It’s no secret that we're spoiled here in the Bay Area due to an abundance of artisanal, locally produced gourmet specialty foods.
So, it's not a surprise that while attending this year's massive Fancy Food Show at San Francisco’s Moscone Center many of the favorite products I tasted were produced by Bay Area purveyors.
Here are my top six recommendations:
The folks at Bridge Brands Chocolate based in San Francisco have taken two great tastes and paired them perfectly together: wine and chocolate. Their tins of various percentages of dark chocolate, milk chocolate or white chocolate claim to pair best with different types of wine. I tasted a few of the varieties and especially liked the ones that paired with Merlot and Syrah.
This Napa based brother and sister owned company have made a name for themselves with their Chardonnay, bourbon and beer peanut brittle products that are both salty and sweet. But their newest award-winning brittle is a savory one. It’s a little citrusy, a little spicy, and has a dose of tequila, tortilla chips and roasted pumpkin seeds. It’s a very different snack that’ll surprise you with its great texture and flavors.
Local foodies and chefs swear by Minh Tsai’s tofu products. Hodo Soy Beanery's artisan produced, organic, non-GMO tofu is higher in protein and fat than most others, resulting in a creamier, some say superior, product. The Yuba Strips, which are the skin that forms on top of steaming soy milk, have the texture of a thin flat noodle, so it makes for a great pasta alternative. Both the Yuba Strips and the Tofu Nuggets make for zesty, full-flavored meat substitutes that have an unexpected kick. Oakland-based Hodo Soy is now selling their products at select Costco stores in California so this superior tofu will be more accessible.
Petaluma produced and Bay Area born, this company’s ice cream is exceptionally creamy, decadent, organic and doesn’t contain things you can’t pronounce. Their Lemon Cookie flavor is their most popular, even beating out the perennial favorite, vanilla. It’s a delicious combination of lemon ice cream and vanilla cream sandwich cookies. I’m drooling just thinking about it.
This Arcata-based cheese company produces the finest goat cheese you can find. Though they’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of their most popular cheese, the Humboldt Fog variety, it’s the Midnight Moon that steals my heart every single time I taste it. It’s a hard cheese that is creamy and has a gouda-like flavor, complete with salty crystals for texture. The salty bite and lack of gamey flavor makes this versatile cheese perfect for snacking alone or in combination with other items like fresh fruit. I’ve continued to declare it one of my favorite cheeses of all time.
This Novato-based company has come a long way in 20 years. They now feature hundreds of different varieties of teas and have come out with two new ones to celebrate their 20th birthday. The one that stands out is their Anniversary Celebration variety that boasts black tea, sweet white wine grapes, and is infused with the essence of champagne. It’s a pretty clever and unexpected flavor combination for a tea. After all, what’s a birthday without a little wine and champagne?