Summer Fancy Food Show: Full Belly and Learnings Digestion

You don’t have to call it “fancy” to get me to go to a specialty food show featuring 2,400 artisanal food purveyors from around the world, each exhibiting a wide range of products, including coffee, cheeses, handmade chocolates, premium olive oils and other delicious treats {sounds like breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert to me}. With press badge in hand, I headed to the United Nations of food exhibitors and wandered up and down aisles labeled Africa, India, Italy, Syria, Greece, New York and just about every other corner of the Earth. I spent the day sampling, chatting and taking notes at NAFTA’s Fancy Food Show — so much to eat and so much to share, but I’ll try to give you the best nibbles to digest.

sofi Awards Outstanding New Products:

More important than just showing off their products, these specialty foodies enter their goods for a chance to win in various sofi award categories, considered the highest honor in the specialty food industry. Gold Winners are announced at a red-carpet ceremony hosted by chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill Restaurant and receive a gold statue to proudly display at their booth, slightly reminiscent of an Oscar in a chef’s hat. Check out the hottest new specialty food products here, all nominated for a 2010 sofi {winners in each category have a gold box around the image}.

2010 Big Trends:

  • Sweet & Savory — salt & pepper chocolate; toasted almonds w/ truffle salt, peach rosemary jam
  • Indian is IN — chai, cashew, tandoori
  • Fall Flavors — sweet potato butter, chocolate, chips
  • Fig is Big — fig compote, balsamic, crisps
  • Superfruits — kombucha berry, hibiscus, acai

My Favorite Specialty Foodies and What to Love:

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Kicking Horse Coffee {Coffee from Canada}

  • Great Brew: most importantly, this cup of joe was delicious {and just what I needed after a lot of walking, talking and sampling}. It’s just making its way down from our friendly northern neighbor, so check their website for a retail store near you.
  • Great People: Buying only Fair Trade coffee, the company supports its farmers, regardless of the world market. As the largest cash crop in the world, this really does make a Kicking impact.
  • Cool Names: Kick Ass {dark}, Three Sisters {medium}, 454 Horsepower {dark}, Z-Wrangler {medium}, Decaf {dark}, Cliff Hanger Espresso {medium}. Clever coffee, what’s not to love.
  • Cool Packaging: 100% recycled cans {surprisingly most coffee cans are not fully recyclable — yeah, that little plastic top is no bueno}. Black cans with primary color tops catch the eye and look cool hangin’ out next to your coffee maker.

Vermont Creamery {cheese & butter from Vermont}
All the cheese I tasted was DE-LIC-IOUS, but let me tell you about a little cheese called Double-Cream Cremont.  Cremont is a mixed-milk cheese combining local fresh cows’ milk, goats’ milk and a hint of Vermont cream. It is luscious and should be on your next cheese platter or just pick it up for a mid-week treat. Try pairing it with a crisp white wine or Belgian Ale.

Rogue Creamery {cheese from Oregon}
Award winning blue cheeses ranging from sweet to smoky flavors. I sampled several and loved them all. These blues are a great punch to any cheese platter and pair really well with Rogue stouts and ales or a sweet dessert port.

Cypress Grove {cheese from Cali}
Long before the Fancy Food Show, Cypress Grove’s Humbolt Fog was on my top 3 list and often made an appearance on any cheese platter I threw together. Today I sampled several delicious sister cheeses, but one that stood out was the Truffle Tremor. That’s right, truffle+goat cheese = earthy, creamy goodness {quite worthy of a tremor}. Try it! Plus these clever friends made a wedding cake out of cheese! I only wish my picture turned out better so I could share…but check out an image here.

NEWTREE {chocolate from Belgium}
Fresh, unique extracts for well-being; playful product names; a medley of flavors to tempt your mood.  The premium chocolate not only tastes good and leaves a lasting impact on your taste buds, but with flavors such as pink peppercorn, ginger and lavender and descriptors such as sexy, tranquility and eternity, these bars offer a unique experience. NEWTREE also replaces a lot of the refined sugar with other fiber to lower the sugar content by 30% compared to average levels.

