Eating & Drinking

Cheese Lovers: ‘Udderly in Love’ This Valentines Day from Crave Brothers

Crave Brothers Gives Back with ‘Udderly in Love’ Valentine’s Day Gift Boxes

You’ve heard of a candy-gram, but what about a cheese-gram?

Now until the end of February, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese will offer cheese-grams to send to a sweetheart, friends or family.

After all, who wouldn’t want to spread the love with the gift of fresh, sustainably made Wisconsin cheese?

'Udderly in Love' Valentine's Day Gift Boxes from Crave Brothers

‘Udderly in Love’ Valentine’s Day Gift Boxes from Crave Brothers

The Udderly in Love Gift Box will put you in the MOO-d for the month of love with Crave’s handcrafted Heart-Shaped Mozzarella and award-winning Chocolate Mascarpone. Each gift box comes with your choice of one of three customizable Valentine’s Day notes featuring real cows from the Crave Brothers Farm. Meet Gracious, Luna, Susie and Lola, and select the best personality match for your favorite Valentine.

Card choices contain greetings including:

  • “I’m Over the MOO-n for You!”
  • “Our Friendship is A-MOO-Zing”
  • “Someone Loves Moo!”

During checkout, shoppers can write a message for their card, which Crave will hand-write and include with the box upon sending.

Each box retails for $12 and can be purchased online.

To celebrate the month of love and hearts, Crave Brothers will donate 5% of all proceeds from its online store during February to the American Heart Association.

Heart-Shaped Mozzarella is the perfect addition to your next get-together charcuterie board, and award-winning Chocolate Mascarpone is a hit in date night desserts and on dessert boards with fruit or cookies.

Find more recipes on the Crave Brothers website and order your Udderly in Love Gift Box today!

Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese produces Fresh Mozzarella, Mascarpone and more on 3,000 acres

The Crave family farms 3,000 acres of productive land in south-central Wisconsin, growing corn, alfalfa, wheat, soybeans, grass hay and pasture to use as nutritious feed for their herd of Holstein cattle.

From the biodigester to water recovery and recycling, sustainability is top-of-mind on the farm and cheese factory.

The Crave Brothers Farm LLC and Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese produce and use green power as part of their sustainable dairy production model. Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese produces Fresh Mozzarella, Mascarpone, Chocolate Mascarpone, Part-skim Mozzarella, Oaxaca, Farmer’s Rope String Cheese and Fresh Cheddar Cheese Curds.

Philly Wine: Wine Pro Alan Tardi Returns to NYC for Beyond Bubbles Class December 13

Philly Wine Lovers!  Wine Pro Alan Tardi Returns to NYC for Beyond Bubbles Class December 13

Alan Tardi has worked as a chef, a restaurateur, a sommelier, a consultant to some of New York City’s biggest and best fine dining restaurants.  He’s also written for magazines and publications, such as Wine Spectator, Wine and Spirits, Decanter, of course, the New York Times.

This past fall, Alan Tardi taught his very popular Italian Wine class, The Many Faces of Sangiovese.

Today Wine Expert Alan Tardi returns for a conversation about his new Champagne, Prosecco and Lambrusco sparkling wine class Beyond Bubbles on December 13 at New York Wine Studio.

NYC Wine: Wine Pro Alan Tardi Hosts Popular NYC Wine Classes: Beyond Bubbles on December 13

NYC Wine: Wine Pro Alan Tardi Hosts Popular NYC Wine Classes: Beyond Bubbles on December 13

Alan, thank you so much for coming back. You have a new class called Beyond Bubbles.

Can you just give us an idea of Beyond Bubbles about the class itself?

Alan Tardi:  The class is going to take place on December 13th. That’s a Wednesday from 6 – 7:30pm. And the venue is  the New York Wine Studio located at 126 East 38th Street between Park and Lexington, so a couple blocks away from Grand Central Station in New York City.

It’s going to be called Beyond Bubbles. I’m really focusing on three archetypal sparkling wines. Champagne, Lambrusco, Prosecco.

And I have to say Prosecco from the original growing area, Cornigliano Valdiviadene, not the extended one right now.

These are the sparkling wines that, to me, took their own path and they can, in the case of Lambrusco and Prosecco they’re really ancient grape varieties that have been going on for a very long time. 

Champagne, they’ve been making wine for a very long time. But as we’ll talk about, which is really fascinating, they’re adjacent to Burgundy and they’re both in close proximity to Paris where the King and the royal kingdom was. They were very competitive with their wine.

The counts in Champagne and the Dukes in Burgundy. They were really vying for their wine for the favor of the King. But Champagne, like Burgundy, began making it for a long time, hundreds of years, still wines. And when, and that was what they made for a long time.

 

Pouring sparkling wine

In your class Beyond bubbles, can you give us an idea of how many bottles are going to be tasting from and learning about, and maybe one or two that are extra special to you?

Alan Tardi: We’re going to be tasting 10 wines. Three from Lambrusco, a very misunderstood wine.  The grapes for Lambrusco are wild. Prosecco and Champagne.

The class is Beyond Bubbles. Wednesday, December 13th, tickets are on sale. Now it’s coming up very quickly. 

Let’s really dive deep for a second and just get to know champagne’s history.  The whole idea of sparkling wine was an accident.

 

Alan Tardi: Yes. It was originally considered a flub because they were trying to make still wines to be in competition with Burgundy and they were very good at it. The still wines of Champagne were highly regarded.

So it did happen by accident.  What happened is that Champagne is much further North than Burgundy. It’s at the breaking point beyond 45 degrees North where grapes can’t grow anymore. So they had a hard time making wine.  it got very cold after harvest. One of the big customers for champagne was England and they shipped a lot of wine in barrel to England.

They were put into barrels once the fermentation stopped, because it got very cold and then they would ship them to England eventually in the springtime..

Because they finished their fermentation too early because it got cold, the fermentation stopped. Once it got warm again, the ferment: the remaining sugar went to work on the remaining yeast and it created bubbles in a closed container. 

So when people opened up the barrel, it was fizzy.

When that happened in France, people did not like it because it was considered a flaw. England didn’t have a problem with that. 

Eventually the producers said, wow, these people really want to have the bubbly wine. The King of France became very fond of this wine.  So it really took off from there, but it happened in England first. 

 

Talk a little bit about who “The Father of Champagne” was and how he tried to prevent this from happening.

 

Alan Tardi: It’s a really great story. Dom Perignon is considered to be the father of champagne. He was a chef and while he was a monk, he took over as the steward.

The convent had a lot of land given to them as dues to the church. He was managing the winery there in order to sell wine to support the monastery. 

He would select different grapes from different places. He created fractional blending and fractional pressing of the grape so it’s very gentle and soft, which is very important for the development of champagne. But this was a still wine.

He was trying to make a still wine. When it spontaneously started sparkling, he considered it a flaw.  He tried to avoid it with everything that he could possibly do. 

It became extremely popular.

Dom Perignon champagne

He said, “Brothers, I see stars in my glass.” And he was supposed to be blind by that point. 

This whole thing of Don Perignon being the the father of champagne and seeing stars was made up as a marketing ploy by Robert de la Vogue, who was the head of a major champagne house.  So they created this story around it.  It’s a great story. I love it.

I wonder if that’s one of the reasons why champagne does swell during the holidays. When there’s decorations out and it really is a celebration.

Alan Tardi: I think it is. Sparkling wines bring something with them. There’s this effervescence, It’s like shooting stars. When they’re in the glass and you’re, you put them in your palate and they’re tingling and that’s all good.

Once the sparkling version was approved around 1725 by the King, it expanded throughout the world, it was a worldwide phenomenon.

 

You’ve mentioned the words method and process, share more about traditional champagne method?

Alan Tardi:  It is a very stable process. You have to make a base wine. So you ferment grapes. They started sourcing different grape varieties from different areas throughout the extensive Champagne area. They would blend them together to make a decent wine.  That’s the first fermentation.  

Then they add a liqueur, called the tirage in French, it consists of primarily sugar, could be beet sugar or cane sugar; and yeast. 

They’re put in individual bottles and then the bottle is sealed with a crown cap to keep the wine in the bottle.  They would sit in a cellar for a period of time to create the secondary fermentation in a closed container. Like the initial fermentation process where the sugar goes to the yeast that is added to it. That creates a combination of sugar and yeast creates alcohol and carbon dioxide.

The carbon dioxide goes up, the alcohol stays in, and that’s how wine is made. But because [in still wine] it’s in an open container, the carbon dioxide goes out. 

In a closed container [like in sparkling wine], in this case, a bottle, the carbon dioxide that was given off from the second fermentation was trapped inside the bottle. So once you open the bottle, the carbon dioxide would come up and out. And that’s where it comes from. That is what gives it the sparkle. 

In Champagne, their method is known as the Method Champenoise

Pouring sparkling wine at Popular NYC Wine Classes Beyond Bubbles

They carry out the secondary fermentation in a closed bottle. Then, in the third part, they make the method Champenoise. It’s removing the sediment from the wine.  There are many different ways to do it. 

The most important common grapes for sparkling wine are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meurnier, Chardonnay.  But your class reveals “lost grape varieties”.  Tell me more about that.  

Alan Tardi: These were grape varieties, typical of the area, that were used initially, but then people just put them by the side. The most important grape varieties were Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  Meunier was used as a workhorse, a filler, but it didn’t have the same identity that that Chardonnay and Pinot Noir had.  Those are the three principal ones. Then [there was] these other varieties.

There’ve been major changes in the past 10 – 15 years in Champagne.  It was driven by the Maison.  Thousands of growers who supplied grapes to the Maison.  Many times they would actually press the grapes, vinify the wine and then send the wine to the Maison.

They produced it for the houses. They didn’t have their own labels.  That changed. A lot of the grower producers started labeling and selling their wine on their own. They got a lot of attention.

Some of these people were very loyal to the old grape varieties that were left on the side – they like Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris – not very rare grape varieties, but people are not aware they are part of the grape varieties of Champagne.

Some people are really trying to promote those because it’s part of their culture. It’s part of their history. 

There’s two others, Petit Mellier and Arban. It brings a whole new aspect to Champagne.

So we’re talking with Alan Tardi. On Wednesday, December 13th he hosts his new class Beyond Bubbles.  One of those bubbles we’re going to be talking about is Prosecco. Frizzanti, Spumanti. Help us understand what these words mean, the region, how it all relates 

Alan Tardi: Prosecco is one of the most misunderstood wines out there. There’s a lot more to it than most people are aware of. It’s not just a base for a Bellini or a cocktail, or just a cheap fix. There’s a lot more going on there than often meets the eye.

