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February 2016 Tastes

Olive You

Napa County-based Mezzetta, which has been tantalizing taste buds for 80 years, recently added to its popular lines of Mediterranean-inspired food products with selections of gourmet appetizer olives, marinara sauces and premium olive oils.

There are four olive choices: Kalamata with orange zest, blue cheese stuffed and petite and artisan blends. The bright citrus burst of orange adds a zippy kick to the savory kalamatas, and the tangy and bold blue cheese (not a light version, for sure) matches the meaty green olives for an amazing snack experience. The blends are easy, tasty and colorful ways to fill a dish for company—or yourself. Each choice is packed in seasoned oil, perfect for a quick salad dressing or dipping some bread.

The 16-ounce marinara (tomato-based) sauces are “supper sized” (as opposed to super-sized), meaning there’s less chance for leftover sauce to go bad in the fridge. Better yet, they’re delicious interpretations of family recipes, including Italian plum tomato, carmelized onion and butter, whole garlic and sweet basil, Parmigiano Reggiano, Calabrian chili and garlic, and truffle porcini and cream. Each is distinct and flavorful.

Rather than jumping directly into the crowded olive oil category, Mezzetta jumps forward with its “finishing oils,” perfect for a final drizzle over meats, pastas, salads, soups, vegetables and (again) bread. You can choose either delicate (buttery, creamy and mellow, with notes of sweet almond and hints of herb) or intense (dynamic, robust and balanced with lingering notes of black pepper, green grass and fresh herbs), depending on your palate.

So what are you having for dinner?

Got to BFree

As more and more consumers turn gluten-free, either for medical necessity or as a lifestyle choice, the demand for products that meet the gluten-free criteria and still taste good continues to climb. According to our in-house gluten-free taster, BFree Foods’ breads, rolls, bagels and wraps fit the bill. Using pea protein and apple fiber to replace the structure of gluten, BFree products are also made without dairy, nuts, soy or eggs, making them vegan-friendly as well.

“They taste good without being toasted, which is rare for gluten free breads,” says our expert. “And they don’t fall apart or crumble like many others do.”

So if you’ve been missing taste of “real bread,” seek out BFree (now available in Northern California Lucky, Raley’s and Save Mart grocery stores) and start building that sandwich—you choose the filling.

Strange But True

Q. You’re no doubt familiar with the five basic taste senses—sweet, sour, salty, bitter and the latest addition, savory (or umami). But have you heard about a possible sixth sibling, dubbed “oleogustus”?

A. Purdue University researchers report in “Chemical Senses” that humans can also detect foods that are too oily or fatty, says Teresa Shipley Feldhausen in Science News magazine. When some 50 volunteers were asked to distinguish among 15 taste samples, most could sort out some fats from the other five substances, even with plugged noses. For example, nearly two-thirds of tasters identified linoleic acid found in vegetable and nut oils as distinctive, even when processed to give the same mouth feel as the others.

Though pure oleogustus is unpleasant-tasting, when mixed with some of the other five tastes, it may end up in palate-pleasing products like doughnuts and potato chips.

Source: Bill Sones and Rich Sones, Ph.D.




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