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Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Rice Mac and Cheese, Thin Crisp Pizza Are Crowd Pleasers

Amy’s Rice Mac and Cheese took the The Frozen Food Guy’s unofficial “Best of Show” award at the Taste of Excellence opening night reception Sunday evening at the annual frozen food convention being held at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Rice Mac and Cheese was just one of a number of tasty new products showcased by the frozen food manufacturers at the Taste of Excellence event, the official kickoff of the annual frozen food industry gathering, Oct. 18-20.

Rice Mac and Cheese hits all the right buttons. It has the taste and consistency of regular pasta-based macaroni and cheese, yet it’s made with an organic gluten-free rice pasta. The cheese sauce looks and tastes cheesy, which is a testament to the good folks who create the recipes at Amy’s Kitchen of Petaluma, Calif. Rice Mac and Cheese also scores points for being all-natural (as are all Amy’s products). Amy’s gets extra props for offering a tasty option to food shoppers who are gluten intolerant.

Other highlights from Taste of Excellence:

* “Buffalo-style” looks to be an emerging trend as two companies--Rosina and Kahiki--both made a good showing with new Buffalo-style items. Rosina, a frozen pasta company actually based in Buffalo, N.Y., the birthplace of the popular “Buffalo chicken wings,” showed off its Buffalo Style Chicken Meatballs, a tasty and tangy treat that will be sure to wow party guests. It’s a great item to share with fans as they gather around the TV this fall to root on their favorite baseball team during the playoffs or their favorite college and pro football team on the weekends.

Bill Barsotelli, Rosina’s sales manager, tells TFFG that Buffalo Style Chicken Wings “are made with all-white chicken breast and just the right amount of hot sauce.” TFFG says the result is a nice burst of spices on the top of the palate that nicely enhances the chicken.

Kahiki, a Columbus, Ohio, company that takes its name from the longtime popular Kahiki restaurant in that city, earns high marks for its Buffalo Style Tiki Stix, which Kahiki’s chef Jeff Tsao says is “an all-time favorite snack flavor packed into a convenient and fun, hand-held wheat based Tiki Stix wrapper.”

Similar to Rosina’s Chicken Meatballs, these Tiki Stix offer a nice taste tingle that lingers pleasantly after the last bite.

* Thin crust pizza continues to make inroads in the frozen convenience sector. Kashi has a hit with its new Mexicali Black Bean Pizza. Palermo’s Pizza of Milwaukee scores big with its Primo Thin Garden Pizza, which features fire roasted red, yellow and green peppers along with red onions and black olives, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, and a zesty marinara sauce on a multi-grain crust.

Kashi’s Mexicali Black Bean offers a South of the Border pizza taste and the crust may be “thin,” but it offers what TFFG calls “crunchability”-- the aspect of getting a big bite of flavor combined with the experience of eating something crunchy, like a snack cracker or a heavy chip. It’s a winner.

* Kraft proves that with Bagel-fuls you can put a bagel and cream cheese and a fruit filling all into one product and make it edible. This convenient grab-and-go product has been a real success for Kraft since they rolled it out last year with six bagel-and-cream cheese combinations. New to the Bagel-fuls line this year are three flavors that add fruit fillings along with the bagel-and-cream cheese combo: strawberry, apple cinnamon, and cherry.

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