STOCK UPBy C.W. Cameron / For the AJC
Cheese spread, an olive-nut mix and crackers — if you decide to turn these into dinner, we’ll never tell.
Hall’s Benedictine spread
Hall’s Beer Cheese in Lexington, Kentucky, is best-known for its Original Snappy Beer Cheese spread, a mixture of beer and aged Wisconsin sharp cheddar. But Hall’s sells another Kentucky classic, Benedictine spread — cream cheese mixed with cucumber and onion, and traditionally used as a dip or sandwich spread. It might be the freshest tasting thing on the menu at a Derby Day party, and Kentuckians enjoy it year-round. With its refreshing cucumber flavor, we think it’s just right for summer picnics and snacks. The classic use of Benedictine spread is for cucumber sandwiches, but it’s also delicious in a wrap or as the dip for a beautiful tray of summer crudités.
$5.99 per 8-ounce container. Benedictine spread is sold from April (in time for the Kentucky Derby) through the end of September. Available at beercheese.com.
Nuts Over Olives from BobbySue’s Nuts
Why put out a dish of nuts and another dish of olives? Why not combine them, add a hint of sweetness, and take care of all your snack cravings at once? It’s a case of “Why didn’t someone think of this before?” In 2008, Chappaqua, New York-based Barb Kobren (the “BobbySue” of her business name) created a line of Sofi Award-winning nut mixes, including the savory-sweet-salty one we tried, Nuts Over Olives. Everyone who tried it enjoyed this combination of almonds, cashews and pecans, mixed with slivered olives, and all lightly coated with a slightly sweet meringue. With so many different ingredients, every handful is just a little different. There’s also the original mix, which is just the nuts; an Everything Goes Nuts mix with everything bagel seasoning; and Some Like It Hot, which is the mix with a bit of heat. A portion of all sales is donated to help animals in need.
Flatbread crackers from the Accidental Baker
Jennie McCray and Kevin Mason run the Accidental Baker, a family bakery in Hillsborough, North Carolina. They sell baked treats, like cinnamon rolls, at the Eno River Farmers Market, but their ovens are mainly kept busy producing the flatbread crackers that have become their signature. They offer six flavors: sea salt, sesame, black pepper and sea salt, everything, spicy Firecrackers, and the ones we tried, rosemary and roasted garlic. These crisp, sturdy 3-by-6-inch crackers are not going to shatter when you dip them into a bowl of hummus or top them with thinly sliced summer tomatoes and goat cheese. McCray and Mason pride themselves on using locally milled flour, and even the artwork on their boxes reflects their pride of place, as each is illustrated with places in North Carolina and Virginia that are significant to their family.
$8.99 per 5.5-ounce package. Available at Whole Foods Market, Star Provisions and at theaccidentalbakernc.com.