“It’s The Mozart Chocolate!”

I had the opportunity to help pass out chocolate samples and make some custom chocolate bags for customers this weekend at a local grocery store just down the road from my home. There was a variety of chocolates to be sampled, along with cinnamon stars and some non-alcoholic glüh-punsch. But it was the chocolate that people were eyeing the most as they walked into the entrance of the store.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One particular chocolate brand caught the eyes of several people walking past our samples. Just about every person who recognized the packaging and the image on the front all said the same thing, “I know that chocolate! It’s the Mozart chocolate!” If you are a chocolate connoisseur, you may recognize the red packaging or the famous face of the composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, then you know Reber Chocolate Specialties. And if you know Reber, then you know the Genuine Reber Mozart-Kugeln!3510-Mozart-Kugel It’s a delicious and exquisite piece of chocolate! The Reber Mozart Kugeln has a creamy hazelnut chocolate nougat filling with freshly ground almonds and pistachio marzipan, enrobed twice with milk and dark chocolate. If you have never had one, you need to go find one! It’s amazing! You don’t have to take my word for it, if you were with me on Saturday, you would have heard people raving to their family members about the Reber chocolates they enjoyed while visiting and traveling throughout Europe.

Above I added a stock photo of the Mozart Kugeln, and to show you that YES, it really does look like that on the inside, I shall provide you proof of my dissected confection! You can truly, actually SEE the milk chocolate under that top layer of dark chocolate!

DSC_0029

Reber has been around for 150 years making their confections of sophisticated taste. With a long history in Munich, Reber’s products are all made without artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. Reber uses the best ingredients for all their products, from fresh pistachios to the finest praline. It was so fun listening to people talk about where they were when they were enjoying their Reber chocolate! Some people found Reber in Germany or Austria and others found the delicious confections in airports and shops along the way. There was a woman from out-of-town visiting her parents and when she saw the Reber packaging, she immediately started sharing memories of her past adventures overseas and how she tried this chocolate and she absolutely enjoyed it. I have to say, I really enjoyed being a part of conversations of the people who came in and out of the store this past weekend! It’s really neat how something like chocolate or other food or beverage item can bring memories back to people.

img_5769-2.jpg

Reber has a variety of different chocolates to choose from besides the Mozart Kugeln, they do offer chocolate bars and other specialty chocolate pieces with varying fillings. There are many things to choose from when it comes to Reber! There is something to please everyone! Earlier this year I did talk about the Reber Fascination Box, that is a great gift to give anyone: boss, family or friend! So you have options to choose from when it comes to Reber! Perhaps you have never tried it – if you haven’t, it may become a new favorite! Perhaps you may pass this along to a friend, loved one or co-worker and maybe you’ll remind them of some special moments in their life!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Proud to Provide Local Flavor.

I’d like to start out this post by saying it’s time we take a look at our local shops and stores. In the next few weeks and months ahead, I want to highlight the variety of different places that are around West Michigan (and hopefully beyond), and share with you all what’s unique about each! So don’t worry, we hope to make it around to all our local friends of Gourmet International and share our local flavor!

We have an opportunity to connect with Kingma’s Market this weekend to feature Butlers Chocolates, Hachez Chocolates and some tasty treats from Wicklein! Stop on out to the Ada location of Kingma’s Market from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, December 9.

img_5542

Kingma’s Market has been a staple serving the community for 80 years with its main storefront located on Plainfield Avenue. Just this past year, Kingma’s opened a new location in Ada, Michigan, where the downtown revitalization is hopping. Many in the area had awaited the grand opening, offering shoppers a variety of meats, cheeses, local and imported beers and wines, bulk food items and more.

Originally located in the Boston Square area of Grand Rapids, Kingma’s Market was originally owned and founded by the Kingma family. In 2014, Alan Hartline purchased the store from the family and has continued to expand the company and the many products offered within its shelves.

Proud to provide local flavor to the community, Kingma’s Market provides all natural, local meats, a range of Michigan based fresh produce, roasted coffee, honey, dairy products and more! By partnering with Fish Lads and Carvers Finest Meats of Grand Rapids, the local residents can be assured that they are purchasing quality fish, meats and poultry.

