• Woodinville Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup
$19.95 for 8.5 oz.; Nugget Markets; www.woodinvillewhiskeyco.com
Washington-based artisan distillers Woodinville Whiskey Co. may be best known for its award-winning craft spirits, but its sweetest accomplishment may be this genius little bottle of maple syrup. Aged in empty bourbon and rye barrels, it takes on a deliciously deep and complex flavor filled with caramel, vanilla and yes, a hint of fire water. This is syrup for grown-ups.
• Roys Seasonings
$7.59 to $11.99; available at Corti Bros. and other retailers; www.roysseasonings.com
As we were walking by the display case full of jars and bags of Roys Seasonings made by Roy Campbell of Murphys three words on the signage stopped us in our tracks: Strong and bold. Hey, no one has time to waste on wimpy seasonings when you can climb higher on the flavor ladder, right? We took home a few of the 12 flavors, fired up the grill and tried them on a chicken breast, a rack of St. Louis-style pork ribs and a salmon fillet. We liked them just fine, in this order: Devils Delight (with ghost peppers), Island Jerk (with jalapeño peppers) and Lemonicious (with lemon sage).
• Beef noodle soup
$6.95; Yangs Noodles; 5860 Stockton Blvd.; (916) 392-9988
Bee food critic Blair Anthony Robertson recently singled out this dish in his review of the Stockton Boulevard restaurant, which underwent a remodel this summer: The beef noodle soup comes in a steaming cauldron and, if youre sharing, smaller bowls for individual eating. The broth has that rich depth that only comes from slow simmering, building and balancing flavor over many hours. Theres a lot to take in with this one notes of chili, a broad underpinning of beefiness, a pinging on the palate of Chinese five-spice, from star anise to cinnamon and cloves.
• Wine & Cheese Faire 2014
$40; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today; Old Sugar Mill, Clarksburg; oldsugarmill.com
What makes a perfect afternoon? Take the 10 wineries housed in the Old Sugar Mill, and add the following: tasting glass, locally made cheese, specialty chocolates, olive oil, jams, fruit and nuts. The list goes on. A ticket buys you tasting of both the vino and cheese. You can then browse the artisan vendors for the makings of a picnic to nosh on while you listen to the live music.
• Sonomic Almost Vinegar Gewurztraminer
$20 for 12.7 oz.; Corti Bros., Taylors Market and other retailers; www.sonomicvinegar.com
With a rich golden color and lightly sweet, thick flavor, Sonomic Almost Vinegar is almost impossible to describe. Billed as an alternative to balsamic, this concoction of un-fermented grapes by Petaluma-based Port Works can be used in a dressing, sprinkled on fruit for a quick dessert or drizzled as a finishing sauce on meats. However you choose to use it, the luscious liquid is sure to spark conversations about its unique taste.
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