Sunday, October 9, 2011

Starry nights and lots of spice for October

Blue with Van Gogh
Van Gogh Vodka has two new flavors for fall: Rich Dark Chocolate and Cool Peach. What I have tried from the culinary artists in Holland is Acai-Blueberry Vodka, which got me with straight up flavor, after I was already smitten by the flamingo on the label. It seems like you wouldn’t want to add anything else, since there’s hints of raspberry and almond. But if you’d like a cocktail, here it is:

Starry Night
4 ounces sparkling rose
1 ounce Van Gogh Acai-Blueberry Vodka
Pour chilled van Gogh Acai-Blueberry vodka into a flute. Top with Sparkling Rose wine and garnish with a starfruit.

I’m reading up on the chocolate version, offering hints of coffee, nutmeg and spice and notes of coffee, chili pepper, caramel, and exotic spice. They’ve gone all Aztec on it. The peach is a customer request.
Van Gogh Imports in Orlando, Florida, also brings Ron Abuelo Anejo, which has won lots of awards, yet is in a very reasonable price range. Fall is a good time for rum and this one offers estate-grown sugar cane from Panama. The company started in 1908 and its third generation is producing this satisfying blend with hints of sweet fruit, toasted coconut, vanilla, mocha, nuts and sweet spice. It’s a reason to celebrate the season.

Nuts about ‘em
Mix brown rice and almonds and what do you get? Nacho chips. Or Sour Cream and Chive chips. Maybe you’d prefer to stick with Sea Salt? Blue Diamond Almonds makes the flat, triangular snacks that are wheat and gluten free while coming out with significantly less saturated fat than potato chips. Don’t pretend it’s a tortilla chip. It’s got its own personality. Think “interesting cracker,” then try it with cheese or guacamole. It’s a tasty match.

Naked Juice
I know a woman who works out and refreshes with a bottled juice that seems to have more calories than she just burned off. Be aware and read labels of what’s tagged to be “good for you.” If you down the bottle, you may be drinking more than one serving.
Naked Juice has a tasty alternative to the super-sweet stuff with smoothies in a bottle. They offer two new flavors: Reduced Calorie Lychee and Reduced Calorie Citrus Lemongrass. Bet you’d never have thought of mixing one of these up. Makers use “100-percent bare-naked ingredients” such as coconut water and mango. Very refreshing. I used some to flavor up French toast, so I’ve been “Naked” cooking with this product as well.

Their loss is our spicy gain
Celeste De Armas and Corina Mascaro met at college, where their longing for dishes from their native Cuba lead to discussion of their “freshman 15” weight gain. Through a search for a healthy lifestyle, they eventually launched Nueva Cocina Foods, what they say is the nation’s first line of all-natural and authentic Latin rice dishes, seasonings and soups. Now their company offers 17 different items featuring authentic recipes from Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Spain and other Latin countries. Most are vegetarian and gluten-free. I’ve tried Chipotle Taco, Picadillo and Taco Fresco seasoning packets in unusual ways. They smell amazing and they’ve got to be wonderful in meat. I’ve mixed them in to eggs and vegetables on a week I wanted to eat modestly. Dried raisins and olives plump up well in the picadillo and there’s a different aroma going on when compared to our beloved Tex-Mex. It’s a good, hearty pick for fall.

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