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Foodie Freebie Friday: Urban Accents!

Welcome back from the weekend! Hope you had a great weekend in your corner of the world and are ready to tackle another week. This week's Foodie Freebie Friday is sure to give your taste buds a culinary adventure!

I'm a big fan of learning about different cultures, especially through food. It's quite interesting to see how a dish has variations that stretch among different countries. For example, take your typical filled dumpling. Japan has gyoza, Korea has mandu, China has filled wontons, Poland has pierogies, Russia has piroshki, Italy has ravioli, etc. As similar as they are, they are all unique and delicious!

Aside from similar dishes in different cultures, another way to learn about food is through the spices used in the cuisine. Countries use what they have on hand and often times, used similar spices in their dishes to give them a distinctive flavor. One Chicago-based company that specializes in spices is Urban Accents.

Urban Accents, Inc. was founded in 1996 with the goal of bringing premium, all natural and visually appealing herbs and seasoning to the contemporary home cook.

Frustrated with what he could find on the grocery store shelves, Tom Knibbs started Urban Accents in the basement of his Chicago home. As a packaging sales manager, he understood the need for image to convey the attention to detail and quality in his spices. ~ taken from the Urban Accents website

Since I love highlighting local food businesses, for this week's Foodie Freebie Friday, a lucky reader will receive their choice between the following 2 Urban Accents collections...

An Urban Accents Gourmet Spice Collection
of 8 different spice blends that capture
flavors around the world including:
Bayou Barbecue - This mild & spicy barbeque blend has the soul of Bourbon Street, but has its roots from the British West Indies which add a pinch of cayenne pepper for a distinctive flavor.

Kodiak Fish & Game - This hearty blend of herbs and spices gives a burst of flavor to your roasts and dense seafood filets. Use in your roasted veggie recipes for added zip!

Mongolian Ginger BBQ - Citrus and ginger brighten this Wasabi and mustard based grilling and baking blend.

Montego Bite
- A coarsely ground version of the Caribbean standard, this blend combines over a dozen zesty herbs and spices. Popular as a seasoning for marinating chicken and pork, this version also adds a spicy snap when sprinkled over turkey, steaks and ribs.

Mozambique Peri Peri
-This Peri Peri is a combination of over 6 herbs and spices accented with just the right amount of citrus for a flavorful blend with a touch of fiery heat.

Roma
- Italian cooking has become almost standard fare in America, but our Old World blend is anything but average. It unleashes the flavor and aroma of fragrant basil, oregano, garlic and other herbs reminiscent of the most popular neighborhood trattorias in Rome.

Tokyo Miso
- Shiromiso, a white miso with sweet and spicy flavors added for true Asian flavor.

Parisian Melange
- AFrench onion mix of leeks, shallots, and healthy flavors-a world apart from your traditional soup mix



An Urban Accents Gourmet Sea Salt Collection
of 6 different sea salt blends that capture
flavors around the world including:
Chateau Provence - Rustic grey sea salt mixed with Herbes de Provence makes an aromatic and subtle addition to any dish. Use this in soups, stews, roasted meats, seafood and game. The hint of lavender softens the sea salt just a bit and provides an elegant appearance and fragrance.

Ocean Smoked - Smoked sea salt mixed with French grey sea salt make this “tuxedo blend” the class of all sea salts. Use on slow roasted meats, steaks, game, seafood and roasted vegetables. The deep, rich smoked flavor stems from roasted pecan shells and oak and adds the savory smoke flavor to any recipe.

Isle of Capri - Inspired by the rugged beauty of Capri and the zesty cooking of Southern Italy, this combination is great on grilled seafood, pizza and pasta sauces.

Caribbean - A uniquely balanced blend between imported sea salt and crushed peppercorns makes this an incredibly flavorful and versatile seasoning. Ground Jamaican Pepper adds a touch of sweetness that completes this wonderful mélange. This will change the way you “salt and pepper” any dish.

Ginger Szechwan
- Combining the tangy flavor of Chinese Five Spice powder with the sweetness of ground ginger and imported sea salt, this blend brings the exotic cuisine of the Far East to any dish. Use in marinades, while barbequing, or add to season any stir fry recipe.

Santiago Citrus -
Imported sea salt, chili powder and red pepper flakes are balanced with a cooling note of citrus in this unique blend. Bring out the flavor in grilled or pan fried seafood, or use it to add some zest to your favorite guacamole or salsa recipe. This sea salt is also great on tomatoes and in soups.

