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Couscous - St. Dalfour
This delicious couscous meal can be carried in your pocket, bag or briefcase, to be enjoyed in a wasteland of fast food and empty calories. Photography by Dhanraj Emanuel.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

KAREN HOCHMAN is Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE.

 

 

October 2007

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Rice, Beans & Grains

St. Dalfour Gourmet On The Go

Ready-To-Eat Meals For Travel

 

 

CAPSULE REPORT: What a great idea for travel. Given all the bad food we eat on the road—because there’s so little healthy food to be had—Gourmet On The Go is a welcome solution. In fact, at least one major airline is selling them to travelers. Four of the six flavors are vegetarian, two are gluten-free. So they’re also great to keep on hand if a guest shows up who has special dietary needs. If only they were kosher, we’d hit all bases (but alas, they’re not). Some are low-calorie—200 per 6.2-ounce can. At $3.99, they’re pricey for everyday single-portion use, but great to keep at work for late night nutrition as an alternative to chips and candy bars. The best products in the line are Couscous, Wild Salmon with Vegetables, and Three Beans Sweet Corn—but we like them all except for the two flawed pasta varieties. The line is all-natural, which means no preservatives; the food tastes equally good at room temperature or microwaved.

Our brother, Edward, served in the United States Army and would regale us with colorful tales of army life. One anecdote concerned the MREs that soldiers eat in the field—tinned “Meals Ready to Eat” that were so substandard that the troops not-so-fondly called then “Meals Rejected by Ethiopians” (these were the days of famine in that unfortunate African country, underscoring how truly inedible the MREs were). Fast-forward 20 years: Ed coincidentally arrived at THE NIBBLE offices during a tasting of St. Dalfour Gourmet On The Go, gourmet MREs for those at the office, school, on the road, hiking, camping and otherwise not within reach of a nutritious meal. Tasting our civilian supplies, Ed wondered if the French Army MREs tasted this good (St. Dalfour is located in Chambord, France, in the Loire Valley). The blue-and-white-patterned tin looks more Metropolitan Home than army rations, too.

St. Dalfour, a company perhaps known best for an extensive line of no-sugar-added fruit preserves sold at better food stores, gets an A for effort on this innovative line. For meals on the go, some of the varieties are quite good; others need to go back to the drawing board. But even those would be considered terrific by anyone on a diet of real MREs. Called Gourmet on the Go, its vacuum containers, with lids that peel off, hold 6.2 ounces. They come with a tiny fork and packets of salt and pepper. Though they can be heated in a microwave oven with the lid off, the meals are fine as is. They can go in lunch boxes, backpacks and emergency kits. (United Airlines has started selling them in on-board meal packs.)

Meals Ready To Eat - St. Dalfour
A clever kit, the solid-looking tin can be microwaved—but the food tastes just fine
at room temperature.

St. Dalfour has done a terrific job, conceptually. While the cans look like metal, they are microwaveable. The lid is easy to open—just peel back foil. The small fork is a completely adequate utensil—it has been designed with very short tines and a spoon-shaped basin so that it functions as a spork (spoon-fork), great for scooping or jabbing. There are salt and pepper packets, but we didn’t need to use them. The packaging is very attractive, so you don’t feel as if you’re “eating from a can” but actually are having a picnic-type treat. And, for prepared canned food meant for on-the-go convenience, it’s pretty good, on the whole. Given what comes up from Room Service or is otherwise available, we wager that most nutrition-focused road warriors would prefer a 200-calorie can of Gourmet on the Go Couscous or Wild Salmon With Vegetables or even the Three Beans With Sweet Corn, all made with “good oils,” to empty-carb bad-cholesterol road fare.

Pasta & Vegetables - St. Dalfour

Don’t be tempted by the thought of “pasta”:
The pasta flavors aren’t good. But the rest are
.

There are some amusing moments to be had reading the packaging:

First, anyone who looks at the calorie counts on packages probably notices that the serving size is always half a bottle of soda, half a cookie, etc. This ludicrousness seems to imply that serving sizes are targeted to three-year-olds, or that we’re producing things in containers that are seriously out-of-since with the portions we should be eating.

With St. Dalfour, a serving size is half a can. Perhaps on a dietician’s schedule, a serving of couscous or pasta salad is three ounces. But if you are truly on-the-go—there is no well-rounded meal spread in front of you, this can is all you have to eat—is your serving size really half a can? If you’re at school, in the car, on the plane...what do you do with the other half?

