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Five Of The Most Loved And Most Didn't Like Grocery Stores To Find

I think I have tasted many new food items, recently.
Between this food writer gig and the regular holiday shopping/attending/entertaining, many new jars, bottles, boxes and bags have entered and exited my kitchen of late. Some have been surprisingly tasty and others ... let’s just say others have been worthy of the faces my kids make when I scoop a serving of cauliflower onto their plates.
Before I get to my Favorite Five, what new food items have you tried and liked -- or not -- over the last few months? Any new products that are sure to be in your cabinets in 2015?
And now my Top 10 Grocery Store Items, five favorites and five stinkers. I’ll give you the good news first.
Five Favorite New Finds:
1. Kombucha. It all started with this story on fermented foods. Ever since, I’ve been sampling various kombucha drinks and really loving every sip. My favorite of the moment is GT’s Gingerberry. I can also be pretty happy with Buffalo Mountain’s Ginger Fizz, from our very own commercial kombucha-maker just up the road in Floyd. Both are available at Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op and a variety of GT’s kombucha is in the organic food fridge at Kroger. Look for Buffalo Mountain kombuch at M &K Food Shop and Local Roots restaurant, as well.
2. While I’m at the Co-op, I’ll have you look in the fridge with the cheese and deli meat for a real treat. On a whim (and likely lured by a coupon), I tried two Hail Merry Miracle Tarts (Meyer Lemon and Chocolate Mint) recently. These sweets hail from Texas, are coconut-oil based and are absolutely delicious. They are also gluten-free, vegan and made with no additives or preservatives. That’s a dessert I can feel good about!
3. Local chubs. I ordered a Rolling Rock Farm Sopressata chub from Good Food-Good People for Christmas Day and it did not disappoint. Salty and slightly spicy and chewy with so much more flavor that your run-of-the-mill pepperoni. Another chub to put on your list: the salame from Olli Salumeria in Mechanicsville. They took their show on the road to the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco earlier this month. Closer to home, find their cured meats at the Harvest Moon in Floyd or Eats Natural Foods in Blacksburg.
4. Multigrain Chips. Count me addicted. There are so many out there just now -- sweet potato chips and sesame seed chips and chips with flax and sunflower seeds. I can’t stop sampling them. I find their hearty flavors and bumpy textures to be so much more satisfying than regular potato chips. (BOOORRRING!) Bring on the Food Should Taste This Good brand. They have no unpronounceable ingredients, are gluten-free and carry a Non-GMO seal, too.
5. Not ready for flax seed chips, yet? I also love Pepperidge Farm’s Pretzel Thins. Shaped like butterflies, these snacks are the perfect mashup of pretzels, crackers and chips. I eat them plain, with cheese and slathered in nut butters.
Five Finds I Wish I Never Tried
1. Roasted chestnuts in a bag. The Galil brand ready-to-eat roasted chestnuts were all over the stores before Christmas. So I bought a bag. They are truly awful. Soft. Squishy. And not tasty, to boot. I ate them straight out of the package. Then I tried warming them. I composted the last few. Chestnuts should taste like they do at Dickens of a Christmas -- warms and crunchy and nutty. These are anything but.
2. Chia pods. Chia is everywhere and frankly, I’m not a fan. But the single serving, yogurt-like snack I had was especially bad -- weirdly gel-ly and not a good enough taste to overcome my texture issues. (I will say that Once Upon a Time, I felt the same way about kombucha, so maybe there’s hope for me yet.)
3. Fresh cranberries. Every year after Thanksgiving there’s a push to think of cranberries as for more than the Turkey Day Table. I’m a big fan of dried cranberries, so I picked up a clamshell of organic fresh cranberries when I saw them on sale. They were very tart and not all that ripe. I was super disappointed. Maybe they are best saved for making sauce.
4. Yes, I’ve been on a huge multigrain chip binge of late. But one misstep was when I let my zeal for new chip flavors lead me to try Beanitos, the bean-based chip. I sampled the Chipotle BBQ black bean chips. Not a good choice. I’m thinking I’ll likely never reach for another bag of Beanitos again.
5. In that same category ... Wheat Thin Poppers. So not a fan. They were tasteless and crunchless. If I’m popping anything, it’s going to be popcorn. Maybe with a little cheese sprinkled on it!

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