Columbus Foods Salumi Selection
This review has been a while in the making as I wanted to work my way through all of the products I received before posting my review. My friends at Columbus Foods sent me a lovely sampling of some of their salami that I have to say were out of this world. These were rather large salamis so it has taken me up until now to work my way through all of them as I had to pace myself. I received their: Chorizo; Toscano; Italian Dry; All Natural Pepper; and All Natural Sopressata varieties. Now, before we begin, let’s clear up any confusion about salami vs. salame vs. salumi. Salami is the plural of salame and salumi is really a grouping for any cured meat product usually made from pork but my favorite cured beef or bresaola is also included in there. Hope that helps.
First up was the Chorizo. I am a huge fan of chorizo. Being married to a Bermudian (which has a large Portuguese population) I know a little something about good chorizo. Let me tell you that this chorizo is right up there with the best that I have come across. It is wonderfully spicy but it is more of a controlled heat that will not leave you running for a drink to calm the spice. The rich paprika notes help elevate this to a whole different level perfectly completing the flavor of the natural flavor of the pork. I enjoyed this all on its own or paired with cheese but perhaps my crowning achievement was dicing and frying a bit up in a puttanseca-esque type sauce I made one evening and served over gluten-free pasta.
Next in line was the Toscano. This was the leanest of the salami sampled and was actually quite a surprising salami. It has a nice kick to it that you are not necessarily expecting. Not at all spicy like the chorizo this flavorful salami boasted subtle notes of garlic that were elevated by the addition of wine to this variety. It was indeed lean but still quite flavorful and paired extremely will with a range of cheese that I served it with. I’ll also confess that I fried up a bit, drained it, and added it to an omelet with a bit of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for a truly decadent brunch one morning.
Which brings us to the Italian Dry salame. This, like all the others was exceptional. This slow-cured variety boast a rich flavor that is perfectly salty and slight sweet at the same time. It is ideal in a sandwich with a bit of Provolone and a bit of spicy Dijon mustard. It’s a more mild flavored salami so you can pair it with more robust flavored items without having to worry about it overpowering what it’s accompanying.
Moving right along, the Natural Uncured Sopressata was next. Sopressata has long been one of my favorite salamis. These is just something about it that takes me back to my childhood having grown up in an Italian family. I always find that people seem intimidated by sopressata because all they see is fat. Well, if you have never tried it, please do. It’s a coarsely ground salame (hence the larger bits of fat) but its all about the flavor with this one. It is an extremely rich-bodied salami that slowly melts in your mouth and is the perfect accompaniment for wonderfully salty cheeses or olives.
And last but certainly not least was the Natural Pepper salame. Now I have to be honest, I was never a fan of anything wrapped in peppercorns or herbs. Well, that was until I tried this variety of salame. I was a bit apprehensive at first and I will admit that this was in fact the very last salame I tried. I kept putting it off because in my min all I saw a peppercorns and the thought of chewing on a crunchy peppery-wrapped piece of salame kind of put me off. Let me be the first to say I was wrong. These were far better than I had expected and the raked black peppercorns were in fact perfectly sized so that when sliced you were not hit with a mouthful of peppercorns. Instead your palate was met with a robust salame that used the peppercorns to compliment rather than dominate the flavor of the pork. Slice a bit of this up while enjoying a nice glass of Sangiovese red and it will be gone before you know it.
All in all I have to say that these salami were outstanding. It is easy to see why the company has been around since 1917. You can view their complete product portfolio on their Web site and also find a retailer near you where you can try some of their products for yourself. All of their salumi are gluten-free, contain no MSG, and 0% trans fat.
O’Doughs Bagel Thins
My friends at O’Doughs sent me their new Bagel Thins a while back before I left for Switzerland and I have been meaning to review them for a while. I did however, want to first eat my way through each variety before reviewing them.
I received all of their flavors: Original (Plain); Sprouted Whole Gain Flax; and Apple Cranberry. They arrived perfectly frozen so I was able to toss them right into my freezer. Perhaps the first thing you will notice is that these are 100 calories per bagel thin. No, that is not a typo – they are indeed all 100 calories per thin. This alone intrigued me beyond belief because those of you that love gluten-free breads, rolls, and bagels know that they more often than not come with a proverbial side of calories. They also just happen to be Non-GMO, Kosher, and preservative-free – nice! Okay, so these are 100 calories but how do they taste?
Being a bagel purist, I went straight for the Plain variety first. Refreshing these bagels thins couldn’t be easier – you can pop them straight into your toaster from the freezer or let them thaw a bit before toasting. Either way they take very little time to prep. The plain variety is everything you want in a bagel – just slightly chewy even when the bagel is toasted – which is exactly what I look for in a bagel (thin or otherwise). At first bite you immediately get the rich doughy flavor you want in a bagel with the distinct hint of sweetness , that, in my opinion, makes a bagel perfect. Simply buttered with a schmear of jam made this variety one of my favorite morning treats.
Next up was the Spouted Whole Grain Flax Seed. Now, I have to be honest, I am not nor have I ever been a fan of flax seeds in any shape or form. There is something about the smell and flavor that I have always found off-putting – just a personal preference of mine. This bagel thin flavor was actually the first flaxy bread product I have been able to eat. Yes, there was still the slight olfactory note of flax but when toasted it seemed to dissipate to far more tolerable levels. This was actually a pretty complex flavor being more on the nutty side thanks to the addition of both poppy and sesame seeds to the mix. While these are definitely more hearty than the other varieties I still found that they paired well with anything I topped them with from cream cheese to a cheese burger.
The final flavor was the Apple Cranberry. These made for a nice change as they had the wonderful sweetness from, you guessed it, apples and cranberries with the subtle undertones of raisins, orange, and spicy cinnamon. These reminded me of my beloved cinnamon raisin bagels back in my pre-Celiac diagnosis days. Top them with either butter or cream cheese and you are really good to go – their flavor is just robust enough that anything other than a simple topping would likely be a mistake on these.
I am glad that O’Doughs not only made a calorie-sensitive bagels for us Celiacs but made them taste like the real-deal. Oh, and while these are “thins” don’t think thin-thin. While they are thin (and one side when split is thinner than the other – important to note when toasting to avoid burning) they have decent body to them so are ideal for a range of ideas from sandwiches to bagel thin pizzas. You can check out where to find O’Dough’s products on their Web site and a few online gluten-free retailers are carrying the bagel thins as well.