Pride and China Keemun tea
Some winemakers know that an attractive label snags customers browsing the shelves. The folks at Bingley's Teas in Minneapolis may be channeling that strategy with their new Jane Austen Tea Series, which has packaging that features a favorite Jane Austen heroine or hero on 17 blends of its loose teas. "Lizzie Bennett's Wit," for example, is a tea for an "obstinate, headstrong girl," with its blend of black tea, cranberry, blueberry and "cornflower ribbons to accent her fine eyes." Owner Julia Matson is a certified tea specialist by the Specialty Tea Institute in New York and Jane Austen fan since reading "Pride and Prejudice" 20 years ago. As the website notes (with some cheek!): "Jane Austen was a loose woman too!" Bingley's Teas, which Matson founded in 2008, is mainly an online business, but the teas are available locally at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Guthrie Theater. Matson will begin hosting in-store tastings from noon to 4 p.m. on Thursdays, starting in March; tastings also may be made by appointment for parties of two or more by calling 612-845-1707. To learn more, visit bingleysteas.com.
Pulse on the trends
If someone asks if they can take your pulse, turns out that's another way of saying that they want your beans. "Pulses" are legumes — dried peas, beans and lentils. This year's McCormick Flavor Forecast is featuring three particular pulses — pigeon peas, cranberry beans and black beluga lentils — for their ability to star in hearty, spicy dishes. For example, they've created a meatless Bolognese sauce with cranberry beans, tomato sauce, sage, garlic and albariño wine. Pulses also are known for being high in protein and fiber and low in fat. Lots of recipes (pickled peach and black beluga lentil toasts?) at flavorforecast.com.
I scream, you scream
The ultra-premium market niche for ice creams just got more ultra and more premium. Choctál Single-Origin Ice Cream has hit the market — locally, at Kowalski's Markets in the Twin Cities — and claims to set "a higher standard for gourmet ice cream." Based in Pasadena, Calif., Choctál reportedly does not see itself as an ice cream producer, but a "single-origin chocolate and vanilla specialist company with two flavors and eight single origins," one owner told a Pasadena newspaper. Yup. Two flavors: Chocolate and vanilla — but four versions of each, made from a single variety of indigenous cacao and vanilla beans harvested and sourced from specific farms and regions of the world. Its Mexican vanilla, for example, is described this way: "The complex sweet and spicy characteristic of classic Mexican vanilla is enhanced with the slightest added touch of cinnamon, unlocking a hidden note of coconut on the back of the palate." It's a good time for food.