vomFASS Wins Again!

 vomFASS recently received the results of this year’s iTQi Superior Taste Awards Ceremony which was held in Brussels, Belgium.

 

The International Taste & Quality Institute – iTQi – is the world’s leading organization iTQi 2016.pngdedicated to testing and promoting superior food and drink. Once again, we have received awards for our high-quality fruit balsamics from the iTQi!

The Superior Taste Award is a unique international recognition based upon the blind judgment of some of the most prestigious Chefs and Sommeliers in the world who are opinion leaders and experts in taste.

vomFASS is extremely pleased to announce that we were, once again, able to achieve excellent results with our in-house specialty balsamic vinegars including the following:

  • Apple Balsamic Vinegar –  3 Stars and the Crystal Taste Award (granted to products that have received 3 stars, 3 years in a row.)
  • Blueberry Balsamic Star – 3 Stars
  • Passion Fruit Balsamic Vinegar – 3 Stars (Coming soon to vomFASS at Mall of America)

The star ratings are defined as follows:

3 Stars = Exceptionall products with 90% and more of total marks

2 Stars = Remarkable products with marks between 80% and 90%

1 Star = Notable tasting products with marks between 70% and 80%

Stop by vomFASS at Mall of America to taste these award-winning products and many other superior taste award-winners to decide which are the winners on your palate!

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Fair Trade is Good Trade at vomFASS

One of the many reasons I am proud to own a vomFASS shop is the ethics and caring demonstrated by vomFASS International. One example is the relationship vomFASS has and the support we provide for the work of Father Shay Cullen, who is the founder of the PREDA Foundation.father_cullen

Father Cullen was nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize and other Human Rights awards. Father Shay Cullen founded the PREDA Foundation in 1974 to promote human rights, justice and peace. He strives to eliminate child abuse and promote respect for children’s rights. The purpose of his projects is to:

  • educate for peace
  • free children from brothels and jails and
  • give them a chance to recover in therapeutic homes and be reintegrated and have a happier life free from jails, brothels, traffickers, violence and abusers.

The foundation operates protective therapeutic recovery shelters for the victims. There are 89 professional Filipino staff implementing the 12 projects for Preda. (visit http://www.preda.org for more information).

Filipinos in Mango field
PREDA stands for People’s Recovery, Empowerment, Development, Assistance Foundation

PREDA’S Mission statement

  • To work for just laws and their implementation that will empower the poor, and protect their rights.
  • To protect the weak and the defenseless especially children and women exploited in demeaning labor, especially prostitution.
  • To come to the assistance of the sexually abused and develop Fair Trade programs that will help alleviate poverty and exploitation.

PREDA products are safe and healthy. The dried fruit and fruit purees are chemical free and are fairly traded. Adherence to Fair Trade practices guarantees that the families who make these products benefit directly from them. Fair trade also promotes training and supports farmers by providing benefits such as medical insurance. Customers can be assured that there is no child labor, sweatshop conditions, and exploitation of any kind.

vomFASS is Fair!

vomFASS helps and supports the local economies with fair prices and premium payments to producers to improve working and living conditions. We source the fruit pulp for our customer-favorite Calamansi Balsam Vinegar, Mango Balsam Vinegar and Wild Mango Balsamic Star from a PREDA plantation. A percentage of sales of these products in contributed towards the planting of as many as 2,000 mango trees a year.

As a vomFASS owner, I am proud to be associated with PREDA’s humanitarian efforts. As a vomFASS customer, you can enjoy your food even more, knowing that it is ethically sourced and supports these noble projects.

Enjoy!

Tamra (a.k.a. Tomboy Tam)

Wild about Wild Mango Balsamic Star

We recently added a new Star to the constellation of specialty balsamic vinegars at vomFASS at Mall of America! If you’ve loved our Mango Balsam Vinegar, your palate will leap over the moon when you taste Wild Mango Balsamic Star! Mango Salad

How are Stars made? 

As you may recall, vomFASS makes all our fruit balsamics at the world headquarters in Waldburg, Germany. We use fresh fruit, press it into juice, ferment it  and incorporate the magical vinegar “Mother” bacteria, before it is aged to perfection. Our “Star” balsamics are basically the same process, with one major difference: they have a higher concentrate of fruit (or honey, in the case of our Honey Balsamic Star). The additional fruit results in a sweeter, thicker, lower-acidity specialty balsamic that is to die for (except for the fact that it’s such a healthy condiment!)

Our new Wild Mango Balsamic Star is composed of mango puree and mango vinegar. It has the full, fruity taste of ripe mangoes of the “carabao” variety, grown on a fair trade plantation in the Philippines (read more). You may enjoy it for refining summer salads, meat or fish dishes or as a base for barbecue sauce.  It’s an exotic complement to desserts, oatmeal or cocktails. Personally, I love it in sparkling water and as a marinade for shrimp or pork. It pairs beautifully with any vomFASS extra virgin olive oil, our organic Avocado Oil, Styrian Pumpkin Seed Oil and Chili Sunflower Oil. It’s also yummy paired with our Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Blueberry Balsamic Star, such as in this salad recipe.

Mango Blueberry Watermelon Salad ~ Serves 6-8

Watermelon_Feta_Salad

Ingredients: 

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1 T. shallots, finely minced
  • 2 T.  vomFASS  Blueberry Balsamic Star
  • 2 T.  vomFASS Wild Mango Balsamic Star
  • ½ cup vomFASS Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • vomFASS Salt and Pepper to taste

For the salad:

  • 8 cups salad greens
  • 3-4 cups red watermelon, rind removed, seeded, and cut into cubes
  • 8 oz. feta cheese, cubed or crumbled
  • 2 cups blueberries OR 1 cup black olives
  • ½ cup (2 oz.) fresh mint leaves, minced

Directions:

  1. Whisk together the shallots, vinegars, salt and pepper.
  2. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified.
  3. Taste for flavor and seasoning. Add a little olive oil if less tartness is desired.  Add a little honey if additional sweetness is desired.
  4. Place the greens, watermelon, feta, blueberries or olives and mint in a large bowl.
  5. Drizzle with enough vinaigrette to coat the greens lightly and toss well, but gently.
  6. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.
Tip: Store any leftover dressing in the refrigerator. To make this dish more savory, use black olives instead of blueberries.

