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March 2015 Tastes

Author:
February, 2015 Issue

Totally Tubular

Looking for something different to satisfy your mid-afternoon munchies? Maybe something to ease that naughty, crunchy craving? Marin entrepreneur Noushin Oshidari has just the thing.
 
Ricebles is a vegan, gluten-free, low calorie treat made of just three ingredients: organic rice, organic sunflower oil and Himalayan salt. The amazing things is, with just those elements, Oshidari has created seven distinct flavor profiles, including ruby red, granite wild, onyx black, jade bamboo, golden brown, pearl white, and lava brown and red.
 
Using a proprietary process, Oshidari and her relatives (the business is a family effort) create light, crunchy, snackable treats with an unexpected array of savory flavors. Depending on the rice grain used, Ricebles can be nutty (lava brown and red), buttery (jade bamboo), toasty (onyx black) or even a hint meaty (granite wild). We can imagine them being terrific sprinkled on salads for an extra surprise or offered between pours at wine and beer tastings as a slightly savory palate cleanser.
 
Ricebles are available at Good Earth in Fairfax, or you can order them at www.ricebles.com.
 

Amazingly Thykk

Greek yogurt may be all the rage, but that’s only because you haven’t yet tried Icelandic yogurt. That’s about to change.
 
Petaluma-based Smári Organics produces several flavors of the creamy, thick (thykk), traditionally nonfat yogurt, also known as skyr, and has just expanded its offerings with two full-fat flavors as well. Whole milk Smári comes in pure (plain) and vanilla, made with organic vanilla beans. Nonfat Smári is available in pure, strawberry, blueberry, vanilla, peach and coconut flavors.
 
It’s all made exclusively from organic milk and fruit, and Smári’s Jersey and Guernsey cows are pastured and fed grass, which creates richer, more nutritious, better-tasting milk. The result is thicker than Greek yogurt (really!), has less sugar than most yogurts (giving it a tangy finish) and has as much as 20 grams of protein per six-ounce serving. It’s rumored that this Icelandic staple is so thick and nutrient-packed that people in remote villages eat it with a knife and fork.
 
Smári is available at Whole Foods, Costco and other community-minded, North Bay grocers (Oliver’s, Pacific, Good Earth, Sunshine—the usual suspects).
 
Join the Viking horde at smariorganics.com.
 

Truffles at La Toque

By the time you read this, truffle season will be nearing its end, but it’s not too late to treat yourself to an unforgettable meal dedicated to the revered delicacy. Chef Ken Frank’s La Toque at the Westin Verasa Napa is offering its 33rd annual all black truffle menu nightly until the season comes to a close (typically early March). It’s a seven-course feast for all the senses that’s put together with elegance, care and enthusiasm.
 
When we visited, each course we had was beautifully prepared and presented. The first (pictured here) was a terrine of New York foie gras topped with a layer of crème fraîche and served with pickled radishes, shaved truffles, toasted bread rounds and a truffled herb salad with radicchio that added texture and sass—what a beginning. Turnip sabayon with shaved truffle was served with delicate brioche. Tajarin egg and truffle had a light, aromatic sauce that was enveloped with a pairing of rich, lush Chardonnay.
 
Truffle-sheathed John Dory (infused and cooked with the truffles, resulting in an intense and wonderful flavor that had us nearly dancing with enjoyment) came with cabbage and truffled chicken essence. The ballotine of Iowa capon with truffle-crushed potatoes and beans was melt-in-your mouth tender. A course of truffled Mt. Tam cheese is aged three days for the ultimate infusion. A dessert of truffle pot de crème paired with late harvest wine meant an ideally balanced mixture of salty and sweet—topped with a 24-carat, edible gold leaf.
 
Beyond the incredible food, what tips the scales here with each course are the palate-elevating wine pairings; attentive, informed and friendly service; and an atmosphere that encourages relaxed enjoyment—even down to the eclectic music mix. Frank says this is the best truffle season he’s seen in 10 years. So what are you waiting for? Treat yourself to something truly special before the season ends.

 

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