So stop in and visit some of Gourmet team at Kingma’s tomorrow if you are local! We’d love to meet you and we’d love it for you to stop by and say hello! While you’re there, pick up some holiday items for yourself or for your loved ones! Nibble, nibble with us!

Some information from this post was obtained by MLive and Kingma’s Market websites.

Support Your Local Shops!

Today is Small Business Saturday! Support your local shops by purchasing gifts, groceries and other items from the local businesses within your area! I prefer to pass on Black Friday, I tried shopping on a Black Friday when I was younger, and it was not my cup of tea!

I love to stroll around the Grand Rapids area and finding the local markets and stores that have the unique and out of the ordinary items that I can’t find in a regular big box store. We’d love to give a shout out to a few of the local shops and markets around here in Grand Rapids:

We also are giving a shout out to some friends waaaaay up north from us, Cup of the Day! You will find them up in Sault Ste. Marie in our Upper Peninsula!

Are you local around here? Where do you like to shop? Are you one of our local retailers? Tag us and we shall tag you back! Making connections, locally, nationally and globally is what we are all about.

Thanksgiving Traditions.

It’s the long Thanksgiving weekend! What are you thankful for this holiday season? What are some of your Thanksgiving traditions that you continue with your family?

Having family and friends together at Thanksgiving time is special. There’s always the wonderful smells of turkey in the oven, fresh pumpkin pie being baked and the cheers or jeers from the football game going on in the other room! There’s always the other big debate of who is sitting at what table! Did you get promoted to the adult table this year? Are you still too young to move up and you’re stuck at the kids table for another Thanksgiving?

IMG_5190

How do you make the kids feel special at their table for Thanksgiving? In my family we’ve always made sure the kids get a special beverage or drink of thier own, as you can see, in my family there is nothing short of uh… liquor at the adult table? As our Thanksgiving traditions evolve, we have moved our Thanksgiving meal to my brother’s house and the kids are pushed down towards the very end of the table. No more separate tables for adults and kids, they just uh… get pushed down a bit!

So while the adults have their beverages to have something to toast this holiday season, we make sure the kids have something special, so the children each received a glass of Gerolsteiner Sparkling Apple Mineral Water. I grabbed a quick sip of this beverage as I was pouring for the kids and I enjoyed it. I am not a mineral water fan, I just have a hard time drinking carbonated water that’s not flavored. However, this Gerolsteiner Sparkling Apple became an instant favorite for me! It’s made with apple juice from concentrate and contains no artificial sweeteners. Did you read that? No artificial sweeteners. That’s what I like the best about this! No added extra “junk”. My youngest has a hard time with carbonated beverages, he just can’t get used to the bubbles yet, my oldest enjoyed this beverage and we also had my niece try this out as well. She liked it, but she said she would have preferred if it were sparkling grape instead of apple. The children… can’t please them all! But it’s mom approved and since my oldest liked it as well, it will be a keeper in this house! The youngest will just have to figure out how to deal with the carbonated bubbles!

This drink is not too sweet and is just enough flavor to sparkle up my issues with plain carbonated mineral water! There’s just enough natural apple flavoring in this mineral water, so for some people who are used to heavily sugared drinks and beverages, you may need to adjust your taste buds. But that would be a good thing! The world doesn’t need to be sweet, sugary and such – we need to learn to get back to natural flavors! This Gerolsteiner mineral water will help you get your taste buds back on a natural track!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So what am I thankful for this Thanksgiving weekend? I’m thankful for a healthy family and I’m thankful for all of the new friends here that we’ve met and continue to meet here on this Gourmet Nibbling journey! Now… are you going out to shop on this Black Friday? If you score some deals this weekend, be sure to share and let us know you picked up! I hope you pick up some deals on some gourmet treats and nibbles!

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing all our friends and family that follow us here at Gourmet Nibbles a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving weekend! We are thankful to have you all here along for our gourmet journey and we are glad to be a part of your journey as well! A very HAPPY THANKSGIVING from us and of course Gourmet International! Be merry, enjoy your time with loved ones and share with us some of your Thanksgiving traditions!

