By Greg B. – Mother’s day is fast approaching, and if you haven’t already gotten your mother something, you’re probably too late. But, never fear, we here at F&WB have assembled some products that meet our criteria for mom-worthy goods. Chocolates and books!
Lets start with the chocolates, because as we all know, mother’s love chocolate. This year, we have a sample from Truffle Truffle, a company that specializes in artisanal chocolates and other gourmet goodies. We sampled several of their flavored fondant-covered in chocolate as well as some of their caramels, which were delicious. Allow me to explain.
Of these two samples, the caramels were the best. Even after checking out their caramel list, it’s great to know there are a great many ‘manly’ options as well, including maple bacon caramels and bourbon pecan caramels. But the samples we received were of the orange blossom caramel and the lavender peach caramels. Both came well presented, individually wrapped caramels nearly tied with a small rope and nicely printed sign identifying the package’s contents. all of these caramels came inside a larger bag as well, nicely wrapped and labeled. The caramels themselves were very nice. Keep them in the fridge for a harder caramel, but at room temp they are a nice balance between chewy and soft. These aren’t the hard caramels that you can lose teeth (or, that get stuck on teeth forever) over, these are tender caramels that pack a lot of flavor. While the orange blossom caramel was very tasty, the lavender peach really jumped out at me, in both aroma, flavor and how long the flavor lasted after you’ve eaten it.
Next up were the chocolate covered fondants. It’s an interesting choice, and I’d be sure to find out somehow if your mother likes fondant. Most likely she will, but if she doesn’t then I’d avoid staying clear of this option. The chocolates are quite nice on the outside, my favorite being the dark chocolate (isn’t that always the case?). All of them come decorated with a cute little heart on the outside of the chocolate, which will let you know what you’re eating. Pinkish/orange heart? Rosewater. Purple heart? lavender. Of these color coded flavors, the lavender again stood out to me. Personally, I find fondant a bit chalky, though these were quite tasty morsels.
I have two books here to recommend, one is a cookbook and the other is a book about food, life, cooking… I’ll get to that in a moment. First, lets start with the cookbook.
Southern Biscuits, written by Nathalie Dupree (James Beard award winner) and Cynthia Graubart is an insightful, thorough and very well laid out cookbook (I’ll give props now to the photographer, Rick McKee, who has definitely taken some fantastic shots throughout this book, perhaps qualifying this book as a potential ‘food porn’ cookbook as well). Starting with the basics, the authors dissect what it is that makes a good biscuit, the ingredients, how to handle them, how they vary by time, day, weight, region, weather, and how to consistently assemble them into delicious biscuits.
From here, the recipes grow more complex, yet always start with the basics. I know what you’re thinking ‘but Greg, they’re just biscuits” but you know what? A well made biscuit is downright delicious. It’s a great compliment to any meal that has sauces, gravies, meat drippings or just to use as a vehicle for roasted, grilled or sauteed vegetables. Or just to stand on their own as a delicious side dish. Hearty, homey and oh-so filling, biscuits are a southern tradition. And if you like biscuits, this book is a great one. At $22 a copy, it’s worth the price, not just for the recipes or the fine photography, but for the insightful discussion, useful tips and educational way the information is presented. Don’t buy those Pillsbury biscuits from the store any more, great homemade biscuits are easy to do and will be a welcome addition to your home kitchen. Check out this book today!
I titled this section food literature, but this book has so much going on that I’m not certain a concise title can accurately represent it. Day of Honey, by Annia Ciezadlo, is a book covering nearly everything: From friendly interactions, development of intimate friendships, dating & married topics to vast, insightful prose regarding the Iraq war and war in general. Annia brings so much to the table in terms of information, insight and alternative perspectives yet manages to weave it all together in a great story of her memoirs using food as the binding agent. This book is seriously inspirational and made me crave Middle Eastern foods (Lebanese taverna, here we come!) for months now.
What’s in the book? You get the opportunity to follow a very witty, courageous war correspondent through her life in NYC, over to Iraq during the beginnings of the war and into Lebanon, where civil war followed a few years later. But through it all, you get introduced to the local players. Not the big names that you are restricted to in the mass media outlets that provide 22 second clips of a war’s events, but a thought out and referenced interaction with all the people who experience the day-to-day life in a war zone. What do they eat? How do they even get food? How do wars change cultures, and more specifically, how do wars change a culture’s foods? This book covers it all.
And this book does so by explaining the historical and cultural significance of the foods, along with telling you and illustrating just how downright delicious they are. Hungry for the foods? No problem, the back of the book has a collection of the mouth watering recipes that Annia describes in her time in the Middle East. Everything is tied together in one of the most gripping, interesting, educational and salivation-inducing tales I’ve read in a long time. It’s simply great.
If your mother is a reader and a bit of a foodie., she’ll love this book. If she’s a reader and a big foodie, she’ll never stop thanking you for it. Rarely have I read such a witty, insightful, heartfelt, introspective and intelligent book, let alone one discussing people and their foods, during war time.
**Necessary Disclosure** In compliance FTC Guidelines at 16 CFR Part 255, I hereby disclose that I receive all samples free of charge.