Second, and this may be a cultural difference, there are serving suggestions with each variety, but all of the flavors except salmon recommend serving the item with “cheese, corn chips or nachos.” If you can figure out the synergy between three bean salad, couscous, tuna pasta salad, etc. with corn chips or nachos, let us know. (Perhaps they meant toasted pita?)

If you’re serving them at home, or have access to fresh produce, emptying any of the cans onto a bed of greens or adding tomatoes or crudités will enhance the experience. When traveling, you can add to the canned feast with roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts.

Flavors

Of the six varieties, our favorites were...everything but the two pasta varieties. For reasons we could not fathom, because they were made with the same oils and vegetables as the other flavors—perhaps it has something to do with the preparation of pasta for canning—the tastes on the pasta varieties were really off (i.e., if you don’t like to throw out food, try feeding them to the dog). At any rate, there will be a temptation to buy them, because pasta is such a popular food. Do so at your own risk, and if you don’t like them, don’t let that color your perception of the other four flavors, which range from nice to very good.

Couscous (vegetarian—photo at top of page). Couscous is one of the hits of the collection. Not only is it attractive, with large chunks of red pepper, dark red kidney beans, yellow cork kernels and dark raisins, but there’s a sweet-and-sour tanginess in the vinaigrette, made from extra virgin olive oil, sunflower oil, and parsley. Nicely seasoned, it ties with salmon as our favorite. Calories per can: 390.

Pasta & Vegetables (vegetarian). Fusilli mixed with broad beans sliced carrots, French beans and mushrooms should taste good, but it doesn’t. There’s something off-putting in the sunflower oil/olive oil dressing. Avoid. Calories per can: 200.

Three Beans With Sweet Corn (gluten free, vegetarian). A carnival of color, size and texture awaits: diced carrots, corn kernels, lentils and flageolets, mixed with larger cannelini and kidney beans. They’re dressed with sunflower and olive oil. Although mustard, garlic and tarragon are listed as seasonings, they’re not apparent. The dressing is bland, but pleasantly so. Calories per can: 280. Optional serving suggestions: with tuna, salsa, orange marmalade, cheese melt (microwave with a slice of cheese for 45 seconds).

Tuna & Pasta (dolphin friendly). Tuna and fusilli are enhanced with sliced carrots, corn kernels, green beans, peas, chunks of potato and red peppers. But while the melange looks good, the taste is off, as with the Pasta & Vegetables. Avoid. Calories per can: 240.


Wild Salmon - St. Dalfour
One of our favorites: Wild Salmon with Vegetables.

Whole Grain With Beans (vegetarian). Grains of durum wheat, diced carrots, corn kernels, kidney beans in an olive oil and sunflower oil dressing. You could definitely taste the thyme, although in the batch we had, there was so little oil that it was a bit dry for an “on the road” meal—we would have liked some vinaigrette! Given our choice of the two in the grain category, we’d go for the couscous; in the bean category, the Three Beans With Sweet Corn. Calories per can: 340. Serving suggestions: with canned salmon, stuffed in bell peppers, with sliced apples (can make a Waldorf-type salad with apples and mayonnaise), with St. Dalfour Blueberry Preserves.

Wild Salmon With Vegetables (gluten free) is the heartiest and most savory dish: big chunks of of salmon, potatoes, carrots, flageolet beans, red and green bell peppers. You can see and taste the dill seasoning, and a hint of the garlic. The salmon has a cooked salmon, rather than a canned salmon, flavor. Calories per can: 210. A favorite. Serving suggestions: with sliced cucumbers, onions and tomatoes; in an avocado half; stuffed in a red or yellow pepper; with added black olives; with St. Dalfour Pineapple Mango Preserves.

Next time you’re on the go and you look at the options—fast-food chains, bad sandwiches and empty-calorie snack food—you’ll be glad you have a can or two of Gourmet On The Go.

ST. DALFOUR GOURMET ON THE GO
Couscous, Pasta & Vegetables, Three Beans With Sweet Corn, Tuna & Pasta, Whole Grain With Beans, Wild Salmon With Vegetables

  • 6.2-Ounce Can
    Suggested Retail Price
    $3.99

Buy online at FrenchSelections.com

 

Available at fine retailers. Also available in club stores in packs of six.

Prices and availability are verified at publication but are subject to change. Shipping is additional.

For more more information about St. Dalfour, visit StDalfour.com.

St. Dalfour Gourmet To Go

 

© Copyright 2005-2014 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved.  Images are the copyright of their respective owners.

 



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