Thursday, 05 April 2012
One of these days there will come a time when right in the middle of one of my reviews my brain will seize up and I will fall over dead, much like the animator in Monty Python’s Holy Grail. Until then I shall continue my frenzy like search for fame and glory… or at least enough to nudge my way out of pinching more pennies than Scrooge McDuck (curse you 1980s childhood!).
That rambling thought aside, today I am finally bringing you my latest sent by mail product expose, a box full of oily vinegary bottles not used in a movie by Ron Jeremy… via a series of samples from The Spicewood Food Company. Another export from my native state, this time Spicewood Texas, I was generously sent quite a bit of flavors the closest I’d come to ingesting normally would be uttering more please from the bread guy at Olive Garden. I’ll be up front and tell you that while this type of item can be even more expensive than what these guys charge (about 19 bucks a bottle for many varieties), it’s still not something many people are going to toss in with the regular bread and milk grocery store visit.
The first product on the docket was the Wild Porcini Mushroom & Truffle Oil. Since I tend to not go after random fungus growing in my backyard due to the whole potential of poisoning myself and lack of shroom experts nearby… it was nice to give this a grow. Per their recommendations and because it is so cheap to get in bulk I went with their suggestion of using it as a quick marinade for chicken breasts.
Out popped my old pluggable grilling friend after generously coating and letting sit the chicken for a wee bit (as few as 5-10 minutes if you are in a rush will still work) and like a good steward of meat I covered the finished product with foil on a plate to let it cool. Even quick cooking one can taste the vinaigrette influences on the meat, though the one thing that made it most impressive was how the oil kept the chicken moist and tender. It was a very tasty success, though not as much of the flavor comes through after heat is applied.
Later I tried it with some bread and the pucker effect while noticeably bitter was alright for finishing off the end of a French bread loaf. Final Verdict: Three out of five on yummy scale.
Of course that bird above was not served alone and accompanying it was pan fried potatoes and green beans with the next on the list: Three Chili Spicy. This oil is certainly more for those who enjoy a suggestion of heat, but might not be able to take the full on fire on the tonsils ER visit. Along with standards like garlic as well as onion powder I tried to let this item do most of the flavor talking and for the most part it passed. The one thing it has going for it is a good balance, though perhaps a bit mild for my high kick preferences. Final verdict: Two and a half out of five on the yummy scale (a three if you drizzle it over some crackers or bread).
The next dish to visit the pan was kind of a fusion experiment, inspired in part by my recent cookbook feature. Using Spicewood’s Blackberry Balsamic, I decided to make what is one of our most traditional sides… panfried corn and greenbeans… only this time I included a diced gala apple to give it a hint of dessert. Using just enough spices to bring it to life I cooked the veggies themselves on high for about 10 mins and then turned it down to low and poured on the fruity syrup. Stirring again I then let it simmer for about another 10 with a lid on top to let the apples get nice and caramelized. This was indeed the surprise dish out of all I tried. While noticeably sweet, it was not overpowering and the combination was in the end very savory. I will certainly give it a try in the future with another dessert and give this entry three and three fourths out of five on the yummy scale.
The main course to that meal was actually a red baron cheese pizza… but there was another side concocted and featured in it was Spicewood’s Fig Balsalmic. I’m not entirely certain the end product can be 100 percent recreated due to how available part of the recipe is, but the result was basically a glaze like gravy for baked potatoes. The product you might or might not be able to find is a spicy thai curry broth.
But you may be able to try beef or chicken instead. In any case this creation calls for around a cup and a half of the broth, about a tablespoon of corn starch and your choice of complementary spices (garlic, onion, oregano are a good start). Combine the starch early to prevent clumping and then let it boil for about 10-15 mins on medium heat and then let cool for no less than that to let the sauce thicken. Poor it on your piping hot potato and sprinkle with cheese. While not quite as wowza as the previous, the fig flavor was a nice compliment. Final Verdict: Three and a half out of five on the yummy scale.
The last item of discussion was actually my favorite of the whole lot: Parmesan Garlic Vinaigrette. There’s really almost an unfair combination when you put that stinky root with that dried cheese… they pretty much are under some demonic contract to always work together perfectly. Though shaking the bottle only does so much good to get enough of the combined ingredients out, what you get is simply beautiful when it hits your taste buds. It was an excellent companion to some French bread we had as the side to our Cajun sausage alfredo. So it will be used again and one I recommend out of everything sent. It’s not too bitter, not too strong and has just enough kick to make it a good friend. Final verdict: Four and a half out of five on the yummy scale.
To check out what all they offer, go to Spicewood’s Website here.