It’s a very old wine growing area.  The original area is Conigliano Valdobbiadene. Fifiteen towns that make up the area in the hills just at the foot of the Dolomites in Veneto. They’ve been making wine there for a long time.

I have a feeling that the people who originally planted grape vines there were members of this  Celtic Ligurian tribe that were up in Northern Italy, like in the Botellina and over in Liguria. They have this amazing capacity to plant vines in places where it’s very difficult.

Prosecco is very different from Champagne.  I was living in Italy. I was going to Prosecco a lot because I did a story for Wine and Spirits Magazine about the Cartice area in Val di Biadena.

It blew my mind away. At the same time, I was starting to go to Champagne to research my book and I spent a lot of time there. I was finding a lot of similarities between these two very different wines.

Champagne began as a still wine called Coteaux Champenois.  It had another wine in between. A sparkling wine, but a softer, lower amount of pressure called Cremant de Champagne. 

In Prosecco, the traditional way of making wine was fermenting the wine.  Then, they would put it in a container, either a barrel or a cement tank or in a bottle. The same thing happened. The fermentation would stop prematurely because it got too cold. Then, in the spring, when the temperature rose, the wine would wake up and the sugar would go back to work on whatever yeast was left.

Being in a closed container it would be fizzy. Now, in the bottle. The Italians had no problem with the sediment in the bottle. 

I remember going there in 2013, I heard about this kind of Prosecco where the sediment was left in the bottle and people were a little bit embarrassed to show it. 

This is actually called the Method Ancestral like they did in Limu. 

They left the sediment in the bottle. It was just part of the wine. m In 1895, someone at Vinicultural Research Research Center in Asti named Martinotti, figured out they had a lot of sparkling wines in that area like Moscato.

Martinotti invented a system instead of having to do this process in the bottle, he created a large container with a top under pressure where the second fermentation could take place under pressure and then bottle it from there. It’s called the Martinotti Method that he created and patented in 1895. 

Then 15 years later, in France he applied a sterilizing system.  It’s referred to as the Sharma Method. That is the typical Way to make Prosecco not the traditional way.

Most producers in the area did not advance their methods until after World War II happened.

Mionetto, a very big Prosecco producer, only started using autoclaves in 1987. 

At my tasting in New York on December 13, we’re going to taste three Prosecco’s. One is a still version from a winery called Bortolomeo, one of the most significant wineries of the area

After World War Two, he was very instrumental in creating a small group of producers and protecting their tradition of making wine in the area. 

Now their daughters are running the winery. They’re still making a Prosecco. It’s part of the disciplinary of the rules for Prosecco Cornigliano Valdobbiadene

That used to be the same with Coteau Champenois, the still wine of Champagne. You would not find those around. 

While we’re talking about Prosecco, tell us about their growth —  between the DOCG and the DOC?

Alan Tardi: One thing I want to say is that in the very small area of Corneliano, Corneliano about to be out in a Prosecco, DOCG.  In about 2009, because of the large demand for Prosecco, and because of the fact that people were growing grapes and making wine outside 

That appellation covers the entire region of Friuli and three quarters of the region of Veneto. So it’s a huge area, mostly flat. Higher yields, most of the vineyards can be worked, can be harvested mechanically. It’s a very different wine and that accounts for the vast majority of the 500 million bottles that are being produced.

The little area up in the hills has a much more complex growing area, soil to topography. 

It hasn’t really been touched since the earth rose when that, when the sea and the sea receded on the other side of Cornigliano, there was a glacier that happened up in the north and it came down and just took all the land with it.

If you look at the map, the part is very narrow and the Cornelia part spreads down and is very wide and lower altitudes.  So you have two very different soil makeups and different sections within the area.  So it’s much more complex. 

In 2009, they created the DOC and that’s when the original area, called Prosecco, changed its name to Corneliano Valdobbiadene and they were elevated to a higher level, a DOCG category.

They created subzones within this very small area. 43 different areas within the overall territory. If grapes come from one of those areas, they can have the name of that on the label. 

At Beyond Bubbles on December 13, we’re going to be tasting the Tranquilo Prosecco from Botolomeo.  We’ll taste a Colfondo from a young guy who’s been carrying on his family’s winery.

He always made wine in the cofondo method, and he just also started using the method traditionnel as well.

We’re going to taste his Cofondo, and then we’re going to taste Prosecco, Brut Nature, no sugar added, from the Cornigliano side, different softer, denser soil, lower altitude.

You can taste the difference.

That sounds incredible. We’re celebrating Beyond Bubbles, Alan Tardi’s new class coming up December 13th. One of the bottles, the Lambrusco. Can you talk a little bit about its reputation? 

 

Alan Tardi: I think we should feel very excited.  In the United States people still think about Lambrusco as a sweet, red, bubbly wine.

Lambrusco has really changed and it’s very complex.  Usually wines don’t do well in flat areas, but in the Po Valley, that’s where they come from, they started out as wild vines.

They were cultivated by this old ancient tribe who lived in the area from about 12 to 6  BC, and then they just disappeared  There are 12 different Lambrusco grapes. Three of them are really the most important because they have their own distinct identity and growing area. 

Sorbara comes from the town of Sorbara, takes its name after it, and it has its own appellation. 

Grasparosa di Casavetro, down in the south, it’s flat, but it starts to go up a little bit into the hills. 

And then Salomino, in the north, which is the powerhouse of the three.

It’s really fascinating.  They’re considered to be the most elegant because they’re all red grapes. In Champagne, it’s mostly white grapes.  in Prosecco, the grapes are also predominantly white. There’s Pinot Noir that was one of these international grapes. It was permitted but only as a 

The Sorbara is very light, transparent, elegant.  There’s a lot of finesse to it.

The Graspa Rosa is dark red, juicy, fruity, floral, intense, foamy.

The Salomino is the workhorse, Sorbata is not self pollinating. And Solomino is often the pollinator for Sorbata.

At Beyond Bubbles on December 13, we’re going to be talking about unusual bottles.  Tasting a Salomino wine from a winery called Lini 910,  a wine is made using the method Traditionnelle.  This wine is going to be 2006 vintage, and it’s spent nearly 14 years on the lees.

At our Beyond Bubbles class, I’m going to start with the Lambrusco, the oldest of the wines. Then the Prosecco.  Then the Champagne. So there’s a buildup to that. 

After the champagne, there’ll be a still champagne from the Valley de la Marne from the Mounier grape, and the Philipponat Champagne vintage.

After that, I thought it would be really interesting to look at two wines from made by people who went to the champagne area in the turn of the 20th century and they fell in love with champagne and they were compelled to go back to where they came from and make a wine using the champagne style method in their own way.

A wine from Trentino, Giulio Ferrari.  And the other one is RTOs in in Catalonia in Spain, compare.

Alan Tardi’s class Beyond Bubbles will take place December 13, 2023 at New York Wine Studio.  126 East 38th Street New York, NY 1001. Readily accessible between Park and Lexington Avenue, just minutes from  Grand Central Station.

For tix and more information visit NewYorkWineStudio.com

 

The Holidays Just got Tastier! Fresh Victor Organic and Full Flavor Mixers for your Cocktails and Mocktails

Holidays 2023: Fresh Victor Puts the the drinker in charge with Fresh, Organic and Full Flavor Mixers.

Fresh Victor is how you make fast, delicious craft cocktails and amazing mocktails — Every. Single. Time. 

Fresh Victor is a line of premium mixers for consistently delicious and efficient cocktails (and mocktails too.)

H. Ehrmann knows his cocktails

H. Ehrmann is a bartender and drinks industry consultant who runs Elixir, one of the most influential bars in San Francisco.  In the industry for 35 years, owned a bar for 20 years. 

Recently he hosted a virtual mixer walking us through several cocktails using Fresh Victor as the mixer: from non-alcoholic, to low alc, to full alcoholic.

Cold-pressed juice-based cocktail mixers. They have added sugar, either organic cane sugar or agave nectar used to balance out citrus levels to hit the intended brix level for most cocktails.

Holidays 2023: Fresh Victor creates Fast, Delicious Craft Cocktails

For example, with the Lemon Sour, the base is known as a pretty simple flavor profile.  You can add another layer of flavor complexity (like a liqueur).  But the Fresh Victor mixer was designed to have more depth, a bit more bitterness to handle any additional sweetness added. 

Fresh Victor +1 or +2

All of the Fresh Victor bottles are designed to make delicious cocktails, but simply and easier.  How?  The amount of cocktails that can be made by adding just 1 or 2 ingredients plus the Fresh Victor mixer.

+1 is agave and tequila.  Lemon Sour and whiskey. 

+2 might be carbonation, frothing, aromatics, like:  tonic, soda water, champagne, egg white, bitters.

Fresh Victor creates Fast, Delicious Craft Cocktails

 

“2-3 pours and a lot of flavor”

H. Ehrmann

With those 3 elements and Fresh Victor’s 9 flavors, you can end up with dozens of drinks.  From classics, to a spin-off of a classics (including mocktails).

Mixing ratios: 1: 1 and 2: 1.  

1 1 / 2  oz of spirit to 2 ounces of mixer

2 oz of spirit to 2 ounces of mixer

If the drinker likes the taste of the alcohol, they want that taste to “punch” through, then then 2:2 is better for them.  If they want the flavor sweeter, iding behind the mixer, 2:1 is the answer for them.

Fresh Victor is a mixer, not a juice.  So it’s meant to take on dilution as you build your cocktail. Right out of the bottle, it’s a bit more concentrated, more dense.  Meant to be stirred, shaken, reduced down without watering down the flavor.   It can dilute 15-20% without losing quality. 

Using Fresh Victor, you can create a 32 oz, 64 oz or a gallon punch bowl for a holiday party in less than 5 minutes.  And it’s not a simple, lame flavor.  It’s complex.

Orchard Bliss Royale

Non-alcoholic.  When you add Champagne or Sparkling, it’s called “Royale” and today’s drink is adding Sparkling Cider.  

4 oz sparkling cider

2 oz Fresh Victor (Three Citrus and Mint Leaf)

Garnish with dehydrated apple slices

The nose is refreshing. Vibrant apple.  Effervescent on the palate, from the Sparkling. A balance of lemon, lime, orange.  Plump, but not overwhelming.  Mint notes that bring a tertiary element.

Suggestions include playing with adding a shot of vodka, rum or tequila, any of which would work well.

Fresh Victor mixers give a fruit-forward base that makes it easy to play and experiment with.

Winter Spice Tonic

“When mixed well, Gin impacts the overall character of your drink, but doesn’t get in your face”.

