Tag Archives: Washington Gourmet Foods

Chukar Cherries

During Seattle’s Microsoft and Boeing boom in the 1980’s Pam Montgomery was a real estate maven.  The birth of her daughter and approaching arrival of twins caused a reevaluation of her family’s lifestyle.  She and her husband, JT, sold their business and purchased an 8,000 tree cherry orchard in Yakima Valley, Washington in order to bring up their children in a small town.  After the harvest, Pam noticed that some cherries remained on the trees and on a whim, ate several shriveled cherries one day.  As the fruit dried on the trees, the natural sugar intensified, resulting in chewy, super-sweet, delicious fruit.  Pam converted window screens to a makeshift fruit dryer and a gourmet fruit and chocolate business was born.  Chukar Cherries now has three retail stores in Washington state and an online store.

Chukar Cherries

We picked out one of their holiday assortments so we could try a number of Chukar’s confections.  It would be difficult to pick a favorite, because everything in the sampler was oh so yummy.  Here’s a quick rundown of the different flavors:

  • Dark Chocolate Cabernet Cherries – This combo of tart cherries, smooth dark chocolate and wine essence is a decadent delight.  The intense tartness of the cherries is perfectly complemented by the dark chocolate, and the wine essence adds interesting complex notes.
  • Milk Chocolate Classic Cherries – We would say classic with a modern twist.  These are not your grandmother’s chocolate covered cherries with candied cherries drenched in sugar-laden creme.  The intensely sweet dried cherries covered with smooth artisan milk chocolate are irresistible.
  • Dark Chocolate Black Forest Cherries – Bing cherries enrobed in bitterweet cocoa equal yum!  Enough said.
  • Milk Chocolate Truffle Cherries – Sweet cocoa and bing cherries result in a lighter, sweeter bite than the Dark Chocolate Black Forest Cherries, but equally delicious in their own right.
  • Milk Chocolate Honey Pecans – Roasted pecan pieces provide a nice crunch with deep honey notes, and Chukar’s smooth milk chocolate covering makes these treats fall squarely in the “betcha can’t eat just one” category!

As if the chocolate cherry combinations were not enough, the Montgomery Family has sweet dessert sauces, savory grilling sauces, cherry and spicy pepper combos, and pie and cobbler fillings to tempt your tastebuds.  Check out their website and try not to drool over the delicious choices!

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Filed under Candy

Sahale Snacks

Long-time friends and climbing partners Edmond Sanctis and Josh Schroeter were inspired to found their company, Sahale (sah-HA-lee) Snacks, while climbing Washington state’s Mt. Rainier.  Perhaps not the most likely place to start a gourmet food business!  While their adventure was exhilarating, their trail mix and nuts were dull.  You know their dilemma – trail mix sometimes tastes no better than trail dust.  Once they returned to their homes, they set about combining premium nuts, dried fruits and exotic spices to create delicious, wholesome and nutritious snack blends.  After tasting four of their snacks, we are hooked!

Starting at the top of the plate and moving clockwise, the Soledad Almonds contain apple, flax seeds, date, balsamic vinegar and red pepper.  The red pepper and vinegar are the first tastes on the tongue, but the sweetness of the apple and date quickly balance the heat.  The Southwest Cashews with chili and cheddar are coated with grated cheddar-jack cheese, poblano and guajillo peppers, then slow roasted to a spicy crunch.  You can’t get much more southwestern than these delicious seasoned nuts.  Barbeque Almonds with mild chipotle and ranch have a classic smoky sweet taste, layered with tangy buttermilk ranch and chipotle pepper heat.  Last, but certainly not least, are Valdosta Pecans with sweet cranberries, black pepper and orange zest.  While pecans and cranberries might be standard trail mix fare, the pepper and orange zest set this mix well apart from ordinary.  It would be very hard to chose a favorite!

Edmond and Josh both had careers in entertainment and broadcast fields before establishing Seattle-based Sahale Snacks.  Their commitment to environmental responsibility is evidenced by the fact that the company is 100% wind-powered.  Sahale Snacks has been the #1 best-selling natural trail mix in the USA since 2006, and their products are Certified Kosher and gluten-free.  And didn’t we already say delicious?

It is safe to say that I’m never going to climb Mt. Rainier; I’m sufficiently challenged by the rolling hills in my neighborhood on my morning run.  But aren’t we all a just little more conscious these days of taking better care of ourselves?  The trail mix packages ask this question, “Who says indulgent can’t be healthy?”  These snacks provide the healthful benefits of nuts, along with oh-so-wonderful taste, in “to-go” packaging great for lunch boxes, backpacks, purses, briefcases, and yes, on the trail.  Don’t stop there, though.  These treats would be at home on a buffet table, and the company’s website suggests wine and cocktail pairings.  With football season kicking off, the snacks would also make great substitutes for high fat and sodium chips.

Buy Sahale Snacks directly from the company, or look for them in major retailers, including Whole Foods, Pier 1, REI, Kroger, Hannaford, Publix, and Costco.

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Filed under Crackers, Chips & Snacks, Fruit & Nuts