Taking a Walk with Mr. Stanley.

I love mint. I also love dark chocolate. I love these Magnificent Mint Chocolate Walking Sticks made by Mr. Stanley’s. So you’ll find me walking around with these from time to time. I can’t just eat one either, I must have like 3 or 4, maybe more (yes, more)? I am addicted to anything minty and anything dark chocolate, so when I found these little treat sticks, I knew I was in trouble! These are perfect for me when I am running errands and I’m trying to get out of the house, but I also want something minty – but not gum. I can grab these little sticks and get the kids in the car and away I go! They are not messy, no wrappers to deal with, since I grab them straight from the box. I’d show you the inside of the box, but it’s – uh… empty! (Shhh! Don’t tell anyone!) The box itself states, “Tasty Twists of Pure Chocolate Indulgence”, and I have to agree… they are tasty twists of pure indulgence!

If you are not a fan of mint or you like a different flavor, these little sticks come in orange flavor as well!

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I love Mr. Stanley’s classic packaging with the stripes and fun fonts! When I grabbed this box off the shelf at the store, I sort of felt like I was getting myself ready to have some fun! And I have! Because not only did I find the Magnificent Mint Chocolate Walking Sticks, I also found the fun Chocolate Matches with Popping Candy! Seriously! How fun can we make candy? I found the white chocolate matches – and not only do I think they are fun and funky, my kids love biting into them and feeling the little popping pops in their mouth!

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The Chocolate Matches come in a fun box that, why yes, resembles a box of matches! These are matches the kids CAN play with! I am not endorsing any such thing, but these chocolate matches are sure not to spark any flame or fire! But they will spark curiosity fun with kids and candy lovers alike!

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The chocolate matches are probably double the size, maybe a little more, than the mint sticks. But either way, they both are delicious and tons of fun to eat and share! And not to worry, the popping candy in the matches aren’t obnoxiously poppy, they are just enough pop to make you think of the popping sounds and start of a wood fire!

While I have the white chocolate matches, these also come in different varieties: milk chocolate & salted caramel, and Earl Grey dark chocolate matches! Note that these other flavors do *not* have popping candy, but they do have some unique flavors! So there you have it! Some delicious fun from Mr. Stanley’s! These are fun for any occasion, or no occasion at all! Just get them and have fun! But they do make great gifts for young and old, and their fun and classic packaging makes it so inviting to open up and share! Not all gourmet chocolate is this fun!

 

Hey Shorty, It’s Your Day!

Next to any day celebrating any form of chocolate (which should be everyday), I would have to say that today is one of my favorite new days to celebrate! Today is National Shortbread Day! Horray! I have loved shortbread since I was a young thing – that buttery taste of bliss – there’s not much that compares to shortbread!

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And when I want shortbread I am going to be reaching for the closest tin or box of Shortbread House of Edinburgh that I can grab! And sadly, I have to say, it’s something that goes quickly in my house, if I have it! Between myself and my sons, shortbread doesn’t stand a chance of having a long shelf life in my cupboards! There is good reason why for that – it’s because we can’t get enough of this delectable edible!

When I was first introduced to Shortbread House of Edinburgh, I was able to try some from a box of the Sicilian Lemon flavored shortbread.

 

Then soon after came the tin… with an even bigger piece of shortbread than the box! I found a tin of shortbread biscuits made with Warming Stem Ginger, and YES! Soooo good! So good with a cup of tea! Or just on its own! There are pieces of ginger in the shortbread and it’s just a perfect ratio of deliciousness! You can even see the ginger pieces in the photos below! I must have been good this past year because Santa had a tin of these in my Christmas stocking!

 

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I can’t even hide these from my kids anymore, my youngest is in love with the Original Recipe biscuits and he keeps asking for more “of those little cookies that taste really good”. Hey, what can I say? I try to make sure my kids get a taste of gourmet luxury when they let me! The Original Recipe is great for any beverage and kids also love the buttery flavor. These biscuits are handmade and you can tell, it’s easy to see and to taste the quality.

