Our Mixed Case series serves up an eclectic mix of recent taste discoveries.
By Hope S. Philbrick
This column typically features ‘adult beverages,’ but while sheltering in place during the coronavirus pandemic we’ve helped break up the monotony of our at-home routines by sampling several new snacks and non-alcoholic drinks as well. Among our most recent favorite discoveries…
Eastern Standard Provisions Co. makes hand-twisted soft pretzels along with artisanal flavored salts. Even if you bought a 50-pound bag of flour while panic-shopping, odds are you’re not making soft pretzels at home during the pandemic. Getting a box of these Bavarian-style, pillowy-soft pretzels delivered to your door is a genuine treat. Best of all, you can order a big box of them, enjoy a few fresh and pop the remainder into the freezer to satisfy cravings later. Fair warning, you will crave these light and airy bites of deliciousness. Reheating instructions are included, with specifics for both frozen and thawed pretzels; follow the directions to the letter and enjoy perfect results. These heat-and-eat pretzels are made from all-natural ingredients and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Eat them buttered and salted or get creative: One night I sliced a couple of hot turnbuckle pretzels open like hotdog buns, tucked some hot lamb chorizo inside, and served them alongside hot blistered shishito peppers—it was an easy-to-make dinner that felt like eating at a gastropub without leaving the house! These tender pretzels are your favorite craft brew’s best friend. Eastern Standard Provisions Co. launched in 2019 and ships nationwide. Prices start at $12.99.
Just The Cheese— recently featured on Shark Tank—presents shelf-stable, 100-percent Wisconsin baked cheese. If you you like cheese but have limited refrigerator space, these oven-baked, low-carb, gluten-free snacks are an option. The baking process caramelizes the cheese, so these crunch with rich, genuine cheese flavor (nothing like the “cheese flavor” on neon-orange dusted snacks, these munchies are for grownup palates). This savory snack satisfies like cheese and crackers, but is literally just cheese, no carbs. Bars, which are 75 calories each, are available in aged cheddar, grilled cheese, jalapeno cheese, and mild cheddar flavors. Minis are available in white cheddar, Wisconsin cheddar (winner of the World Championship Cheese contest!), grilled cheese, jalapeno cheese, and garlic & chive. Sampler packs start at $9.95; currently enjoy free shipping on your first order.
JAF TEA makes black and green teas, in versions that are pure, fruit or spice-infused, as well as flavored. “JAF TEA guarantees only the best from the harvest of dozens of tea plantations, nurtured in lush valleys and emerald mountains of Ceylon and the specialist gardens of China,” boast press materials. JAF TEA is the flagship trademark of Jafferjee Brothers (JB), a family-owned company founded in 1944 and based in Sri Lanka. “JAF TEA Ceylon teas are among the finest teas in the world, gaining their richly distinct flavor from the land and orthodox hand-plucked tea process ensuring the ultimate preservation of freshness and flavor of each bud’s essential oils.” We sampled the Pure Green Collection of eight teas (natural, jasmine, mint, oolong, strawberry & kiwi, lemon & mint, mango, and soursop & banana), all of which impressed whether served hot or cold. The flavors are subtle; both the smell and taste offer a balance of tea and infusions. Some sips offer pleasant surprises: though it was the option I anticipated liking least, soursop & banana is now a personal favorite. As the summer of 2020 limps along, knowing there’s a pitcher of ready-to-drink, high-quality iced tea in my ‘frig helps make getting through the day a little easier since it’s a simple grab-and-enjoy-anytime treat. Packages from $19.99; currently enjoy free shipping on orders over $35.
Veroni is one of Italy’s oldest and most well-respected brands of charcuterie. If, like me, you’re growing weary of cooking three meals plus a snack every day for your quarantine compadres, charcuterie is a reliable friend: Present a platter of meats, cheeses, veggies, and crackers and call it a meal. Nobody complains! The Prosciutto and Provolone pack makes it super easy since meat and cheese are packaged together; nibble them as is, with crackers, or layer them between bread for an elegant sandwich. Salame Milano (mild salami seasons with garlic and red pepper) is a personal favorite, but the truth is that any package of Veroni charcuterie that catches your eye is worth a buy: It’s all reliably delicious. Look for Veroni products at Costco, Trader Joe’s, Albertson, Kroger, Sam’s Club, Hy-Vee, Schnucks, The Fresh Market, Food Lion, Fairway, ShopRite, and Hannaford.
Product samples afford the research opportunity but do not sway opinion.
– Photos courtesy Eastern Standard Provisions Co., Just The Cheese, JAF TEA, Veroni
Hope S. Philbrick is founder and editor-in-chief of Getaways for Grownups. Her work has appeared in dozens of publications nationwide. When not writing, she can usually be found on the road or savoring something tasty.