1 oz Tanqueray london dry gin

1 Oz Fresh Victor (Cactus Pomegranate)

4 oz Fever Tree Tonic

Aromatic bitters

Garnish with vanilla bean, All-spice berries, Dehydrated Lemon

The nose is immediately the charming, floral aromatics you’d expect from the gin.  Then slowly the baking spices express themselves.  Deep character layers and complexity.  A gush of tonic, then lingering vanilla and lemon.  

Definitely a gin drink for someone who’s not a gin fan as it showcases the best of gin without being overwhelming.

H. Ehrmann with the Fresh Victor Winter Spice Tonic

H. Ehrmann with the Fresh Victor Winter Spice Tonic

Love a standard gin drink?  Try Gin and Tonic with Fresh Victor’s Cucumber and Lime!

“I’ve taught cocktail classes for over ten years.  As much as students love it and geek out over cocktail details at the bar.  When they get home to their kitchen, they still prefer to have something easy.  That’s a huge part of when Fresh Victor is.”

“The 2 things that show us down when drinking cocktails, alcoholic strength and bitterness.  Those are things that help us drag a cocktail out 10-20 minutes. Like, intentional speed bumps to keep you from drinking too fast.  So removing the alcohol from a recipe, removes that speed bump.  Adding more bitters, adds it back.  It helps a non-alco drink feel more like a cocktail.”

“Just before Covid, we decided to focus Fresh Victor on bars and restaurants.  So Covid hits.  We decided to re-package into a 16 oz bottle.  Within 6 weeks we had these bottles available in 7 states direct to consumer. Within 2 months, we had 48 states direct to consumer.  I shifted to selling cocktail kits from home and Fresh Victor was the perfect partner for me.”

“Take a liter of tequila and a 64 oz bottle of Mexican lime and agave, you can make 32 margaritas.  I was selling those kits like crazy.  People were re-ordering every other day.”

“All the ways you can use Fresh Vector.  I went through the lexicon of cocktails.  What can I make with lemon sour?  What can I make with Mexican Agave? Then I’d look at more unique flavor profile and ask myself what can I make with that?”

Figtorious Celebrations

2 oz of Fresh Victor (grapefruit and sea salt)

2 oz VSOP brandy

1 / 2 oz fig syrup

Try thinking of Fresh Victor less as a mixer or a juice and more as an ingredient.  Think of it as an ingredient where you can use as much or as little as you want to make a more complex drink.

Explore from a culinary point of view.  What other flavors mix?

H. Ehrmann with the Fresh Victor Figtorious Celebrations

H. Ehrmann with the Fresh Victor Figtorious Celebrations

 

Fresh Victor Holidays Flavors

H. Ehrmann suggests a twist this cold, holiday season.  Think like a Hot Toddy. Simply warm up your Whiskey Sour, Lemon Drop, even your sangria.  Anything that would normally go with ice, this time heat it up warm and toasty.

 

Zayn Malik launches a custom Lychee Martini flavor, joins Mixoloshe as Chief Creative Officer and Co-Owner

Zayn Malik joins Mixoloshe as Chief Creative Officer and Co-Owner

The global superstar launches a custom Lychee Martini flavor, with a unique can design inspired by his own tattoos.

The fast-rising, award winning non alcoholic beverage brand, made with clean ingredients and nothing artificial will make its retail debut at Walmart, launching across the US with the retailer by end of October

Mixoloshe, a female founded and award winning non-alcoholic beverage brand, announces its partnership with celebrated award-winning artist and entrepreneur Zayn Malik, who has joined the company as the Chief Creative Officer (CCO) and Co-Owner. 

The partnership will center around reshaping the narrative of the non-alcoholic beverage industry, as well as deep creative collaboration on marketing initiatives and upcoming flavor launches. 

Additionally, Mixoloshe will launch in 500 Walmart stores across the country, marking the brand’s anticipated retail debut. 

Zayn’s first flavor launch is a non-alcoholic Lychee Martini, a refreshing and exotic drink, that is sweet, floral, and slightly tropical. The can design is also captivating and unique, featuring replica illustrations of his own most beloved tattoos.

Mixoloshe was founded in 2022 to redefine the booming non-alcoholic drink category with a clean, alcohol-free take on cocktails and premium spirits that taste like the real thing. 

Their collection offers a non-alcoholic range of popular cocktails, such as a Mojito, Old Fashioned, Gin & Tonic, and Margarita, as well as non-alcoholic Tequila, Whisky, and Gin, all made with real ingredients, and low in sugar, calories. 

 

Mixoloshe’s soft seltzers and non-alcoholic spirits have been recognized globally as best in class, and in 2023 they were honored with the Bartenders Spirits Gold Award, Ascot Award Gold for Taste, and the SIP Awards in Gold, Silver, and Bronze, to name a few. Their collection includes 8 canned non-alcoholic cocktail varieties, including the newly launched Lychee Martini flavor, and three bottled non alcoholic premium spirits.

 

“The non-alcoholic beverage market is ready for disruption, which can create immense growth potential. We see consumers already shifting preferences towards healthier and alcohol-free alternatives, which provides an opportunity for a brand like MIXOLOSHE to redefine this industry. I could not be more excited about the chance to make some noise in the category of non-alcoholic beverages and build one of the most talked about drinks in the world.” – Zayn Malik

 

“Zayn is a creative visionary both in music and beyond. His passion for innovation and his ability to captivate audiences will undoubtedly help us redefine the narrative around the non alcoholic beverage category, with a fresh perspective on making healthy lifestyle choices and living well, irrespective of your beverage preferences,” said Kristina Roth, MIXOLOSHE Founder and CEO. “I’m looking forward to working alongside him and shaping a future for this category where the glass is always half full of possibilities.”

Soft seltzers are available in a 12 pack, and retail for $29.99. Non-alcoholic spirits are available in a 750 ml bottle and retail for $29.99.

 For more information, please visit: mixoloshe.com.

Mixoloshe is a female-founded line of non-alcoholic seltzers and spirits that are formulated to taste and smell boozy without the booze. Whether you’re booze-free forever or just for the night, these drinks are the perfect inclusive answer to an age old question—what are we drinking? High in flavor and low in calories, MIXOLOSHE packs a party into every can of soft seltzer and bottle of non-alcoholic spirits. With a mission and ingredients that are anything but fake, the brand offers booze-free cocktail alternatives that taste like the real thing. Party tonight with no regrets tomorrow.

 

 

1000 Stories Wines delivers “Big, Bold” Flavor as the Ultimate Crowd Pleaser with Bourbon Barrel Aged Zinfandel

1000 Stories Wines delivers “Big, Bold” Flavor as the Ultimate Crowd Pleaser with Bourbon Barrel Aged Zinfandel

At 1000 Stories Wines, they share that same bold roaming spirit, which is why each of their wines tell incredible stories of exploration and discovery.

1000 Stories Wines delivers Crowd-Pleasing Big, Bold taste with Bourbon Barrel Aged Zinfandel

In every bottle thy hope you’ll find journeys, encounters, people and places—stories that stoke the roaming spirit in all of us so that once your grass of wine is finished, you set out once again to create the next chapter in our stories.

Margaret Leonardi from 1000 Stories Wines

Margaret Leonardi from 1000 Stories Wines

Today we’re talking with Margaret Leonardi from 1000 Stories Wines.  The below conversation has been editing for length and clarity.  For the full, unedited version, check out our FlavRReport YouTube channel.

 

Just to get to know you a little bit better, can you tell us more about what inspired you to get into the wine business?

Margaret Leonardi: I’m originally from an organic dairy farm in Northern California, so just the county north of here.  We’re in Mendocino County. I’m from Humboldt County, so just the closest wine growing region from home. The wine industry is so much more glamorous and romantic than the dairy industry. I’ve been making wine since 2009. Now my whole life is the wine industry.

My husband is a winemaker too. We live in a vineyard. We’re in the middle of harvest right now. We’ve been harvesting for over a month now. We’ll harvest hopefully through Halloween.

How’s it going this year? Are the grapes looking good?

Margaret Leonardi: Pretty average yields. It’s a little later as a whole than normal harvest.  Not noteworthy, but maybe a couple of weeks depending on the region, the variety.  It’s tasting good. The chemistries are nice. Good acids. So far we’re happy but we’re only halfway done. 

The brand is called 1,000 Stories.  On your website it mentions each of your wines tell incredible stories of exploration, discovery. Where does the idea of stories come from?

Margaret Leonardi: There’s a lot of stories around how we came up with the name and how we got from point A to point B, but everyone has their own rendition, which is just ironic that it’s 1000 stories. Our consumer is adventurous, and likes to roam and wander and connect with people.  So all those people, each adventure you go on, and each new connection you make, you have new stories, and you have new stories to share, and you can share our wines together. 

 

You mentioned the word “explore”.  Up in your area is Yellowstone National Park, and a thousand stories that you guys partnered with Yellowstone Forever.

Margaret Leonardi: That’s a new partnership for this year.  The official non profit partner with Yellowstone, and their main focus is bison conservation.  With our label, our mascot is a bison.  The partnership promotes bison conservation, make sure their population is safe and healthy.

It’s a beautiful design. Tell me about how the bottle itself was created and how you decided what should be on that bottle?

Margaret Leonardi: We have three SKUs that are bourbon barrel aged. Our first is the Zinfandel, the OG of the portfolio, this came out first and then in the Bourbon Barrel Age side, we also have a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Red Blend.  

Then we have an American Barrel Aged section that’s Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, so not Bourbon Barrel Aged, just American Oak.  That would be used for normal winemaking, and then we have our newest corn sku, it’s a Sauvignon Blanc, and this is just stainless steel and some concrete aging.

The Bourbon barrel aged [popularity] has grown. We have customers who want more diversity, more variety. So we’ve expanded the set. 

On the Zinfandel [label], we have our mascot the bison.  Another noteworthy thing with this is on the Zin, because it was our first.

Each time we get bourbon barrels, we go through a 3rd party broker. So we’re not working directly with any distillers.  We have a mix of the distilleries these bourbon barrels are shipping to us from, so they’re all different. 

We’re filling finished Zinfandel in these barrels and then we taste each one.

Some can be really bourbon-y, really potent.  A lot of fresh dill. Some can have less bourbon influence and it’s more smoky, toasty. 

So we have to really craft each one. We’re tasting a bunch of lots and crafting the blend for the finished product.

That’s when we decided to put the batch number [on the bottle]. Because as a whole, the backbone of the wine tastes very similar, but there are some little minute differences. We wanted to convey that to the consumer with the batch number because you can tell [each bottle] tastes a little different.

 

Bourbon barrel has become very popular.  How was that method chosen at your winery?

