Something velvet

We're not sure what has caused the recent up-welling of Red Velvet foodstuffs (cake and cupcake mixes, ice cream, yogurt, valentine and Easter candy, etc.), but there's a new development.

The original Red Velvet cake, long ago, got its unusual color from a reaction between un-alkalized cocoa and an acid ingredient (buttermilk or vinegar). These days it usually comes from red food coloring. Do you see what's coming?

Yes. Duncan Hines, in addition to its Red Velvet cake and cupcake mixes, now offers Pink Velvet and Blue Velvet cake mixes. The boxes describe both as having "buttery vanilla" flavor.

Chocolate

goodness

There are many chocolate dessert and cocoa mixes. And there is Cisse Trading Co.'s line of chocolate cocoas and desserts (cake, brownie, muffin, cookie). We tried the Double Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix and loved the finished product: crisp on the edges, tender in the middle and chocolate to the max.

The 12.28-ounce box makes 12 cookies. It costs $8.99. To order, see abesmarket.com

Wine of the Week

2012 Loring Pinot Noir Central Coast

Region: California's Central Coast

Price: $20 to $25

Style: Easy drinking

What it goes with: Burgers, lamb chops, steak, pasta with lamb ragu, grilled cheese

Brian Loring's Central Coast Pinot Noir is fresh and direct, round and smooth. And you want to take sip after sip. It's an extraordinary wine for the price, and if you're a Pinot Noir lover, run, don't walk, to grab a bottle before it's gone.

The Pinots from Santa Rita Hills or Santa Lucia Highlands from this label are around too, in the $30 to $35 price range.

Pop a cork for a superior burger, lamb chops or a grilled flank steak. It would work well with pasta with a lamb ragu, a hearty vegetable dish or a grilled cheese sandwich.