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WINE CLUB Varietal of the Month: Amarone della Valpolicella

Amarone della ValpolicellaItaly is known for many fine wines like Barolo, Brunello and Barbaresco, but another varietal to add to the list is Amarone della Valpolicella.

It’s a special-occasion wine that has earned its place as an elite red because of its scarcity and difficulty to make. From the district of Valpolicella in the Veneto region near Verona, Italy, Amarone is the top red wine made in that area. It achieved DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllato e Garantita) status in 2009, which means that the winemakers followed strict quality guidelines while making the wine. It is a government-controlled guarantee that designates geographical authenticity. Only 74 wines from designated regions qualify for DOCG status.

This wine is traditionally made with Corvina grapes (45% to 95%) and blended with other varieties such as Corvinone (up to 50%), Rondinella (5 to 30%) and, possibly, small amounts of Molinara. The grapes are picked late in the season to ensure full ripening and perfect conditions. They are then laid in a single layer on bamboo racks in a large, low-humidity drying room where the grapes dry for 3 to 4 months. This process lowers the level of moisture and acidity in the grapes, and it concentrates the sugars, glycerin and other components such as resveratrol. The grapes are then crushed, and the fermentation and aging processes begin. Amarone must be aged a minimum of 2 years, and reserve varieties must be aged a minimum of 4 years.

High-quality Amarone wines will contain a higher percentage of Corvina and Corvinone grapes. The Corvina grapes offer notes of cherry, almond and spice, while the Corvinone grapes, which are very rare, possess similar flavors. Rondinella and Molinara grapes are also used in smaller quantities. Rondinella adds a floral note and helps balance the tannins. Molinara offers high acidity. Because the drying process lowers the acidity in Corvina and Corvinone, Molinari helps balance those components.

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Posted in: Beer & Wine

Dinner Made Easy with Veggie Noodles

Spiralizing vegetables is all the rage in the culinary world. So many diets are looking to noodles made out of vegetables as a way to eat gluten-free, cut calories and add more vegetables to a meal.

Basically, you take a dense vegetable like butternut squash, zucchini or potatoes and put it through a gadget called a spiralizer. The spiralizer will cut the vegetable into long noodles. They can be eaten raw, sautéed, parboiled or fried. There’s just one problem. I’ve tried a few spiralizers, and the results were not as successful as I expected. The noodles were flimsy, broken or oddly shaped.

When I saw the spiralized noodles from Veggie Noodle Co. at FRESH, I couldn’t wait to try them. It’s a great company out of Austin, and they do the spiralizing for you. The noodles are perfect, and the packaging comes with quick, easy recipes and cooking instructions. Plus, there is a variety of vegetables to choose from: butternut squash, sweet potato, zucchini and beet. I can’t even begin to imagine the mess that I would have made if I had tried to spiralize a beet!

Having all these options allows you to get creative with recipes. All of them can be made so quickly. It’s the perfect solution for weeknight dinners.

The butternut squash spirals can be sautéed for a few minutes and then tossed in pesto and olive oil. The sweet potato spirals are really delicious when fried. It’s a bit like sweet potato fries. The beet spirals are beautiful and can be sautéed, fried or boiled. Toss them with olive oil and a few drops of balsamic, and then top with some goat cheese crumbles for a nice pasta substitute.


Shop Local, Shop Tasty

Local ProductsOver the past few years, East Texas has evolved into an up-and-coming part of the food industry. There have even been two Tyler-based food companies named to Oprah’s Favorite Things list: Janie’s Cakes and Greenberg Smoked Turkeys.

Both of these brands, along with many other local products, can be found at FRESH. Starting July 24, FRESH will put the spotlight on a growing inventory of East Texas foods.

An array of local items can be found throughout the store. The produce department may as well be its own farmers market with all of the fruits and vegetables that are grown in East Texas. There are tomatoes, zucchini, squash and cucumbers from Jacksonville. There are also blueberries, peaches and plums from Winona, strawberries from Athens and watermelon from Chandler.

In the beer and wine aisles, there’s True Vine Brewing, plus wine from Briar Creek, Kiepersol, Los Pinos and Pelle Legna. Shopping the aisles, some of my favorites include Stanley’s BBQ Sauce, Simply Sassy Salsa from Longview, East Texas Honey from Whitehouse, Popcorn Junction, Porch Culture Coffee and David Wade Worcestershire Powder.

