style of cakes, they are bright, loud and proud.

However, on further exploration into this world, I’ve found a European equivalent – PCB Creation. 

Distributed exclusively by Classic Fine Foods in the UK, PCB Creation is a French company set up by Pierre and Nathalie Bach.

Aimed at the pastry professional, their range of tools, sprays, molds, transfers and decorations are designed to inspire and aid the creative and production processes in any kitchen, and are currently used by the Connaught, Claridges and Sketch to name but a few.

Every year, two product lines are created, for Easter and then again at the end of the year – these are designed in collaboration with recognised professionals in the culinary world, such as Pierre Hermé.

As well as this they also offer customised products – such as logos in chocolate.

My favourite things are the gems – realistic looking jewels in a myriad of colours, but made from sugar, and also the Velvet spray, which is used on cakes and mousses to give an instant velour effect.

Sadly, the range is only currently available to professionals, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before they make the crossover.


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