Winter Fancy Food Show: San Fran Specialties Digested

There were no shortage of snacks to sample at the specialty food show in San Fran this weekend. Much like the Summer show I attended in New York, the spread ranged from candies, cheeses, chocolates and coffee to fine meats and preserves from over 1,300 exhibiting food producers from around the world.

Straight off the flight from the Big Apple, I made my way to the food show, with an empty stomach and press badge in hand to see what new discoveries could be found and to pay a visit to a few favorites I savored last time.

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My Favorite Specialty Foodies and What to Love:

Bella Cucina {Salts, Spreads, Oils and Preserves from Atlanta}

The packaging will catch your eye immediately – beautifully jarred and labeled, these products will delight any gift recipient and your kitchen counter alike {hence the name}. More importantly I sampled several of what’s inside Bella Cucina’s jars – aromatic savory salts, artichoke lemon spread {their best seller accounting for 17% of all sales}, mint pistachio pesto, roasted sweet peppers grown especially for Bella Cucina – and wished I could buy several of them on the spot. As someone who can appreciate unique flavor combinations and beautiful packaging, Bella Cucina won me over immediately.

Justin’s {All Natural Nut Butters from Boulder}

I love peanut butter period. But give me a spoon of chocolate hazelnut butter, honey peanut butter or maple almond butter and you have just upped the ante on a simple snack time favorite. I always loved the day my mom made me a peanut butter and honey sandwich for lunch, so it just makes sense to bring these flavor combos together in one jar, except it’s not always in a jar. Justin’s sources high quality organic California nuts and has brilliantly packaged their product both in a jar and in a squeeze packet to take these delights on the road. I think it’s time to move your old friend Skippy aside for a spread or squeeze of Justin’s premier PB product.

Poco Dolce {Chocolate from San Fran}

So much chocolate in this world – is it possible to create a new and BETTER chocolate? Apparently yes. I was guided through aisles of food booths to Poco Dolce with assurance that these chocolates were the best around. I concur. With flavors like burnt caramel, sesame toffee tiles {winner of a sofi Gold award}, and super chile, owner, Kathy Wiley, elevates chocolate squares to new levels exciting your taste buds with both sweet and savory flavor combinations. Also try her toffee squares — bite sized toffee covered in bittersweet chocolate. If you’re not an SF local, fear not, see here for places to get your hands on those bites.

Fra’Mani Handcrafted Foods {Artisanal Cured Meats from Berkley}

Just take a look at the picture of this beautiful mosaic of head cheese.  And beside this well-photographed delicacy, Fra’Mani was generously tasting a range of their other flavorful cured meat products – little ham, rosemary ham, roasted turkey galantine. Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching – why not replace those roses with a fragrant bouquet of artisanal cured meats? It’s the way to say I love you in 2011.

Beehive Cheese Co. {Handcrafted Cheese from Utah}

I first had Beehive’s Barely Buzzed by chance when it was paired with a wine at a tasting up in Livermore, CA. The cheddar cheese is hand rubbed with a Turkish grind of Colorado Legacy Coffee Company’s, lavender buds and olive oil, which makes your head spin in delight — perfectly named I would say. At the time we were with a group of eight people, who were all commenting more on the cheese than the wine and we made note of what we were sampling in an effort to find this delightful slice again. Previously it was not easy to come by, but distribution has expanded to many Whole Foods Markets, so next time you are rolling down the aisle looking for an exciting addition to your cheese plate, pick up Barely Buzzed for a deep caramel flavor or Big John’s Cajun Rubbed for something with a little kick.

Creminelli Fine Meats {Artisanal Cured Meats from Salt Lake City}

I first discovered Creminelli at the New York Wine & Food Festival in October. With a glass of cabernet in one hand, I sampled some of their finest salumi – lacy thin cut mortadella, hot sopresata, dark & rich wild boar sausage and their award-winning Barolo-infused salumi {winner of this year’s Good Food awards). So imagine my delight to stumble upon them next to the Beehive Cheese Co. Good cheese & meats hanging out together {both from Utah} – all I needed was a glass of vino and a comfy chair to make my day.

Kicking Horse Coffee {Coffee from Canada}

One of my all-time favorite coffee producers of the year – if you haven’t tried it, you must. Not a new discovery for me, but I had to stop by to say hello and for a quick cup of joe to rejuvenate my jetlagged, sampled-out self.

  • 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.

The Skim: If you haven’t caught on to the specialty food trends, then wake up and smell the artisanal hand-pressed coffee. 63% of American consumers purchased specialty food in 2010, up from 46% in 2009 and farmers markets have grown to become the fourth most significant source of specialty foods. Knowing where your food comes from and passionate support for the creativity and handcrafted quality that goes into small scale specialty foods, is driving the emergence of new food entrepreneurs to historic levels.  Mark your calendars, the Summer Fancy Food Show will be held in Washington D.C. July 10-12, 2011.

Dolled Up Delicacies:
Summer Fancy Food Show: Full Belly and Learnings Digestion
Del Posto Presents Murray’s Cheese & Salumi Wine Party @NYCWFF
Give Your Monday Morning Mug a Kick in the Pants with Kicking Horse Coffee
Le Grand Fooding ‘Twas A Grand Yummy Evening
New York City Wine & Food Festival Kicked Off With Good Eats

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3 Comments

Filed under Do This!, Travel Bite

3 responses to “Winter Fancy Food Show: San Fran Specialties Digested

  1. Emily

    I haven’t had breakfast, drooling reading this!

  2. Cm

    Not only did you get to hang out in one of the greatest cities…you got to taste all of those wonderful products. What fun !!!

  3. Pingback: Tweets that mention Winter Fancy Food Show: San Fran Specialties Digested | 8.ate@eight -- Topsy.com

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