 

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So there you have it, Shorty! It’s your day! National Shortbread Day! Enjoy it! Embrace it! And if you can get your hands on it, get yourself a box or tin of Shortbread House of Edinburgh! Now, I need to get my hands on the Cinnamon & Demerara and the Aromatic Lavender, and then I may just be floating up in the clouds in pure delight!

Hello 2018!

Happy New Year! Happy 2018! Let’s start off the New Year with a new name! As you can see, All Things Gourmet, sounds like a nice little fit! What you’ll find here won’t change at all! There still will be recipes shared, gourmet food items to be showcased and shared, along with the sharing of information and traditions and so forth! But don’t worry, there will be little Gourmet Nibbles to be had and I will make sure you can follow my crumb trail!

The month of January is busy and filled with lots of new things, recipes and adventures ahead! There are some sauces and soups to be made, special national days to celebrate – all of course – featured around FOOD! Then we have to face it and admit it – Valentine’s is right around the corner! Yes! I know! We just finished up the Christmas and New Year’s holidays and YES! We must move on to Valentine’s and do I dare bring up the Easter Bunny?! Well, I sort of have to, because we can’t avoid them! And here they are…!

Just a few to get you started!

Over the course of the next year I also plan to keep up on the latest health and food trends, and so far there are a few similar themes I keep seeing popping up! Tumeric  and other spices seems to be one trend. “Gut-friendly” fermented foods such as sauerkraut has hit the list and then don’t forget about your foods filled with probiotic! And as for gut-friendly foods, we have that and we’ve got you covered!

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There are a few things about coffee I may look into – I keep reading that coffee is good for your liver and there may also be other coffee trends that I am going to try to keep my eye on. Is coffee the key to prevent premature death?I don’t know, but there are reports to claim there may be an association to drinking coffee and longevity by reducing the risk of cancer, stroke, heart and liver disease!

And coffee… that’s in stock as well!

So there’s a lot to look forward to in 2018! And it’s time to get started!

 

 

Christmas Markets of the United States.

Christmas Markets have become a popular place to visit during the Christmas season. What does a Christmas Market entail? And when did it begin? Widely popular all throughout Europe, Christmas Markets have had a long tradition of being an important aspect of the season. Taking a look back at some history, Vienna, Austria, was first to have “December Market” in 1298. As for the Christmas Markets opening in Germany, there have been different answers: Munich 1310, Bauzen 1384 and Frankfurt 1393. From there the Christmas Markets spread across Europe and beyond. Below is a photo from the Christmas Market in Nuremberg.

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Christmas Markets are also known as Christkindlmarkts, otherwise known as Christ Child Markets. This dates back to the days of Martin Luther where he wanted to take focus away from the Saints Nicholas and Martin. Before the 1530s, gifts were exchanged on December 6th (St. Nicholas Day) or November 11 (St. Martins Day). Martin Luther’s children received gifts on the 24th of December, from Christkindl or Christ Child, and as that continued some of the Christmas Markets called themselves Christkindlmarkts.

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I’d like to make sure we give credit to German Girl In America for a lot of the data and information that I shared here with you all.

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Christmas Markets have spread all across the United States and have gained popularity among larger cities. Just take a moment on Google and you can search the many markets across the States. I’ll list a few here:

Note that all the Christmas Markets have different operating dates, times and such. Do check out their websites prior to visiting and research what is available and open during certain times of the holiday season.

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These Christmas Markets offer a variety of seasonal treats, foods, candies and an assortment of gifts, festivities and fun for families and friends to enjoy. Have you been to a Christmas Market? If you have, what are your favorite things to do, to see, or to buy?

If you are searching for a Christmas Market near you, try looking at ChristmasMarkets.com to help you with your search!

The photos that are seen throughout this post are all under Creative Commons CC0 and were obtained by Pixabay.

