Do you find regular soft drinks syrupy and overwhelmingly sweet? Are flavored seltzers dull and boring? Then GuS — “Grown-up Soda” — may be the drink you’re looking for. The company, founded in 2003, makes six sophisticated versions using real juice, less sugar and plenty of pizzazz. Each bottle has about 95 calories.
Dry Valencia Orange and Dry Crimson Grape are new takes on traditional soda flavors. Extra Dry Ginger Ale has more bite than standard varieties, and Dry Cranberry Lime, with its strong lime finish, is definitely designed for the adult palate. Citrus flavors Star Ruby Grapefruit and Dry Meyer Lemon are particularly refreshing, and mix well with rum or vodka. Recipes for a “GuS-Driver” and the “GuS-mopolitan” are at the company’s Web site, www.drinkgus.com.
GuS can be found in Cleveland at Lake Road Market and Zagara’s Marketplace, at Miles Farmers Market in Solon and in Akron at Mustard Seed Market and West Point Market.
The Chop Shop ... For old-fashioned cooks — those who still prefer pen and paper to PDAs — Kuhnrikon’s Twist & Chop manual food processor is gadget-of-the-year. Drop a few garlic cloves into the clear bowl fitted with two double-sharpened blades, close the lid, and you’ll be ready to chop with a just few flicks of the wrist.
“I throw in some shallots, garlic and herbs, so everything gets mixed together at once,” says Jon-Antony, a cooking instructor at Sur La Table in Chicago. “It’s a great time-saver.” Multiple gears inside the lid increase the cutting force of this hand-held machine. The more you twist, the finer mince you have.
At $18, the Twist & Chop is ideal for campers, picnickers and people cooking small portions or for one. But while it’s easy to use and clean, the Twist & Chop can’t process more than one cup of anything at a time. Available locally at Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma.
Dealing With Peeling ... The Zyliss ergonomically angled soft skin peeler works so well you’ll never want to lose it — and it’s so bright red, you never will. Winner of a 2005 Reddot award, an international competition that recognizes exceptional product design and functionality, this peeler features two opposing serrated blades that look like tiny shark teeth.
Fine, stainless steel blades remove skin without removing flesh and work equally well on tough or delicate skins — from peaches to potatoes to plums. A sharp steel tip makes it easy to remove blemishes while peeling. And the double blade allows for back-and-forth peeling, so both lefties and righties can use this peeler comfortably.
The back-and-forth option is a big plus, according to Tom Szoradi, chef at Juniper Grill in downtown Cleveland, because there’s more to peeling than what happens to a potato in your mother’s kitchen.
“With this sharp of a blade, you can make [peelings] thin enough for garnishing,” says Szoradi. “It could be used for creating rose flowers with tomato skins or fried asparagus shavings to go on top of a dish.
“I’m sure you’d be able to shave a product like prosciutto [with this peeler] as well,” he adds.
Find it in Cleveland at Sur La Table and Constantino’s Market, and in Akron at Mustard Seed Market and West Point Market.
Placemat Perfection ... Placemats are a great way to protect the beautiful finish of a kitchen or dining room table without hiding the wood under a tablecloth. And thanks to new MacFABHome indestructible placemats, cooks won’t have to worry about protecting placemats, either.
Perfect for dining outdoors and serving dishes hot out of the oven, MacFABHome placemats are made with synthetic polyvinyl that is impervious to stains, mold, mildew, temperatures up to 300 degrees and UV light. They can withstand abrasive scrubbing with soap or bleach without ever showing a scratch. MacFABHome placemats are available in bright, fun colors, as well as naturals and modern, metallic weaves. At $7.99 apiece, cooks can afford a set to match every dining décor.
For information on where to find MacFabHome placemats, check out www.pacificmerchants.com or call toll-free 1-888-207-8999.
A Brave New Wood ... For those who love the planet and love to cook, eco-friendly bamboo kitchenware is beautiful in more ways than one. Unlike hardwoods that have 30- to 60-year growth cycles, bamboo grows back without replanting and can be harvested every 4 1/2 years. Totally Bamboo uses this renewable resource to make 39 items, from salad hands to serving trays. After founders Tom and Joanne Sullivan discovered that bamboo is 16 percent harder than maple, they started making cutting boards out of the hardest Chinese timber bamboo called “moso.” (Don’t worry, panda pals — moso is not a food source for the endangered giant panda.) The bamboo strips are never stained. They come in dark brown and light honey colors. (The dark tones are brought out by a heating process that causes the wood’s natural sugars to caramelize.) The colors will not fade with prolonged use.
“[The cutting boards] are awfully good-looking and have incredible longevity,” says Tom Johnson, chef and cooking instructor at the Western Reserve School of Cooking in Hudson. “I can teach a whole class on one of those boards and it will still look brand-new.” Totally Bamboo products are available at Sur La Table, Crate and Barrel, The Cookery in Hudson, and Viking Culinary Arts Center at Legacy Village, Lyndhurst!