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Monday, June 28, 2010

Hancock Gourmet Lobster Wins Gold Sofi


Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co. of Cundys Harbor, Maine, walked away with the Gold Award in the Frozen Savory Category at the Sofi Awards presented earlier tonight at the Fancy Food Show in New York.

Cal Hancock, president of the company, accepted the award for her Port Clyde Lobster Mac & Cheese. The award was presented by Chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barnes, who also presented the keynote address at the awards ceremony, sponsored by the National Association of Specialty Food Trade (NASFT) and held each year at the Fancy Food Show.

Hancock thanked her staff, suppliers, and retailers, while giving special thanks to lobstermen of Maine. This was the fourth Gold Sofi Award for Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co., but its first in the Frozen Savory Category.

Two other frozen food specialty items were big winners tonight. Ciao Bello Gelato Company took top honors in the Dessert or Dessert Topping category for its Key Lime Graham Gelato Squares and G. S. Gelato and Desserts Inc. was the Sofi Gold Award winner in the Diet and Lifestyle Product category for its Blood Orange Sorbetto.

TFFG SAYS: While sampling the delicious Port Clyde Lobster Mac & Cheese at the Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co. booth, TFFG had the chance to chat with Cal Hancock and learn more about her entire product line and business. The products are available in gourmet and better food stores throughout New England and she is looking to expand to other market territories through such stores as Wegmans, the popular retail chain in New York and the mid-Atlantic states. And dog lovers take note, Cal even has doggie treats—Lobster Flavored Dog Biscuits!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Four Frozen Foods Named Sofi Finalists


Four frozen food products have been named finalists in the Frozen Savory category of the NASFT Sofi Awards to be presented Monday evening at the Fancy Food Show which begins a three-day run today at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.

The four finalists are Pork & Ginger Wontons from Annie Chun’s Inc.; Smoky Roasted Vegetable Cavatappi from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese; Port Clyde Lobster Mac & Cheese from Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co.; and Goat Cheese and Pear Savory Tart from Pearl River Pastry.

Annie Chun’s has also been named a finalist in the USDA-Approved Organic Product category for its Organic Chicken and Vegetable Potstickers.

In the Perishable Food Service category, Pork Goya Potstickers from Day-Lee Foods, a gourmet frozen Asian food company, and Swiss Vanilla Almond Lollibons from Philip R’s Frozen Desserts were named finalists.

Other frozen food products honored as finalists include Blood Orange Sorbetto from G.S. Gelato & Desserts Inc. in the Diet and Lifestyle Product category; Key Lime Graham Gelato Squares from Cia Bello in the Dessert or Dessert Topping Category; and Naked Cripini from Crepini Café in the Baked Goods category.

Each of the four finalists in the 33 award categories are presented with the Silver Sofi Award. One of the four Silver finalists in each category is then awarded a coveted Gold Sofi at Monday’s awards red carpet award ceremony, which features a keynote address by Executive Chef Dan Barber. This year, 2,257 entries were submitted for the Sofi awards, breaking the previous record of 2,191 in 2008.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Full Plate Rolls Out Frozen Meals


The Full Plate, a meal preparation company in the San Francisco Bay area, has branched out with a new line of four frozen meals.

Chef Lisa Alumkal has blended her meal prep expertise from the company she founded in Oakland, Calif., in 2004 to the need of today’s busy consumers for healthy and tasty but easy-to-prepare meals.

“I really think people want to eat well but don’t always have time to figure it out,” says Alumkal. “These new meals provide on-the-go foodies with a healthy alternative to takeout. The meals we’re offering are wholesome but without the excessive fat, cholesterol or sodium. Two of the dishes are gluten free.”

The frozen meals are Risotto Primavera; Mushroom Stroganoff; Roasted Garlic, Zucchini and Penne with Pesto; and Asparagus Risotto. Suggested retail price for each is $5.99.

Alumkal points out that all Full Plate meals are prepared by hand with fresh ingredients, including locally grown produce. The meals can be warmed in the oven or microwave. Each meal is 8 oz. with the exception of Mushroom Stroganoff, which is 10 oz. Asparagus Risotto and Risotto Primavera are wheat free and gluten free. Mushroom Stroganoff, Asparagus Risotto and the Garlic-Zucchini with Penne meals are all appropriate for a sodium-restricted diet.

Full Plate meals are available in northern California at Whole Foods stores in Oakland, Berkeley, Walnut Creek, San Francisco (399 Fourth Street), La Honda, San Mateo, Cupertino, Los Altos, Redwood City, Napa, Novato, Sonoma and Roseville; Farmer Joe’s and Piedmont Grocers in Oakland; Piazza’s Find Foods in San Mateo; La Honda Country Market in La Honda; Angels Food Market in Angels Camp; Twain Harte Market in Twain Harte; and Whole Foods in Reno, Nev.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Keep Cool with Sublime Summer Ice Creams


Summer weather is here and America’s ice cream makers have rolled out a number of tasty cold treats to help keep us cool, calm and collected.
Weight Watchers has introduced Strawberry Smoothie and Dark Chocolate Raspberry Bars.

Strawberry Smoothie Bars pair strawberry-flavored frozen yogurt with strawberries. Each bar is 1 point in the Weight Watchers “Points” system. Dark Chocolate Raspberry Bars feature low fat raspberry ice cream and raspberries covered with a dark chocolate coating. The points value per bar is 2. A package of 12 bars sells at a suggested retail price of $4.29 to $5.49.

Friendly’s, the popular ice cream company and restaurant chain in the Northeast, has debuted a new mint-derived flavor in is Sundae Xtreme line just in time for summer. Mint Cookie Collisions is the newest flavor in the “Xtreme” line along with Fudge Nut Brownie.

Friendly’s has also rolled out two new frozen yogurt varieties. Honey Granola is vanilla frozen yogurt with a honey flavored swirl and granola oat clusters. Forbidden Fudge Brownie is a double chocolate frozen yogurt with fudge swirls and fudge brownie chunks.

Each of the four new flavors is sold in a 48-ounce carton with a suggested price of $5.99.

Further west, Smith Dairy Products in Ohio has taken its Ruggles premium chocolate ice cream product and put it in a pint-size carton. Suggested retail price for a pint of Ruggles premium chocolate is $1.99 to $2.49.

Starbucks launched three new ice cream flavors that are “coffee-free.” The flavors trace their roots to several alternative beverages sold in the coffee chain’s retail outlets. Vanilla Bean Frappuccino, Signature Hot Chocolate, and Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino are available in pints in supermarket freezer cases in the $3.89 to $4.39 price range. Vanilla Bean Frappuccino is also available in a single-cup which sells for $1.29 to $1.39.

EDITOR’S PICK! While TFFG is not a regular consumer of ice cream, he enjoys the cool and creamy treat every now and then. However, while perusing the frozen food section of his regular grocery store not too long ago he was struck with an “I could really go for some ice cream” moment. His normal pick would have been a package of a “good for you”-type product like Weight Watchers, but TFFG didn’t really want to make the long term commitment to a 12-pack of anything or even a four-pack. But then, there it was—a single serve cup of New! The Skinny Cow Dulce de Leche. TFFG was both pleased and satisfied with the taste and texture of this one-cup flavor. He paid about $1.49 if memory serves him correctly, and found it worth every penny.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Amy’s Hears the Call for Low Sodium


Ever hear a faint, plaintive whimper coming from the frozen food aisle when shopping at your local supermarket? That soulful sound is the cry for more low-sodium options among the wide array of frozen foods and brands.

Fortunately, the innovators at Amy’s Kitchen have heard the call and answered with two new low-sodium, organic products: Light in Sodium Burrito and Light in Sodium California Veggie Burger.

The Light in Sodium Bean & Cheese Burrito and the Light in Sodium Bean & Rice Burrito feature an organic flour tortilla wrapped around organic pinto beans, rice and vegetables in a mild Mexican sauce. The Bean & Rice Burrito is a non-dairy option. Suggested retail price for each 6 oz. burrito is $2.69.

The Light in Sodium California Veggie Burger is a blend of organic grains, mushrooms, vegetables and walnuts, and contains only half the sodium of Amy’s regular California Burger.

A package of four veggie burgers (about 2.5 oz. each) retails for a suggested price of $5.79.

TFFG Says: The incidence of high sodium levels in processed foods has long been a concern of nutritionists and wellness advocates, so it’s good to see Amy’s rolling out these low sodium options. The Frozen Food Guy is a regular buyer of veggie burgers, and he has been concerned that longstanding brands have suffered from “nutrition level” creep the last few years. These brands have shifted their veggie burger products from just 1 gram of fat per serving up to 2.5, 3 and sometimes even 4 grams of fat while the fiber levels have been reduced. Check your labels closely as the “all vegan” and “California” veggie burgers can sometimes have twice the fat of a “garden veggie” or vice-versa based on whichever manufacturer makes that particular brand. Don’t be fooled by the package front, not all “veggie” products are the same. Contrast and compare the nutrition levels listed on the back of the package for fat grams, fiber grams, calories and sodium content levels.