Margaret Leonardi: It was a practice from the original winemaker, the founding winemaker, Bob Blue, who just retired a couple of years ago. 

We were innovating, thinking of new wine ideas, and this is a practice that he used 20 plus years ago. [Back then] French oak wine barrels were pretty pricey, like a luxury commodity to use. So he was looking at different alternatives to age his wines here at Fetzer. 

He had this idea. Bourbon and whiskey barrels were cheaper.

We bought some bourbon barrels and tried it.  We were like, we should bottle this, not blend this into a bigger portion. This should be its own bottle. That was in 2014, our first vintage. 

I started with the company in 2015. I was here at the beginning, so I saw some of the evolution and then Bob has retired and he’s passed the torch to Sebastian and I.

Let’s talk a little bit about the different varietals. The process, the styles aromas, flavor notes.

Margaret Leonardi: The first original Zinfandel is our classic.  I say classic because Zinfandel’s kind of an American grape variety, it’s very Americana.  It goes with our whole spirit of the brand, and It’s what Mendocino County and Mendocino is known for.

We grow really great Zinfandel’s up here, it’s a nice and warm climate. We’ve also expanded, now we’re sourcing some of the fruit from Lodi as well, which is also a really great growing region for Zinfandel.  They’re also known for their Zin.

It’s blended with some Petite Syrah.  Just to give the color a little more enhancement. Some more tannin structure. We want the whole backbone of the blend to be bold. You’re supposed to match the bison. Big style, bold characteristics. We pick them when the fruit is really ripe. It’s pretty hot.  Then we finish it in bourbon barrels and we can  use a little bit of American oak, French oak in there too, just to give it some oak enhancement. Usually around 15 percent alcohol in the finished product.

The unique part of the Zinfandel itself is the blackberries.  It’s really juicy, some cranberry and then the bourbon barrel aging process is just where you get some like dried herbs, oregano, thyme.  Toffee characteristics from the toastiness of the bourbon barrel itself. 

The point is to have a really strong wine. We want to have a really strong wine. We don’t want it to waft bourbon and we don’t want the bourbon to sit on top of the wine.  We want them to be really integrated and just like a finish, not overwhelming or overpowering.

It’s very well balanced. Were there any challenges in finding the balance or was it pretty straightforward?

 

Margaret Leonardi: It’s not pretty straightforward. We wish.  The barrels coming from the distillers can vary.  They can be emptied the week before [and be very fresh]. They can be emptied a month [and be less fresh]. So how much has evaporated, how much has been absorbed into the wood.  Those are unknown factors. So it’s a bunch of trial and error. So it’s fun, but it’s a lot of work. We want some consistency, but we want a little bit of difference. 

You’ve mentioned Sebastian Donoso. Tell us about him. How the two of you balance roles.

Margaret Leonardi: He’s the winemaker for the Bourbon Barrel Aged Wines. Before we were both collaborating with Bob, it was more like a team effort.  When Bob stepped down, we also had the new American Barrel Aged Pinot and Chard and the Sauvignon Blanc’s brand new.

Sebastian took the Bourbon Barrel Aged because he was working on those more, and then I took the other half.  We work together.

Before we move on, I don’t want to forget the Sauvignon Blanc. Process, styles, aromas, the taste?

Margaret Leonardi: This just came out in April of this year so I’m really excited. I think it’s still working its way across the nation, but I’m really happy with this wine. I really like the way it came out and I got to make it from scratch. I made exactly what I wanted.  It’s nice when you make something that you really like to drink too.  The fruit that we source for this comes from the majority from the Arroyo Seco region, so down Monterey, central coast of California, which is just a really nice growing region, Bay Area influence.  Warm days and then cool evenings. A little bit comes from just up here in Mendocino County. Then the rest is from Lodi. 

A unique thing is it’s blended with 10% Viognier. The Viognier is an ironic blender for Sauvignon Blanc, but it’s like in the spirit of things bold, I have this Viognier that I really like.  It’s really concentrated, ripened flavors. A lot of peach and nectarine flavors, so I thought it could be really interesting in a Sauvignon Blanc.

I fermented them separate and then blended this percentage in there and It’s really interesting because the Sauvignon Blanc has a little bit of grassy, grapefruit, citrus aromas, 

The Viognier twist makes it almost a little floral, but you get those white peach, stone fruit flavors pop a little more because of that Viognier.

It’s all stainless steel, fermented and aged, so it has no oak contact. I do some concrete eggs. I think it enhances the texture and makes it a little more mineral-y.

 

Are you a foodie?  Can you please suggest some really delicious dishes that pair with these bottles?

Margaret Leonardi: That is a nice thing about our portfolio expanding,  because before we had the three reds. So it’s similar food pairings. Now that we’ve expanded, we can have almost a wine for any dish. The Zinfandel and all of the bourbon barrel aged wines go really great with barbecue or smoked meat, ribs, red meats.  It’s a good “occasion wine”, right? If you’re going to a friend’s house for a barbecue or somewhere where you want to grab a bottle of wine, but you aren’t sure what – it’s a crowd pleaser, it’s a perfect conversation starter.  Sporting events soccer games, Super Bowl, that kind of thing.

Then the Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with oysters, light sauce pastas, cream based pastas.  It’s also great just appetizer wine. I think the Viognier is different. It is fun to start with it. So if you’re coming over and not sure what to open or if you’re having a dinner party, it’s like a great wine to kick off the night with.

You can explore it and then it transitions well with food, especially as it warms up a little.

Where we can find you follow and find that all this stuff both to buy as well as on social media

Margaret Leonardi: The brand as a whole is available through our website.  They’re also available at any grocery stores around the whole country.

For our social media, our Instagram is 1000 Stories Wines. We have a Facebook, a YouTube, and TikTok.  

 

More Flavor for Philly! Chilli No. 5 Unveils Hunted Alba White Truffles for a Limited Time

More Flavor for Philly! Chilli No. 5 Unveils Hunted Alba White Truffles for a Limited Time

Chilli No. 5 launches a new batch of 50 bottles of magnificent White Truffle Hot Sauce to compete with Truff, the industry leader and USA truffle sauce master.

The only difference is Chilli No. 5 uses real white truffles from Alba in the Piemont and has won the Great Taste Award in 23.

Priced at £25/30€/$ per 100ml, it solidifies its position as one of the priciest and fanciest hot sauces in the global market.

 

Every October, Chilli No. 5 founder Rumble Romagnoli visits Alba in Northern Italy to hunt and handpick white and black truffles that are used to make a yearly batch of the Chilli No. 5 White Truffle Hot sauce.

Truffle Hunter - Renzo, and Lagotto Romagnolo truffle dog - Charlie

Truffle Hunter – Renzo, and Lagotto Romagnolo truffle dog – Charlie

The team has a dedicated Truffle Hunter – Renzo, and Lagotto Romagnolo truffle dog – Charlie to find the best truffles in the world. They also benefit from access to the truffle forest that has belonged to Renzo’s family for generations.

“Truffles are like diamonds. They cannot be made.

You have to find them.

Rumble Romagnoli

founder

“…Each one is unique. Close your eyes and bring the forest to life with this uber-umami white truffle sauce unmatched so far in the industry.” – Rumble Romagnoli founder says.

Romagnoli adds “You can understand that no expense was spared in sourcing the finest white truffles, carefully handpicked to ensure their unparalleled quality and aroma. Blended with a mix of fresh mushrooms such as Porcini, Ceps, Chantrelles, Girolles, and Morilles, this creation is a true culinary gem.”

According to the Great Taste Award Judges “It becomes clear very quickly that this sauce has been made with real skill. The truffle is very much present but tamed at all times. The additional mushrooms combine for a really characterful sauce that offers umami in spades but has some acidity, tang and sweetness too. On top of all this artistry, there’s the late and subtle arrival of chilli heat to round it all off. This is a very complex sauce, but very accessible too.”

This unique White Truffle Hot Sauce will be a versatile addition to kitchens, grills, and BBQs all over the world used not only as a condiment, but also as marinade, and a BBQ sauce. Traditionally, truffle is used on plain pasta, risotto, or grilled meats to enhance the complexity of this unique flavour. The intoxicating aroma and robust, earthy flavour of white truffles create a truly sensory experience that will transport you to a world of culinary luxury.

Chilli No. 5’s White Truffle Sauce is a limited-edition offering, available for a limited time as only 50 bottles are produced each season. This new batch left the Chilli No. 5 kitchens today, so don’t miss the opportunity to add this rare delight to your upcoming culinary repertoire.

Chilli No. 5’s White Truffle Sauce is the perfect choice for discerning home cooks, food enthusiasts, and those seeking to impress guests with a touch of decadence. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion, hosting an intimate dinner party, or simply indulging in a gourmet home-cooked meal, this sauce will leave a lasting impression.

This limited-edition White Truffle Hot sauce goes with everything and is perfect for a chilli sauce gift in its designer sustainable packaging.

To explore the rich flavors of Chilli No. 5’s White Truffle Sauce and elevate your culinary creations, visit Chilli No. 5’s Website.

 

Legendary Pittsburgh Restauranteur Joseph Costanzo Jr. Reveals all in Memoir with “On The Rocks”

Legendary Pittsburgh Restauranteur Joseph Costanzo Jr. Reveals all in his Tasty Memoir with “On The Rocks”

On the Rocks chronicles the real-life journey of restaurateur Joseph Costanzo Jr., from his rise to success in the 1990s as a owner of the highly acclaimed Primadonna Restaurant, radio host, columnist, and aspiring politician to his sharp fall in the early 2000s, ending in an investigation and a stint in federal prison.

Costanzo is a complex character, whom readers will admire for his confidence and rebuke for his arrogance, will love for his generosity and despise for his egotism, and will learn from in both his attention to detail and lack thereof.

This driven, not-your-average-Joe is an unforgettable character who achieves the seemingly impossible but can’t help getting in his own way. Come along with Joe for a bumpy ride on the rocks

On the Rocks: The Primadonna Story, co-written by Maria C. Palmer and Ruthie Robbins is available now on Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, Walmart, Target.  Signed copies at the Heinz History Center. Also follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Today, we’re having a conversation with all three: Joseph Costanzo Jr., co-writers Maria C. Palmer and Ruthie Robbins.

The conversation has been edited for clarity and length.  Find the un-edited conversation on our FlavRReport YouTube channel.

Something that I find amazing, this book has been 17 years in the process. Is that an accurate piece of trivia?

Maria C. Palmer: 100%. Yes, that is a very accurate piece of trivia.

So way back 17 years ago, what sparked this for you?

