By: Barbara M. Houle
News reports that online shopping skyrocketed last year came as no surprise to most of us who probably all were on the same websites clicking away.
The U.S. Department of Commerce announced earlier this year that Americans spent $791.7 billion online last year, up 32.4% from 2019.
The pandemic and national lockdowns not only added growth opportunities for brands, but also new reasons for businesses to create fun, surprise mail-order food gifts and packages.
A quick look:
New England-based Pastene recently added the Pastene Campus Survival Kit to an assortment of gift boxes listed on its website (https://www.Pastene.com). The newest kit is perfect to send to students to make their own home-cooked meal in their dorm or off-campus housing, especially during finals, or to anyone for that matter, said Sharyn Frankel of Tilson PR representing Pastene. Frankel said she often sends gift packages to her parents in Florida. “People like myself who grew up eating food made by companies like Pastene love being surprised with these packages,” she said. “With Pastene, there are so many food options to choose from.” https://f4581cd95fb933271b784aac953b1a75.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
The $24.99 Pastene Campus Survival Kit, for example, contains some of Pastene’s go-to items: Basil Pesto, Parmesan cheese, one pound each Bucatine, Spaghetti and Rigatoni, Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies (10 oz.), Pizza Sauce (15 oz.), Tomato Basil Sauce (24.5 oz.) and Tonno (3 oz.)
Other packages include Pastene’s Specialty Gift Box, Gluten Free Gift Box, Chateau Gift Box, Fiesta Gift Box (if you like a little spice in life), Tailgate Gift Box, Date Night Gift Box and Pizza Gift Box, with prices ranging from $19.99 to $39.99. Customers also can mix and match creating their own custom case of Pastene products. Note: The Chateau Gift Box is a team effort between the Tosi family (Pastene owners) and the Nocera family, owners of eight Chateau Restaurants located in Massachusetts. The Chateau family business was founded in 1933 in Waltham.https://f4581cd95fb933271b784aac953b1a75.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
The Pastene story began in 1848 with a produce-laden pushcart in Boston’s North End, and today the company’s products are sold nationally in neighborhood markets, select supermarket chains and by national e-tailers such as Amazon and Walmart.
As shoppers we sometimes have no clue to the extensive product line from companies such as Pastene, which sells Italian delicacies that include everything from tomatoes to tuna, beans to breadcrumbs, pasta to peppers and hard-to-find varieties of olives and pignoli nuts and imported Giardiniera and artichoke bottoms.
Mark Tosi, Pastene president, and his brother Chris Tosi, Pastene CEO, represent the sixth generation of Pastene descendants, the 146-year-old family-owned company and importer.
Check out the company website for more information, offers and promotions and great recipe ideas that include gluten-free and weeknight meals. Sauces, too.
Think about sending a food gift package for any special occasion, or just for fun!
Caribbean takeout at Peppers
Chefs at Peppers Artful Events in Northboro have prepared a Caribbean-themed weekend dinner takeout menu for April 9-10.
Orders must be placed by April 8; Pick up is from 3 to 5 p.m. April 9 and 10 a.m. to noon, April 10. Visit https://www.peppersartfulevents.com.
Colorful and delicious Caribbean flavors to choose: Starters: shrimp fritters with pineapple slaw, mango aioli; Jerk chicken wings with cucumber mint yogurt dipping sauce; butter lettuce salad with mandarin oranges, sweet peppers and grilled sweet potato dressed with honey lime vinaigrette. Entrees include: pan-seared red snapper with toasted coconut rice, grilled plantains and papaya black bean salsa; Caribbean vegetable stir-fry, pumpkins, plantains, green beans, carrots, cabbage and sweet peppers, served with coconut noodles and cashews. For a sweet ending, dessert choices include Chocolate Coconut Cream Pie, Vanilla Bean and Mango Panna Cotta and Strawberry Coconut Macaroons.
Accompany the meal with your favorite tropical drink, or order beer or wine from Peppers.
Any interest in cranberry-gravy combo?
Two iconic brands Heinz and Ocean Spray last week officially called on the public via a Twitter poll @HeinzTweets to gauge interest in “Cravy,” a potential cranberry sauce-gravy combo.
Here’s the catch. H.J. Heinz brand is requiring 250,000 “indeed” votes on its social medial poll before a deal.
An Ocean Spray representative reported that Heinz called Ocean Spray on April 1 (no joke) about a possible collaboration after a Tweet about an accidental spillage of cranberry sauce splashed onto a spoon of gravy, with the message ending, Marvelous!
Ocean Spray’s answer, “We’re obsessed with this! Cran-Gravy has a nice ring to it … or … Cravy?!”
