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WINE CLUB Belle Glos: The finest varieties of California Pinot Noir

Belle Glos: The finest varieties of California Pinot NoirBelle Glos showcases distinctive Pinot Noirs produced from California’s most noteworthy coastal wine-growing regions. They offer four single-vineyard Pinot Noirs. Owner/winemaker Joe Wagner chose the name Belle Glos to honor his grandmother, Lorna Belle Glos Wagner. Lorna was a co-founder of Caymus Vineyards, an inspirational figure to Joseph and an avid lover of Pinot Noir.

As a fifth-generation Napa Valley winemaker, Joe learned his way around a vineyard long before he was able to drink wine. By the time he was 19, he knew that he would continue his family’s winemaking legacy, working alongside his father at Caymus Vineyards. In 2001, he created Belle Glos with a focus on vineyard-designated Pinot Noirs from throughout California’s best coastal regions.

Belle Glos consists of four vineyards near the Pacific Ocean, with significant climate differences, that vary with the amount of fog, wind, sunlight and soil type. Each vineyard wine is crafted to distill the purest essence of the locale into elegant expressions of California Pinot Noir.

Once an old dairy farm, the Dairyman vineyard is located in the southern alluvial plains of the Russian River Valley. Dairyman’s closeness to the Pacific Ocean results in a cool morning fog and afternoon coastal breezes that lengthen the growing season. This gives concentrated and flavorful berries, producing cherry characteristics, brown spices and a keen minerality overlaid with a rich, velvety mouth feel.

The Clark & Telephone Vineyard is located near the corner of Clark Avenue and Telephone Road in the Santa Maria Valley. It is cooled by wind and fog that meander  in from the Pacific Ocean along a Santa Maria River channel.

The Clark & Telephone Vineyard, established in 1972, was planted “own root” to the Martini clone. This heirloom replica of Pinot Noir was one of the first to grace the California coastlands, and it has become something of a lost treasure, according to the vineyard website.

The Las Alturas Vineyard is located in one of the highest plantable sites in the Santa Lucia Highlands of Monterey County. This pristine location offers the Las Alturas Vineyard cool, coastal days with bountiful sunshine and a foundation of Gloria sandy loam soil. When planting this 15-acre vineyard, they matched various Pinot Noir clones to individual slopes and soil attributes of the land. Crop yields are kept low in order to preserve the fruit’s intensity.

The Taylor Lane vineyard is located less than six miles from the Pacific Ocean. This location often deals with harsh fog and winds, making the grape-growing process difficult. The early-ripening clones at this vineyard have been adapted with a traditional Italian trellis system that carries the vines across a horizontal canopy in order to achieve full maturity. This trellis system acts as a solar panel for full ripening potential and allows great air circulation to surround the fruit.

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Posted in: Beer & Wine

Taste the Difference with Grass-Fed Cows

Taste the Difference with Grass-Fed CowsThese days, you hear a lot about how grass-feeding versus conventional grain-feeding can make a difference in the flavor of meat and dairy. What does it mean and how can a different diet change the milk?

Since 2009, Maple Hill Creamery has been crafting whole-milk dairy products from cows in upstate New York that are 100% grass-fed. Their organic yogurts have an earthy flavor and smooth texture. Sugar, artificial flavors, colors and thickeners are never added to their products.

Their yogurt is tastefully tart, smooth and topped with a layer of cream on top. Each whole-milk product they craft begins as a single blade of grass.

According to the dairy’s website, their farmers pay close attention to the varieties of grass the cows are eating and the growth stages of the grass as it varies from each season. They guide the cows to eat areas of grasses prior to the seeding stage. Once seeding begins in the fall, the grass uses all the energy and protein to mature the seedhead, which reduces its nutritional quality for the cows. This grazing and growing process circumvents the resources typically used to produce corn, soybeans or grains that dairy cows consume.

Cows are ruminants, which means they are meant to thrive on fibrous grasses and plants. Their rumen is a four-part digestive system with a specific digestive flora.