On Saturday, July 29, be sure to drop by the store between 11AM and 4PM. FRESH has invited several local vendors to come by for demonstrations and tastings throughout the store. It’s a great opportunity to learn about some delicious East Texas products and support your local farmers and purveyors.

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Posted in: Grocery, Store Events

BREW CLUB Brewery of the Month: Texas Ale Brewery

Fire Ant Funeral BeerTexas Ale Project opened in 2015 and is the first Dallas brewery to be built from the ground up since the late 1800s. A family business, the Stevens family did extensive research on breweries in the Northeast and did a graduate study on craft beer before launching TAP (Texas Ale Project.)

Located in the Dallas Design District, they are a stickler for quality. They import the finest European grains, malts and Yakima Valley hops, along with filtered water. The beers ferment in tanks for 7 weeks to acquire a unique depth of flavor.

Great beer doesn’t just happen, it takes time. The Stevens family is on a mission to refine some of the greatest American craft beer traditions that have been influenced by 8,000 years of brewing culture. One technique the employee is multi-step mashing. “It’s a bracketing process that changes temperatures periodically during the cooking phase to ensure all the sugars are released from the different types of grains. Different grains release their sugar at different temperatures. This results in a beer with more complexity and depth of flavor. Most breweries do not take the extra time and expense to go through this process,” Shelly Stevens, Texas Ale Project co-founder.

Featured Beers:

Fire Ant Funeral: A traditional amber ale complexly built from a careful selection of 7 different malts. American grown hops harmoniously round out the wonderfully rich malts. Balanced without the bite. ABV %: 6.0
IBU: 32

50 Ft Jackrabbit: But expect to be greeted by a surprising smoothness and a composed presence of tropical and citrus humulus lupulus. Only spotted in Texas, this IPA is our celebration of the most flavorful American grown hops. ABV %: 7.0
IBU: 70

100 Million Angels Singing: Harmonious within the realm of extremism. This Double IPA is double dry-hopped with copious amounts of some of our favorite American-grown hops. Pine, resin, and citrus. ABV %: 9.2
IBU: 100

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Posted in: Beer & Wine

We All Scream for Goldenbrook Ice Cream

Goldenbrook Ice CreamYou loved it before, and now you’ll love it even more! Goldenbrook Ice Cream is new and improved, and it has been reformulated to be more delicious and indulgent. You may notice the different colored lids. Gold lids are premium flavors. Black lids are supreme flavors, and blue lids are sherbet.

Premium Flavors: Made from fresh, wholesome milk and a few simple ingredients for the perfect balance of flavors. Crafted in small batches to bring honest, indulgent flavor that you can feel good about. Flavors include homemade vanilla, chocolate, milk chocolate, strawberry, mint chocolate chip, no sugar added vanilla, and vanilla bean.

Supreme Flavors: Made from farm-fresh milk and only the finest ingredients, then hand-blended in small batches to create an ice cream so deliciously indulgent that one scoop isn’t enough. Flavors include butter pecan, chocolate chip cookie dough, cookies & cream, peanut butter bash, praline pecan, rocky road, and turtles & cream, plus more flavors on the way!

Sherbet: Our premium sherbet is naturally low in fat and made in small batches with fresh, wholesome milk and fruit juice. Each bite is a frosty and fruity delight that is sure to quench your cravings. Flavors include orange and rainbow.

It’s also good to know that no artificial growth hormones are used on the cows that provide the milk and cream. All of the ice cream is made locally in our Tyler creamery. So, go ahead and dig in because it really is that good!

Visit for a full list of flavors and more.

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Posted in: Frozen Foods, Grocery

WINE CLUB Varietal of the Month: Rosé Wine

Miraval Rose Cotes de ProvenceWhen it comes to Rosé wine, many confuse it with some sweet counterparts – white zinfandel and blush – but a true Rosé is entirely different.

In technical terms Rosé is a dry wine made from red wine grapes that receive limited contact with the grape skins. In winemaking, the grape skins are what give red wine it’s color.

Rosé can vary in color from very light coral to almost red depending on the exposure to the grape skins. Some refer to Rosé as blush because they’ve received a blush of color, but the correct term would be Rosé. The term blush actually refers to sweeter pink wines like white zinfandel or white merlot.

Rosé is released in spring and available in limited quantities. Produced from the previous year’s vintage, they are aged for only six months. They are young wines designed to drink within a year of purchase.