“Sometimes, genius happens by accident” is the word from Ocean Spray.
Can’t wait to hear more about this fun collaboration. Cran-Gravy next Thanksgiving?
Sourdough from Calise
Calise Bakery recently rolled out its new Sourdough Italian Round Bread to retailers in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
The freshly baked bread takes on the sweet tang of sourdough with a soft and chewy crust and light and airy texture. It’s dairy and egg-free; suggested retail is $3.69 for a 20-ounce package (approximately 18 slices). Available in local grocery stores including Stop & Shop, Shaw’s, Shop Rite, Market Basket, Roche Brothers, Big Y, Walmart and Price Rite.
“We’re excited to expand our line of innovative and authentic bread and rolls with this superior sandwich essential,” said Michael R. Calise, president of Calise Bakery, based in Lincoln, R.I. “For over four generations, Calise has brought the freshest, best-tasting rolls to the family table. Our Sourdough Italian Round Bread is the ultimate addition to elevate everything from your favorite cold cut sandwiches to perfect Panini melts, and we’re proud to bring this unique offering to our lineup.”
Visit www.calisebakery.com for more information; Follow Calise Bakery on Facebook and Instagram. Note: Calise Bakery founded in 1908 by the Calise family “lives by The Calise Way – an unwavering commitment to the highest quality products, food safety, competitive prices and excellent customer service.” The company offers more than 140 authentic varieties of baked, par-baked and frozen breads, pockets and wraps.
New Mezze Dips
Tribe Mezze Dips is the newest line from Lakeview Farms, manufacturer of refrigerated dips, spreads, desserts and specialty products.
Kosher certified with no artificial preservatives and gluten-free, Tribe Mezze Dips include: Feta-based Red Pepper, Roasted Garlic and Spicy Tomato; Original Style Tzatziki made with Greek yogurt, cucumber and dill; Mediterranean Layered Dip made with hummus, Tzatziki, red peppers and herbs.
Brand manager Nate Everett said the Mezze Dip line was developed in response to “increasing consumer demand for the Mediterranean style of eating and features an authentic and flavorful variety to ready-to-serve refrigerated deli dips and spreads.”
Consumers will find the refrigerated products available in local supermarkets with a suggested retail price of $4.99 to $5.99. Also, look for Tribe’s popular hummus items that have been produced since 1993. Visit www.tribehummus.com for company deals, recipes, etc.
UNO touts deep dish pizza
The celebration of National Deep Dish Pizza Day took place earlier this week (April 5), but you still can enjoy artisan deep dish pizzas at local UNO Pizzeria & Grill locations.
Deep dish pizza is an integral part of UNO’s legacy. The pizzeria invented deep dish in Chicago in 1943. The company reports that each restaurant makes their dough fresh each morning, shreds 40-pound blocks of mozzarella, chops all produce and roasts all vegetables. “If you know UNO, you know that deep dish pizza is extremely important to us,” said UNO’s Chief Executive Officer Erik Frederick. “Yes, deep dish takes a little extra time to cook, a lot of extra effort, and it’s more expensive to make,” said Frederick. “At the end of the day, we wouldn’t be UNO without deep dish and deep dish wouldn’t be deep dish without UNO.”
You’ll find local UNO’s in Worcester, Millbury, Leominster, Sturbridge and Westboro. Visit https://www.unos.com for more menu information, promotions, etc.
Cooking with Williams Sonoma
Looking to learn a few new cooking tips and recipes?
Williams Sonoma offers virtual events this month and next, beginning with Bobby Flay Live at 8 p.m. April 8. Flay in his home kitchen will introduce viewers to Williams Sonoma’s new GreenPan Premiere Cookware, sharing a simple brunch menu including Individual Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Rolled Omelets and Classic Hash Browns.
All proceeds from general admission to the virtual events, which include book launch parties, benefit No Kid Hungry in its fight to end childhood hunger in America. Visit www.williams.sonoma.com for a complete rundown of events.
Williams Sonoma Coffee Club is scheduled at 9 a.m. April 10. Presented by Breville, the course is recommended for anyone who is interested in starting a coffee and espresso journey or would like to learn more about the science and art of the craft.
It’s Always Freezer Season Live with chef Ashley Christensen and cookbook author Kaitlyn Goalen will be held at 7 p.m. April 13. Learn how the home freezer can easily become the most important tool in your kitchen.
A Mother’s Day Celebration with Trisha Yearwood is scheduled for May 6.
Yearwood and her sister Beth Bernard not only will celebrate Mother’s Day, but also will launch a new tabletop collection honoring their mother, Gwendolyn. Reserve early!