So, what happens when a cow is fed a grain-based diet instead of a 100% grass diet?

When a cow eats corn and grain, the pH of the rumen begins to drop and becomes acidic, which destroys some of the digestive flora. While a diet of corn and grain may increase a cow’s milk yield, it can degrade the milk’s quality. Additionally, an acidic rumen can cause a variety of ailments for the cow, stemming from inflammation. Generally speaking, the cow’s lifespan will be shorter, and the chance of infection is higher.

When a cow eats a grass diet, the digestive flora flourishes, aiding with digestion and keeping the immune system strong with a healthy body. Testing has shown that milk from 100% grass-fed cows has higher levels of omega-3 levels than other dairy. Additionally, the milk has 3 to 5 times the amount of beta-carotene.

Because of the seasonality of the grass or wildflowers the cows consume, the flavor of the Maple Hill Creamery products can vary during the year. It brings about a special taste experience. Look for the Maple Hill Creamery Cream on Top Yogurt, Greek Yogurt and Drinkable Yogurt in the FRESH dairy case. Give it a try and taste the difference!

Post-Training Snacks for FRESH 15

Post-Training Snacks for FRESH 15The fourth annual FRESH 15 will be here soon, and if you plan to run the race, you may be working toward longer distances during your training runs. As you increase exertion and distance, it’s important to properly refuel after a long run.

Nutritionists with Running Magazine recommend a high-protein snack within 30 minutes of running. After a six-mile run, eat an apple paired with a healthy fat, like cheese or almond butter. This will help replenish amino acids that are needed for your muscles. Also, the fruit and fat combo increases blood glucose levels to provide energy to your cells.

After a longer run between 7 and 10 miles, have a mini meal that includes protein, fat and carbohydrates. Egg or tuna salad on whole-grain toast is a good choice.

Also, stay hydrated by sipping on water throughout the day, and try to drink half your weight in fluid ounces. Snack on fresh fruit and nuts for additional energy.

Some great refueling choices you can find at FRESH include the following:

Full Circle Almond Butter: Made from 100% ground almonds. A great source of protein.

Full Circle Almond Milk: All-natural, rich and creamy non-dairy beverage enriched with calcium and vitamins A, D and E.

Dave’s Killer Bread: Made with whole-grains, certified organic, non-GMO, no high fructose corn syrup and no preservatives. Contains 5 grams of protein and fiber, 250 grams of Omega-3 and 22 whole-grains per serving.

Natural Sea Solid White Albacore Tuna: Ocean-friendly, wild-caught tuna packaged in BPA-free cans. Contains 179 milligrams of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Making Mudbugs for Mardi Gras

Making Mudbugs for Mardi GrasMardi Gras is on the way, and it’s time to let the good times roll. It’s also time to stock up on crawfish. During Mardi Gras season, there’s plenty of red beans and rice, but the versatility of crawfish can make it the main attraction.

Almost any way you use shrimp or crab meat, you can substitute crawfish. Crab salad becomes crawfish salad. Shrimp Alfredo becomes Crawfish Alfredo. Crab cakes become crawfish cakes. The possibilities are endless and very delicious. From soup to etouffee, add some crawfish and put a New Orleans flair on any meal.

Now, I don’t expect anyone to spend hours cleaning and shelling whole crawfish. That’s why I head to the freezer aisle and find the frozen crawfish tails that are already cooked, cleaned and peeled. The only thing left to do is thaw, rinse and mix into whatever recipe I have planned.

Saving time in the kitchen gives me more time to collect my beads, make some hurricane drinks, and get ready to celebrate Mardi Gras with plenty of Louisiana mudbugs!

Creamy Crawfish Tarts

1 box mini fillo shells
1/2 lb cooked crawfish tails, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp hot sauce
1 Tbs fresh parsley
salt and pepper, to taste

Place the shells on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated 350° F oven for 3 to 5 minutes for added crispness. Allow to cool. In a small bowl, combine crawfish tails, mayonnaise, hot sauce and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into fillo shells. Chill for 30 minutes and serve.

