Monday, December 18, 2017
Taste Test

The 2013 taste tests: from gelato to gluten-free pasta

In the past year, our tasting choices went from one end of the grocery store to the other and the full gamut of healthiness. Judges liked two foods — Marie Callender's Chicken Pot Pie (what's not to love) and the Sea Salt Caramel Gelato by Haagen-Dazs — so much that they gave them 90 or more points out of 100, which earned them spots in the Taster's Choice Hall of Fame. • We tried veggie burgers, frozen edamame and gluten-free pastas with surprisingly good results. On the other hand, we didn't favor some of the instant iced coffees on the market. This summer our tasting panel will celebrate 10 years of sampling food and beverages and reporting our findings to help our readers navigate the choices in local grocery stores and food markets. We try to taste what we think shoppers are buying. Our panelists aren't shy about giving their opinions on the appearance, flavor or texture of the products. We look for items with a variety of brands from which to choose and we occasionally try new foods on the market. We shop at the grocery stores in our neighborhoods, primarily, Publix, Walmart, Sweetbay, Winn-Dixie, Fresh Market and, sometimes, Trader Joe's in Sarasota. (We look forward to the opening of Trader Joe's stores in Tampa and St. Petersburg later this year.) In 2013, we continued to be impressed with the quality of store-brand foods and the number of new brands. In November, we enlisted the help of future food writers, using students in the Writing About Food course at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. As always, we welcome suggestions from readers and look forward to trying all the offerings of particular foods — so you don't have to. • Here is a recap of how our year tasted. Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent