Tuesday, April 7, 2009
My New Favorite Snacks From The Wine Country
So about a year and a half ago I stumbled across the Vosges Chocolate line, first because I had to order the Mo’s Bacon Bar for my hubby the bacon freak but I also purchased a sampler pack of a bunch of other flavors…for me there were 3 standout flavors; Mo’s Bacon, Woolloomooloo and the Barcelona. I’ve seen plenty of wacky stuff dumped into chocolate, stuffed into a pretty package and called “gourmet” and most of it is just plain weird, but these bars….these are fantastic, really well thought out combinations that are a delight to munch.
Lucky for our customers Dale Kemner, (owner, basket designer and food maven at The Wine Country) also stumbled onto the Vosges line, she tasted, we all freaked out over them and low and behold we now stock them at the store! Hooray….and crap, another snack to try and keep our hands off of.
Mo’s Bacon Bar is applewood smoked bacon, smoked salt in a deep milk chocolate, now most of the time I am a dark chocolate person, (well honesty I am not a giant chocolate person but if I indulge it is with dark chocolate) but the saltiness of the…salt and the smoky, gamey flavor of the bacon really needs that slightly sweeter, creamier milk chocolate to pull it all together. That is what I meant about the carefully thought out combinations, I think dark chocolate would be kind of a mess with this bar, too bitter, too savory for a chocolate treat. This bar takes a few bites to really get into the flavors, matter of fact I bought a bunch for my son Jeremy who at first didn’t like it, but upon further nibbles fell in love….a package of bars is on its way to Louisville as we speak.
Woolloomooloo Bar is roasted, salted macadamia nuts, Indonesian coconut, hemp seeds and milk chocolate. Again the milk chocolate really works with this combination of flavors, a very tropical bar but without all that damn fruit in it. The flavors are subtle but seem to grow on the long finish.
Barcelona Bar is hickory smoked almonds, sea salt and milk chocolate, this is my favorite of the three. I already love almonds in chocolate but hickory smoke those suckers and I am all in! Again a salty styled confection but the sweet, rich milk chocolate keeps it from being too savory..so it is a perfectly balanced chocolate bar.
Late last year I lost my damn mind over a cheese that my supplier snuck in on an Air France order. When I unpacked my order I could smell the cheese before I saw it, thought I had ordered some Epoisses and forgotten about it, such a strong and fiercely pungent smelling cheese. When I finally got to the case containing the “aroma” I was surprised to see that it was not Epoisses splashed across the little round containers but, Berthaut affine au Chablis, ($14.99)….Oh wow, Chablis washed cheese. I bought one that first night the girls and I ate the whole thing is one very brief sitting. I have since bought a piece every time it arrives, (which is only about once every month or two) it was easily the best cheese I had all of last year….well, not counting the stuff I had in France. The rind is very sticky and orange but also very eatable and depending on the maturity the pate is either gooey around the outer parts of the cheese, and a touch crumbly in the center, on the younger pieces to super oozy should-eat-with-a-spoon like texture on the more mature pieces. Not as assertive in flavor as Epoisses, but salty, rich a luxurious.
New to The Wine Country this year is the King Island Roaring Forties Blue, (about $20 a pound so about $6.20 a hunk) King Island cow’s are known for their sweet, rich, creamy milk which is part of the reason this cheese has a little kiss of sweetness to it. A mild blue with a lovely creamy texture and a long nutty, just shy of sweet finish. This was another cheese that popped open upon its arrival, this time during a very busy wine tasting, we plopped the hunk next to the register and smeared it on potato chips in between customers….decadent but oh so freaking tasty!
So there you are, the latest favorite snacks from The Wine Country, is it any wonder it is impossible to lose weight working here?!