The limited release is because the grapes used are primarily grown to make red wine. Many are blends of multiple grape varietals the winery has left on the vine after picking what they need for making red wine.

Featured Wine: Miraval Rose Cotes de Provence
Pale, petal-pink color, elegant with bright nuances. A beautiful aromatic expression with fresh fruit and spring flowers, refreshing acidity, with great minerality and a saline finish.
Created from Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Rolle grapes, the fruit is harvested exclusively in the morning and sorted twice. Destemming occurs and then 95% of the wine is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel vats, while 5% goes into barrels to be blended later.

The Miraval estate is located in Provence and was purchased by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in 2008. Despite their divorce, they plan to keep the estate as an investment for their family and continue wine production. The wine is produced from estate grown grapes by the esteemed winemaking family, Perrine. Known for some of the finest wines in France, the Perrines have been making wine for 5 generations.

Miraval’s first release in 2013 sold out in 10 minutes in France. Although the wine’s popularity began because of the Jolie-Pitt star power, it has since won many awards and is acclaimed as a serious terroir-driven wine that exemplifies a classically built Provencal rose.

“Fresh, incisive aromas of orange zest, redcurrant and white flowers, with hints of honey and lavender in the background. Silky and light on its feet, offering intense red berry and citrus fruit flavors that deepen and spread out with air. Packs a solid punch but comes off as lithe and precise, with excellent finishing cut and floral persistence.” Wine Advocate Wine Critic, Antonio Galloni

Food Pairings:
Rosés are very versatile wines and pair well with many types of food. It really shines next to fish, but can also compliment grilled meats and vegetables, pasta with a light sauce or a number of different Asian or spicy foods.

Shrimp Cocktail with Mango-Avocado Salsa

For the shrimp:
16 shrimp (16/20 count, raw, peeled deveined)
1 cup pineapple juice
2 cups water
1 tablespoon sriracha
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

For the salsa:
1 cup FRESH mango salsa
1 lime
1/2 avocado, cubed

In a saucepan combine the pineapple juice, water, sriracha and salt. Bring to a simmer. Add the shrimp and cook until shrimp are pink and tails are curled. Remove the shrimp from the liquid and refrigerate to chill completely.

To make the salsa, in a bowl combine the mango salsa, lime juice and avocado. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, if necessary. Chill for 1 hour.

To serve, divide the salsa into 4 glass bowls or ramekins. Hang 4 shrimp on the side of each bowl or stack on top of the salsa. Serve with tortilla chips on the side. Makes 4 shrimp cocktails.

Serves 4

Calories per Serving : 205, Fat: 7 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 185 mg, Sodium: 538 mg, Carbohydrates: 16 g, Fiber: 2 g, Protein: 21 g

View this recipe to print or add items to your shopping list.

Favorite Foods for Fourth of July

Sweet & Tangy Asian RibsWhat’s your favorite part about the Fourth of July? Is it the fireworks, watermelon, lake time or the food? I must admit that I get really excited about making all the traditional dishes like coleslaw, potato salad, hot dogs and hamburgers. This year, I’m going to surprise everyone and add some ribs to the menu.

Since the grill will be filled with all the hot dogs and burgers, I will do the ribs in the oven the morning of the party. One hour before the party, I can reheat the ribs and leave them wrapped in foil to stay warm.

This recipe is a bit different than the traditional one. Instead of barbecue sauce, I’ve created an Asian sauce that is sweet, tangy and spicy. These ribs have always been a hit anytime that I’ve served them, and I hope they will make your Fourth of July even happier.

Sweet & Tangy Asian Ribs

1 (2 to 3 lb) slab baby back ribs
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
2 Tbs Sriracha
3 cloves garlic, minced

Remove excess fat and membranes from the backside of the ribs; discard. Place the ribs in a large foil-lined baking pan. In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine and pour over the ribs. Cover the pan with foil. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Place the ribs, still in the marinade, on the counter for 30 minutes to bring to room temperature. Preheat oven to 300° F. Turn the ribs, top-side down. Leave the marinade in the pan. Cover with foil, and place in the oven. After 1 hour, open the foil. Turn the ribs over (top-side up); cover again with the foil. Cook for 1 more hour. Check the ribs for doneness. A knife should be able to pierce the meat with no resistance.