So for this week's Foodie Freebie Friday, I've giving away your choice of the above Urban Accents collections. The winner of this week's giveaway will have their choice of either the Urban Accents Gourmet Spice Collection (8) or the Urban Accents Gourmet Sea Salts Collection (6). Either collection will add some spice to your dishes for a delicious culinary adventure!

Some guidelines:
- Giveaway is only for those who live in the United States. My apologies to my international readers!
- You must have a valid email address so that you can be contacted if you win.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment about:
- Your favorite ethnic cuisine! What country has flavors you love? Is there a specific cuisine that inspires you to make many of your meals? I can't wait to hear all about it!

Deadline: Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 12 midnight CST.

One Winner will be randomly chosen by Random.Org's Interger Generator based on the number of your comment and will be announced on Friday, February 13, 2009. Good luck!

72 comments

  1. My favorite ethnic cuisine would have to be Japanese. I have recently really gotten into sushi and love eating it and cooking it. There are just so many varities and flavors you can make in a sushi roll. I'm in love with sushi! oh and fried rice is great too!

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  2. I LOVE french food! (great give away)

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  3. Thai is my favorite for sure. I love how they incorporate so many different flavors, from curry to basil. I could eat Thai everyday!

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  4. I love Indian food. My hubby spent 4 months living in Bagalore when we were engaged and his love has spread to me as well. I can't handle spice, so I always get things mild. I don't cook Indian at home, but it's by far our fav ethnic cuisine.

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  5. Oooh, fun!! I think I'd have to say my favorite ethnic cuisine is Indian food - I especially love Chicken Tikka Masala! I live in an area where there are TONS of great Indian restaurants and Indian markets where I can get all kinds of awesome food! (We actually live across the street from the Indian Market - score!)

    -Amy
    www.singforyoursupperblog.com

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  6. I must say, I have a new love for Indian food! I've never tried to cook it, but I do enjoy a good lunchtime buffet! I really enjoy anything with lentils. And I especially love naan!

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  7. Italian food for sure! I always find a way to bring some Italian flavor into my meals =) Too bad DH isn't as big a fan as I am!!

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  8. My favorite is Mexican, I have trouble finding an authentic mexican resturant here though.

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  9. I love Japanese food. I could live on sushi for the rest of my life and be a very happy lady.

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  10. I love Italian! It's definitely a staple in our house. Another taste I love is that of Japanese food.

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  11. I LOVE Italian cooking. Pasta is a staple for me and I love to find new ways to combine pasta, meat, vegtables and spices.

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  12. I love Japanese food!! Especially the different varieties of sauce they have for everything (tonkatsu sauce, okonomiyaki sauce, takoyaki sauce, ponzu sauce, etc.)

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  13. My fave ethnic cuisine is CUBAN. I love the flavors of cumin, garlic, guava, plantains, MOJO is magically delicious!! I always do a "sofrito" for all my dishes whether they are cuban or not!!

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  14. Yay! I'd have to say Mexican is my favorite. I'd never really had much of it before I moved to San Diego... but after moving away from Southern California, I had to learn to make it myself, because it wasn't nearly as popular as it is now.

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  15. I love Chinese/Thai food! I love the simplicity of the meals because they're usually packed with maximum flavor. Great giveaway, dude!

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  16. Hi Joelen! My fave cuisine would have to be Greek. I dated a Greek guy for almost 3 years and his mother made some of the best dishes I've ever had. I haven't had the chance to make any Greek dishes myself, but I plan to in the near future! Love the giveaway this week!! :)

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  17. I love Italian and Chinese equally. It generally depends on the mood of the day as to which one one inspires me more.

    Although Indian food is quickly moving up the ranks too!

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  18. I could eat indian food every single day and be perfectly content!!

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  19. My favorite cuisine is Japanese because it has all the different Asian types of food. Sushi, Rice dishes, noodle dishes, etc etc.

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  20. I love french cuisine and all the bold and beautiful herbs and flavors of Provence! :-)

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  21. Do I have to pick just one? I guess, if I have to, Mexican would be my favorite.

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  22. New Orleans cuisine is my favorite, of course! I have a lot of fun trying to make the NOLA food more healthy, and I'm learning as I go with spices. :)

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  23. I'm really into eating Vietnamese food and the combination of flavors, especially the fresh herbs they use. I wish I could cook it myself. Maybe someday I'll be brave.

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  24. Italian is definitely my favorite. But I married into an Italian family so my choice is obvious!

