Sweet, Sweet Raisins
As a child, one of my all time favourite treats to snack on involved grabbing that very familiar little red box adorned with the iconic smiling young woman wearing a cheerful red bonnet and holding onto a basket of green grapes. Yes, when it came to the plethora of foods, junk or otherwise, available to a young girl growing up in the suburbs, my choice usually involved raisins. Wow! Here was a fruit that was literally like eating candy. If I wanted to dip into the more decadent side, I’d go with chocolate covered raisins.Fast forward to the present. While my palate has experienced a greater array of tantalizing tidbits dancing across my tongue I still get a nostalgic hankering from time to time for a few wrinkled nuggets of pure sweetness.
Enter a relatively new contender into the world of dried grapes. From Niagara’s Reif Winery comes Kiln Haus raisins. This is truly a local and homegrown success story. The grapes, red Sovereign Coronation, are sourced right in the Niagara region and then dried at the winery. Originally using decommissioned tobacco kilns (hence the name), the grapes are now baked to extract the moisture and leave the plump and juicy raisins. If the plain raisins aren’t good enough for you, Reif also produces two styles of chocolate-coated raisins (milk and dark).
The original raisins, sans chocolate, are plumper and more flavourful than anything that has ever come out of the little red boxes that line the grocery store’s dried fruit and snack aisle. Reif’s Kiln Haus raisins have a natural depth of flavour that definitely keeps me coming back for more. They’re not overly sweet and definitely addictive. The chocolate coating adds both a physical layer and a flavour layer. Chocolate and red wine make a great pairing, so it’s not surprising that these little confections are so good. What really stands out, though, is how different these chocolate-covered raisins are in terms of mouthfeel and balance of flavour. Luscious and fruity, they make an awesome dessert, appetizer or, dare I suggest side dish?
Want to try some for yourself? Contact Reif or ask your grocery store to stock them.