Makes 15

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BREW CLUB Brew of the Month: Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA

Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPABrewery: Deschutes Brewery
Deschutes Brewery overlooks the wild and scenic Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon. A family and employee-owned brewery, Deschutes crafts several year-round and seasonal beers that have plenty of balance and drinkability, and are invested with quality and consistency.

Deschutes began in a small public house in downtown Bend in 1988 and will soon open an East Coast brewery in Roanoke, Virginia.

Brew of the Month: Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA
A juicy citrus and grapefruit flavor profile. Available year-round, this mouthwatering and delicious IPA gets its flavor from a heavy helping of citra and mosaic hops.

Food Pairings:
Pair this beer with citrus desserts, salads, seafood or spicy dishes, like hot wings or sushi.

Mixed Greens & Fennel Salad with Deschutes Vinaigrette

2 cups mixed spring greens
2 cups arugula
1 small fennel bulb, sliced paper-thin
3 radishes, sliced paper-thin
1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 1/2 cups Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA
3/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Place mixed greens and arugula in a mixing bowl. Place all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a blender; pulse to combine. Spoon 2 tablespoons over the greens, and toss to combine. Scatter fennel and radishes over the top. Add pecans, goat cheese and bacon. Serve with additional dressing on the side.

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Posted in: Beer & Wine, Recipes

Blood Oranges for Valentine’s Day

Blood Oranges for Valentine’s DayRed is the color of love. For Valentine’s Day, I like to cook something that captures that beautiful color and represents passion on a plate. I found the perfect ingredient in blood oranges. Its deep-red juice, garnet flesh and red-speckled skin is as vibrant as it is delicious.

This is an easy recipe that uses the cooking technique of braising. It’s one of my favorite ways to cook during the winter months. Braising requires high searing heat at the beginning and low and slow heat to finish. It was created for tough cuts of meat or meat that is still on the bone.

After searing the meat on all sides until browned but not cooked through, liquid is added to the pot. The heat is lowered, and the dish continues to cook slowly at a moderate temperature.

This technique creates tender and juicy meat. You can also add vegetables such as onions, potatoes and carrots to cook alongside the meat. Add some broccoli, asparagus or peas at the end of cooking, and you have a complete meal.

Because most recipes for braising have heavy flavors and cuts of meat that contain more fat, I wanted to create something that is just as warm and comforting as a stew or a roast, but has lighter flavors and a leaner cut of meat.

The blood oranges and chicken are perfect for this dish. It has bright flavors, a beautiful light sauce and juicy meat that is completely satisfying.

Citrus-Braised Chicken & Blood Oranges

2 large bone-in chicken breasts or 4 skinless thighs
salt and pepper, for seasoning
3 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
1 lemon, for juicing
4 blood oranges, 3 sliced and 1 reserved for juicing
1 Tbs herbs de Provence
2 cups chicken broth (approximate)

Rub the chicken with salt and pepper. Add oil to a wide-bottomed stockpot. Heat to high, and sear the chicken until browned on both sides. Squeeze in the juice from the lemon and the blood orange. Add the wine and reduce by half. Add the broth and herbs; bring to a boil. Scatter the sliced blood oranges over the top. Cover and transfer to a 350° F oven for 20 to 40 minutes, or reduce heat to low and finish cooking on the stove. Keep an eye on the level of the liquid, and add more broth or water, if necessary. When the chicken is cooked through, remove to a serving plate. Spoon the sauce and blood orange slices over the top.

Serves 2

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WINE CLUB Varietal of the Month: Sparkling Wine

Gloria Ferrer Sonoma BrutSparkling wine, or champagne as it is better known, is a favorite for celebrations and romance.

Sparkling wine is made by taking the simple formula for fermentation (sugar + yeast = alcohol and CO2), and not allowing the resulting gas to escape. When you ferment wine in a closed or sealed environment, the carbon dioxide (CO2) returns into the wine, only to be released in the form of tiny bubbles after opening.

