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Ethnic & Regional Specialties

Mitica Homemade Membrillo Quince Paste
The Gustiamo Mediterranean Diet Gift Basket
Chilean Carica
Hudson Valley Foie Gras
Normandie Bakery and Pâté
Tsar Nicoulai Caviar
Taro Pancake Mix
Taste of Thai
Chasen's Chili

Save-the-Elephants Sauces by A Taste of Thai

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Chilean Carica

Looking to add some zing to your fish, lamb, ice cream or martini? Carica, known also as "la papaya chilena" from its roots in northern Chile, may be the perfect answer. This crunchy yellow fruit is extremely versatile, as its strong aroma and citrus and papaya flavors do not change with cooking. Purée it for a sweet lamb sauce, bake it into a sweet tart or even blend it into an ice-cold martini for an exotic treat. This fruit is found exclusively at The Chefs’ Warehouse at a price of $13.50 per jar. For more information, visit www.chefswarehouse.com.

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Tsar Nicoulai Caviar

What's the best way to eat caviar? Before beginning that debate, you need to start with fresh, high-quality roe.

Tsar Nicoulai sources a full range of premium imported and domestic caviars from Manchuria, The Caspian and Black Seas as well as a sturgeon farm in California. Their Beluga, Sevruga and Osetras are flawless, consistent and worth every penny. They arrive fast, fresh and intact. There's nothing mushy here, and every briny egg begs to be eaten plain out of the jar. The steely grey Beluga eggs are big and beguiling and are reason enough to celebrate. The Sevruga is bold and you'll swear you taste the ocean. Imported Osetra is a shoo-in, with its nutty undertones and rich finish.

Most notable, however, is Tsar Nicoulai's California Estate Osetra. This triumph holds a firm spot in the premium category—it's farmed domestically and it's a knockout! The roe is firm and rich with an unquestionably perfect balance of nutty and sweet. Their Iranian Asetra and Hackleback Sturgeon caviars are also worth mentioning.

Tsar Nicoulai also sells a full range of caviar samplers, as well as alternatives including flavored whitefish roes and salmon and trout roes. Ordering online is clear, quick and easy. Their products are also available at select retail locations.

Now, if you must dress up your caviar, try to keep it simple. Don't let it touch metal. Eat it icy cold with blini or on a slice of buttered white bread. And don't forget to open your best bottle of Champagne or vodka. For more information, visit www.tsarnicoulai.com.

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Hawaiian-style pancakes

Pancake mixes can be a real flop. It's Sunday morning, you finally have time for a nice breakfast and the last thing you want is gooey chunks sticking to the roof of your mouth. Taro Pancake Mix makes an easy and delectable pancake or waffle. The taro plant comes from Hawaii, where it is cooked and mashed to make poi, a dietary staple. For Taro Pancake Mix, poi was dehydrated and mixed with wheat flower. Taro has a distinctive but very pleasant flavor and we are certain anyone will love it. Available at www.tarobrand.com.

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Save-the-Elephants Sauces

A Taste of Thai, producer of Thai hot sauces and similar goodies, has launched a campaign to help save the diminishing Asian elephant population by contributing 1.5 percent of its profits to the Lampang Elephant Hospital in Thailand. Do a good deed and eat well, too, by scooping up a Taste of Thai product at supermarkets everywhere. For more information call 800-243-0897 or visit atasteofthai.com.

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Chasen's Chili

Elizabeth Taylor and J Edgar Hoover ordered it by the pound, and even Eleanor Roosevelt was denied the secret recipe! Chili tycoon David Chasen began his chili empire in 1936 and it is still going strong—at least in the grocer's frozen food aisle. The legendary Chasen's restaurant has closed, but its flavorful chili is still available in the freezer section of select grocery stores. For a frozen packaged chili, "Chasen's is good quality and has a surprisingly large amount of meat," our tasters said, though some found its spices heavy on cumin. The Texan taster denounced inclusion of beans, as she should, since many Texans regard it sacrilegious to make such an addition to real chili.

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(Updated: 09/02/08 KR)

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