International Pretzel Day

Today was International Pretzel Day. I found out when I went to an event that had a reception. I had heard there would be snacks. Snacks, in my mind, refer to a variety of yummy appetizers. The snacks tonight were pretzels. They were larger than my hand, soft, with sprinkled salt. The salt looked like small pieces of hail. There were three bowls of mustard–honey mustard, yellow mustard, and spicy brown mustard. The first pretzel was warm. I love fresh baked pretzels. I put dabs of spicy brown mustard on it. The pretzels looked very pretty hanging from the pretzel rack. They looked like they were doing gymnastics. They specialized in the twist. I’m sure they would have won a gold medal or two. Speaking of two, I had a couple more. They were cool. And salty. Incidentally, my favorite kind of pretzel is the Pennsylvania Dutch Pretzel. Crunchy and delicious. Tonight I ate three soft pretzels in honor of International Pretzel Day (and also because I was hungry).

Happy International Pretzel Day!!


A Crumby Tale

Just one week ago, I was walking through my favorite city.  I walked for three hours, not knowing where I was going, but having fun visiting streets and neighborhoods I hadn’t been to in awhile.

I landed exactly where I needed to be: the doorstep of a famous Italian bakery.

The display case enticed me with traditional American cookies, traditional Italian cookies, cupcakes, Napoleans, cannoli, cheesecake, princess cake, and an Italian sponge cake with some kind of cream filling. After much serious contemplation, I chose a cannoli, which tasted as good as those I was raised on and much better than the one I got on sale from my local supermarket.
All too soon it was gone. I hated to leave without trying a pignolia amaretti. It was like eating pure marzipan. I delighted in every bite. Until .. a piece fell to the sidewalk.
I gasped. My precious sweet! I looked at it, tempted to pick it up, but the germ-phobe in me said no. How downright crummy to think of missing out on one more tasty morsel. I nearly lost my cool right then and there.
Then I shrugged.
That’s the way the cookie crumbles.

My Epiphany

I have always wanted to have an epiphany because it sounds so significant, but I wasn’t sure if I would have one, since it also sounds unattainable, like a mirage.

I am here to tell you I had my first epiphany.

I was in the vicinity of a very special caramel shop and since it was that kind of day, I went in. Before I go further into my story, I must let you know that I have never considered myself to be a caramel person. I grew up on ultra sweet caramels, which has made me eschew  chewing caramels in the years since. However, I had read about this particular caramel shop and wanted to try it.

I planned to have only one.

A plate of samples offered large chunks of caramel with cashews, almonds, and pecans with smoked sea salt and dark chocolate. I took one large chunk and put it on the silver-colored tray the caramel creator gave me with my chosen caramel (white chocolate exterior, dark chocolate, orange essence, coconut, cacao nibs) that seemed like the perfect blend of my some of my favorite flavors.

I sat at a large wooden table. I ate the sample slowly and carefully. It was the perfect balance of salty and sweet. Next I ate the white chocolate one. Tasty, but I couldn’t detect the orange, and the white chocolate overpowered the dark chocolate and cacao nibs. I wanted that great dark chocolate taste.

I had no choice but to get the caramel with dark chocolate exterior and little bit of smoked sea salt. Very caramelly, but not enough smoked sea salt.

So I had to get another. It reminded me of the nutty one. I liked the mix of salt with graham cracker base, marshmallows, dark chocolate, toasted pecans, and coconut.

I was glad to be able to sit and eat because can you imagine what would have happened if I had gotten just one and left, only to arrive home realizing I need more caramels in my life?

Yes, that was my great revelation: I am a caramel person and I need more caramels in my life.


SAT for the Discerning Foodie

I recently joined a Meetup for people who like to eat. It’s my new professional group. The kick-off event involved tasting a variety of foods and rating them. Participants received a comment card that listed vendors and their products. We also received pencils to fill in little stars, rating featured foods on a scale from one star (ick) to five (yum). As I moved around the room, tasting and marking my card, I couldn’t help but notice that the columns were resembling those in the SAT.

I came up with my own SAT for the discerning foodie. Please read the selection, then respond to the questions.


