Colorado Springs Gazette food editor offers some foodie finds

Cotton Candy grapes taste like the spun-sugar treat.

Green grapes that taste like cotton candy. Hummus spiced with green chiles. Bags for making grilled cheese sandwiches in a toaster. These are three new-to-me discoveries you might be surprised by too.

Cotton Candy grapes created a buzz when Features Editor Nathan Van Dyne brought them to the newsroom recently. While a few colleagues knew about them, somehow the unique product had eluded my foodie radar. I couldn’t believe the taste sensation that mimics spun sugar. After the flavor explosion from a single fruit, I was hooked and wanted more. And I wanted to know how the grapes were developed.

I emailed Jack Pandol, founder of Grapery, who responded right away.

“When we set out to bring a new grape variety to consumers, it’s never with any preset idea of what it should taste like,” he wrote. “Our goal is to create the most flavorful, best eating grape people have ever tasted. All of our varieties are developed through all-natural plant breeding. Our Cotton Candy grape is the result of 12 years of selective crossbreeding numerous varieties of grapes until we got a grape with amazing flavor and texture.”

His plant scientists created a winning product. The grape’s skin texture has a snap to it, and it tastes like the familiar carnival favorite — only you don’t have to endure sticky fingers. And it’s a much healthier snack.

If you’re not already a fan of these grapes, time is running short to find them. They will be in local grocery stores through September. I spotted the pink labeled bags at King Soopers for $3.99 a pound.

Next up, hummus and green chiles, my new favorite snack. I learned about this offering from a friend who is obsessed by them. It’s by Boulder-based Falafel King, and you’ll find a 10-ounce plastic tub of them in the deli section at King Soopers for $4.49.

It’s made with garbanzo beans, tahini, filtered water, Hatch green chile, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, sea salt, cumin, and other spices. The green chile is found in the center of the creamy hummus. Mix it all together for a flavorful dip. It’s great with carrot sticks, red bell pepper strips or celery.

Finally, I do like a crunchy, buttery grilled cheese sandwich, but I’m not a fan of washing a skillet just to make the treat. So when I saw Boska Toastabags on food52.com, I was intrigued. Toasting a cheese sandwich in a bag in a toaster? I had to give them a try.

I ordered a box of the Toastabags for $8.95 plus shipping. It includes three reusable bags made from PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), a synthetic material similar to Teflon so they don’t require butter or oil to create a nonstick surface. The bags are washable and dishwasher safe.

I gave them a shot and was pleased with the results. After less than three minutes in the toaster oven, I was crunching a buttery-flavored, ooey-gooey, grilled-like cheese sandwich. There was minimal cleanup. And each bag can be reused 50 times before you have to toss it.

I’ve also discovered a similar product called Grilled Cheese Made Easy toastabags, available at King Soopers for under $5 for a box of two sleeves. These bags can also be used to reheat crispy foods like chicken nuggets, pizza slices, french fries and frozen cheese sticks in the toaster — without the soggy results you’d get if they were reheated in the microwave.

Contact the writer: 636-0271.

Food editor

Food writer for features life section and columnist for Go! Entertainment - Table Talk column

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