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From the citrusy tang of yuzu hot sauce to almonds enrobed in melted sugar
Pralines rose are a traditional specialty of Lyon, France. These pink beauties are roasted almonds enrobed in layers of melted sugar. The coating is rough and uneven and pretty in an old-world sort of way. If your teeth are in good shape, you can eat them by the handful, but the French practice is to break them up with a hammer and add them to sweet breads, brioche and chocolate bonbons. Try them sprinkled over ice cream or added to sugar cookies. Royal Command Pink Pralines are available through Qualifirst Foods Ltd., www.qualifirst.com, $56.95 for a 1-kg bag, plus shipping and handling. – Bonny Reichert
Plump, oily arbequina olives are grown in Argentina, Australia and California, but they originated in Spain, which is where the Vano family continues to nurture groves that have been in their family for generations. Named for the clan’s 16th-century castle on the estate, the Castillo de Canena line includes a range of top-notch oils. The brand’s smoked olive oil is so good you’ll want to drink it, buttery and sweet with a toasty, woodsy finish. It would be lovely on pizza, pasta or fish; try it over ice cream with a little salt on top, or toast some good bread and go to town. Castillo De Canena Smoked Arbequina Olive Oil is available at Qualifirst Foods Ltd., www.qualifirst.com, $33.95 for a 250-ml bottle, plus shipping and handling. – Bonny Reichert
Juniper has become trendy of late as an essential ingredient in new Nordic cuisine, though North American chefs may find it hard to source fresh berries, which quickly lose their flavour once picked. Vancouver chef Jefferson Alvarez solved the problem by foraging his own. Smaller than dry juniper berries, his frozen stash look like violet peppercorns dusted with snow. Oily when squeezed, they’re also far more potent – icy and earthy with a bitter wallop that takes your breath away. Alvarez has crushed his juniper into powders, oils, ice cream and even cotton candy. His new menu at Lift Bar and Grill features coffee-crusted ostrich cooked sous-vide with juniper jus and balsam fir, then seared. – Alexandra Gill
Underberg is a natural herbal digestif first developed in 1846. Sold in sets of three, the lilliputian 20-ml bottles come wrapped in plain brown paper. When you unscrew the tiny green lid and tip your head back, the tonic comes out in dribs and drabs, like hot sauce. It would almost be cute if the flavour weren’t such a smack across the face – minty, licorice-like and strongly alcoholic, like a shot of tequila taken from a toothpaste glass. But does it work? The immediate effect is indeed soothing and warming. But after that, I’m not sure. Whether from my dinner or my digestif, I passed out on the sofa before I had a chance to fully evaluate. Available at liquor stores. About $6 for a 3-pack. – Bonny Reichert
Yuzu Pao is a condiment that pairs the heat of sriracha sauce with fruity, floral notes and that characteristic yuzu citrus tang. Packaged in a stubby squeeze bottle, Yuzu Pao is lighter and thinner that traditional sriracha, but just as lively, and – don’t be fooled – just as hot. It comes in two varieties – the red chili sauce has a ripe flavour that will be familiar if you know your sriracha; the green is more herbaceous and closer to a Thai green curry. Both kick up everything from scrambled eggs to chicken wings to mac ’n’ cheese, taking a dash of heat to a whole other place. Yuzu Pao is available at select retailers across Canada. About $10 for an eight-ounce bottle. – Bonny Reichert