The Winter Fancy Food Show came to San Francisco January 22 - 24. I attend this show every year to discover new food trends, meet representatives from food companies, and to see favorite vendors.
Fancy Food is a show for the food trade. Specialty food companies come to introduce new products and to widen their customer base of food stores, caterers, food distributors and restaurants. I go representing the press and always come away with a feeling for what foods are going to be popular in the next year and beyond, which ones endure from year to year, and which ones are no longer must have items.
This year, my friend Janet joined me for our day of food tasting and discovery.
I always start in the Cheese section, which goes on for row after row in the Moscone Center. At last year's show I discovered many flavored cheese, particularly flavored cheddars. This year, we saw many softer flavored cheeses. There were many wonderful lavender and truffle-flavored cheeses.
The colorful, flavored French Macarons continue to be a favorite sweet. Both Janet and I indulged.
Hummus, in a wide variety of flavors, continues to be a popular dip/spread. Baba Hummus from San Luis Obispo was a newcomer to the show, introducing its handmade organic hummus. Right now, their hummus is in several California grocery stores and sold at many Central California Farmer's Markets. Hopefully, since the show, it will be showing up in other parts of the country.
We tasted lots of Nut Butters made with a variety of nuts and in a variety of flavors.
The most interesting nut butter that I sampled was the Peanut Butter & Co.'s Mighty Nut Powdered Peanut Butter. The peanut butter can be reconstituted as a spread by mixing 1 tablespoon of water into 2 tablespoons of powered peanut butter. It worked perfectly and tasted great. I've also tried it simply sprinkled on my cereal or yogurt for an added protein and taste boost. Many Bay Area grocery stores already carry this product and I highly recommend it both for at home and perhaps for your next camping trip.
Smoked Salmon remains a popular fancy food and we indulged ourselves at the show.
As always, there are a lot of tea companies at the show. A trend towards flavored teas continues. And, curiously, many longtime tea companies, such as Harney & Sons, have added bottled juice, tea, and energy drinks to their repertoire.
Pique, a San Francisco company, introduced its individual packet of tea crystals, packaged much like Starbuck's Via. Their teas are already in many Bay Area markets and even at Sports Basement. Just add hot or cold water to a packet of crystals, and you have a high quality tea to drink.
To my delight, Snoqualmie Ice Cream, from the state of Washington, was at the show to introduce its new Organic ice creams. I discovered their French Lavender ice cream almost 5 years ago in some local supermarkets. But, these markets no longer carry it and I've been longing for it. Now, they have two versions of their Lavender flavor. Hopefully, Snoqualmie has found some new Bay Area markets for its superior ice creams. Believe me, their lavender is THE BEST!!! I know it was popular at the show because they had run out of samples of it by the time Janet and I found their booth.
Last year I discovered Traina's tasty sun-dried tomato ketchup. This year, they've spiced up their offerings to keep up with the enduring Sriracha trend with a new Sriracha version.
The array of confections at Fancy Food can be overwhelming. We saw several Marshmallow vendors. Could gourmet marshmallows be the "it" sweet for the coming year?
At this year's Winter Fancy Food Show, vendors were allowed to hand out packaged samples of their foods, rather than simply serving samples at their booths. I was delighted to be able to take samples with me to taste and evaluate later. Of course, most vendors also served generous tastes of their products at their booths as well. The above are some of the samples that I picked up.
And, one last note, my in-house taster of all things sweet, was happy to do his analysis of Jelly Belly's Kid Mix Jelly Beans.