 

A Post Not to Take Gingerly.

Now that I have your attention, you may have guessed this post may be contain something with “ginger” within it. Well, you guessed correctly! It’s National Gingerbread Cookie Day, but while you may be thinking of the cute little Gingerbread Man when you think of the cookie, we like to think of the the true gingerbread form.

Follow our Instagram for #InTheKnowMan and follow our Twitter for #TravelingSanta to get holiday info and advice!

An earlier blog post had us traveling through Germany with our Vice President Monica. She can be seen below in Germany at Wicklein making her own gingerbread! You won’t see the traditional cute little guy or gal that would be running away from the fox! We are talking about the original, true, Nürnberg lebkuchen a.k.a. gingerbread!

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This original gingerbread is packed with flavor from spices and nuts and this treat is savored all around the world at this time of year! So we encourage you to go out and pick up yourself some gingerbread – hopefully the true and original kind – and enjoy the taste of National Gingerbread Cookie Day!

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.

 

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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!

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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!

 

We’ve Got Ourselves In a Pickle!

DSC_0001In case you were not aware, it’s National Pickle Appreciation Day! There are a vast variety of pickle facts we’d love to share with you! While our favorite brand at Gourmet International is Hengstenberg, you can see the many different brands of pickles, their origin and company all at the Pickle Packers International website, cutely named: ilovepickles.org.

We are sharing the following facts from that website and what better why to start by talking about the origin of “in a pickle” as stated in our title post today! Shakespeare first introduced that phrase in The Tempest. In the play the quote is read, “How cam’st thou in this pickle?” and “I have been in such a pickle!”

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Consumption: How many Americans consume pickles within one year? Well, that answer is 2.5 billion pounds which is 20 billion pickles!  Even more random fact from the site: If you want to reach the moon, it would take 4 billion pickles. Do the math and the amount of pickles consumed in one year could get us to the moon and back more than 2 times! How crazy is that?

World War II Ties: During the days of the war, the United States Government tagged 40% of all pickle production for the ration kits of the armed forces.

Is it a fruit or a vegetable? The United States Government technically classifies pickles as a “fruit” of the vine – much like a tomato, but most people categorize pickles as a vegetable.

What are the more popular varieties of pickles? Dill is considered the most favored variety of cucumber pickle. Other variations and varieties include Sour/Half Sour and Sweet. Let’s explore these varieties a moment…

  • Dill. Herb dill or dill oil is added to impart a distinctive and refreshing flavor. The different types of dill pickles include:
    • Genuine Dill. These pickles are made by the slow “processed” method. Dill weed is added into the tanks during the last stage of fermentation or to the jar after fermentation. These pickles usually have a higher lactic acid flavor than other varieties.
    • Kosher Dill. True “Kosher” pickles are those that have been manufactured and certified in accordance with Jewish dietary laws, and made with dill and garlic added to the brine. The flavor is very popular, more robust than regular dill pickles, so much so, that the name has stuck and kosher dills are the ultimate accompaniment to an overstuffed deli sandwich.
    • Overnight Dill. Cukes are places fresh into brine (which may include a slight amount of vinegar) for a very short time — one to two days. The entire process takes place under refrigeration, and they stay refrigerated when stored and shipped. They bright green pickles taste like fresh cucumbers accented with dill flavor. They are the kind of pickle you usually find at a deli.
    • Other Dills: Include Polish and German Style.
  • Sour/Half Sour. Fresh cucumbers are first placed into a seasoned brine which doesn’t include vinegar. The containers are then refrigerated, and remain refrigerated when stored and shipped. The longer the cucumbers remain in the brine, the more sour they become. Half-sour pickles are extra crispy and keep their fresh cucumber color.
  • Sweet. Sweet pickles are packed in a sweet mixture of vinegar, sugar and spices. The variations include:
    • Bread & Butter. Sweet, thinly sliced pickles made from cucumbers, onions and chopped green or red peppers. They have a distinct, slightly tangy taste. Available in smooth or waffle cut chips or chunks.
    • Candied. These pickles are packed in an extra-heavily sweetened liquid.
    • No-Salt Sweet. These are a relatively new variety of sweet pickle to which no salt has been added. Usually available as chips.
    • Sweet/Hot. The are a “hot” new kind of pickle. They’re made by adding hot spices and seasonings to pickles for a delightful spark of piquant flavor.

