A new Cuban-style coffee from Ruta Maya; Rachael Ray’s party returns


Checking out a new powdered coconut creamer and Cuban-style coffee

Since we’re talking about coffee today, you might want to know about two new coffee products from Austin companies. The first is an innovative new vegan and dairy-free creamer, and the other is a dark roasted coffee from a beloved local staple.

Wander Life Coconut Creamer is a powdered creamer made with coconut milk powder, cacao and coconut sugar. It’s organic, Paleo and vegan, and it is an excellent substitute for coffee drinkers who are avoiding cream or dairy. You can simply spoon and stir the powdered mixture in your coffee or tea, but for the best froth, founder Kat Waldrip recommends pulsing the coffee and creamer together in the blender.

I tried that technique last week, and it worked really well but was an extra step that felt a little like a hassle, especially since I hadn’t yet had coffee. On the other hand, if you’re already making butter or coconut oil coffee in a blender, this travel-friendly powdered version is definitely a product you’ll want to know about. In fact, Waldrip created the product after not being able to find a shelf-stable, dairy-free creamer that she could easily take with her when she traveled, which is why it’s sold in small, reusable 6-ounce pouches.

The creamer is sold in three flavors: plain, vanilla and cacao. You can buy it through the website (wanderlifecreamer.com), Amazon and at Snap Kitchen locations in Austin for $6.99 each or all three for $20.

Waldrip says customers are also using it in smoothies and in baking projects to add a hint of coconut flavor, and a colleague of mine used the cacao creamer in a spicy curry she made a few weeks ago and loved it. She also added the vanilla version to homemade whipped cream.

Ruta Maya , which has been roasting coffee beans in Austin since 1990, has added a Cuban-style blend to its product lineup called Café Jiguani.

Because the company can’t yet source beans directly from Cuba, it hired a Cuban coffee expert to develop a blend of beans to re-create the signature flavor of a cup of coffee in a place like Havana. The result is Café Jiguani, a bold, nutty dark roast named for a city in Cuba near the country’s main coffee region, Sierra Maestra.

Made with 100 percent Arabica beans from South America, the coffee is sold in a 12-ounce package at H-E-B for $9.27 and, with a slightly darker roast for espresso, in a 2.2-pound package at Costco for $14.99. The company says that as soon as the trade embargo is lifted — as early as next year, a rep says — they will source the beans for this roast directly from Cuba.


Lammes brings back a chocolate-covered favorite for SXSW

Chocolate-covered strawberries aren’t the first thing you think of for March, but Lammes Candies is bringing back its hugely popular Valentine’s Day treat for South by Southwest and St. Patrick’s Day.

Lammes was founded in 1885 in a storefront at Eighth Street and Congress Avenue, which makes it one of the oldest businesses not only in Austin but also in Texas. The company is now based on Airport Boulevard, with five locations around Austin. It also ships chocolates and other goodies all over the world.

They don’t ship these strawberries, though. They sell out here fast enough, says April Kling Meyer, the sales and marketing rep who runs the company’s delightful Twitter account. The succulent strawberries are fully enrobed in milk chocolate from San Francisco’s Guittard Chocolate Company, another food company in its fifth generation of family ownership, Meyer says.

It seems as though Lammes might have sold the first chocolate-covered strawberries in Austin, according to Bryan Teich, fifth generation co-owner and descendent of founder William Wirt Lamme. This happened during the 1970s, and though lots of companies sell them now, few wrap the entire strawberry in chocolate.

These treats are one of their biggest sellers at Valentine’s Day, but Lammes also sells them on and off throughout the year. Thursday through Saturday, in honor of SXSW and St. Patrick’s Day and all the folks visiting Austin this time of year, you can buy them at all five locations of Lammes.

Granted, these aren’t spots that are located downtown near the biggest crowds that weekend, but one of these locations might not be far from where you’re staying: Lakeline Mall, 11200 Lakeline Mall Drive; Barton Creek Square, 2901 Capitol of Texas Highway; Hillside Center, 2927A W. Anderson Lane; Round Rock, 110 N. Interstate 35; and Airport Boulevard, 5330 Airport Blvd. You can buy them for $15.45 per pound, and they are only available in the stores. However, you can hire a delivery service to pick them up, Meyer notes.


Rachael Ray party returns for 10th year on Saturday

It’s been 10 years since a little ol’ Food Network host named Rachael Ray decided she loved our weird little city enough to host a big SXSW party in its honor. That’s a decade of crazy lines to get in, but free (and surprisingly delicious) food and stellar music once you get there.

This year, Ray and husband John Cusimano have put together another Rachael Ray Feedback party that will draw thousands to Stubb’s, 801 Red River St., on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This year’s music lineup includes Weezer, De La Soul, Action Bronson, Margo Price, the Districts, Benjamin Booker and, of course, Bob Schneider and Cusimano’s band, the Cringe.

No matter what’s on stage, plenty of people go primarily to eat the food and enjoy the cocktails and beer. This year’s menu is queso and nacho heavy, a first for the barbecue-loving television host. The dishes they’ll serve are TexMex TOTchos (Tater Tot nachos), Panchos con Queso (hot sogs with queso), Queso on the Cobb (corn with queso) and Nachos con Chorizo & Queso Suprema (nachos with chorizo and queso).

The event started on Sixth Street in 2008 but moved to Stubb’s about six years ago. Last year, Ray hosted her first Feedback event outside Austin, but no word yet on if the Chicago Feedback event will take place this summer.

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