Maria C. Palmer: A couple of things. I think that because the restaurant was such a significant part of our lives, and it was always the highlight of my father’s life. Once it went away, the spark kind of went away, too. And I wanted to bring that back in my Dad. So I started asking him lots of questions about his life. Specifically for a family history. At the time, being a writer myself, in addition to grant writing, I’m also a writer and I can really spot a good story that has commercial value.

On The Rocks co-author Maria C. Palmer

On The Rocks co-author Maria C. Palmer

There were just so many wonderful elements to his story. So I started recording some vignettes of different things that had happened throughout his life. But not really knowing and or intending at the time that it would be a book. 

But as we went on, I saw that the potential was there and I was lucky enough to still be in contact with my former teacher, Ruthie Dines Robbins and brought the project to her and asked her if she would be willing to work on it with me.

It was really from there that we decided it would become a book and that we would work together diligently for probably 10 years together.

Ruthie Robbins: I’m only 7 years.

Joseph Costanzo Jr.: They had it in Maria’s voice originally. Ruthie was in a book club and they said, “Put it in Joe’s voice and they had to go back and change the whole book.”  I watched 11, 000 emails back and forth. 

Ruthie Robbins: We were not primarily emailing. We were mostly talking and texting, and that year was the pandemic year. So I was off teaching that winter and the following fall.

 

Before we get into the restaurant itself, what was the writing process like?

Maria C. Palmer: I can speak to the family history and just the overall process of it. It was really challenging. Because whenever you’re writing a memoir or a biography, You’re not writing a Wikipedia page. So it’s not from the time somebody is born until the time that they pass away.

You’re picking the most poignant time in their lives. Not only cherry picking all the good things that happened during that time period, but you’re picking some of the challenges too, because that’s what makes a good story. 

It was challenging to figure out what the storyline was going to be and sometimes to tell those hard parts of the story.

What was even more challenging, was just the nebulous nature of the publishing industry.  I just thought you wrote a book, it’s on Amazon and then people buy it. And that could not be further from the truth. Query letters.  Polished one page, a 90,000 word manuscript.  A whole book proposal.  An entire business plan of why we’re writing the book and why it’s going to sell into the market. Requiring that much to not even get a thanks,, but just no response whatsoever.

Ruthie Robbins: Totally agree. The writing was not arduous part because Maria and I get along so well.. We’re real partners, but this publishing thing.  We really didn’t understand the process, so it is difficult, and especially in this genre, [competing with] the celebrities and athletes and reality stars who wrote memoirs.  They want a name on the shelf that someone will pick up in a bookstore. 

 

Mr. Costanzo, one of my favorite parts of this book is the wine mentions.  Tell us your “Pin on the wall” story.

Joseph Costanzo Jr.: Yeah we’re in a tough neighborhood, but we brought in a lot of people outside the area and upscale people,  limos, what have you. 

I had a bus boy and he was a really good worker. He became a server and he came to me after he got the drink order and said, ”what’s a pin on the wall?”

I never heard of a “Pin on the Wall”. So we went to the bartender. He didn’t know either.  We looked it up, nothing. 

So I went out there to ask the customers, so we could make it for them  – and one of the most mortal sins at the Primadonna was making Joe Costanzo look bad – I said, excuse me what’s in a Pin on a Wall and they all started laughing. The guy said, “Pinot Noir.”

They’re laughing at me.  That’s bad. So I went in and I really did a job on this kid.  My wife grabbed me by my tie and pushed me downstairs to my office.

I was in this kid’s face because he really wasn’t real serious about the situation.  If you’re going to be the best at what you’re doing, you can’t be messing up like that.

He ended up being great.  Chris, who was the server, became a maitre’d and a great employee of mine.  He was very loyal. I really went overboard with him and I did feel bad about it. 

 

Reviews are incredibly important.  The amount of work and effort you put in to get your Four Forks Review. Tell us a little bit about what happened.

Joseph Costanzo Jr.: Because the area was an old steel town which had a reputation of a lot of fighting, a lot of drinking, a lot of drugs, nobody would come into that area to eat.

I knew I needed credibility, and the only way I would get credibility was through the Pittsburgh Post, because the dining critic, Mike Kalina,  who was a syndicated columnist, had tremendous credibility. KDKA TV, Post Gazette, New York Daily News.

For two and a half years, I kept reaching out to him.  This is in a time before cell phones and emails.

But I knew if he comes down and gives us a good review, people from outside the area, from the upscale areas of the city are going to come in.  That’s what happened. 

But he did say to me, “You deserve four, but I’ll only give you three because you’ll never handle the business.” 

That Friday night, June 3rd 1988, he was 100 percent right. People were lined up at the door. I was used to doing 10-15 dinners a night. We did over 200 dinners that night and it was a total joke. People waited two and a half hours. When food came out of the kitchen, people actually applauded. People were begging me to get him a bottle of vodka because they couldn’t get a drink at the bar. 

We were short of service. We were short of bartenders. I made it all work in the next couple of weeks and I hired people.

 

I don’t want to ruin the upcoming movie or TV series, but when you trimmed it down, how much heartbreak was there in cutting out so many stories?

Joseph Costanzo Jr.: It was very tough. We had a book signing in August. I kept telling people they were in the book, and they were in the draft I read.  But there were final touches that I didn’t see and we lost a lot of names and alot of stories.  So I really felt bad. I found the actual early draft and sent copies to those people.  This should be in a book, but it will be in the movie, I guarantee you.

Ruthie Robbins:  It was so hard. We did a lot of fact checking when we wrote, because memories are so unreliable. We talked to people who were in the original book [draft] and they expected to be more.  And on top of that, you try to end the chapter on a cliffhanger.  When you take out a story that changes the number of pages in the chapter, it changes the pace of the book.  That was a terrible editing challenge.

Maria, what was that like for you as the author and the daughter?

Maria C. Palmer: Originally the book was written partially in my voice and partially in my Dad’s voice. It started chronologically for me in my twenties and [had] flashbacks because the story starts in 1986 and I was very young at that time.  It was confusing and it didn’t work.  Everything that I wrote and all that I put my heart and soul into  was all cut from the book. So now I have another book project that I’m working on.

But I will echo what my father and Ruthie said. It was hard because everybody did have a significant piece to the Primadonna story.  

 

Mr. Costanza, it would be an easy assumption to say you’ve lived a big life. Are there one or two things you would have done differently in the stories of the book now looking back on them?

Joseph Costanzo Jr.: Sure. When you are hitting all home runs, you tend to believe that everything that you do is gonna be a home run.  I had the most popular restaurant in Western Pennsylvania. Maybe I’m going to do something else, maybe I’ll go into politics.

I spent about $300,000 of my own money to put my name out there. Most people loved Joe Costanzo, but now when you get into politics it’s not that way. So that was probably my biggest regret.

My wife begged me not to do it. She said, Joe, we have a miracle here and you’re going to try for another miracle. And she was right. You may or may not like Joe Costanzo when you read the book, but you will love Donna Costanzo.

Joseph Costanzo Jr.: And that’s bottom line. Everybody says the same thing. Joe, it was great. What he did is impossible, but his wife was a saint for putting up with all this stuff that a restaurateur has to go through. 

The theme of hospitality comes out in the book, but you so clearly love people.  What has it been like getting all these people’s responses to this story?

Joseph Costanzo Jr.: This has been unbelievable for me. People are very happy that this all happened this way.  I treated people really well and people wanted to reciprocate.  So exhilarating to me. My life has been very boring, but now it’s really gotten to the point where it’s been great thanks to Maria and Ruthie.

Ruthie Robbins: It’s heartwarming. Especially from former students, the outpouring has brought me to tears sometimes.  It’s reconnecting with people over the book. That has really been so wonderful

Maria C. Palmer: This has been such a 17 year journey. I always believed that there was something special about this story.  Seeing that exactly what I felt in my gut for 17 years is actually playing out in real life.

Whenever we’re in Pittsburgh, it is almost surreal because people are talking about “On The Rocks and it’s really cool and crazy to know that something that you created means so much for people.

Joseph Costanzo Jr.: The big thing which is amazing to me is that the book came out August 8th, 2023. For two weeks, the book was the number one bestselling ebook on Amazon for culinary memoirs. Ahead of Anthony Bourdain’s, Kitchen Confidential and Stanley Tucci’s Taste “On the Rocks” for over two weeks was the number one overall best-selling ebook. Now that’s hard to believe because this was just a Western Pennsylvania thing and Bourdain and Tucci are worldwide known authors and entertainers.

Tell us where we can find the book and all the ways we can keep in touch with this story.

Maria C. Palmer: So the book is really wherever books are sold.  We’re on Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, Walmart, Target. We’re also at most bookstores.   Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Ruthie Robbins: There’s also signed copies at the Heinz History Center

Philly Celebrating with Sparkling: French Bloom Delivers Flavor finally without Boozy Battles – Wine review

Philly Celebrating with Sparkling: French Bloom Delivers Flavor finally without Boozy Battles

You want to celebrate.  You want to “pop the cork”, enjoy the flavor, but you don’t want the after-effects.  The drunkenness.  Certainly not the hangover.  And women?  Of course there needs to be ways to elegantly celebrate even (and especially) during pregnancy.  Imagine a pregnant-friendly wine?

It’s a situation that should have been solved already.  But now it has and with style.  It’s a  subtle, elegant, flavorful answer.

French Bloom Re-Invents the Game 

Now everyone can share “moments of pleasure” as their website mentions.  French Bloom’s organic de-alcoholized chardonnay and pinot noir, alcohol-free French sparkling cuvées combine French tradition with innovation.

French Bloom Co-Founders Maggie Frerejean - Taittinger and Constance Jablonski

French Bloom Co-Founders Maggie Frerejean – Taittinger and Constance Jablonski

The Team Behind French Bloom

 

Maggie Frerejean – Taittinger and Constance Jablonski bring different and complementary skill sets.  Equally important, they bring the desire for the vision and the motivation for innovation. 

Through their innovative and female-founded brand, French Bloom gives an alternative and inviting drink to those wanting to celebrate elegantly and differently, making the most of the precious moments shared with friends and family.

If the names sound familiar, Constance is a globally-working fashion model you’ve seen representing Estée Lauder and countless luxury brands.  

Maggie is director of the Michelin Guide and married to Rodolphe Frerejean-Taittinger, chief executive of Champagne Frerejean Freres. 

Carl Héline, the former head of Champagne Krug, joined French Bloom. 

Let’s Taste French Bloom

Le Rosé 

Pale pink in the glass.  Rose petals, freshly picked red currant, raspberry aromas on the nose.  Indulgent white peach notes on the palate. Elegant. The organic French grapes give a nice acidity.  Well-balanced complexity of minerality and freshness.  Tartness and a rounded balance on the finish.