Source: ilovepickles.org

You’re probably learning more about the pickle today than you thought you would! And did you know that pickles are identified as on the favorite vegetables of teens per a consumer study that was conducted for the pickle industry.

 

Now how about you? What’s your favorite type of pickle now that you’ve read through all the varieties? I have to say mine would have to be bread & butter. Nothing like the crunch of a nice crisp, bread & butter pickle! Nibble, nibble!

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Springing Forward, But Falling Backward.

Has today’s title confused you? I truly don’t want to get you in a panic, but I am going to have to discuss some upcoming holidays for next year! I am talking about Valentine’s Day and Easter! I know, I know! We *just* made it through Halloween! Thanksgiving is not far away, heck it’s not even Christmas yet, although Christmas music is already blaring on a local radio station as of yesterday! The next major event happening around here would be Daylight Savings for those of us who observe it, which means we will have to fall back one hour this weekend.

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Springing forward with holiday items, yet falling back an hour on the clocks!

Now that we have that out of the way… let me show you these spring products! Belfine is the maker of Fine Belgian Chocolate and they have these super cute chocolate pops and they all have super cute names! And while I am at it, I want to let any of our retailers know that the spring deadline is approaching! You know how to get a hold of us if you need any assistance with your order! You’ll find Belfine chocolate in the spring line up!

Let me first introduce you to Love Bear Arno, who is the perfect chocolate companion for your Valentine’s occasion! Per Belfine, “Each lollipop is individually wrapped in a transparent bag with clip and presented in a beautiful Belfine display.” Belfine’s chocolate figurines and lollipops are all hand crafted and it is really neat how they come to life.

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This is the process for the chocolate characters:

  1. Start with a sketch
  2. Add some color
  3. Play with clay
  4. Prepare the mold
  5. Personalize the prototype
  6. Welcome to the family!
  7. Name and release

When the figurine is created, it is actually named and then copyrighted before venturing out into the world. How awesome is that?

Next up we have Jenny Duck and Lamb Betty for Easter. These Easter designs are sure to please everyone, young and old!

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What makes Belfine so unique and special?

  • Premium Belgian Chocolate made in Belgium
  • Unique & cute chocolate figurines
  • Creativity & innovation
  • Long term partnerships
  • Highest quality standards
  • Dedicated customer focus
  • Worldwide presence
  • Family owned business
  • The perfect packaging
  • Flexible production capacity

Belfine is definitely “kid approved” – as you have seen the smile on my youngest’s face as he’s chomping on poor Love Bear Arno! I even I heard, “Mom, this chocolate is so yummy!” from that little 4-year-old munchkin!

And as a mom, I can appreciate that there aren’t any ingredients in these chocolates that I don’t approve of! Belfine’s products are free from any artificial flavors, colors and fats. The chocolate also is free of preservatives, vegetables fats and GMO-free. As for the coloring in any of the chocolates, European standards require that only E-approved colors are used.

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Belfine Belgian Chocolate Lollipops. Get yourself some! And as I wrap up this post, I’ll bring Mr. Ginger out to remind us of the Christmas season that is approaching. On that final note, don’t forget to fall back one hour this weekend for those of us observing Daylight Savings Time! (And submit your orders in for the spring deadline for our retailers!)

Dreamy Chocolate Cone Treats from Italy.