Now, go NIBBLE on that turkey and stuffing…!!

The History of the Advent Calendar.

Christmas is right around the corner, and many are preparing to get their Advent calendars for all the anxious youngsters. There are plenty of Advent calendars to go around and various different kinds! From chocolate to Lego for the children, to wine and beauty products for adults, Advent has come a long way!

img_5139

I recall growing up and being given an Advent calendar as a kiddo. I used to enjoy opening up each day and getting my little special piece of chocolate from behind the cardboard door! It was like a special little treat that I was able to open up in the morning – CANDY in the morning! Now that I have children of my own, they seem to be excited about the prospect of getting little chocolate treats everyday with their own Advent calendar.

Keep an eye out for Wawi Advent calendars. They come in a variety of different holiday scenes sure to please anyone!

img_5138

Here’s some history of Advent and how the calendars began, this information was from WhyChristmas?com.

Advent is the period of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas (or sometimes from the 1st December to Christmas Day!). Advent means ‘Coming’ in Latin. This is the coming of Jesus into the world. Christians use the four Sundays and weeks of Advent to prepare and remember the real meaning of Christmas.

There are many types of calendars used in different countries. The most common ones in the UK and USA are made of paper or card with 24 or 25 little windows on. A window is opened on every day in December and a Christmas picture is displayed underneath.

In the 19th Century, German protestant Christians counted down to Christmas by marking 24 chalk lines on a door and rubbing one off every day in December.

Paper calendars were first popular in Germany in the early 1900s, although people made their own ones from the 1850s. There’s a debate about exactly where and when the first mass-produced calendar was printed – but it was certainly in Germany in the early 1900s! During World War II, the production of Advent calendars stopped due to a shortage of cardboard.

When they were first made, scenes from the Christmas Story and other Christmas images were used, such as snowmen and robins, but now many calendars are made in the themes of toys, television programmes and sports clubs. Some of these types of calendar even have chocolate under each window, to make every day in December that little bit better! I used to like those when I was a little boy (and still do now!!!)! The first calendar with chocolate in it was made in 1958, although they only became really popular in the 1980s.

Source: WhyChristmas?com

If you haven’t gotten your Advent calendar yet, you still have time to do so! Check out your local stores and pick them up – either for yourself, a loved one or those kiddos! Share with us your traditions or things you remember from your childhood! We’d love to read comments and/or see some pictures of how you prepare for the upcoming holiday season!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thanksgiving Day is tomorrow for us in the United States, stick around and read up on some Thanksgiving holiday traditions. Stay close! More food and gourmet nibbles to be had!

 

Star Light, Star Bright, It’s Pasta Night!

Today I present to you Bechtle Christmas Pasta! It’s fun for the whole family because it has different colored pasta shapes of Christmas cheer! Who wouldn’t enjoy eating pasta  with the shapes of St. Nicholas, a Christmas Tree and a Shooting Star!? My kids of course, loved this pasta. My oldest said to me, “It’s deliciously awesome!” and the youngest, “This is the ‘bestest’ pasta ever!” I haven’t seen my oldest suck down pasta so fast than he did when I put these fun shapes in front of him! And guess what? Yes… these are made with some wholesome ingredients! This pasta is made with durum wheat semolina and seasoned with tomato and spinach powders.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Back the train up you say? What is durum wheat semolina? Take a look at this:

Durum wheat is a subspecies of T. turgidum. Durum in Latin means “hard”. Durum wheat is the hardest of all wheats. Durum kernels are amber-colored and larger than those other wheat classes. When durum wheat is milled, its endosperm is ground up into a product called semolina. The hard grain of durum wheat is more likely to shatter into coarse fragments and offer a high semolina yield on milling when compared to other wheat types. The durum wheat is milled to remove the bran and germ, leaving the rich yellow endosperm granules called semolina. The semolina, high in strong gluten protein, offering a bright clean yellow color is used to make premium pasta, bulgur, couscous and a range of other traditional products. Source: www.appreciategoods.com

This may have been a little more information that what you wanted to know, but it’s good to learn about the food you eat and how it’s made! Take a look at the ingredient list – short, sweet, and simple. Exactly how it should be!