Certified Vegan- Organic- Halal
0.0% Alcohol
Pregnant-friendly
Low Calorie
Sulfite-Free
No preservatives
No sugar added, 4,2g/ 100ml

A blend of de-alcoholized organic French Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines, organic grape juice, Gensac spring water and natural organic flavors such as lemon. 

 

French Bloom sparkling Discovery Kit

 

Le Blanc 

Organic French Bubbly, 0.0% Alcohol

Medium golden amber in the glass. Minerality and pear aromas on the nose, that just keep opening and opening.  Pear, banana, melon, white flowers.  An explosion of complexity on the palate.  As the flavors open, Granny Smith apple, spicy citrus.  A full-bodied mouth with a luxurious, zesty finish that keeps going.

De-alcoholized organic wine, organic grape juice, French sparkling Gensac spring water, organic lemon juice, organic natural flavors.

Certified Vegan- Organic- Halal

0.0% Alcohol

Pregnant-friendly

Low Calorie

Sulfite-Free

No preservatives

No sugar added, 5,9g/ 100ml

Learn more: FrenchBloom.com

https://www.facebook.com/frenchbloomsparkling

https://www.instagram.com/french.bloom

 

Flavor, Family and Flourish – Howell’s Standard Hot Honey Delivers that You Need to Taste

Flavor, Family and Flourish – Howell’s Standard Hot Honey Delivers that You Need to Taste

Howell’s Standard provides raw, natural honey in its purest form, a variety of herb and fruit-infused honeys, and products from the hive. 

They are a small family-owned company in Northeast Maryland that appreciates the gifts of nature and artistic expression.  Find their website,  their Instagram and their in-person farmer’s market experience.

Howell's Standard Delivers Flavor, Family and a Healthy Flourish with their Hot Honey

Below, Alexander and Monica Howell visited for a conversation about family, flavor, health benefits and the magic of honey.

Howell's Standard Delivers Flavor, Family and a Healthy Flourish

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  Find the full, unedited conversation on the FlavRReport YouTube channel.

 

My understanding going back to the beginning is, this whole company was a COVID baby, meaning the idea of it launched during the pandemic. Is that accurate?

 

Alexander Howell: So I’ll give you a bit of a backstory. We had, like you said, started around the boom of COVID. During that time with all the sickness going around, one of the things we decided to do was to figure out how we can stay healthier and keep the entire family more healthy during that entire time.

One of the things we decided to do was to cut out a lot of white and processed sugars because it’s the cause of a lot of health issues, cancers, things of that nature. After that we [realized] we can’t just not have any type of sweetener at all.  We’re not that strong. 

We went across a couple of different sweeteners. We tried agave, we tried monk fruit.  We tried all those, [but] they didn’t hit the spot for us. 

Then we were at a farmer’s market [and] tried some raw honey.  Once we had tried that, it’s like the entire world just opened up for us because.

We started researching it more and found out there were tons of health benefits tied into raw honey itself. 

Once we started consuming it ourselves, we felt the changes.  A lot more energy naturally, our skin started looking a lot better, our hair started looking better.  Then we decided instead of keeping this a family secret, we can share it with the world.

Monica Howell: So I’ve got a slightly different angle on it. Everything Alex said is definitely true. Pre COVID, I had always been an entrepreneur at heart, always dabbling in something, always doing a little side things.  They say you have to have multiple streams of income.

So I was always looking for the next best option. Prior to COVID, I was creating body butters and detox masks and sugar scrubs; and just looking for things that were positive for your skin in a natural manner. Honey was one of the ingredients that was always on my shelf. 

[Honey] is one of those ingredients. It’s a wonderful connector. I had really only ever thought of honey as this thing that was on aisle number eight of the grocery store always next to the maple syrup.  A condiment to get with your fried chicken.

But once I started having success with personal skin care, the products that were most sought after, that had the best outcomes for my skin all had honey in them. 

During COVID, we just really started to come together more, having more conversations. Bringing together the things that we were doing individually as a group and kind of figuring out 

We started minimizing ingredients.  Looking at that 20 line ingredient list on the back of everything and saying what can [remove]?

 

Something you both touched on was the zero to one aspect.  Talk a little bit about the process from idea to reality.

Monica Howell: So for me, it was checking boxes. Throwing something on the wall and seeing what sticks, that old spaghetti adage.

There’s so many layers, so many things that I wasn’t aware of honey as a whole.

Figuring out how we could integrate this into our lives, and then how we then convert that and transition that into something that was revenue generating, seeing there was a niche.

We started with friends and family. Letting people that would trust us, try things out.

A lot of the response was ‘I don’t like honey’ or ‘I already have sugar. I don’t need to do this.’

But we said, it’s open your mind, let’s look into something a little different. Let’s consider it in a different way and move forward from there.

One thing that I think stands out for us is the fact that everything that we do, all the honey options that we have available are all beneficial in some way, shape or form. You get the benefit of those things that are being infused into the honey. So everything is purposeful.

Everything added is to expand the benefits of the honey into something beyond. 

Each honey is different, with different infusions.  We call them varietals.  Essentially a varietal is a honey that the beekeeper and the farmer have integrated hives into that particular crop. The honey has a flavor and nuance.  Then we have our infusions. 

Local honey is where I go. That’s all I want.  Our local [honey] in Maryland is not the same local that’s in Texas. What’s local to California is not what’s local to Utah. What’s local to Utah is not local to Maine. But when you look at it, all those honeys have a slight variance and nuance in flavor because of what’s being pollinated.

Our plants aren’t the same here as in Hawaii. So when you say I enjoy wildflower, the enjoyment of your wildflower might taste completely different than what I’m used to because of the plants that are growing. It doesn’t necessarily all taste the same. 

 

When you started with this idea, were you aware of the different varietals, the regions and how that affected honey?

Alexander Howell:  We definitely didn’t know how intricate and how deep this kind of rabbit hole of honey goes.  It’s a very nice and very informative learning experience for two reasons. One, just so we are aware of the benefits and can tell our family, but also so we can now have those kinds of conversations with our customers.

Monica Howell: Even something as a variance from season to season.  Literally your spring honey can be a completely different product from your fall [honey] and your winter honey.

The amount of moisture that’s in the air, that can even be from location to location. April showers bring May flowers. Those April showers are happening, there’s a ton of moisture in the air. And then when you’re getting into the fall, you’re having the bees that are pollinated when you’re getting into the fall, there’s a variance in that same region.

That same area has shifted the temperature. You’re just coming out of 90 degree weather. There’s still flowers out. But the pollination process that’s happening, the bees are what they’re collecting now, it can be different. 

In the U. S. alone, there’s over 300 different types of honey.  Over the world, there are thousands.

The interesting thing is when we’re bringing those varietals together in one place, you actually taste them side by side, [you can taste and notice] there are definite differences that you may never [have noticed otherwise] .

Someone says, “I don’t like honey. I say, “Well you haven’t tasted my honey.”

They find out, they dont like wildflower from North Carolina, but they love sage from California or macadamia nut from Hawaii – it’s amazing.

 

You’ve both mentioned farmer’s market experiences, sampling and buying. Let’s talk a little bit about those experiences.

 

Alexander Howell: As far as farmers markets goes, we’ve gotten the entire spectrum of reactions – ‘Oh, this is some of the best I‘ve ever had in my life’, or ‘This is nasty’

I appreciate either side of the spectrum, it’s just very honest and blunt. In person, you get to actually see that emotion, you get to see that interaction, you get to not only see what they think but maybe they brought a friend or a family member of theirs – their husband, their wife, their kids, their dog.

We get to see what your dietary needs are, your favorite flavors, your favorite vegetables.  If you have a health issue, what type of things we have that could possibly help.

It’s even as simple as someone getting a gift for somebody who’s a pescatarian who likes to cook so, ‘What do you have for this?’

And I can then give them a whole range of stuff [to browse].

Monica Howell: We’ve been selling at farmer’s markets for 2.5 years. By far, it is my favorite. People who grew up going to farmer’s markets. Beekeepers that have grown up in their Grandma’s backyard.  

We always get somebody that says, ‘Oh, my grandma had honey. And I’m already familiar.’    I always challenge them to taste something that’s a little different, 

We get people who are extremely health conscious.  They are looking for natural options.

 

On your website, there’s a lot of products What are the major categories and what are one or two or three that you really want to highlight that are currently available?

Monica Howell: We do some switching out from season to season, but for the most part, 25 items. A combination of the varietals and the infusions. 

We’ve got an amazing macadamia nut honey that comes from Hawaii.  You get a honey that has a certain butteriness to it, a nice weight to it.  A little nuttiness at the end. It’s amazing in coffee. It’s amazing on top of a banana bread, really good in yogurt. Also good to cook with. 

Our blueberry is from Maine. A little bit of a nuance of that blueberry flavor. It’s a little sweeter than some of the other honeys. It’s amazing on bakery goods and breakfast. So instead of using traditional maple syrup, we’re using the blueberry honey on a Belgian waffle on a pancake. Amazing on yogurt and things like that. 

Then we’ve got our infusions. So the infusions essentially are different botanicals using a particular honey.

I’m using an extra white honey from Iowa. If you’re looking on the spectrum of honey, not only does honey change area to area, there’s water white honey, all the way down to your dark amber honeys.  So there’s an entire rainbow of different types of honey, based on what’s being pollinated and what’s growing. 

Your darker honeys have more of a molasses flavor, probably 10 – 20 x the antioxidants that you’re getting then like a water white honey. But when we’re considering what to use to infuse, I’m usually going with that lighter honey.

Our elderberry honey is super important.  We’re taking a ground elderberry from the actual berry, not the elderberry flower. And we’re grinding that up and then infusing that into honey over a period of time. That allows you to then take that elderberry on a regular basis, either in as a sweetener for your tea or actually adding it into a yogurt.

Alexander Howell: Some of the things that I like to highlight, because I’m a foodie, I’m always trying to find honey that would elevate the taste.

One of those is Hot Honey. Anything from chicken, to beef, to pork, to seafood, to shellfish. I love it all. One specific thing is strawberries. It sounds a little out there, but it’s amazing. 

And also the vanilla.  I love it on my baked goods, banana breads, cornbread, really good on cinnamon rolls. Instead of the sheet icing I’ll put the honey. Even simpler like a latte or a cup of tea.  Put some of your pancakes or crepes. 

It’s the two different honeys on two different ends of the spectrum, but at the end of the day they both serve their purposes 

Monica Howell: We are working with a few bartenders and mixologists that have taken our honeys and creating mocktails. Super fun.

