Attending food events such as the Fancy Food Show, and even just buying the occasional culinary treat at the local gourmet shop, one tends to amass a mental catalog of favorite foods. Needless to say, this is most useful when encountering a massive array of similar gourmet and artisanal goods at a given shop.
Here are some of my favorite preserved and packaged foods.
- Duchy Originals shortbread. Duchy Originals is an organization run by the Prince of Wales, whose main goal is to protect the environment and encourage sustainable farming by curating and promoting the foods produced by small British farms and artisans. These buttery Scottish style shortbread cookies are crisp and just sweet enough, without being cloying. They are perfect for dunking in tea or coffee, and are good to have in the cupboard for the occasional surprise guest. My favorite are the plain shortbread cookies, but other flavored include stem ginger (with bits of candied ginger), lemon (with bits of zest), oaten biscuits, and oaten honey biscuits. Duchy shortbread can be found at Rockridge Market Hall.
- Venchi Cuor di Cacao Spread. A very dark spread with an assertive bittersweet chocolate flavor and delicate hazelnut undertones, this is probably the most delicious chocolate hazelnut spread I have ever tasted. Venchi’s is a very thick spread that would melt nicely on hot toast. The spread contains olive oil and Piedmontese hazelnuts. Definitely a chocolate spread for grownups. Venchi chocolate hazelnut spread can be found at Rockridge Market Hall.
- Rigoni di Asiago Organic Nocciolata. Another great chocolate hazelnut spread. This spread is smooth and creamy, sweet, but not overly sweet like that popular brand. Rigoni di Asiago also produce a variety of lovely jams made with fresh organic fruit and apple juice instead of sugar, as well as honey. The jams and honey go nicely with Asiago cheese of the same region. Rigoni di Asiago spreads and jams can be found at the green grocer at Rockridge Market Hall.
- Jams and marmalades by Robert Lambert. East Bay resident Robert makes my favorite marmalades. He specializes in unusual citrus fruits which he sources from trusted local growers or picks “from tree to jar”. His jams and marmalades are always fresh, with bold flavored and a heady scent, and just the right balance of bitter to sweet. Look for Robert’s jams at the Lake Merritt farmers’ market or Rockridge Market Hall.