I spent three days exploring and tasting at the Winter Fancy Food Show, and I barely scratched the surface. How do I know? Because every time I bumped into a colleague and asked them what THEY liked, I heard about something I never even saw, let alone tasted. To put it bluntly, the show is overwhelming. Sadly, much of what is on offer is nothing special at all, but the lure of finding the good stuff keeps me going back for more no matter how tired, bleary eyed, and palate fatigued I get.
In past years I've written about trends, but this year I didn't really get a sense of trends. Sure, there were plenty of new products using super antioxidant ingredients and lots of chocolate, especially single estate and exotically flavored varieties. I also saw noticeably fewer salts, but more teas than in years past. But none of that seems earth-shattering news. What struck me this year were what I'm calling "the good ideas." Without further ado, here are some of my top picks for items I hope indicate potential trends in the future.
PB Loco's Peanut Butter with Asian Curry Spice. I love peanut butter but get awfully tired of all the sweet flavors. I can see a lot more possibilities with a delicious savory jar like this one. I hope they introduce more because right now plain and sweet flavors dominate the shelf.
Apparently bakers and pastry chefs have known about LorAnn for years. LorAnn makes bakery emulsions which are flavorings that are not alcohol based so they don't "bake out." Available in flavors like almond, rum, buttery vanilla and more, they are bright and true, and very reasonably priced at about $5 for 4 ounces.
I'm excited to see that chocolate is being grown in Hawaii. Original Hawaiian Chocolate products are not quite as good as the best chocolate from Venezuela, but it has its own character and it is better than what is typically used for that local confection, chocolate covered macadamia nuts. I'm sure it will only improve over time.