Rain’s Choice – Vanilla Extract

If you like to make desserts, then you must have a good vanilla extract on hand. I did my research, and heard a lot of good things about Rain’s Choice Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract (The Vanilla Company).. It is very aromatic, and not too strong – like some store brand extract.. Not too expensive either- $20.00 for 16 oz.. also very good is the Tahitian Vanilla, which is a bit more fruity, and very good. Its my lil secret weapon.


Best Gourmet Food Line – Robert Rothschild

Another trip to the Woodbridge Mall & Le Gourmet Chef has me brimming with goodies.. the first, more Robert Rothschild gourmet food & sauces.. I am telling you, this company cannot put out a product that I dont like. Their motto is to make products that you can “open and serve”, and their developers have the best palette because everything is blended perfectly. So many of their products have these unique flavor combinations that work perfectly together. One of their award winners, that I just tried today, was their Ginger Wasabi sauce, the candied ginger is sweet, with the spicy wasabi – its the perfect little kick in a very addictive sauce.. Perfect with pretzels, and also good on spring rolls! The next favorite is the Chocolate Dipping Pretzels, which I paired up with Strawberries and Cream dip. So good. The taste is not a strawberry flavor, its basically real strawberries and cream cheese with sugar, sweet and creamy and so very good. All of their dips and sauces are perfect for the host that wants to make her party more gourmet.. without too much effort. GO shopping for anything, and you will understand at www.robertrothschild.com

Sunbutter Natural

My fiance, Mike, introduced me to Sunbutter – because of the whole peanut salmonella scare.. Mike loves peanut butter, and eats about a jar every month.. so he switched to Sunbutter for the time being and told me to try it. Its awesome, it tastes like peanut butter, but rather than the peanuts its sunflower seeds. Yum yum.. It also has absolutely no peanuts in it, and its processed in a completely peanut free facility.. so people with Peanut Allergies can go to town on this stuff. Get it at Trader Joes or most natural food stores.

Miel récolte sur les toits de l’Opéra de Paris (honey harvested on the rooftops of the Paris Opera)

During my trip to DC and MD, I caught a little cold. The innkeepers assistant at the Bed & Breakfast we stayed at recommended Honey & Lemon to soothe a sore throat, so when I got back, ofcourse I raided my cabinets and remembered that I had picked up a gem from Fauchon Paris.. A little pot of honey from atop of an Opera House in Paris.. You may wonder what the big deal is about honey from a paris rooftop, really the difference is in the type of bees in cities versus countryside.. It also helps when Time magazine does an article “Whats The Buzz?

“Keeping city bees safely is an art that the French teach right in central Paris in a rucher école (hive school) next to an apiary established in the Luxembourg Gardens in 1856 that houses about a million bees. Beekeeping in Paris is, well, a hive of activity, with colonies living on private balconies, at an inner-city nunnery and, famously, atop both the Opéra Bastille and the Palais Garnier, the latter still tended by Jean Paucton, 73. Paucton’s bees forage in the Tuileries Gardens, the chestnut trees of the Champs-Élysées and the linden trees of the Palais Royal. The honey they produce sells at a premium price at Fauchon.”

anyway, to the honey.. its sweet, with a little floral spicyness to it.. a very strong flavor, and the consistency is thick, and somewhat creamy..

I feel so lucky to have re-discovered this right in my kitchen cabinet… Im kind of glad I got a sore throat for a day. (By the way, a spoonful of honey with a few drops of lemon juice makes your throat feel good!)

O & Co. Premium Balsamic Vinegar of Modena

A very thick and very balanced balsamic vinegar. Very concentrated and rich. I mix this with Oliviers & Co brand Basil Olive oil and toss it in a spinach salad with some apples and walnuts. Simple and delicious. Its pricey, at $33 for an 8 oz bottle, but like everything that I write about – worth it! And a little goes a long way – so your bottle will last.

Lescure Butter

BUTTER! You use it, but do you actually make a conscious choice when you pick it up at the store? Well I’m telling you that you should! Lescure is a butter from France that is so delicious, it has a really great flavor.. great on a crusty piece of bread.. And because bread is such an important part of our lives – you shouldnt waste it with bad butter.. if you cant find it at the grocery store, go to http://www.murrayscheese.com/, they sell it and my #2 butter – Lurpak (Danish) butter.

Rayes Mustard

Down East Schooner – This is a gourmet yellow mustard, very tasty. Martha Stewart wrote a whole piece in Living magazine so I had to try it. Rayes has been making this mustard the old fashioned way since the 1900s, Raye’s Mustard Mill is North America’s last remaining traditional stone-ground mustard mill.. and they really got it right with this mustard, its not too strong – but not too spicy, just mild enough to not overpower your hotdog/hamburger. It won the 2006 Napa Valley World-Wide Mustard Competition’s Gold Medal as the world’s best classic yellow mustard. 4.00 for 9oz on http://www.rayesmustard.com/ so its also a great price.

Trinidad Charlies Original Hot Sauce

By far, my favorite hot sauce.

We found this on our trip to St. Thomas and St. John, at a store called St. Johns Spice.. (also be sure to try the jerk caramels – yum)..

This sauce is made with mango, but it is not at all sweet – in fact, its a very hearty hot sauce.. it needs to be shaken as they lay the spices on thick in this sauce.. Great on all meats, rice, beans, eggs, sheesh – there isnt much this isnt good on, if you are a lover of heat – you must have a bottle in your fridge, if you have a weak tongue, be careful – some jars are a little spicier than others… Ive gone through my 7th bottle already.. Time to give the friendly folks over at st johns spice a call – (they ship via us postal service – so you do have to wait a bit – but the shipping is cheap)

and if your ever in the Virgin Islands, be sure to take a trip there.. they will dip toothpicks into all the sauces for you to sample! mm hmm