BAR NONE: Sweet tooths, there’s a new decadence in town: It’s called the Bethlehem Bar and it comes from the Granola Factory, a small bakery in, yes, Bethlehem, Pa. The treat consists of an oatmeal shortbread cookie that’s topped with roasted pecans, chocolate chunks, salted caramel and, as if that weren’t enough, a cookie crumble. Have mercy. The bar hits all the right notes of sweet, salty, chewy and crunchy. The evil genius behind it is Suzanne Virgilio, who spun off the Granola Factory from what she serves for breakfast at the Bethlehem Inn, a bed-and-breakfast she runs with her husband. Her son Calvin says that when the business had a retail location, the Bethlehem Bar was its top seller. We can see why. The six-ounce bars are a behemoth indulgence, so we recommend portion control or a few friends to share it with — if you’re willing.
$4.49 per bar, available at the Whole Foods Market locations at P Street, Georgetown, Annapolis and Silver Spring, as well as Glen’s Garden Market. Order online at www.thegranolafactory.com.
LEGUMES, ELEVATED: Better Bean Co. might as well be called Fresher Bean Co., because that’s what this Portland, Ore., company’s products taste like: fresher than canned, in creative but not overpowering flavor combinations. The little tubs, sold in the refrigerated section (near the hummus and salsa), are each packed with about 11 / 2 cups of red or black beans perfectly cooked with a minimal number of recognizable ingredients, often including some chili peppers, vinegar and lime juice, but no animal products. Flavors include Cuban Black Bean, Wholly Chipotle Bean Dip and Three Sisters Chili, the latter a marriage of beans, corn and squash. The beans are good for snacking, but also for incorporating into taco or burrito fillings, stirring into soups and stews, layering into casseroles, or using to top roasted potatoes.
Available at area Whole Foods Markets, Yes Organic Markets, Balducci’s and other stores. Find a store near you at www.betterbeanco.com.