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.
If you've been to Barcelona, or seen Anthony Bourdain's Spain episode of Without Reservations than you just might know something about the quality tinned seafood from Spain that is more highly prized and more expensive than even fresh seafood. Hats off, or perhaps sombreros off, to Conservas Gallega for importing these conservas into the US.
The Spicy Gourmet spice blending sets. The best spices are whole, freshly toasted and ground. How do you get people to toast and grind? Sell them top quality spices paired with a grinder. I wish this company much success in their worthy endeavor.
Yuzu, yuzu kosho, sudachi, and kabosu. If you don't know much about these Japanese ingredients, with any luck, you will soon. WA Imports is bringing beautifully packaged pure Japanese citrus based juices, jams and pastes to market under the brand name Yakami Orchard. These are not the adulterated products you find on the market today and they are great for desserts, sauces, marinades.
Head over to Cooking with Amy to check out some of my favorite international products from the show.