Enjoy! 

Tamra (a.k.a. Tomboy Tam)

How to ID authentic EVOO

Pouring olive oil in the salad over a spoon

The news is full of information about extra virgin olive oil. On the one hand, we read and hear about the benefits of incorporating more high quality extra virgin olive oil into our diets for healthier hearts, brains and general well-being. On the other hand, there are reports that up to 70 percent of extra virgin olive oil on U.S. store shelves may not be 100% authentic. In fact, it may not even be olive oil! What’s a health-conscious, earth-aware consumer to do?

My advice is to find a reputable source you can trust, such as vom FASS, and stick with it. While this statement may seem self serving (since we sell extra virgin olive oil at vom FASS) you may use the following three questions to help you evaluate the authenticity and quality of olive oil from any source.

Q: Where does the olive oil come from?  The more information that is available, the more likely it is to be reliable. 
– Wholesalers or directly from growers and producers?
– Country of origin and region within a country?
– Specifically which olive groves and trees?
– Who is the grower and where is it pressed?

vom FASS Answer:
We have long-term relationships directly with family growers and small producers in Italy, Greece, Spain and France from whom we source our extra virgin olive oil. vom FASS selects supplier partners whose sustainable and ethical production philosophy match our own high standards. The founder of vom FASS in Germany and vom FASS staff personally visit olive oil growers before harvest to inspect the quality of the olives to determine whether vom FASS will include that harvest in our offerings. As a vom FASS owner, I’ve had the opportunity to visit vom FASS product suppliers to see for myself where the trees grow that produce our olive oils and meet the growers and producers.

Our short, controlled supply chain (grower to presser to vom FASS) eliminates the opportunity for tampering along the way. The packaging includes the relevant IGP designation that guarantees a product originating from a region or a country whose quality, recipe and characteristics can be traced back to its geographical origin, as well as controlled organic certifications, as applicable. Finally, in our own food laboratory (vom FASS Germany), state-certified food experts continuously monitor the quality of our products.

Q: How has the olive oil been handled?
– How are the olives picked?
– How much time elapses between picking and pressing?
– What is the pressing method?
– How much time between pressing and packaging?
– How is the product packaged?
– How long before the product ends up on the store shelf?
– How is the product stored on the store shelf for tasting and purchasing?

vom FASS Answer:
Our suppliers hand pick their olives and quickly and carefully transport them to be pressed locally within 24 hours of picking, so there’s no chance of pre-crushing or fermentation due to transportation or storage. The olives are mechanically (no chemicals) cold-pressed according to the EU and International Olive Council‘s designation and definition of “extra virgin.” Our oils are unfiltered, with the exception of Pepone, which is lightly filtered.

The oil is immediately packaged and sealed in vom FASS’s unique “bag in box” (BiB) system, labeled with origin and specific batch information and shipped to vom FASS. The sealed BiB is not opened again until it is tapped in a vom FASS shop. Even after tapping it, the oil remains in that BiB on our shelves in our beautiful Amphora (crocks), protected from air, heat and light until the customer samples the fresh taste and purchases the bottles we fill for them.

vom FASS manages inventory forecasting to ensure we are able to get the new harvest oils on our shelves as soon as they are available. This means our customers have the unique opportunity early each year to taste very fresh extra virgin olive oils just a couple of months after the olives are picked, when it has a very green, grassy and pungent flavor. That “green” taste mellows out after a few months.

Q: How does the olive oil smell, taste and look? 

vom FASS Answer:
There are five key factors that determine the flavor of olive oil (a future article!), but in general, the following characteristics can help you identify authentic, fresh, quality extra virgin olive oil:

  • Sniff it: you should notice a fresh, green or fruity aroma. If it smells “off” or rancid, stop there. Hay, cardboard, vinegar, mud and mustiness are some of the aromas that indicate an olive oil has gone bad. It has to pass the “smell test” before you even consider moving on to a taste test. Read more about identifying rancidity or “fusty” olive oil.
  • Taste it: Open your mouth, breathe in to dry your palate, and then take a little sip of oil from a spoon or glass – yes, just the oil! Real, quality olive oil should have a flavor – green, grassy, fruity, peppery, pungent, bitter – all of these flavors are hallmarks of good extra virgin olive oil. No flavor or a musty taste or greasy mouth feel are not good signs of a fresh, quality olive oil. Read more about tasting olive oil.
  • Visually evaluate it:
    • Your first visual cues should include the information on the labels:
      • Does the label list any ingredients other than 100% extra virgin olive oil?
      • Does it identify the geographic origin? The more specific the better.
      • Does it state DOP, PGI (Protected Designation of Origin and quality certification) or IGP (less stringent) indication of geographical protection?
      • What is the best by or harvest date?
      • Is there a batch or other specific identification information?
    • The appearance of the oil itself isn’t necessarily an easy way to pinpoint authenticity, but look for:
      • Color may range from vivid green to gold to pale straw.
      • An unfiltered extra virgin olive oil may be cloudy and/or have sediment. Don’t worry – that’s just more flavor and nutrients!

At vom FASS Mall of America, we are proud of our authentic extra virgin olive oils. We love to talk to you, guide you through the tasting process and help you select the extra virgin olive oil that is right for your palate and recipe!