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  25. definitely italian! i have always loved it and even more after going to italy...it is so comforting, delicious and inviting..
    great great great giveaway

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  26. I love Greek food! I had never had it until I met my hubby who is half Greek and now I love it all! So far I have only tried my hand at pastitsio but my MIL recently got me a cookbook so I will be trying much more!!!

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  27. I love spicy Korean and Thai food!

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  28. YUM! I am a vegetarian, and I LoVe to cook with lots of spices and very very little oil. I use tons of fresh vegetables, whatever is in season, I let the season tell me what to cook! If the Vegetables look vibrant and beautiful, THATS what I am eating! I love the flavors of Italian food, Garlic, onions, fresh tomatoes, Thyme, Rosemary, FRESH Basil.. Love it!
    Great Giveaway!
    Leslie
    [email protected]

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  29. Thai & Greek food are my favorite, all the combinations they have are incredible!!

    Alondra
    [email protected]

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  30. I love East Asian food - Japanese, Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese if it is well done. One of my dreams is to go to Thailand and Vietnam and take cooking classes there. When I'm feeling sick I crave pho or hot and sour soup. Korean bibambap is one of my easy go-to meals.

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  31. I love eating at Thai restaurants. I haven't tried making anything myself because I am afraid it won't come out as good.

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  32. I love (authentic) Chinese food... the flavors are so aromatic, and most of it is pretty good for you too!

    Eva
    evitawylie at hotmail dot com

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  33. I'm really inspired by Korean food. Their use of beef and eggs and kimchee with everything. Because really, I haven't found much kim chee isn't good with.

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  34. I am a big fan of Medditteranean cuisine. Falafel, hummus, tabbouli, shwarma. I love the way the flavors all go together so well!

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  35. I've only recently begun to explore various Asian cuisines--Indian and Thai particularly. Living in Los Angeles has given me a lot of opportunity to branch out past the popular Chinese takeout. I've really loved trying authentic Indian and Thai food now that I am in L.A where it is abundant!

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  36. I'm addicted to Thai food. Limited experience cooking it, but I could eat Thai curries every day of the week. I love spicy food, and Thai restaurants are one of the few places that are actually willing to spice things up!

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  37. You know, I always answer this question with "Thai", because Pad Thai is probably my most favorite meal ever. However, I always seem to be craving Mexican or Peruvian food, so maybe that is really my favorite ethnic cuisine. I must make at least one or two Mexican inspired dishes a week. I just can't get enough!

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  38. Mexican! But there aren't any truly authentic Mexican restaurants around where we live :( Italian is a close second... Another great giveaway!

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  39. I love Thai! I just had a big bowl of my homemade Tom Kah Gai for lunch, as a matter of fact.

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  40. I like Mexican. I like the depth of flavor.
    [email protected]

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  41. Mmmm that's tough! I love Asian inspired food as well as Mexican food. However, my favorite dishes to make are varied because I'm not quite as savvy in the kitchen as you are, Joelen!

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  42. I love all Asian flavors and have used many different components of these flavors in non asian meals (think soy ginger burgers). I also love Mexican, specifically the fresh garnishes such as cilantro. Because of these two loves I have come to love Vietnamese food! Which has a nice combination of the two using cilantro, jalapenos and soy sauce. Eating these foods have certainly encouraged me to use these non conventional add ons on a daily basis which definitely kicks things up a notch!

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  43. Hi, my first comment - Great blog!

    My first favorite is Spanish - the combination of fresh and simple ingredients with flavorful olive oils makes authentic Spanish cooking wonderful; it automatically puts you into a relaxed mood.

    After that, it's got to be Thai with its mix of curries, cilantro, lemongrass and clear broths that give everything a a clean taste. I look forward to future entries.

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  44. My favorite ethnic cuisine has to be Mexican. One would think that after working in a Mexican restaurant for 10 years I would never want to eat it again. Quite the opposite, I was just watching the food channel last night and a they were talking about tacos filled with yummy goodness. I don't know what it is about guacamole that makes my mouth water at the sight of it, mmm...mmm...good.

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  45. Tom and I are so excited that you have discovered our product line! We both love spicy food but our favorite cuisine to experiment with is reinventing American comfort foods to more global flavors- think Mole Chile. If your readers would like to try more urban accents- we're got a 15% off code for our website urban accentsUJ32QK1MNPH95T30- Good luck with the contest and thanks for finding us!
    Jim Dygas & Tom Knibbs- owners.

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  46. I think my favorite would have to be Italian! My husbands favorite would have to be mexican... so we switch off!

