|A symphony of syrups. Photo by Melody Lan.
|WHAT IT IS: A line of exquisite gourmet fruit syrups.
|WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: Eleven flavors from specialty fruits like Blood Orange, Kaffir Lime and Thai Ginger.
|WHY WE LOVE IT: An incredibly versatile condiment that can be used at any meal, on many dishes and in beverages, to transform them into gourmet creations.
|PURCHASE AT: RobertLambert.com.
Robert Lambert Syrups:
Liquid Gold ... And Amber ... And Russet
CAPSULE REPORT: Robert Lambert Flavored Syrups are a magic trick: open a bottle and you’ve pulled a rabbit out of the hat, whether you need a great cocktail, salad, entrée, vegetable or dessert. Think of these syrups as a secret ingredient to use anytime you need instant panache.
Robert Lambert syrups are what specialty foods are all about: even if you’re not a creative cook—or can barely boil and grill—just by selecting a brilliant condiment, your cuisine is transformed into something exciting. Our top picks: Bergamot Orange, Golden Date, Kaffir Lime, Texas Lemon and White Ginger. To purchase, click here. Read the full review below.
- See more of our favorite syrups and honeys, reviewed in THE NIBBLE online magazine.
- For the table of contents of the April issue of THE NIBBLE online magazine, plus the back issues archive and our most popular articles, click here.
More Ideas For Easy Entertaining
|Entertaining, by Donna Hay. Whether you’re hosting a casual gathering, a special occasion dinner, an impromptu meeting, or a formal event, Donna Hay has the menu, the mood and the drinks planned for you. Click here for more information.
||The Party Planner, by David Tutera. Based on his Discovery Channel show of the same name, a guide to hosting with style and elegance. Party Planner to the Stars (J.Lo, Elton, Star Jones), he shows you how to create fabulous parties without spending a fortune. Click here for more information.
||Good Things for Easy Entertaining, by Martha Stewart. Entertain with the help of Martha. From hors d’oeuvres and drinks to simple lighting projects and beautiful centerpieces, you will truly be inspired to visit your creative side (or Martha’s). Click here for more information.
Robert Lambert Flavored Syrups: Liquid Gold...And Amber... And Russet
We love all of our weekly NIBBLE picks—they’re the best of their class, the foods that make us stop in our tracks and say, “Of everything we’ve tasted in this category, this is among the very best there is, and we are privileged to enjoy it.” But on top of that, sometimes we know we’re in the presence of great inspiration. That’s how we feel about Robert Lambert Flavored Syrups. How good are they? When we began our tasting, we had no desire to pour them on anything, just to drink them from the bottle.
There are many to whom a word association game that began with “syrup” might start with maple, move to chocolate and proceed to...silence. Bartenders might come up with simple. Candymakers might say corn. Moms might come up with pancake, which is corn, artificially colored and flavored to emulate maple. Those who enjoy a shot of caramel or mocha syrup in their Frappuccino might even name a brand. Few would ever cite citrus, which comprises the majority of the of the elegant syrups created by San Francisco-area caterer and cookbook author Robert Lambert. He knows that just a touch of Bergamot Syrup on a plain fruit salad or Golden Date Syrup on a slice of roast pork can turn something everyday-tasty into something special-occasion.
In fact, Robert Lambert Flavored Syrups are in a class by themselves. So dismiss thoughts of other “syrup,” and imagine distillations of the finest bergamot, blood and Seville oranges...kaffir and Rangpur limes....Thai and white ginger...Meyer and Texas lemons....golden dates...white grapefruit. All require hours of intense labor to preserve their vivid flavors—the fruits can be cooked over several days to extract their essences—so that any home cook (or professional chef and bartender, both of whom are avid fans of the syrups) can open the bottle and provide instant, magical flavor to anything from breakfast, lunch and cocktails to dinner. One taste, and you won’t question why a 5-ounce bottle made simply of fruit, water, sugar and corn syrup costs $8.00. You’ll order more.