 

One thing to acknowledge,  the audience is a large majority of our conversations are wine based. So it’s with winemakers and chefs.

Do any of these honeys pair better with any specific kinds of varietals of wine?

 

Alexander Howell: One of the best ways I do like to enjoy wine with honey is charcuterie. 

Monica Howell: Charcuterie and honey go hand in hand. It’s like a whole little puzzle of delicious-ness.

I like Merlot.  Something becoming more popular are meads. So mead is wine essentially made with the foundation of honey versus grapes.  There are a lot of brewers that are starting to play with mead. So you’ll find mead in all different varietals, some that very much tastes like wine and some that tastes closer to beer.

We’re not necessarily pairing the wine so much with the honey as helping the person that’s hosting the event, creating that perfect board, that perfect accompaniment to it.

What’s the best way to learn more about you? Website, social media? How can we follow you more?

 

Monica Howell: Definitely the website is the easiest way. You can also find us on Facebook and Instagram. The unique feature of what we do in-person. That’s the benefit of coming to see us at a farmer’s market.  We also are actually on a couple of stores in the local area, local by design, which is an Annapolis mall in Annapolis, Maryland, where our product is available on their shelves.

You can find gifting boxes and samplers on the website too. 

Howell’s Standard provides raw, natural honey in its purest form, a variety of herb and fruit-infused honeys, and products from the hive. 

They are a small family-owned company in Northeast Maryland that appreciates the gifts of nature and artistic expression.  Find their website,  their Instagram and their in-person farmer’s market experience.

Howell's Standard Delivers Flavor, Family and a Healthy Flourish with their Hot Honey

Below, Alexander and Monica Howell visited for a conversation about family, flavor, health benefits and the magic of honey.

Howell's Standard Delivers Flavor, Family and a Healthy Flourish

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  Find the full, unedited conversation on the FlavRReport YouTube channel.

 

My understanding going back to the beginning is, this whole company was a COVID baby, meaning the idea of it launched during the pandemic. Is that accurate?

 

Alexander Howell: So I’ll give you a bit of a backstory. We had, like you said, started around the boom of COVID. During that time with all the sickness going around, one of the things we decided to do was to figure out how we can stay healthier and keep the entire family more healthy during that entire time.

One of the things we decided to do was to cut out a lot of white and processed sugars because it’s the cause of a lot of health issues, cancers, things of that nature. After that we [realized] we can’t just not have any type of sweetener at all.  We’re not that strong. 

We went across a couple of different sweeteners. We tried agave, we tried monk fruit.  We tried all those, [but] they didn’t hit the spot for us. 

Then we were at a farmer’s market [and] tried some raw honey.  Once we had tried that, it’s like the entire world just opened up for us because.

We started researching it more and found out there were tons of health benefits tied into raw honey itself. 

Once we started consuming it ourselves, we felt the changes.  A lot more energy naturally, our skin started looking a lot better, our hair started looking better.  Then we decided instead of keeping this a family secret, we can share it with the world.

Monica Howell: So I’ve got a slightly different angle on it. Everything Alex said is definitely true. Pre COVID, I had always been an entrepreneur at heart, always dabbling in something, always doing a little side things.  They say you have to have multiple streams of income.

So I was always looking for the next best option. Prior to COVID, I was creating body butters and detox masks and sugar scrubs; and just looking for things that were positive for your skin in a natural manner. Honey was one of the ingredients that was always on my shelf. 

[Honey] is one of those ingredients. It’s a wonderful connector. I had really only ever thought of honey as this thing that was on aisle number eight of the grocery store always next to the maple syrup.  A condiment to get with your fried chicken.

But once I started having success with personal skin care, the products that were most sought after, that had the best outcomes for my skin all had honey in them. 

During COVID, we just really started to come together more, having more conversations. Bringing together the things that we were doing individually as a group and kind of figuring out 

We started minimizing ingredients.  Looking at that 20 line ingredient list on the back of everything and saying what can [remove]?

 

Something you both touched on was the zero to one aspect.  Talk a little bit about the process from idea to reality.

Monica Howell: So for me, it was checking boxes. Throwing something on the wall and seeing what sticks, that old spaghetti adage.

There’s so many layers, so many things that I wasn’t aware of honey as a whole.

Figuring out how we could integrate this into our lives, and then how we then convert that and transition that into something that was revenue generating, seeing there was a niche.

We started with friends and family. Letting people that would trust us, try things out.

A lot of the response was ‘I don’t like honey’ or ‘I already have sugar. I don’t need to do this.’

But we said, it’s open your mind, let’s look into something a little different. Let’s consider it in a different way and move forward from there.

One thing that I think stands out for us is the fact that everything that we do, all the honey options that we have available are all beneficial in some way, shape or form. You get the benefit of those things that are being infused into the honey. So everything is purposeful.

Everything added is to expand the benefits of the honey into something beyond. 

Each honey is different, with different infusions.  We call them varietals.  Essentially a varietal is a honey that the beekeeper and the farmer have integrated hives into that particular crop. The honey has a flavor and nuance.  Then we have our infusions. 

Local honey is where I go. That’s all I want.  Our local [honey] in Maryland is not the same local that’s in Texas. What’s local to California is not what’s local to Utah. What’s local to Utah is not local to Maine. But when you look at it, all those honeys have a slight variance and nuance in flavor because of what’s being pollinated.

Our plants aren’t the same here as in Hawaii. So when you say I enjoy wildflower, the enjoyment of your wildflower might taste completely different than what I’m used to because of the plants that are growing. It doesn’t necessarily all taste the same. 

 

When you started with this idea, were you aware of the different varietals, the regions and how that affected honey?

Alexander Howell:  We definitely didn’t know how intricate and how deep this kind of rabbit hole of honey goes.  It’s a very nice and very informative learning experience for two reasons. One, just so we are aware of the benefits and can tell our family, but also so we can now have those kinds of conversations with our customers.

Monica Howell: Even something as a variance from season to season.  Literally your spring honey can be a completely different product from your fall [honey] and your winter honey.

The amount of moisture that’s in the air, that can even be from location to location. April showers bring May flowers. Those April showers are happening, there’s a ton of moisture in the air. And then when you’re getting into the fall, you’re having the bees that are pollinated when you’re getting into the fall, there’s a variance in that same region.

That same area has shifted the temperature. You’re just coming out of 90 degree weather. There’s still flowers out. But the pollination process that’s happening, the bees are what they’re collecting now, it can be different. 

In the U. S. alone, there’s over 300 different types of honey.  Over the world, there are thousands.

The interesting thing is when we’re bringing those varietals together in one place, you actually taste them side by side, [you can taste and notice] there are definite differences that you may never [have noticed otherwise] .

Someone says, “I don’t like honey. I say, “Well you haven’t tasted my honey.”

They find out, they dont like wildflower from North Carolina, but they love sage from California or macadamia nut from Hawaii – it’s amazing.

 

You’ve both mentioned farmer’s market experiences, sampling and buying. Let’s talk a little bit about those experiences.

 

Alexander Howell: As far as farmers markets goes, we’ve gotten the entire spectrum of reactions – ‘Oh, this is some of the best I‘ve ever had in my life’, or ‘This is nasty’

I appreciate either side of the spectrum, it’s just very honest and blunt. In person, you get to actually see that emotion, you get to see that interaction, you get to not only see what they think but maybe they brought a friend or a family member of theirs – their husband, their wife, their kids, their dog.

We get to see what your dietary needs are, your favorite flavors, your favorite vegetables.  If you have a health issue, what type of things we have that could possibly help.

It’s even as simple as someone getting a gift for somebody who’s a pescatarian who likes to cook so, ‘What do you have for this?’

And I can then give them a whole range of stuff [to browse].

Monica Howell: We’ve been selling at farmer’s markets for 2.5 years. By far, it is my favorite. People who grew up going to farmer’s markets. Beekeepers that have grown up in their Grandma’s backyard.  

We always get somebody that says, ‘Oh, my grandma had honey. And I’m already familiar.’    I always challenge them to taste something that’s a little different, 

We get people who are extremely health conscious.  They are looking for natural options.

 

On your website, there’s a lot of products What are the major categories and what are one or two or three that you really want to highlight that are currently available?

Monica Howell: We do some switching out from season to season, but for the most part, 25 items. A combination of the varietals and the infusions. 

We’ve got an amazing macadamia nut honey that comes from Hawaii.  You get a honey that has a certain butteriness to it, a nice weight to it.  A little nuttiness at the end. It’s amazing in coffee. It’s amazing on top of a banana bread, really good in yogurt. Also good to cook with. 

Our blueberry is from Maine. A little bit of a nuance of that blueberry flavor. It’s a little sweeter than some of the other honeys. It’s amazing on bakery goods and breakfast. So instead of using traditional maple syrup, we’re using the blueberry honey on a Belgian waffle on a pancake. Amazing on yogurt and things like that. 

Then we’ve got our infusions. So the infusions essentially are different botanicals using a particular honey.

I’m using an extra white honey from Iowa. If you’re looking on the spectrum of honey, not only does honey change area to area, there’s water white honey, all the way down to your dark amber honeys.  So there’s an entire rainbow of different types of honey, based on what’s being pollinated and what’s growing. 

Your darker honeys have more of a molasses flavor, probably 10 – 20 x the antioxidants that you’re getting then like a water white honey. But when we’re considering what to use to infuse, I’m usually going with that lighter honey.

Our elderberry honey is super important.  We’re taking a ground elderberry from the actual berry, not the elderberry flower. And we’re grinding that up and then infusing that into honey over a period of time. That allows you to then take that elderberry on a regular basis, either in as a sweetener for your tea or actually adding it into a yogurt.

Alexander Howell: Some of the things that I like to highlight, because I’m a foodie, I’m always trying to find honey that would elevate the taste.

One of those is Hot Honey. Anything from chicken, to beef, to pork, to seafood, to shellfish. I love it all. One specific thing is strawberries. It sounds a little out there, but it’s amazing. 

And also the vanilla.  I love it on my baked goods, banana breads, cornbread, really good on cinnamon rolls. Instead of the sheet icing I’ll put the honey. Even simpler like a latte or a cup of tea.  Put some of your pancakes or crepes. 

It’s the two different honeys on two different ends of the spectrum, but at the end of the day they both serve their purposes 

Monica Howell: We are working with a few bartenders and mixologists that have taken our honeys and creating mocktails. Super fun.

 

One thing to acknowledge,  the audience is a large majority of our conversations are wine based. So it’s with winemakers and chefs.

Do any of these honeys pair better with any specific kinds of varietals of wine?

