Imagine the world’s biggest gourmet food store filled with every food curiosity gleaned from all corners of the globe, and you’ve got the Fancy Food Show. This post is part one of my belated report from the show floor, and features several audio podcasts of my interviews with vendors.
Need olive oil? Try a hundred varieties from all over the world and meet the people who make them. Cheeses? UK and American cheesemakers had their own pavilions, never mind cheesemakers from the rest of the world. Hot sauces and prepared salsas? I sampled and sweated my way through several dozen varieties at a special tasting pavilion.
Pickled asparagus? Exotic spices? Minted water? Yerba maté lattes? Weatherproof backpacker’s chocolate? Venezuelan beaver cheese? This is where gourmet shops, high end supermarkets, specialty retailers and the media find out about new “fancy” food items, whatever that means.
Invented by an outdoorsman who wanted chocolate on hot weather hikes, Backpacker’s Gourmet Chocolate is a fudge-like chocolate bar sealed in coloful wax, and has survived 120° F desert heat. Click here to hear the story of its invention.
Nirmala’s Kitchen displayed spices and specialty seasonings gathered from its founder’s travels around the globe. Nirmala Narine’s upcoming cookbook documents street foods from exotic locales. Look for an interview with Nirmala in the near future.
Taking a convenient, if preprocessed approach to spicing one’s food is Flavormagic. Spice blend sheets are applied to food with the help of a plastic backing, which is peeled off prior to cooking. While I can see the benefits of this product, it completely sucks the joy out of parroting Emeril. “Bam?” I think not.
Many vendors produce products under private label to their clients in addition to selling under their own brand. Williams & Bennett displayed cookies, pretzels and other chocolate creations. Above: chocolate covered Oreo cookies screened to look like high end truffles. Below: Oreos and pretzels covered in chocolate
Dozens of chocolatiers showed their products, and I spoke with several of them to ask about their products for Valentine’s Day. Moonstruck Chocolates displayed specialized in adorable animal shaped chocolates. Above: Barnyard animals. Below: Baby piglets
Click to listen to an interview with Angie Galimanis of Moonstruck Chocolates. She shares her thoughts on Godiva, the 800 pound gorilla of luxury chocolate’s move into the ultra high end of the handmade truffle market. Below: More of Moonstruck’s whimsical truffles.
Click here to listen to Justin Taft of Neuhaus Chocolates. He spoke with me about the seasonal nature of chocolate sales in the US, and also about the growing high end segment of single estate chocolates. Like single malt scotch distillers, artisan growers produce cacao beans with distinct flavors unique to that grower’s land. Soil, climate, altitude, even the shade under which the trees grow all contribute unique flavors and aromas to the final product made with beans from a single estate.