The spectacular syrup family includes:
- Bergamot Orange Syrup
- Blood Orange Syrup
- Golden Date Syrup
- Kaffir Lime Syrup
- Meyer Lemon Syrup
- Rangpur Lime Syrup
- Seville Orange Syrup
- Texas Lemon Syrup
- Thai Ginger Syrup
- White Ginger Syrup
- White Grapefruit Syrup
Don’t worry—at the end we will help you narrow down your choices.
These are classy little bottles, each containing a broad strip of peel to remind you of its provenance. The top-quality ingredients and slow-cooking yield a product so exquisite—think a honey-like nectar rather than a sticky-sweet sugar syrup—that your mind will race to think of ways to use them. Syrups are condiments*, preparations used to enhance or flavor a primary food; the great ones can transport dishes to food infinity and beyond. In short order, you will put these syrups to work in:
- Baking: Infuse and ice cakes
- Beverages: In hot and iced teas, lemonade, sparkling water, cocktails, smoothies
- Breakfast: On toast, cereal, pancakes, waffles
- Cooking: In salad dressings, marinades, finishing sauces, meat glazes, stir-fries
- Dairy: Drizzle on hard and soft cheese, yogurt and cottage cheese
- Desserts: On berries or fruit salad, ice cream, pound cake, whipped cream
*From Latin condmentum, from condre, to season.
Let’s take a look at the individual flavors. If some of the “suggested uses” seem redundant, that’s because, e.g., the syrups of three different types of orange can be used interchangeably in a variety of ways, but each has its own unique “best use” as well.
- Bergamot Orange Syrup. A member of the sour orange family, this exotic citrus provides the distinctive flavoring in Earl Grey tea. Favorite uses include hot or iced tea; on cheese, fruit, and ice cream; on toast and pancakes; in yogurt or whipped cream; in salad dressings, marinades and as a meat glaze.
- Blood Orange. This red-fleshed and red-juiced blood orange, native to Sicily, is chemically similar to strawberries and raspberries, giving it a berry-infused citrus tang. Try it in hot or iced tea; on fruit or ice cream, cottage or other cheeses; on toast, pancakes, and breakfast cereal; drizzled over desserts; in yogurt, whipped cream; in salad dressings, marinades and as a meat glaze.
- Golden Date Syrup. The first organic syrup in the line, combining the finest biodynamic Barhi dates from Flying Disc Ranch with an organic golden cane sugar syrup to create a sensational flavor experience. Enjoy with yogurt; in coffee and smoothies; in whipped cream; on ice cream, French toast, oatmeal, or fruit; drizzled over desserts like baked apples, cheesecake and bread pudding.
- Kaffir Lime Syrup. A honey-like syrup made from the fragrant leaves and fruit of the kaffir lime and the limequat (a cross between a lime and a kumquat). It has a sharp, clean lime zing with a heady tropical perfume. Use it in hot or iced tea, cocktails, yogurt; with Asian food; on fruit, toast, sorbet, cheese, or fish; in vinaigrettes and marinades.
- Meyer Lemon Syrup. The Meyer Lemon was created long ago by cross-breeding with an orange, making it sweeter and more perfumed, with a zesty lemon punch. Use the syrup in hot or iced tea or in sparkling water; on yogurt, fruit, sorbet, cottage and other cheeses; on toast, pancakes, and pound cake; in vinaigrettes, curries, rice pilaf, marinades, and with seafood.
- Rangpur Lime Syrup. A sour Mandarin lime with a sharp citrus zing, the Rangpur is limey and smoky. Use the syrup in mojitos, Margaritas, sparkling water, hot or iced tea; on melon, cottage and other cheeses; in yogurt, salad dressings and marinades; on rice pilaf or drizzled over fish.
- Seville Orange Syrup. The Seville is a sour orange used in English marmalade: it has a sharp, pure orange flavor. Use the syrup in hot or iced tea and cocktails; on fruit, ice cream, cottage cheese, toast, pancakes, and oatmeal; in yogurt, whipped cream, salad dressings, marinades, and as a glaze for poultry.
- Texas Lemon Syrup. The Texas lemon is an exotic hybrid grown in Modesto, California that has a flavor somewhere between grapefruit, lemon and citron. Use the syrup in cocktails, hot or iced tea and sparkling water; in yogurt, on fruit, sorbet, cottage and other cheeses, toast, pancakes and pound cake; in vinaigrettes, curries, rice pilaf, marinades and with seafood.