 

Alexander Howell: One of the best ways I do like to enjoy wine with honey is charcuterie. 

Monica Howell: Charcuterie and honey go hand in hand. It’s like a whole little puzzle of delicious-ness.

I like Merlot.  Something becoming more popular are meads. So mead is wine essentially made with the foundation of honey versus grapes.  There are a lot of brewers that are starting to play with mead. So you’ll find mead in all different varietals, some that very much tastes like wine and some that tastes closer to beer.

We’re not necessarily pairing the wine so much with the honey as helping the person that’s hosting the event, creating that perfect board, that perfect accompaniment to it.

What’s the best way to learn more about you? Website, social media? How can we follow you more?

 

Monica Howell: Definitely the website is the easiest way. You can also find us on Facebook and Instagram. The unique feature of what we do in-person. That’s the benefit of coming to see us at a farmer’s market.  We also are actually on a couple of stores in the local area, local by design, which is an Annapolis mall in Annapolis, Maryland, where our product is available on their shelves.

You can find gifting boxes and samplers on the website too. 

Philly Foodies: Chilli No 5 Brings BIG Flavor …and Superfoods to Your Next Meal

Philly Foodies: Chilli No 5 ‘Sauce of Life’ Brings BIG Flavor …and Superfoods to Your Next Meal with an unmistakable spicy hit, combined with superfoods & health supplements.

Providing the flavorful gourmet vegan chilli sauces & gift sets using the most natural & healthy ingredients.

Chilli No 5 Brings 'Superfood Sorcery' and Big Flavor

Chilli No 5 Brings ‘Superfood Sorcery’ and Big Flavor

Delivering the best range of your favorite international flavors of chilli, marinades and BBQ hot sauces.

Co-founder Rumble Romagnoli joined me for a conversation about food, family, making chilli healthier and bringing their award-winning chilli sauce to the masses.

Chilli No. 5 Co-founder Rumble Romagnoli

Chilli No. 5 Co-founder Rumble Romagnoli

The below conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  Find the full, un-edited conversation at our YouTube channel.

 

When you think about hot sauce, can you tell us about a celebration or a memory, something in life that inspired you to get so excited about hot sauce?

Rumble Romagnoli: Yeah when we’re smaller and we’re in the kitchen, it’s such a magical experience, isn’t it?

I had a real Italian Nonna so an Italian grandmother who always had bubbling pots and pastas and, Mules and fish and meat.  My mother and my sister; so great moments as a child cooking in the kitchen and then out on the dining table with all the family.

It was great and now I love cooking and it makes me really relaxed. Just zoning out, cooking for the family, growing my own vegetables, chilies and then gathering around tables with friends and family just to enjoy. And that’s really where this all started.

 

What does day to day life look like for you.  How did you decide to split up some of that time with a hot sauce endeavor?

Rumble Romagnoli: You remember COVID wasn’t really a nice time for anyone. We were there in a small apartment with lots of small children. It was chaos.

We couldn’t see our friends. We couldn’t see our family. They were all over the world and it was desperate times. So I suppose setting up Chili No. 5 was all about this kind of wanting to get back together with people enjoying moments and being together, sharing and getting fresh, healthy food and not lining up in the supermarket.

Chilli No 5 Brings 'Superfood Sorcery' and Big Flavor

Chilli No 5 Brings ‘Superfood Sorcery’ and Big Flavor

A lot of chefs who I was very friendly with all had lost their jobs. I was like, Hey, can you make sauce? They’re like, yeah, of course I can. So that’s how it all started. 

And we started trying out new flavors and we love world cooking. So that’s how Chilli No 5 started.

From your Chilli expert point of view, what should someone look for on a label that lets us know this is a quality chilli sauce?

Rumble Romagnoli: I think you guys are better at it than us to be fair. You’re fanatics; incredible.

I’m not a real expert. I just love creating great food for my family and friends. And we’ve tried to make… The best world hot sauces but they’re not going to blow your head off. It’s not really a hot sauce. They are chilli sauces. 

Chilli No 5 variety of flavors

Chilli No 5 variety of flavors

What I think you should be looking for on the bottle is: great ingredients, as many as you can get. No numbers, no coloring, no baddies.

I’m looking for just superfoods and anything that’s gonna make me glow.

In my world, when I think of chili sauce and hot sauces, I don’t always think of superfoods.

Tell me a little bit about where the idea came from to so strongly cross over superfoods with chili.

 

Rumble Romagnoli:  I love spice and tingling on my tongue and that kind of rush you get from that spice and hot.  The hot sauce or the flakes or the chili oil. My wife loves to be healthy. Happy wife, happy life they say, so I just combined.

I was doing something more spicy and she says, why don’t you put some good stuff in there? And I’d been reading a lot about Guana ginseng, maca; and all of these are in our sources. These are natural supplements that you buy in the shop.  You have some of that and it really picks you up, increases your concentration, which I need for long days. I need more energy. I’m getting older. So I was like, hey let’s just put them in the hot sauce and then you got the best of both worlds. So that’s the superfood sauce or superfood sorcery we like to say.

That was all my wife’s doing to be honest.

 

I feel like a lot of chilli sauces are just gunk. When I think superfoods, I think health. Is your Chilli No 5 a health food?

Rumble Romagnoli: Absolutely. I’ll pick out one of these bottles.I wouldn’t say a healthy hot sauce. I would say a hot sauce full of healthy ingredients because you never know there are some sugars in here and you never know what people will find healthy or not healthy.

But we’ve got in this Jamaican jerk, which is great on a barbecue chicken as a marinade as a condiment as a barbecue sauce. We’ve got fresh red onions, fresh spring onions. Chilli No 9 chili. Fresh chilies, which are all really healthy for you. There’s ginger. There’s garlic. There’s lemon. There’s lime. There’s agave syrup. 

We tried to tone down the sugar but keep it a little bit sweet, apple cider vinegar, we’ve got, extra virgin olive oil. It goes on black garlic, thyme, nutmeg, allspice, black pepper, guarana, maca, Ginseng, l arginine.  It doesn’t stop.  That is packed to the rims, full of healthy ingredients.

We’ve tried to put the healthiest ingredients we could find and make it as tasty as possible using these ingredients and authentic to Jamaica and their jerk sauce.

It’s a sauce packed full of healthy superfood antioxidant ingredients and that’s maybe why it’s winning all these awards for taste. 

Because bottom line is it has to taste nice before being healthy.

 

Nobody wants a science flavored chili. So I agree with that.   Let’s talk about some of your favorite flavors.

Rumble Romagnoli:  It’s hard because we have over 15 sources. But one of my favorites which you’d probably love as well is the Mexican Fury. My sister lives in Guadalajara in Mexico. She left the UK and went all around South America and ended up finding a lovely guy and settled down there. 

Mexican food is fantastic. It’s just really great.  Full of flavors and all sorts of different ingredients that we can’t grow in the UK or in Europe.  You guys have got such great weather down there in the South, Miami, Florida. Texas, Mexico between the South of the U. S. and the North of Mexico.

So you’ve got the jalapenos which are just incredible. We’ve got all of these beautiful chilies, the habanero come up with an automatically smoky flavor when mixed with the red peppers, the tomatoes, the red onions.  They fuse this on the palate to really pair very well with chicken, prawns, tacos, burritos or even egg for breakfast or pancakes.

The Mexican Fury is a really good one. We won 16 awards for different sauces. I love chipotle, anything smoky in our Louisiana barbecue. We’ve tried to tone down the sugar, add a bit of cognac whiskey, bourbon whiskey.  We’ve added the classic American ingredients in there to make a kind of healthy style Louisiana barbecue. 

Then the harissa is a great one. It’s really popular. it’s North African full of caraway seeds, cumin seeds, olive oil, lots of of incredible deep ingredients that really sit on the back of the tongue. There’s lots of ingredients there that kind of bring your food to life. 

We want to bring life and energy into a barbecue situation, dinner with granny, breakfast before work, sandwich on the bench in Manhattan.

 

Tell us a little bit about the competitions you’ve entered.

Rumble Romagnoli: We were only a year old and we’d come up with these sauces and we’d thought they were good.  The founder Chef Colin and then we had a team of chefs working in our London kitchen and our South of France kitchen and we entered the Great Taste Awards.

These are quite big awards in the UK but it’s international awards where all kind of fine foods, gourmet foods are tested by panels of hundreds of judges. It’s quite a strict competition. 

So first year we came in and we won seven stars for 11 products. We’re very happy. It was incredible. The Jamaican jerk really got a good one. The heavenly Harissa came in very well. Our chilli oil called Pizza Pizzazz.

Our chili flakes are all fresh and lovely coming from all sides of the world. Carolina Reaper, the Scorpion, the Habanero, the Ghost, the Number 5 chili from India. 

We watched and read all of the judges’ comments and we’re so thankful that they really detailed about acidity, balance, flavor structures.

Then we reworked it.  We played around with ingredient quality, we changed vinegars slightly, the cooking process.  We started baking the vegetables, the peppers, the onions, the red onions.  The tomatoes really started getting more flavor.  We put in a bit of olive oil at the start to get the flavors moving around.

Then we came in this year with 13 awards out of 16.  With our 7, that makes 16 of our total products have won awards by the Great Taste Awards.

We want to create the best chilli sauces on the planet. That’s my mission.

 

How is Chilli No 5 going to grow and evolve?

Rumble Romagnoli: It’s happening quite quickly and we have a B2C strategy and service strategy.

We want to have the most delicious sauces in every category.  We’re just working on each recipe and we think  if we make the best sauce, people are going to love the best sauce, and then they’re going to buy the best sauce.

A bit like Apple, just make the best products and people just keep buying them  We’re getting into big stores in the UK, placements in Monaco.

We are in lots of great high end butchers, delicatessens and it’s going really well. 

So we’ve got this B2B strategy. We need to impress the professionals.   We’ve impressed the people who love healthy lifestyle, love delicious sauce, gourmet. But now we have to impress the industry.

Obviously coming to America is the big move. 

Tell us all the ways we can learn more about Chilli No. 5 Tell us your website, social media. 

Rumble Romagnoli: The website is the big one, Chilli No.5. Shop us on Etsy.  Follow us on instagram, Facebook, YouTube. 

We’re also quite present for hot sauce gift sets. We do five or six incredible hot sauce gift sets which are collections of the sauces. And we’ve got mini little minis and you can make your own you can personalize because we’ve got 15 sauces.

We’re very big at Christmas. Very big at Father’s Day, Thanksgiving and we will send the sauces over to you guys in the states. No problem. If anything breaks, if anything’s damaged, we will refund you and resend you the sauce you ordered because that’s the least we can do.

 

Scroll to top