Not all sparkling wines are made using the same method or grape varietals. They also vary in sweetness and carbonation. To better explain, let’s break down some of the most popular varieties of sparkling wine.

Champagne (Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut): True Champagne is only produced in the Champagne region of France. It is usually a blend of grapes – Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – and sometimes Pinot Meuner. They use the traditional method of bottling, which means it is bottle-fermented. The wine has gone through one fermentation in the tank and then another in the bottle, which creates the bubbles. The second fermentation can take months to years, and then the wine goes through a riddling process to remove yeast and sugar sediment. It is then given a sugar dosage that classifies the champagne style as Brut, Extra Dry or Sweet.

Brut (Gloria Ferrer): Brut is a classification of sweetness in sparkling wine. The Brut style contains 6 to 15 grams of sugar per liter of wine. The wine is dry, but there is just a hint of sweetness. In this sparkler, the winemaker stopped the fermentation process just before the yeast ate all of the sugar, leaving a tiny amount behind in the wine.

Extra Dry (Mumm Napa Cuvee): Extra Dry is slightly sweeter than Brut and contains a few more grams of sugar. This type of sparkler is dry, but not as dry as Brut or Extra Brut, meaning it retains a slight sweetness. It’s not sugary sweet, although they are noticeably sweeter than Brut wines.

Prosecco (Santa Margherita): Made in Italy in the region of Veneto, it is made from Prosecco grapes, also known as Glera, and is produced using the “tank method,” which means its second fermentation takes place in a tank rather than individual bottles. It is then cooled and clarified, and it receives its sugar dosage in the tank. Prosecco is typically Extra Dry.

Moscato d’ Asti (Castello del Poggio): A sparkling wine produced in the style of the Asti region of Italy. It is typically semisweet, lightly carbonated and low in alcohol.

Rose/Blush (Bottega Sparkling Rose Gold): Also known as pink champagne, the wine is made from a red grape, which can vary by region and country, and it was produced in the rose or blush methods of limiting the grape’s contact with its skin or blending a red wine with a white wine. They can vary from sweet to dry and generally have more fruit and floral flavors.

Blanc de Blancs (Francis Coppola Sofia): Made entirely from white grapes (typically Chardonnay), Blanc de Blancs are very different in flavor and lighter in color. Because champagne is typically made with Pinot Noir grapes that are light in flavor, Blanc de Blancs has a richly complex flavor with citrus notes that bring a lively acidic quality that is crisp and bright, but finishes dry and creamy.

Spumante (Martini & Rossi Asti Spumante): Spumante simply means sparkling wine in Italian. It does not identify sweetness level or type of grapes used. Another Italian sparkling wine that is well-known is Lambrusco, which is a red sparkling wine made from the Lambrusco grape of the Emilia-Romagna region. They are traditionally sweet, but some producers are now creating dry versions.

Wine of the Month: Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut
Aged for a minimum of 18 months, the Sonoma Brut shows delicate pear and floral notes with persistent effervescence and an effortless finish, making it a tremendously versatile sparkling wine.

Carefully crafted from hand-harvested Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. This brut is dominated by Pinot Noir, enabling the complex aromatic and palate profile that this red-skinned grape contributes.

On the nose, pear and floral notes are backed by toasty almond. On the palate, lively citrus, toast and apple flavors are overlaid with persistent effervescence, a creamy mid-palate and toasty finish.

Winemaker: Gloria Ferrer
More than 30 years ago, Jose and Gloria Ferrer created the Gloria Ferrer vineyards and winery in Sonoma County. It was the first to specialize in sparkling wine. Coming to California from Spain, the Ferrers relied on their family’s heritage as Spanish winemakers to develop their dream in America.

They acquired Pinot Noir and Chardonnay clone grapes from the Champagne region to begin creating their sparkling wines using the tedious méthode champenoise.

Gloria Ferrer is also known for her extensive collection of vintage wine and champagne glasses. Each glass was carefully selected from their travels to many countries and regions and is unique in design and craftsmanship.