Raise the oven temperature to 400° F. Remove the foil. Baste the ribs with some of the sauce from the pan. Cook uncovered for 15 to 20 more minutes until the sauce is caramelized.

Once the ribs are done, they can be served immediately, or cover and hold in a 150° F oven for up to 2 hours. Baste occasionally with pan juices. If you are serving several hours later, refrigerate and then reheat, covered with foil, in a 200° F oven for 1 hour.

Serves 6

Calories per Serving : 747, Fat: 54 g (20 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 178 mg, Sodium: 1807 mg, Carbohydrates: 21 g, Fiber: 1 g, Protein: 41 g

View this recipe to print or add items to your shopping list.

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Posted in: Holidays, Market, Recipes

Summer Sips, Sodas & Cocktails

School is out, and summer is finally here. It’s time for vacations, trips to the lake and pool parties. That means you need plenty of cold drinks on hand to quench everyone’s thirst in the summer heat.

We all have our favorite sodas, but a walk down the beverage aisle at FRESH reveals a variety of options that offer some fun, summer flavors. Also, check the juice aisle for plenty of pure juices and lemonades. Plus, the water aisle contains many flavored and vitamin-enhanced waters.

Here are a few of my favorites, plus some cocktail recipes that are sure to be a hit at your next pool party.

Fever-Tree Light Ginger Beer: Natural fruit sugars are used to create this reduced-calorie ginger beer. A naturally brewed product that has distinctive long-lasting ginger character and 53% fewer calories, each 200-milliliter bottle has 42 calories. Enjoy as a mixer or by itself.

World Waters WTRMLN WTR: Cold-pressed watermelon flesh, rind and organic lemon juice are the only ingredients in this refrigerated beverage. No water or sweeteners are added. The natural vitamins and minerals in watermelon water include vitamin C, magnesium, iron, potassium, L-citrulline and lycopene. 60 calories in an 8-ounce serving.

Hubert’s Lemonade: Since 1935, Hubert’s Lemonade has been delivering sunshine in a bottle with their homemade lemonade. It’s a tasty and refreshing mix of sweet and tart. Sweetened with stevia and sugar with 70 calories.

Hint Water: This water contains only purified water and a hint of flavor derived from natural ingredients. No sweeteners, preservatives, sugar or other artificial ingredients. Available in a large variety of flavors.

Moscow Mule

1.5 oz vodka
1/4 of a lime, juiced
3/4 cup Fever-Tree Ginger Beer, chilled
fresh mint leaves, for garnish

Pour vodka over stacks of ice in a tall glass. Add fresh lime juice and chilled Fever-Tree Ginger Beer. Garnish with fresh mint.

Serves 1

Calories per Serving : 139, Fat: 0 g (0 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 1 mg, Carbohydrates: 8 g, Fiber: 1 g, Protein: 0 g

Back Nine (aka Spiked Arnold Palmer)

3 cups brewed tea
2 cups Hubert’s Lemonade
1 1/2 cups vodka
lemons slices, for garnish

Add ice to a pitcher. Add all ingredients to the pitcher; stir to combine.

Makes 6 1/2 cups

Serves 6

Calories per Serving : 152, Fat: 0 g (0 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 4 mg, Carbohydrates: 6 g, Fiber: 0 g, Protein: 0 g

Watermelon-Basil Margarita

1 oz tequila
1/2 oz triple sec
1 large basil leaf
2 tsp sugar

Add ice to a cocktail shaker. Add tequila, triple sec, basil and sugar. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Fill a cocktail glass with ice. Add ingredients from the shaker. Top with the watermelon water. Stir to combine.

Serves 1

Calories per Serving : 204, Fat: 0 g (0 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 1106 mg, Carbohydrates: 23 g, Fiber: 1 g, Protein: 1 g

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Posted in: Entertaining, Recipes

A Barbecue Twist for Dad

A Barbecue Twist for DadFather’s Day is coming up, and I’m willing to bet that most dads would love a dinner that involves three things: meat, barbecue sauce and spicy flavor.

This is a recipe that I created last summer for a large family gathering. It’s a barbecue chicken sandwich, but it doesn’t quite fit traditional Texas barbecue standards. Don’t tell anyone, but to save myself some time and effort, I cooked the chicken in the slow cooker. It was so tender and juicy. All I had to do was put it in with some water and walk away. Several hours later, I came back to add my secret sauce and gave it another hour to absorb the flavor. I then shredded the meat with two forks, and it was ready to serve.