IMG_4988

Some of the healthy benefits of durum what are: it can help with a balanced diet with its dietary fiber content, vitamins and minerals, is low in sodium and cholesterol. You get a boost of vitamin B-complex with durum wheat, specifically, folate and thiamine. Thiamin helps maintain the nervous system and your brain, while folate aids in the regeneration of red blood cells in our bodies. Products are made from durum flour can help with weight loss. The durum flour is digested slowly in the body, therefore you may feel more full for a longer period of time, preventing you from overindulging. The soluble fiber found in durum wheat also helps with slowing the digestion process, thus keeping your digestive system healthy. While there are a range of health benefits from consuming durum wheat, it does have a high gluten content, so it is not a wise choice for those who have celiac diseases, gluten sensitivity or have wheat allergies. (Data obtained from www.appreciategoods.com)

 

This pasta is packed in the perfect sized package that would be great for a stocking stuffer or placed inside a beautifully crafted food gift basket! If you are having guests over for a meal, why not add some color and shapes to your favorite pasta dish or pasta salad? The pasta is delicious and has been kid tested and approved!

 

Not Your Everyday Cookie.

Do you enjoy a tasty treat while enjoying your morning coffee or afternoon tea? Do you want a different cookie that is not like the rest? Look no further because Ambrosiana cookies are coming your way in this very post! These cookies are all the way from Italy and are GMO free! Ambrosiana also has a variety of holiday selections, perfect for your party planning! Check out the different varieties available for your holiday party below!

These cookies sure are beautiful in presentation, but how do they taste? Keep reading as we’ve got several different reviews! One from a local salon and one from yours truly and my handy cookie helper!

We thought we would ask local Rosie Bella Hair Salon to switch out their regular cookies for some of Ambrosiana’s to see which cookies they liked better. We heard that immediately upon replacing the original cookies, the Amborsiana cookies were an instant hit! Delivered to the salon were Ambrosiana’s Ferri Di Cavallo Shortbread with Dark Chocolate and Fior Di Neve Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Shortbread. When pressed for a favorite, we were told, “We really can’t choose… but if our hair depended on it, we’d say the shortbread Cavallo for dipping into coffee, and the hazelnut filled Fior di Neve for… 24/7.” Thank you Rosie Bella Hair Salon for letting us share our cookies with your customers!

I decided to pick up three different boxes of Ambrosiana cookies at Kingma’s Market in Ada. As always, I had my little handy taste testing helper along with me as I dove into the set of cookies. The three different kind of cookies that were tasted: Ferri Di Cavallo Shortbread with Dark Chocolate, Pralinati Hazelnut Cream Shortbread and Fior Di Neve Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Shortbread.

DSC_0010.jpg

If you are looking for a cute little cookie to dip in coffee or tea, I suggest the Ambrosiana Ferri Di Cavallo Shortbread with Dark Chocolate. These cute little horseshoe-shaped cookies are the perfect bite size for a hot morning or afternoon beverage. Just enough chocolate to pair with the shortbread makes this cookie a tasty treat.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you are a fan of nuts, chocolate, hazelnut and shortbread, then the Ambrosiana Pralinati Hazelnut Cream Shortbread is for you. I think this was by far my favorite cookie of the three. I really like the creamy hazelnut center, plus having the chocolate covered shortbread with nuts gives it a nice little crunch!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I think my youngest offspring had said that his favorite was the Ambrosiana Fior Di Neve Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Shortbread cookie. While I do have to admit the box shows more powdered sugar on the top of the cookie than what actually came from the box, it works well with young children! My youngest loved this cookie and kept asking for more! This cute shortbread cookie has hazelnut cream filling inside and then is coated by powdered sugar to top off a sweet little zing.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So what are you waiting for? Go get yourself several boxes of these cookies, brew some coffee or steep some tea and get munching on these delicious treats! It’s time for YOU to get out there and NIBBLE on these cookies!

Community Connections.