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  47. My husband and I spent 6 months in Israel last year and truly enjoyed the food. They are kind of a melting pot like the ole U.S., but the food is so fresh and has great flavor. Our favorite breakfast dish was shakshooka, and we try to make it at home once a month.

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  48. I would have to say that it is a toss up for me. I love Indian and Thai food. They both are just so full of flavor that I could enjoy on a daily basis!!!

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  49. I'll join the chorus in favor of Indian food-- I can't pass up a curry with naan! I'm told that Burmese food has both Indian and Chinese influences, so that might just be a new favorite...

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  50. I love Italian food - old family recipes that comfort you no matter how far from home you may be. Preparing Italian cuisine also provides a link to my grandparents that's as tangible to me as if they were sitting down to dinner with me.

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  51. I love Mexican cuisine! I could eat Mexican a few times a week. Although it's not the healthiest with the ooey gooey cheese, there are some healthier alternatives with veggies and beans.

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  52. Favorite to eat would have to be Japanese...LOVE sushi.

    Favorite to cook would be French. I feel like such a chef when I make French dishes.

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  53. I love Morocan food. It blends spices that I wouldn't normally think would work together, but the end result is oh so delicious. :)

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  54. I love Asian food, particularly any sort of pastas. I love the fusion of spicy, salty, and sweet. I try to bring that to my own comfort food, but I mostly fail at it. :)

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  55. Mexican food is always so comforting and delicious. When I can't think of anything to make, I always gravitate towards those spicy, rich flavors.

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  56. I love asian food and mexican food. it's a toss up on which I like better :) Both are comforting to me.

    The salt collection would go over HUGE at our house ... we love trying different salts out.

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  57. Oh, that's hard. If I can only choose one, I suppose I'll choose Chinese (although it seems like all of the Asian cuisines are great, as well as Indian food). I love the variety and the balance of flavors.

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  58. My favorite ethnic food has to be Eastern European - it seems that the hearty, creamy fare seems to influence just about everything I make.

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  59. I love so many ethnic cuisines, it's hard to choose one. But recently, I've fallen in love again with Filipino food - I know it's my heritage but even my husband, a red-blooded Midwesterner, loves its flavors. From the sweetness of coconut to the sour tang of tamarind, Filipino food is a reflection of history, culture and geography. It's influenced by other cultures and yet has managed to become distinct and unique on its own. It deserves wider recognition in the culinary world!

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  60. Hubby and I ate at a new Vietnamese restaurant the other day. I have to say how fresh the flavors were, how they melded together. We haven't stopped talking about it. So, that is my new favorite cuisine.

    Otherwise, my standard is Thai food. I absolutely love it.

    [email protected]

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  61. I have to say that Greek/Lebanese food is my favorite! My great-grandparents immigrated from Lebanon in 1904, so I have been surrounded by the cuisine since I was a baby! My favorite dish is probably dolmades.

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  62. Italian is my favorite! I am learning more from my mother in law she still cooks old school italian every day.

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  63. For me, it's Moroccan cuisine. I love the use of saffron, cinnamon and cumin in many of dishes. I also enjoy the hint of sweetness in the most savory meals, especially in tagine cooking.

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  64. I love Mexican Food. I love all the chiles it uses. Green or red all are good. I love tomatoes, cilantro, onions, and all the other spices. I love that most Mexican food has delicious cheese!

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  65. I am half Italian, and my mom is Irish. She was/is a horrible cook, so I taught myself everything. My spaghetti sauce is amazing, as are my meatballs. I love Italian food. I try to absorb new recipes and techniques all the time.

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  66. Mmmmm, my favorite is Indian. I wish I was having some right now!

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  67. I like all sorts of ethnic cuisine. Vietnamese is one of my favorite.

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  68. I would have to say Italian would be my favorite. Even though I love Asian with all of its differences (and veggies), I have to stick with my one true love, carbs. I especially love that it's not just spaghetti and meatballs - there's so much more involved.

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  69. Hmmmm, I love Italian food. Chinese would most definitely come in second place though.

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  70. Hmm, the whole mediterranean region features a lot of the ingredients and flavors that I love. I'm more biased to turkish at the moment, but its changes. Some African foods, however, rank as personal favorites above all others.

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  71. my fav is the carribean--jamaican, dominican & puerto rico as hubs is 1/2 dominican and I can cook one mean guisada!! LOL!

    mariannakeough at hotmail.com

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  72. Italian is my favorite ethnic food. I'm half Italian on my Dad's side, but ironically, my Mom, who was Scotch-Irish-German, etc. was the one who taught me to cook Italian food.
    I would love to win the Salts collection. Thanks.

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