Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fabulous Finds at the Fancy Food Show 2013

January is kind of a terrible month. You have to accept that you're not getting a really really long weekend until November. You've somehow convinced yourself you need to eat vegetables everyday. Oh, and there are no Christmas cookies in sight. January would pretty much be a total waste if it wasn't for my favorite food event of the year, the Fancy Food Show.

Besides being the perfect venue to eat way too much cheese, pasta, and chocolate, and momentarily live out my dreams of building a career around visiting food shows, the Fancy Food Show is an awesome forum to discover fantastic new companies and products. I love chatting with producers and vendors who are passionate about the work they do and want to share it everyone. You know when you meet someone who is just so excited about their product, their eyes light up and their hands are making grand air gestures? I LOVE meeting people like that. I mean, a great product is a great product regardless but the story makes it all the more memorable so why not share how your company started, what inspires you to work crazy hours, and how you came up with these fantastic flavors?

So without further ado, here are some of my favorite products (and people!) from this year's Fancy Food Show:

1) Semifreddi's is a local Bay Area company which makes some gosh darn fantastic biscotti. You can tell just by looking at the biscotti that almonds are the primary ingredient. Oh, and do not even get me started on their chocolate biscotti. One word. Phenomenal. Plus, any company that lists their delivery driver, baker, and CEO as "our people" has got to be special.

2) Steve's Ice Cream is some of the best ice cream I've ever had. And if you know me and my deep love of ice cream, you know I do not make such a statement lightly. The company takes their mix-ins seriously. The vanilla wafer crumble for their fabulous Southern Banana Pudding ice cream is made by a pie shop in Brooklyn and the ricotta for their Strawberry Ricotta ice cream is from a local cheese shop specializing in small batch ricotta.

3) Penny's Salsa is fresh and fun! They have the normal range of mild, medium, and hot salas but also make a delicious mango and a tangy tomatillo salsa. Oh, and extra points for one the coolest displays at the show. Literally! Their entire display was an ice sculpture, complete with a giant cactus. The entire booth was disassembled every night, frozen, and set up the next morning!

4) Candy candy everywhere! Apparently, coffee candy is out and tea candy (with flavors such as Green Tea Latte and Classic Iced Tea) is all the rage. And while gummy candy is certainly not new, the good folks at Haribo had such a great display, it took all of my self control not to fill a giant bag of their gummy candy deliciousness.

5) Flamous Falafel Chips! If you just said, "Falafel...Chips?!?" you are not alone. The good people of the food product world have figured out a way to take your favorite deep fried lentil snack and chip'ify it. And before you ask, yes, they do taste like falafel. Well, not exactly like falafel because it's hard to chip'ify that delicious deep fried lentil taste. But close enough. And the best part is, you won't need that contraband deep fryer under your desk at work anymore.

6) Jam jam also everywhere! My love of jam is fairly well-documented. The problem is, once you've made homemade jam, you begin to think jarred jam will never measure up. Unless we are talking about Fischer and Wieser's Old Fashioned Peach Preserves because that stuff is just straight up awesome. I've been adding dollops of it in my morning oatmeal and it's pretty much changed my life. Or at least my morning. Okay, just my oatmeal. But you gotta start somewhere. Sarabeth's Orange Apricot Marmalade is equally amazing. I mean, it's the product that launched an entire company so you know it's gotta be good.

7) Popsalot Popcorn is another uber awesome Bay Area company. After sampling millions of little cups of ordinary kettle corn at the show, it was a delicious wake up call to try their Saigon Sunrise Kettle Corn with Vietnamese Cinnamon. Plus, co-founder Noah Sheray is one of those super passionate producers I mentioned and it was so much fun chatting with him (as I surreptitiously ate cup after cup of popcorn).

8) Seapoint Farms Dry Roasted Edamame might be the substitute for my persistent Doritos habit. Okay, probably not, but it's a super tasty snack filled with protein. The crunchy edamame come in three varieties- salted, wasabi, and with goji berries. Now if they'd make a Cool Ranch version, life would be pretty darn perfect.