“I remember very well when I began to collect glasses. It was in Venice in 1956 that my uncle gave me the idea while sitting at the dinner table in the Piazza San Marco. My father quietly got up and went into an antique shop near Saint Marco’s Cathedral and returned with a beautiful red Murano crystal glass with a golden dauphine in the stem. He gave me the glass and a kiss. The collection had begun.

In my collection, numbering around two thousand, there are all types of glasses. They vary in age and color. They are engraved and cut, painted and enameled, simple and ornate, transparent and opaque, molded and blown, antique and modern. Although we are convinced that the ideal glass for drinking cava is transparent crystal and the most suitable shape is the flute or tulip, I believe that in a collection there should be a little bit of everything. I confess that my favorite pieces are those with braided stems or serpentine interiors (perhaps trapped inside for centuries) or those ornate glasses with a white laticinio forming filigree in their stems or in the base. Those that have a teardrop of air on the knot of the base are my weakness, without forgetting those glasses of green, blue or ruby color from the beginnings of the sixteenth century.

For years, I’ve been roaming through antique shops all over the world. My husband has, with loving patience and graceful generosity, accompanied me the majority of the times. We have searched endlessly for the hard-to-find glasses in between knick-knacks and odds and ends, discovering them forgotten and lost in the most unlikely places in the world. It is these glasses, with their unknown history and their romantic toasts, which form my own collection.” – Gloria Ferrer

Food Pairings for Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut:
A tremendously versatile wine that is equally delicious with shellfish, crab, roasted chicken or sushi. Seasoning affinities include lemon grass, fennel and white pepper. Look to hard-aged and triple-cream cheeses with Meyer lemon compote for the cheese course.

Beet Bruschetta with Goat Cheese & Microgreens

1 bunch baby beets
1/2 cup spreadable goat cheese
1 cup microgreens
1/2 loaf FRESH Ciabatta bread
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, additional oil for grilling bread
2 tsp balsamic glaze
pinch of salt and black pepper

Remove the stalks, leaves and root tip of the beets. Place in a saucepan filled with water; bring to a light simmer. Let cook for 30 minutes or until fork-tender. Remove the beets from the water, and use your thumb to rub off the skin from the outside of the beets. Thinly slice the beets on a mandoline.

Brush the slices of the ciabatta bread with olive oil. Grill the bread in a grill pan or place under the broiler for 2 minutes or until golden. When bread is cool, spread the goat cheese over the slices. Top with a handful of microgreens and 4 slices of beets. Drizzle each slice with olive oil, balsamic glaze, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Makes 8 to 10

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Full Circle Goes Back to School

Full Circle Goes Back to SchoolAfter a long holiday break, getting back into the school routine can be a little tough. Cold and gray mornings sometimes mean a late start, but that’s no reason for an unhealthy breakfast.

For a quick and easy breakfast, I like to spread toast with Full Circle Almond Butter and the delicious Full Circle European Apricot Spread. Pair that with a glass of Full Circle Almond Milk, and my day is off to a great start.

The milk is rich and creamy with a delightful nutty flavor. It is free of lactose, dairy, gluten, peanuts, casein and eggs. Enriched with calcium, as well as vitamins A, D and E, it contains no saturated fat and is cholesterol-free. It’s a delicious alternative to traditional dairy milk and can be used as an ingredient in favorite recipes.

The almond butter has a similar rich flavor and is made with organic dry-roasted almonds. Each two-tablespoon serving has 190 calories, 1.5 grams saturated fat and 5 grams of protein. Spread the top with the delicious apricot spread, and you have a flavorful breakfast that will keep you satisfied throughout the morning.

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Posted in: Grocery, Organic

BREW CLUB Brew of the Month: Nine Band 28th State Stout

Nine Band 28th State StoutBrewery: Nine Band
Brewed in Allen, Texas, the malt and hop magic happens with every step of the crafting process. The Nine Band brewmaster brings award-winning experience to every carefully crafted style. Each beer is made with high-quality ingredients for the ultimate taste experience.