We do love to talk about gourmet food and beverages, but we also want to share about the many different ways we love to support our own community. A few things happened within the past few days that are worth mentioning because they are important to us!

The employees here at Gourmet International collected craft items and toys for the Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Our staff teamed up with the Spectrum Health Foundation to help collect items in need that are on their wish list (which can be found here), many which go towards their Child Life program. As a parent that has had to use this hospital for emergency services and a surgery for her own child, I can tell you, the donations that come in are awesome! If you have time, take time to see what the Child Life program does (see the link). From providing toys and trinkets to “treasure chests” after lab work to providing toys and books to kids preparing for surgery or waiting in the emergency department, donations given to the hospital go a long way! Below is a photo of our own Janice dropping off the donations this morning!

Janice was given a tour by Laurie (seen in the picture on the left). Janice toured the outdoor play area and a library/computer area where all items in the room were donated from the community. Janice said there were LOTS of books! Laurie showed Janice many pieces of artwork that was displayed around the hospital, many done by the patients themselves.

Thank you Janice for taking the time to deliver the donations to the hospital!

HDCH

“It is so very special that in the midst of our company growth, we took the time to give back. They are so grateful for our donations! That’s what it’s all about!”
– Janice, Gourmet International Employee

This past Friday, I was able to take part in a fundraising event for a local elementary school at their “Ranger Rally” event. The fundraiser raises funds for Pine Ridge Elementary School and their parent-teacher organization. Gourmet International was one of the many sponsors for this event. I was able to capture all the kids in their different colored shirts as they did their walk! All the students, kindergarten through fourth grade, walked from their school all the way to one of the Cascade Township Fire Stations down the road. The kids walked just under 2 miles there and then just about 2 miles back! Almost a 4 mile trip for all the kiddos! We were lucky the rain held off and that it wasn’t too sunny, but it was humid and warm, so there were a lot of sweaty and tired kiddos afterwards!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As the kids approached the fire station, you could hear the fire trucks blasting their horns for the kids and honking their horns! One of the fire trucks was set up to shoot water from its hose, it was truly fun to watch and be a part of this event!

DSC_0160
Fire trucks blare their horns and sirens for the kids as they arrive to the station. A water cannon shoots from a hose on one of the fire trucks. Many thanks to the Cascade Township Fire Department and the Kent County Sheriff’s Department for assisting with the walk and keeping everyone safe!

It was just awesome to see a sea of color and kids with parents, teachers and other school staff walking together for this event. The walk winds through several neighborhoods and down the local bike/walking path. There were people lined out to cheer the kids on and to encourage them! It truly was a great community event and I am glad I was able to be a part of it!

DSC_0233
Look at that sea of kids and color going all the way down the street!

DSC_0041

 

The Great Michigan Football Rivalry!

If you live in the state of Michigan, this weekend is the big football rivalry between Michigan State University and the University of Michigan! This weekend’s football game will take place in “The Big House” (Michigan Stadium) in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the home of the U of M Wolverines. Game starts at 7:30 p.m. EST.

You’re either a Spartan or a Wolverine, in very few instances you are a house divided and go for both! Either way, this weekend is prime for football watching and along with that – TAILGATING! And if you can’t tailgate at the actual game, you can still have a good time at home with your own party! Today we have some ideas and inspiration for you as you prepare your menu for the big game!

DSC_0276

Today we had some munchies in the office to prepare for our tailgating tomorrow! We had Hengstenberg BBQ Kraut in the house! It is best served warm! It is a unique twist of sauerkraut with a mix of BBQ flavor. Our friends over at GermanDeli.com did a tasting with they had shared with us the following review:

“We tried it together with German Bratwurst, Brötchen and Löwensenf mustard. WOW!! It’s that good. The first time all of our German staff and all of our American staff unanimously loved the same product. No exceptions. It has a definite spicy kick too! Staff are already coming up with serving suggestions.” – GermanDeli.com

DSC_0261

And not only do we have inspiration in the form of food, we have some of our own employees showing off their true colors today! It truly is a warehouse divided here today!

DSC_0285DSC_0288