By: Dorset Cereals
I Paid: $6.49 for a 19- or 22-ounce box (prices may vary by region)
If I were compelled to propose marriage to a package, my choice would be the box for the British-made Dorset Cereals Super Cranberry, Cherry & Almond. Its burgundy color is deep and festive without being tarty or obvious. The text is in a tasteful font, the title actually embossed using silver leaf. The copy is clear, concise, funny, effortless: “We take some delicious things and add some more delicious things, then we blend them together. We try lots of combinations. The ones everyone here likes, we make.”
This sets a high expectation: Dorset Cereals aren’t premium; they’re ultrapremium, they’re superpremium, they’re posh to the nth degree.
The result is something halfway between granola and conventional cereal, à la Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, with each box packed to a ridiculous extent with tasty goodies like Brazil nuts, dates, black currants, or cranberries. The percentage of “fruits, nuts, and seeds” is printed right on the front of the box (it ranges from 30 to 50 percent).
The dried fruit that Dorset Cereals uses is tender and flavorful; it doesn’t taste tough or reconstituted. The Berries & Cherries variety explodes with hits of fruit, and leaves a mellow blend of cherry, blueberry, and black currant–flavored barley on the palate. Super Cranberry, Cherry & Almond has an almost candied sweetness tempered by a pleasingly tart cranberry flavor. Simply Delicious Muesli is a little heavy on the sunflower seeds but redeems itself with tender dates and jumbo Chilean flame raisins.
By: Royal Pacific Foods/The Ginger People
I Paid: $5.50 for a 12.8-ounce jar (prices may vary by region)
The ingredients for the Ginger People’s Ginger Spread go like this: ginger, sugar, water. Period.
This vivid, sweet/spicy, jellylike spread is a surprisingly flexible culinary player, teaming well with Gouda or Manchego cheese, oatmeal, ice cream, or even yogurt (and Chowhounds have plenty of other suggestions). It imparts a hit of sweetness and a lightning bolt of aggressive ginger bite.
Both the concept and flavor of the spread are so straightforward that it feels like an old friend the moment you’ve tried the first zesty, slightly fibrous bite. It lingers on your palate, the ginger and sugar in tension but equally powerful, practically crying out for the addition of some kind of mellow third factor. Try it with graham crackers.
A jar of the stuff seems pricey until you’ve sampled it; a little bit goes a long way. The spread also stimulates the imagination: Could it work as a component of the icing for a carrot cake? As an ingredient in glazed sweet potatoes? As a minicroissant filling? So much mystery in such a small jar.