- Thai Ginger Syrup. This syrup is made from galangal root, a relative of ginger popular in Thai cuisine. When cooked for a long period, it exudes a unique flavor of butterscotch, roses and spice. Use in hot or iced tea; on fruit, especially blueberries and blackberries; on ice cream, toast, pancakes and waffles; in yogurt and whipped cream. For Asian food, use in stir fry sauces, drizzle on noodle dishes and other foods, make a dipping sauce with rice vinegar.
- White Ginger Syrup. White ginger is young ginger before it starts to sprout. It is cooked over several days, and the flavor is enhanced with spices. Use in hot or iced tea and sparkling water; in whipped cream; on fruit, ice cream, lemon sorbet and drizzled over other desserts; on toast and pancakes; in stir-fry sauce and dipping sauce and as a glaze for chicken.
- White Grapefruit Syrup. A sharp, well-balanced citrus flavor from an old variety of white grapefruit grown in Napa, California. Use in hot or iced tea; on fresh grapefruit, cottage or other cheeses; on fruit or ice cream; on toast; in yogurt and salad dressings; on rice pilaf, mixed into cole slaw, drizzled over fish or steamed vegetables and rice.
Cooks and mixologists will want to experiment with these syrups; others will just want to lavish them over pancakes and fruit salad. Here are some of Robert Lambert’s favorite uses:
- Citrus Hot Tea. Stir in a teaspoon of Bergamot Orange, Blood Orange or Seville Orange.
- Flavored Iced Tea. Brew double-strength tea—black, green or herbal; stir in one teaspoon of any flavor. Try combinations of flavors, too. Serve over ice. If you like sweetened iced teas and are tired of undissolved sugar crystals, these will make you very happy!
- Sophisticated Soda. Pour a small amount of sparkling water into a glass; stir in 2 teaspoons of any flavor (or to taste); add the rest of the water and ice. You’ll love it!
- Lemonade. Combine 3 cups water with 1 cup lemon juice (about 4 lemons), 1/4 cup Meyer Lemon Syrup, 1/4 cup honey, 3 4-inch stems of fresh mint, bruised by running over with a rolling pin. VARIATION: Lemon-Limeade. Replace Meyer Lemon Syrup with Rangpur Lime Syrup. VARIATION: Ginger Lemonade. Replace Meyer Lemon Syrup with White Ginger Syrup and omit the mint.
- Rangpur Lime Margarita. For one drink, combine 1 ounce tequila, 1 tablespoon Rangpur Lime Syrup (instead of Triple Sec), juice of half of a lime, and 1/2 cup ice in a blender until smooth and slushy. Run a lime wedge around the rim of a glass and dip in a plate of salt to coat. Pour drink into glass and serve.
VARIATIONS: You can be creative with many cocktails. We used the White Ginger Syrup and the Kaffir Lime Syrup to make ginger and lime martinis.
- Sweet & Sour Cole Slaw. Take 1 small head green cabbage, 1 grated carrot, 1/4 finely diced red pepper, 1/2 cup White Grapefruit Syrup, 1/3 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, salt and pepper to taste. Cut cabbage in quarters, discard outer leaves and slice off core, then slice across the quarters to a fine shred. Place in bowl with the carrot and pepper. Put other ingredients in a pint jar and shake well; then pour over and toss with the vegetables.
- Citrus Balsamic Vinaigrette. Combine 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons Meyer Lemon, Rangpur Lime, Seville Orange and White Grapefruit Syrups; 1 tablespoon minced scallion, 1 teaspoon dried basil, oregano or marjoram. Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake well.
There are many more easy recipes on the company website at the bottom of the About Us page, where you’ll also get to read some charming family history.
The word syrup comes from the Arabic sharab, meaning beverage. The Latin word siropus, which yielded sirop in Old French and sirup in Middle English, was derived from sharab. In cooking, syrup is defined as a thick, viscous, sticky liquid that contains a large amount of dissolved sugars which do not have a tendency to crystallize. They can be made of fruit or other plant juices boiled with sugar, or with a sugar base, water, and natural or artificial flavorings.
