Chestnut Spread – classic flavors straight from the can

Chestnut Spread spread on bread

Well, the French are not so different than us – they like their sweet treats for breakfast, mostly in the form of chocolate – hot chocolate, chocolate brioche, chocolate spread on baguettes, chocolate crêpes.  Chestnut Spread, or Crème de Marrons de L’Ardèche – Ardèche being a region in the South-east corner of France just above Provençe that includes Lyon and the Rhône Valley – is similarly used on bread and in flour-based recipes such as cakes.

This is all about texture – the powdery presence of the ground chestnuts together with the grainy sugar.  The flavor leads with sweet and ends with chestnut.  Not surprisingly, the ingredients are simple – chestnuts, candied chestnuts, simple syrup and sometimes vanilla.

Crème de Marrons de L’Ardèche – pop the top and dig in

I get it for $2.50 at my local bakery, La Boulengerie, in Forest Hills, which is unabashedly, 100% focused on great, traditional French bread and pastries, and so offers the kinds of spreads that are best showcased on – and, in turn, showcase – the essence of high-quality bread.

A great resource for finding recipes for Chestnut Spread can be found at Easy French Food.

Happy hunting . . . Anne

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Yogurette by Ferrero

Sometimes I find the most delightful products in the most unlikely places.  At my local Key Foods, home of questionable produce and barely acceptable dairy, I occasionally run into exceptional candies.  From the Italian outfit Ferrero, a company whose impressive portforlio of goodies includes Nutella, Tic Tacs, Ferrero Rocher, and the Kinder line – think Kinder Happy Hippo – I bought for $3.09 the sleek and pretty Yogurettes.  They’re long and skinny like a cigarette – see what they did?

Yogurettes are fantastically rich.  The scent alone is transporting.  Opening the pink foil you see the chocolate is fashioned with a wavy, liquidy motif, harkening milk.  Indeed, the essence of the milk chocolate runs neck-and-neck with the strawberry yogurt flavor, which absolutely tastes like strawberry yogurt.  These were fresh and soft and satisfying – one stick is frankly enough for a sitting.  Oh, the Italians and their belief that all things can be sensual – be they gourmet dishes or basic dime store treats.

If you can’t find these near you, good ‘ole amazon comes through; they’ve got them in packs of all sizes, from the 8-stick box to large, family-size:  http://www.amazon.com/Ferrero-Yogurette-8-sticks-100g/dp/B000MUVBY2

Happy hunting . . . Anne

TREST-B Russian plum-based sauces

Why aren’t American condiments packaged so beautifully?  In the shopping district of 108th Street at 63rd Road in Forest Hills, NY, home of a thriving community of Bukharan Jews, I picked up a few bottles of the TREST-B tkemali sauce, a classic, Russian / Georgian topper made with a base of tart plums.  The green variety I purchased (second from the left in above image) is mostly acidic with a hint of sweetness, as is tomato-based ketchup.  It’s blended with coriander, cayenne pepper, garlic, fennel and sometimes mint, and adds a really flavorful zing to lean proteins – especially seafood.  I spotted this at a beautiful European-style deli, Berezka #1, for just under $7. (718) 897-5577.

I have found one source for buying Trest-B online, delitoyoudirect.com, based in California and Australia, specializing in mostly Russian and Ukranian goods.  $8.29 per bottle.

You can make tkemali yourself — I found an excellent recipe at the New York Times archive:  http://www.nytimes.com/recipes/9604/Georgian-Plum-Sauce-Tkemali.html

Happy hunting . . . Anne