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 non-alcoholic treats as well. Among our favorite discoveries…
Hickory Nut Gap Meats is a family-owned business in Fairview, North Carolina (just 20 minutes from Asheville) that raises livestock and also partners with over 80 regional farmers to source humanely raised 100-percent grassfed beef, pasture-raised pork, and pasture-raised chickens for its products. All the meats are antibiotic- and hormone-free. Hickory Nut Gap sells meat and also transforms it into a line of top-notch sausages and meat sticks. The pepperoni is arguably the best I’ve ever tasted and elevates homemade pizza to restaurant quality (whether you make your own scratch crust or if your recipe is as simple as topping a store-bought baguette with tomato sauce, pepperoni and cheese then putting it under the broiler until bubbly). Chop up a meat stick, add it to a charcuterie tray, and make sure you get your fair share of it before your housemates gobble it all up since odds are it will be the most popular item on the platter. Hickory Nut Gap meat products can be purchased at its farm store as well as at grocers and specialty shops throughout the Southeastern USA.
Empowered Cookie is a California-based, woman-owned company that produces small-batch, from-scratch treats that are vegan, paleo, gluten-free, non-GMO, low carb, plus free of grain, soy, peanut, dairy, and refined sugar. My main concern: Do they taste good? Yes! These cookies are thick, soft yum. My personal favorite flavor is ginger molasses, but I wouldn’t pass up the double chocolate chunk, chocolate cherry, or lemon lavender poppy seed either. When paired with a cup of coffee, one cookie makes a satisfying breakfast or snack. Buy them at Bristol Farms, Mother’s Market, Amazon, or at EmpoweredCookie.com. Retails for approx. $39 for a 12-pack or $20 for a subscription.
H2rOse is a specialty beverage made of rose water, saffron, and other natural ingredients. Marketing materials tout health benefits, but do these drinks taste good? Yes! The rose water aroma and flavor are subtle while saffron adds a soft hint and tint. Currently available in four flavors—mango, peach, apple, and wildberry—each expression is dominated by its featured fruit. H2rOse is a tasty way to stay hydrated with flavors that are more natural and sophisticated than Gatorade or Vitamin Water. One bottle is big enough to split between two as a refreshing treat or to serve alongside lunch. Find a retailer near you or order a case direct from the producer and get it shipped straight to your door for just $5.99 shipping across the U.S. Retails for $18 for a four-pack of 16.9 fl. oz. bottles.
UNiTE boasts “the world’s first globally inspired protein bar.” The company, which is based in Southern California, launched with three flavors: Churro (with crunchy almonds, vanilla, toffee bits, and cinnamon), Mexican Hot Chocolate (dark chocolate with hints of cinnamon and chile), and PB & Jelly (creamy peanut butter with strawberry jammy bits). All three protein bars are packed with nut butters, hemp seeds, and prebiotic fiber. All are gluten-, dairy-, and soy-free and offer 10 grams of protein per bar. How do they taste? Good! The texture is stickier than my usual bars (which contain flour), but the flavor is top-notch. Buy 12 for $29; buy three boxes and get a 20% discount.
Prefer to DIY your snacks? Then be sure to grab a copy of the new “Welcome to Buttermilk Kitchen” cookbook by Suzanne Vizethann, award-winning chef and owner of Atlanta, Georgia’s critically acclaimed Buttermilk Kitchen restaurant. This cookbook is a must-have, and I’m saying that sincerely as someone who owns 200+ cookbooks (and most of them featuring Southern cuisine). Whether you consider yourself to be a skilled home cook or aspire to become one, this cookbook offers easy-to-understand instructions plus helpful “behind-the-scenes” tips about ingredient sourcing. Learn how to make Southern favorites from butter (yes, butter! in a mason jar!) to fried chicken, pimento cheese to biscuits, waffles to granola, and so much more. This cookbook reveals secrets behind 100 ‘Modern Southern’ recipes for farm-to-table breakfast, brunch, and lunch. (The restaurant isn’t open for dinner, but it’s perfectly A-OK if you prepare any of these recipes for supper at your own house.) Retails for $30.
Product samples afford the research opportunity but do not sway opinion.
– Photo Credits: Hickory Nut Gap © HSP Media LLC; remainder courtesy of products featured