Looking for a tasty chocolate treat wrapped up in the cutest cone package? Look no further because we have it here for you! I was recently introduced to these delicious little cones not long ago and I have fallen in love with them! Messori, from Italy, makes these chocolate creations. They have many different innovative chocolate treats and today it’s the Messori Cono Snack that we are sharing with you!

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What is this Cono Snack and what’s inside it? The Cono Snacks come in three flavors: Hazelnut, Caramel Milk and Choco Parties. Today we have the hazelnut Cono Snack for you to check out. This cone is ALL chocolate, perfect for any chocolate lover!

Once unwrapped, you’ll find a puffed rice on top.

 

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Take your first bite and you’re chewing on some fine Italian hazelnut cream.

 

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Under that hazelnut creamy chocolate you will find some premium dark chocolate.

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Cross section of the Messori Hazelnut Cono Snack.

And how does the cone taste? So crunchy and perfect! It’s the perfect Belgian wafer cone to go along with this mix of hazelnut cream and dark chocolate! YUM! There is chocolate literally ALL THE WAY THROUGH the whole entire cone – with the very bottom of the cone being filled with chocolate as well!

The hazelnut cream is very smooth the puffed rice is a great compliment to that flavor. The Belgian cone is perfectly made and has the perfect crunch. Don’t believe me? Go try one for yourself! You will love this chocolate party in a cone! These are great for parties and holiday celebrations! The Messori Cono Snacks are on my list of treats that I approve for my family as it is GMO free, has no artificial coloring or dyes, free of artificial sweeteners and preservatives and more. Check out Messori’s quality information for more about their quality standards.

 

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If you find yourself snacking on this treat, please do let us know what you think! I, for one, can vouch that these are super dreamy! Nibble, nibble!

Side Dish Delish!

Do you find yourself trying to find something to add to your main dish – it doesn’t matter if it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner? Well, today we’ve got just the perfect side dish delish that you need to add with your next meal! Why not try adding Kartoffelland Fried Potatoes with Onion to your next meal? It is SO easy to prepare – just fry them up in a pan and heat them to your desire and BOOM! You’ve got yourself one of the easiest side dishes to go with your main course.

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Think about it… you could add this with your morning eggs and toast. A nice different twist to your regular hash browns. Or… maybe you have some left over ham or other meat that you need to cook up and eat – whip these potatoes up with the meat and you’ve got yourself a lunch meal! Let’s not forget about dinner – why not cook up some bratwurst, sauerkraut and Kartoffelland potatoes?! TA DA! Meal is done! So simple and easy to make!

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If these fried potatoes are not your thing, what about dumplings? Kartoffelland also has German Potato Dumplings that have easy prep: mix with water, form dumplings and boil! Speaking of these dumplings, I have had these before. They are a great side dish to any meal as well, perhaps our next go ’round with Kartoffelland, we’ll whip up some of the dumplings for us to share and view with you!

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I prepared the Kartoffelland Fried Potatoes with Onion for brunch yesterday. It was such a hectic morning – I was up early to get out and about with errands to run after making sure the oldest got on the bus. By the time I got home from hockey manager duties and dropping off a birthday snack to school, it was time to put some food in the tummy. I still had English muffins and I thought potatoes and eggs sound good, so why not? So I opened up a package of Kartoffelland potatoes and added them to the frying pan! I really didn’t add much more besides a little pad of butter to the frying pan. The potatoes are already in vegetable oil from the packaging, so I just decided a little bit of butter would be sufficient and let them fry up in the pan for about 15-20 minutes over a medium/low heat. After the potatoes were fried up, I had my toaster work on my English muffins and then I got a pan ready to make some scrambled eggs. I will admit, while getting the pan ready for the scrambled eggs, I let my butter get a little too hot as I was putting some of that Maintal Rosehip Fruit Spread on my English muffins. I took a little too long spreading the fruit and probably had a little too much butter in the pan for the eggs. The eggs didn’t look that pretty, so I spared you all from their odd appearance (but they tasted just fine). These potatoes are a great side dish for any meal!