NAR Gourmet’s solitary mission since 2007 has been to share the richness of handcrafted Turkish foods and ingredients with the world. Earlier this year, it debuted a U.S. line of olive oils, vinegars, preserves, spices, and more, and I was invited to sample and review a number of products from that U.S. debut line. These included Mandarin Marmalade, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Apple Vinegar, Organic Dried Tomato, Organic Oregano, and Chile Pepper Flavored Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
The Chile Pepper Flavored olive oil was flavorful, if deceptive on initial tasting. Its heat announced itself in delayed fashion, only manifesting after the oil has been on the tongue for several seconds, absent and then present all at once. Despite its slow reveal, the lively burn dissipated within about one minute, never overstaying its welcome to the point of unpleasantness.
The organic oregano, extra virgin olive oil, and apple vinegar performed as ably as one would expect they should when added to various dishes, but were ultimately unremarkable. Not bad examples of their kind, they were simply good; adequate representations of time-tested flavoring agents, but they left no distinct impression that I felt elevated them above like products from other manufacturers.
The mandarin marmalade, however, was a different matter. Full of youthful flavor, it tasted of fresh orange peel and zest, more tart than sweet, even offering some faintly sour notes. Its texture resembled a somewhat granular paste, but it spread the taste of sliced ripe oranges easily and evenly on the biscuits, toast, bread, and crackers on which I sampled it. Its modest sweetness was welcome and made quite the departure from competitors’ marmalades that are often too sugary. Anything sweeter would have competed with the food rather than cooperating with it to produce something greater, so here NAR Gourmet deserves praise.
Of the entire sampling, the organic dried tomato was the greatest revelation, as it was unlike anything I’d ever encountered. While well-accustomed to tomato pastes, sauces, and other wet iterations of the tomato, I’d never cooked with ground, dried tomato. Added to a sandwich spread or meat dish or sauce, it brought with it a hearty richness that enhanced the savory elements of every food to which it was applied. This product and the chili pepper flavored olive oil are the two that I’m most looking forward to experimenting with in the future.
NAR Gourmet’s products are additive- and preservative-free, and available on Amazon.com and at specialty stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, and New York. The sampling that I received was enough to interest me in further exploration of the product line, which is perhaps the best thing that a review sample can accomplish. Learn more about NAR Gourmet at NARgourmet.com.