I know you’re probably wondering, “What was the secret sauce?”

It’s not your traditional barbecue sauce. Instead, this sauce is rich with layers of flavor and subtle Asian spice. It’s Hak’s Thai Chile Tamarind BBQ Sauce. East meets West in this fusion sauce that combines the deep sweetness of dates, tangy tamarind, bright lemongrass and rich sesame oil.

Hak’s is all-natural with no preservatives, and the ingredients start out traditional with apple cider vinegar, molasses and tomato paste. Then, they add soy sauce and the Thai-inspired ingredients, and you find yourself enjoying an unexpected layer of flavor. The spice is subtle, so those who like things mild can still enjoy the recipe.

After I tried this flavor, I found myself going back to try some of Hak’s other sauces. There’s a Habanero Pineapple that is delicious on grilled pork and Smoked Maple Mustard that is perfect on roasted chicken.

A set of the sauces and a few grilling tools from the housewares aisle would make a great gift for Dad. It’s the gift that keeps giving with every delicious meal that he will enjoy.

Thai Chile BBQ Chicken Sandwich

4 Smart Chicken Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
3 Noonday onions, sliced
1 cup water
1 bottle Hak’s Thai Chile Tamarind BBQ Sauce
1 pkg FRESH Onion Hamburger Buns

Place chicken breasts in the slow cooker. Top with the sliced onions. Add the water. Cook on low for 5 hours. After 5 hours, add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of sauce. Cook on high for 1 hour. Shred the chicken with two forks. Add more sauce, if desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with additional sauce at the table. Use onion buns to build the sandwiches. Toasting the buns helps keep the sandwiches from getting too soggy with all the juices from the meat.

Serves 8

Calories per Serving : 319, Fat: 4 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 38 mg, Sodium: 448 mg, Carbohydrates: 49 g, Fiber: 1 g, Protein: 20 g

View this recipe to print or add items to your shopping list.

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Posted in: Holidays, Recipes

BREW CLUB Beer of the Month: Hash Session IPA

SweetWater Brewing Company:
SweetWater Brewing Company Hash Session IPAThe SweetWater dream started in Boulder, Colorado, in the early 1990s. College roommates Freddy Bensch and Kevin McNerney worked at a local brewery and dreamed of having a place of their own. After graduation, they attended the American Brewers Guild and then moved to Atlanta for the Summer Olympics in 1996. They officially started their own brewery in February 1997 and helped kick off the brewpub movement in Atlanta. After 7 years of slow growth, they created SweetWater Brewing Company in 2004, and their facility has the capacity to produce 400,000 barrels per year.

They produce six year-round brews and seven seasonals. In 2012, they won Grand Champion at the U.S. Open Beer Championship and have received global media attention. They distribute throughout the East Coast and part of the Midwest with a few locations in Texas.

Featured Beer: Hash Session IPA
Hash is the pure resinous-concentrated hops that are scraped from the walls of the hop pelletizer. The brewers use a large dose of Amarillo Hop Hash that makes the beer pungent with floral and tropical citrus flavors. The hop hash also gives it that chewy, resiny mouth feel. Hefty dry hops enhance the potent aromas. Ahtanum gives it orange and grapefruit tones. Crystal gives a kick of spiciness, and El Dorado brings pear and watermelon characteristics. (IBU: 55+; ABV: 4.2%)

Food Pairings:
Seafood, Mexican food and lighter fare


Shrimp Tostadas with Mango Salsa

juice from 1 lemon, 1 lime and 1 orange (about 1/3 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs honey
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined with end tail segments removed
4 crunchy tostadas
1 cup cabbage, shredded
1 cup FRESH Mango Salsa

In a bowl large enough to hold all the shrimp, make a marinade by whisking together the citrus juices, garlic, honey, oil, salt and pepper. Add the shrimp; stir well to coat. Set bowl in the refrigerator to marinate for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, arrange the tostadas on a large plate, and top each with 1/4 cup cabbage.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Pour in the shrimp and the marinade. Cook, stirring constantly, until shrimp are pink and tails have curled, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and divide shrimp among the tostadas, 4 shrimp to each tostada. Top each tostada with a spoonful of salsa. Serve immediately with remaining salsa.

View this recipe to print or add items to your shopping list.

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Posted in: Beer & Wine

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