Our heroine began her sampling with savory sauces. She liked when the vendor said, “You may eat as much as you want.” She tried kale tahini, smoked chipotle, and pomegranate parsley. She didn’t like any of them. She moved on to organic olive oil (pretty good). Next she tried orange poppyseed flat bread, followed by chocolate sea salt quinoa cluster, almond quinoa cluster, peanut butter cacao quinoa cluster. The peanut butter one was the best of the bunch, but it, too, could have had more flavor. She moved on to nuts–habanero honey, original blend, and coconut beach crunch (all lacked luster, except for coconut). She enjoyed crunchy almond moringa superfood, but thought chocolate purenola, fruit and berry granola, and totally free organic granola were nothing to rave about.The dates were chewy and not too sweet.The sea salt chickpeas were bland. She liked the hiranya chai spiced honey and fir honey as well as dark chocolate malted fudge and ooey gooey (trademarked name) caramel sauces. Whole grain lady birds tasted like shortbread, but wasn’t. The breakfast cookies –orange cranberry nut and cocoa–were quite tasty as was the vegan chocolate chip cookie and original frittle, aka peanut butter brittle that was very peanut buttery, but also so sweet that after 1/8″ piece she had had enough frittle brittle to last her a lifetime. The spiced watermelon pickles were also way too sweet and the maple and nibs chocolate was too bitter.

After that, she walked to the main hall to explore the artisan market. She loved Cowboy Toffee’s toffee, especially the English toffee, bittersweet chocolate, cyprus sea salt flake combo, which amazed her. She also tried English toffee with semisweet chocolate and roasted almonds, English toffee with milk chocolate, toasted marshmallows, and graham crackers, and English toffee with white chocolate and roasted almonds. Onwards to CocoTutti, whose chocolates she had the pleasure of meeting/eating at the SF International Chocolate Salon in March. She sampled nondairy toasted coconut, lemon lavender, blood orange, ginger caramel with peanut and Thai oil, raspberry, citrus infused caramel with almonds, and liquid vanilla caramel. Her favorites were the first five. She preferred Roxanne’s cranberry almond granola to any she had previously tasted because it was flavorful without being sweet. She also was partial to Roxanne’s biscotti. First she tried triple ginger with fresh ginger, candied ginger, and powdered ginger, then pumpkin biscotti, made with organic pumpkin, butterscotch pieces, and Viennese cinnamon, then butterscotch. Even though the butterscotch is Roxanne’s #1 bestseller till the pumpkin comes out, our heroine liked the ginger best. Her taste buds, which are her best buds, are always partial to ginger. She liked the design of Burma Superstar’s hand cut lotus chips and thought Della Terra’s Meyer lemon olive oil was very lemony. She especially liked the lemon olive oil cake, which which was the most lemony lemon cake she has ever tasted. Speaking of lemon, she enjoyed Sinful Salt’s lemon flavored salt more than the rosemary and habenero, but preferred the sea salt on the toffee to the sea salt with bread and olive oil. Diane Love Lifestyles’ Love Morsels aka fruitcake was exquisite and the spices reminded our heroine of pfeffernusse. She also liked Diane’s Kookra Crisps, made with pecans, dates, currants, golden raisins, dried tangerine, and Meyer lemon peel. Sour Flour’s crispy, crunchy croutons had hints of parmesan, black pepper, and olive oil.

SAT portion. Be sure to read each question carefully. Use a No. 2 pencil. If you erase, make sure no lines are visible. Are you ready?

1) our heroine began tasting

a) chocolate sauces

b) savory sauces

c) watermelon pickles

2) Watermelon pickles is to frittle because it is

a) spiced

b) savory

c) too sweet

3) Please fill in the blank:

You may eat as much as you …..

4) ooey gooey is the trademarked name for

a) caramel sauce

b) granola

c) biscotti

5) Which of the following is an amazing combo?

a) peanut butter and jelly

b) ham and cheese

c) English toffee, bittersweet chocolate, and cyprus sea salt flake

6) At the Chocolate Salon in March, our heroine had the pleasure of meeting

a) the creators of Bazooka Bubble Gum

b) CocoTutti

c) Captain Kangaroo

7) Our heroine’s best buds are

a) her taste buds

b) her foodie friends

c) all of the above

8) Her favorite CocoTutti flavors were

a) graham cracker crumbs

b) teriyaki beef jerky

c) nondairy toasted coconut, lemon lavender, blood orange, ginger caramel with peanut and Thai oil, and raspberry

9) How many samples did our heroine try altogether?

a) Not nearly enough

b) more than 52

c) less than or equal to 52

10) The spices in … reminded our heroine of pfeffernusse

a) what is pfeffernusse?

b) fruitcake

c) lotus chips

Congratulations on finishing. You, too, can move on to a Higher Sampling Education.