READ ABOUT 14 DIFFERENT SYRUPS IN OUR SYRUP GLOSSARY.
The Robert Lambert Line-Up: What Should You Buy?
So many syrups, so little time. Where should you begin? Ideally you should buy them all and make your own choices; but this isn’t an ideal world. We’ve done our best to narrow the choices to a “six-pack,” from which you can make further cuts based on your own tastes:
- Date Syrup. Date lovers will love the Golden Date Syrup. We put it on oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, pound cake, rice pudding, roast pork. It’s the least sweet of the syrups—there’s even a hint of smokiness. The bottle was empty before we knew it.
- Ginger Syrup. Get the White Ginger Syrup rather than the Thai Ginger. The former has a big ginger punch and layers of flavor; the latter is made from galangal and has more of a vanilla overtone.
- Grapefruit Syrup. The Grapefruit Syrup is a simple flavor, less complex and intense than the other syrups on our short list. But if you’re a grapefruit lover, there aren’t too many places to find such a pure, sweet grapefruit “dressing” for fruit salads, iced tea sweetener, et al.
- Lemon Syrup. The racy Texas Lemon Syrup, with its hint of citron, is more unusual and got our vote over the more tart Meyer Lemon. If you’re an avid lemon lover, get both.
- Lime Syrup. The intense, exotic and exciting Kaffir Lime Syrup wins hands down over the very subtle Rangpur Lime.
- Orange Syrup. The Bergamot Syrup is wonderful, with pineapple notes; it bears no resemblance to the bergamot flavor in Earl Grey tea, or at least the Earl Greys we consume regularly. The Blood Orange is a simple flavor in comparison. The one syrup that didn’t arrive was the Seville Orange. As soon as we get a bottle we’ll update this review in its permanent repository in THE NIBBLE newsletter archives.
In addition to adding joy to your own life, Robert Lambert flavored syrups make a beautiful gift for your cook and mixologist friends. When we visit our favorite restaurants, we bring bottles as gifts to the chefs. If they haven’t discovered them yet, it’s a happy day. If they have—well, like chocolate, you can never have too much.
You can meet Robert Lambert and his syrups in person at the year-round Sunday morning Farmers Market at the San Rafael Civic Center in Marin County, right over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. Next time we are in the neighborhood, we hope to get there to thank him in person for doing all the heavy lifting, so we can look like such a creative cook.
Updated August 2007
FORWARD THIS NIBBLE to anyone who loves delicious new flavors and easy ways to turn ordinary dishes into the extraordinary.
ROBERT LAMBERT FLAVORED SYRUPS
Bergamot, Blood Orange, Golden Date, Kaffir Lime, Meyer Lemon, Rangpur Lime, Seville Orange, Texas Lemon, Thai Ginger, White Ginger, White Grapefruit
Purchase online at RobertLambert.com
Prices and flavor availability are verified at publication but are subject to change. Shipping is additional.
Photo by Melody Lan.
Inspiration for your Syrups
| Cooking Light: Superfast Suppers, by Anne Cain and Anne Chappell. If you don’t have time, go for a quick and easy solution to preparing meals. You’ll find many uses for Robert Lambert syrups here. Nutritious, flavorful meals can be served in almost no time. Click here for more information.
||Fruit Dessert, by Carolyn Beth Weil. Part of the Williams-Sonoma Collection, Fruit Dessert has over 40 recipes, from savory pies to elegant tarts to delight your guests with. Transform everyday fruits into delectable creations. Click here for more information.
|| The Great Exotic Fruit Book, by Norman Van Aken and John Harrisson. This handy book provides an overview of tropical and subtropical fruits with recipes from soups to main dishes. You’ll find color photos of fruits with descriptions of their qualities and availability in the U.S. Click here for more information.
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ABOUT THE NIBBLE.
, Great Food Finds
™, is an online magazine about specialty foods and the gourmet life. It is the only consumer publication and website that focuses on reviewing the best specialty foods and beverages, in every category. The magazine also covers tabletop items, gourmet housewares, and other areas of interest to people who love fine food. This e-mail from the editors features the top food pick of the week. You can read the complete magazine and past issues at TheNibble.com
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