With the holidays around the corner, companies have released a slew of new products — some more impressive than others — for food enthusiasts. We tested seven to bring you this report:
Taylor’s Ultimate Hot Sauces
What: Miami native Taylor Hicks has created a line of zesty condiments that draws from his family’s varied geographic and culinary backgrounds, including a Peruvian-Style Garlic Sauce, Italian-Style BBQ Sauce and Mild Jalapeño and Habanero Hot Sauces.
Pros: Taylor’s Ultimate sauces put flavor above heat, a rarity in today’s crowded hot-sauce market. The Peruvian garlic sauce has become a staple on my dinner table.
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Cons: Heat-seekers may be disappointed that Taylor’s doesn’t produce a spice level beyond mild. Make it so, Mr. Hicks.
Price: $5-$8, available at taylorsultimate.com.
What: Oregon start-up company Time and Oak created Whiskey Elements, which are basically small sticks of wood that have been charred to create a smoky aroma and — when dropped in a bottle of whiskey for a day — better-tasting booze.
Pros: Clearly adds a woodsy taste, similar to what you get from top-shelf brands from flyover states. Pleasant neat. With ice, any alcohol burn was negligible, and the woodsy flavor was still there.
Cons: Mixing the wood-cured whiskey with ice and Coke, it was hard to tell the difference from any other bottle of Jack I’ve tasted.
Price: $10 for two, available at timeandoak.com.
Rabbit Jumbo Chilling Stones
What: Icing down your spirit of choice without dilution is the point of these oversize chilling stones.
Pros: Very effective, and they look mighty cool.
Cons: They’re dishwasher-safe, which is a pro, but hand-washing feels like the better option. That said, regular-old ice cubes require no washing at all.
Price: $20 for two, available online or Bed, Bath & Beyond.
Musashi Hot Sauces
What: Riding the wave of Sriracha’s spicy popularity, fiery-foods company Musashi has released two variations of the original Rooster sauce: green Midori Sriracha with serrano peppers, and a chile-dairy blend of Japanese Mayo.
Pros: People who find regular Sriracha’s heat level to be a little too intense will appreciate the scaled-down spice of Midori Sriracha (the color’s pretty, too). Musashi Japanese Mayo is versatile enough to be slathered on everything from tuna steaks to sandwiches.
Cons: Japanese Mayo is really, really easy to make at home if you have bottles of Sriracha and mayo.
Price: $5 per 12-ounce bottle, available at musashifoods.com.
Nutiva Red Palm Oil
What: Organic, vegan, non-genetically modified, Fair Trade-certified red palm oil from Ecuador is carrot-orange and lends a slightly sweet, slightly nutty flavor to cooked foods.
Pros: The heart-healthy, antioxidant-rich fruit oil is better for you than many other cooking fats. I’ve been using it instead of peanut oil to cook popcorn, and a little dollop in cooked brown rice is excellent.
Cons: Palm oil solidifies when chilled, making it somewhat difficult to measure out. Soak the container in warm water before using from the fridge.
Price: $8 for a 15-ounce jar, available at nutiva.com.
Bertolli Olive Oil sprays
What: Available in Extra Light, Classico and Extra Virgin varieties, these 5-ounce spray bottles are lightweight, recyclable and free of anything except pure olive oil.
Pros: I like the convenience of being able to dole out oil just a spritz at a time.
Cons: Cleanup of residual Classico spray left on a sauté pan after cooking chicken breasts was sticky and difficult.
Price: About $3.50 per bottle, available at Target.
Rabbit Automatic Electric Corkscrew
What: Billed as the world’s first fully automatic corkscrew, the Rabbit effortlessly uncorks up to 30 bottles between charges.
Pros: Easy to use, impressive to show off, and it definitely makes the job easier if you’ve got a lot of bottles to open.
Cons: You must have the patience to charge it for a full four hours before the first use. Talk about delayed gratification.
Price: $50, available online in red, black or silver.