Anette’s Chocolates {chocolate from Napa, Cali}
Combining beer, wine, brandy, bourbon with chocolate and brittles, Anette’s puts together some pretty unique and delightful confectionary wonders. My favorite: Firey Beer with Spanish Peanut Brittle. These guys have been winning awards for their brittles since 2004, so they must be doing something right!

Sweet Marguerites {chocolate from Maine}
A small operation does not mean small in flavor. These little artisanal chocolate gems were such a treat it’s hard to pick a favorite, but with unique flavors such as Sweet Potato Caramel, Malted Bacon or Fleur de Sel, filled with dark caramel and macadamia nuts, you can be sure anyone receiving these as a gift would not be disappointed.

Food Should Taste Good {salty snacks from Massachusetts}
Forget the chips that leave your fingers orange, Food Should Taste Good is the fastest-growing natural salted snack brand in America and rightly so. With flavors such as The Works!, Jalapeno, Cheddar, Olive, Sweet Potato, Blue Corn, Multigrain, Lime and Chocolate, there are a variety of bags to suit your taste. And with all natural ingredients that you can pronounce, these chips provide a healthier way of snacking. P.S. they are also gluten free, cholesterol free and low in sodium, but you would never know it by how they taste…GOOD.

Rick’s Picks {Pickles from NY}
You may have already heard of these guys who are taking the pickle world by storm, but with creative minds they just keep coming out with new and exciting sweet, savory and spicy pickle combos. Launched this week, a new spicy crinkle-cut pickle chip called Hotties is brined in a blend of sriracha, dried habanero and minced garlic. After winning 2 sofis in 2009, it’s clear Rick’s Picks knows a thing or two about pickling and would be a welcomed addition to your next BBQ.

The Skim: For just a $35 entrance fee, you don’t need to be a professional to gain access and enjoy all the sampling from thousands of specialty food purveyors. The event lasts three full days, which is probably necessary to avoid a belly ache and make the most of all the goodness worth trying. And even if you already know some of the brands, many of them are launching new flavors or product lines at the show, so you’ll be the first to sample and be in the know of cutting edge food trends. If you couldn’t make it this year, put January 16th {in SF}, or July 10th, 2011 {in D.C.} on your calendar.

Want to Learn About More Artisanal Cheeses?
Do This!: A Taste of What to Expect @ Artisanal Premium Cheese Classes

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Summer Fancy Food Show: Full Belly and Learnings Digestion

  1. Emily

    Sounds like an awesome event, thanks so much for sharing all the delicious details! I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for any similar event in Chicago!!

  2. Jackie

    I need to check out Anette’s in Napa this weekend- sounds delish! I’ll trust any recommendation from someone who enjoys Truffle Tremor as much as I do:)

  3. Melissa

    I’m pretty much sold on everything you mention (and picture), but I think my weakness for pickles means that I’ll be grabbing those first!!

  4. Lauren

    I’m always looking to discover and support local food suppliers that focus on quality and creativity. Thanks so much for opening my eyes to a whole new world of products to try. I can’t wait! I think the Salt and Pepper Chocolate and Truffle Tremor will be at the top of my list!!

  5. Haley

    Rick’s pickles sound absolutely delicious, and I can’t wait to try their new spicy pickle chips… I also think the snacks from Food Should Taste Good would definitely worth a try. What a neat opportunity to attend the fancy food show!

  6. Ken

    I just wish I could be there for one of these delicious dinners complemented by some great cheeses! One of these days I’ll get to enjoy some fine cooking!

  7. Kristin

    As a coffee lover, I was most interested to read about Kicking Horse Coffee. So glad it is finding its way into the USA.

    On a separate note, this is one of my most favorite food blogs. Such interesting posts — full of great recipes, restaurant recommendations, etc. Please keep them coming! I have come to rely on this blog heavily!

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