Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Neilly's Ultimate Seasonings: Specialty Food African Style

How welcome at Baltimore's Mt. Washington Whole Foods Market to encounter a West African condiment/salsa/marinade that offers choice not only between chicken-based or vegetarian, but also between mild and hot? African themes are all too scarce in the high-end specialty food marketplace. That's one reason why I ventured to develop, launch, and bring to market myself a product of similar inspiration back in the year 2000. Known as Denzer's Peanuts, Peppers, and Greens Soup, it evolved from a Ghanian groundnut stew. Though delicious, it was too arcane and expensive, I would learn, to be economically viable.
Neilly's Ultimate Seasonings could be more on target. More than "seasoning," the products suggest to me condiment or marinade. If diluted, they also make great sauce. More important, they bring to the table a quintessential West African flavor profile that has long been overlooked on shelves otherwise deluged in recent years with pricy concessions to other ethnicities. Neilly's Ultimate Seasonings has four different offerings, all with that West African flavor. They are divided according to preference for mild, hot, and/or vegetarian. Thus you have Neilly's Mild Seasoning, Hot Pepper Spice, Mild Seasoning Vegetarian, and Hot Pepper Spice Vegetarian. Julie Ndgee (pronounced NJay), a native of Cameroon, along with her husband Albert, founded the Columbia, Maryland, based company in 2002, as Ultimate Seasonings LLC.
The presence or absence of a chicken base speaks for the vegetarian differentiation, while Habanero Peppers bring fire to the hot versions. Fresh ingredients are sourced to provide a well blended mixture of tomato carrot, ginger, chives, lemon juice, turmeric, onion and garlic. All four products are free of preservatives and MSG. More important, they taste great.
Just a few months ago, Ultimate Seasonings introduced Neilly's Ultimate All Natural Plantain Chips. They are currently in the early stages of distribution at some Food Lion and Shoppers Food Warehouse Stores. As with the sauces, both mild and hot chips are available. Rather than fried, they are baked with a minimal amount of palm oil, which renders them lower in fat than numerous plantain chip brands found in most Latino stores. Though salted, the salt isn't visible. They proved to be the crispiest plantain chips I ever tasted, and they were delicious.
If you don't find the Neilly's Ultimate product you're looking for where you shop, the sauces are available on-line .