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Celebrity Taste Test: 7 Foods Worth Buying

Many celebrity chefs and fancy restaurants have licensed their names to food products, promising consumers the opportunity to get a taste of, say, Mario Batali's gourmet wizardry in their own kitchens.

The results are uneven, notes Consumer Reports, which cautions against becoming starstruck in the grocery aisle. The magazine put these celebrity labels to a blind taste test -- and found that while some products were no better than mass-market brands, some famous-named soups, salad dressing and pasta sauces came away with high marks.

I've got a list of the products to avoid in the accompanying post here.

Here, meanwhile, are a few of the food products that CR thought delivered the gourmet goods.


Pasta Sauces
  • Giada De Laurentiis Tomato Basil. Available exclusively at Target, this sauce was one of the least expensive and most raved-about of the 12 sauces tested. CR gave this brand a "Best Buy" rating for its balanced, fresh taste and buttery richness. Price: $3 (23.5 oz.)
  • Mario Batali Marinara. The celebrity chef's sauce also earned a "balanced and fresh-tasting" review from CR's blind taste-testers. And if you like garlic, this blend has a great "garlicky tomato-basil" flavor. Price: $8 (24 oz.)
Soups
  • Wolfgang Puck Tomato Basil Bisque Organic. "A soup to sip and savor," says CR. This soup ranked No. 1 in its category. It's also "creamy, moderately thick, flavorful, with chunks of tomato and pieces of herbs and spices. Enhanced with butter and fresh-tasting basil. Orange-tinged. Overall the flavor is mild and very slightly sweet. Freshly prepared impression." Price: $3.50 (14.5 oz.)
  • Wolfgang Puck Classic Minestrone Organic. Flavorful though thin broth, with a mix of beans (white and kidney), pasta (medium shells and tubes), and vegetables. Slight tomato, vegetable, and black-pepper flavors. One minus: mushy vegetables. Price: $2.81 (14.5 oz.)
Balsamic Salad Dressings
  • The Silver Palate Salad Splash Balsamic Country. The famed restaurant opened it doors on New York's Upper West Side in 1977 and closed in 1993, but its brand lives on in grocery aisles. CR marked this balsamic dressing a "Best Buy" in the category, calling it a "simple, albeit bold-flavored, dressing with a distinct balsamic vinegar flavor with an aged impression and fruity notes. Tasters also picked up the slight flavors of dehydrated herbs, black pepper, and garlic." Price: $3.05 (12 oz.)
  • Rao's Homemade 8 Star Balsamic Vinaigrette. Another famous New York City restaurant make the list. CR notes Rao's dressing is "well balanced and a bit sweeter than most. Moderate garlic and olive oil impressions, with a hint of black pepper and mustard. Balsamic was slightly fruity. Price: $4.38 (12 oz.)
  • Cardini's Light Balsamic Vinaigrette. If you crave taste without the extra calories or fat, this light dressing is a CR recommended pick. CR describes it: "Combined slight fruity and moderate balsamic character with garlic, mustard, and black-pepper flavors. Sweeter than most, with herb bits, and moderately salty." Price: $3.58 (12 oz.)
Farnoosh Torabi is a personal finance journalist and commentator. She is the author of the new bookPsych Yourself Rich, Get the Mindset and Discipline You Need to Build Your Financial Life. Follow her at www.farnoosh.tv and on Twitter/farnoosh.
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