The Nine Band philosophy says, “Texas brews the legends, and it’s the inspiration for every craft beer created by Nine Band Brewing Company. Every sip serves up a tip of the hat, a nod of the head and a taste infused with the distinctive twang of our distinctive state.”

Brew of the Month: Nine Band 28th State Stout
Nine Bands brewers use oatmeal and flaked barley to give the 28th State Stout smooth creaminess and rich body. Made with specialty hops specifically chosen to represent Texas history, its dark roasted qualities are highlighted by chocolate malt and bring deep layers of flavor.

Food Pairings:
Pair this beer and other oatmeal stouts with fruity/creamy desserts, chocolate, game meats, pork or grilled items.

Classic Cheesecake with Cherry Sauce

For the cheesecake:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbs sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
4 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 eggs

For the sauce:
2 cups whole frozen cherries, thawed
1 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs granulated sugar
2 Tbs brandy
2 tsp cornstarch

Heat oven to 325° F. Combine graham cracker crumbs, 3 tablespoons sugar and butter; press onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Beat cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust. Bake for 55 minutes or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen crust; cool before removing rim. Refrigerate cheesecake for 4 hours.

To make the sauce, place cherries, brown sugar, granulated sugar and brandy in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until cherries begin to break down and juices release, stirring frequently. Cool to room temperature and then serve with cheesecake.

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Cold winters mean bright citrus!

Cold winters mean bright citrus!I’ve always wondered why the brightest, sunniest fruit is so abundant during the darkest, coldest time of year. Citrus is at its peak of flavor, and January is definitely the month to indulge.

A stroll through the produce department offers an array of citrus just waiting to be juiced or eaten. There are plenty of lemons, lime, oranges, tangerines and grapefruit, but there are also some wonderful varieties that are unfamiliar.

When it comes to choosing citrus, the best flavor comes from fruit that has a slight give when pressed and a bit of softness.

Also, when choosing fruit for juicing, look for citrus that has a smoother skin; a bumpy-skinned orange or lime will yield less juice than one with smooth skin.

FRESH is offering a variety of citrus, including seedless lemons, blood oranges, kumquats and three varieties of grapefruit, as well as several types of tangerines, clementines and other oranges.

Many of the types of citrus listed below are available at FRESH but are very seasonal. So, hurry in before you’re left waiting for next year.

Pummelo Grapefruit: Larger than typical grapefruit, the pummelo’s skin ranges from yellow to bright green. It has a very thick rind and a light pink flesh. It is juicier and sweeter than other varieties of grapefruit.

Blood Oranges: The skin of a blood orange darkens over time as the red juice from the interior begins to seep into the rind. They have a very sweet flavor, and their juice is a popular ingredient in recipes. They will become sweeter and juicier as they ripen and as their skin darkens in color.

Meyer Lemons: Once grown only as ornamental garden lemons, Meyer lemons are now enjoyed for their mild, sweet, juicy flesh. Although still too tart to eat out-of-hand, the juice is a delicious additive in many recipes.

Kumquats: A bit larger than an olive, the kumquat looks like a tiny, oval orange. It is eaten whole, skin and all. The orange flesh is juicy, acidic and tart while the skin is fragrant and sweet.

Key Limes: Although they are small, the juice from a key lime is more intense than the juice from a regular lime. Most often used in cooking, the key lime is also more fragrant and less acidic.

Tangerines/Mandarins: A member of the mandarin family, there are many varieties of tangerines that include honey, minneola, neapolitan, satsuma and Ojai pixie. They vary in flavor from sweet to tart and typically have a sweet, clean fragrance. A bit larger than mandarins, the tangerines are easy to peel and often seedless.

Clementines: The smallest member of the mandarin family, clementines are often imported from Spain, North Africa or Morocco. Also called Cuties, this is a brand of clementines that are grown in California. They are small and easy to peel with less juice than most oranges. They are best enjoyed when peeled and eaten in sections.

Oranges: Most popular varieties include navel and Valencia. The Valencia oranges typically yield more juice. Navel oranges have a thicker skin and are great for eating.

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Posted in: Produce

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