9) John WM Macy's Cheese Sticks win a spot on this list for their name alone. I swear, when I create the next great food product, I'm going to call it Azmina UA Aboobaker's Fill-in-the-name-of-the-product-here (where UA stands for uber awesome, of course). These cheese sticks come in delicious flavors like garlic and scallion (oh and chocolate, hello!) and are perfect with a glass of something sparkly or in my world, a Slurpee.

10) I know the whole Celebrity Chefs thing is so passe but I can't help shrieking a bit when I spot a chef from Top Chef (which was my addiction until the hubster staged an intervention and cut off our cable). Oh, and I am about 85.7% certain I spotted the Chairman from Iron Chef. But I didn't take a picture because what if what if it was just his doppleganger? That'd just be weird. And awesome.

Till next year Fancy Food Show! Because really, eleven months is plenty of time to work off all those extra calories so I can come back and eat my weight in treats again next year.

Can't get enough of the Fancy Food Show? Check out what I saw and ate in 2012 and 2011.


  1. That looks like so much fun!! I have been to a few culinary festivals but nothing like this. I love samples of anything but I would have been most excited about the popcorn.

  2. Not only do I love salsa but, I love their display!! How awesome is that?! The jam and popcorn would be favorites of mine too. Those jams just look so pretty. You could also use the salted edamame and use oil and a package of ranch dressing to make ranch edamame :) Just a thought! Looks like an awesome time Azmina and perfect for something to do in January!

  3. I feel so bad that we missed the opportunity to catch up! We went there on Sunday and clearly one day was not at all enough. I missed quite a lot of stalls.

  4. I see you are out there still gunning for your dream job! What I really want to know is, "Did you bring a big enough handbag to shove that basket of biscotti in?" Lol. Looks like my kind of event.

  5. I would not go away from that Haribo stand there, i love those sweets, we don't get so much variety like you have there, when i was visiting my sis in Houston i used to fill up my bag full when ever i went for shopping :-)

  6. Penny's Salsa should've worked in some fancy maragarita chute on the side of that ice display!

  7. I think we should both quit our jobs and become professional food show tasters, Azmina. And if that didn't work for some reason (and really, why wouldn't it?), you always have your UberAwesome Product to fall back on. It's a win-win-win! (the extra win is for me)

    It's fun to see how the food show has incorporated some of the new trends, like tea and popcorn. Too bad you didn't snag the pic of the Iron Chef chairman (or his doppelganger) - that would have made Peter's day ;)

  8. As a Canadian, I wholeheartedly approve of your choice of photos to kick off this post (though I am disappointed that they didn't bring out one of the hunky Mounties for photo opps... eeeeesh.)
    Also, that orange apricot jam sounds awesome. I want some now.

  9. Lovely post! Missed meeting you. Wish we had planned it well.

  10. So much fun, and so much deliciousness! Next year, I would love to be by your side, tasting away!

    (BTW, I bet you can sell your own biscotti there! They're that good!)

  11. Ok hand over that biscotti , I really want one . You are lucky to have these kind of exhibitions , wish we had one here though .

  12. That sounds like so much fun! Now I'm going to scour our local listings, to see if we have anything like that coming up.

  13. I work the food show every year helping out an Italian food importer. So bummed our paths didn't cross! So much to eat so little time, right?
    - Lisa

  14. Such nice snacks! The ice cream looks amazing and I just love those falafel chips, I just did a review about them the other day on my blog!

  15. Looks great. Have you ever tried Talenti's Gelato in Sea Salt caramel, it is delicious. Those roasted edamame are calling my name. :)

  16. First of all...Canada! Love it as I'm a Canadian.

    Secondly, Sarabeth's Jam is fantastic. I can't say the same for her NYC restaurant though...something is just lacking with her food? Not sure what.

    Finally...I wish I looked as classy as you do in glasses. Maybe I'd stop struggling with my contacts all the time?

  17. Pretty sure I would've ate my weight in samples! And that ice cream! SO fresh. Yum!

  18. That looks like sooooo much fun!! I wish we had more of those in Oz.
    And surely all that walking around between stalls burns calories, hence allowing one to sample away to glory? It's all about balance, really :-)

  19. I was getting pretty excited about Steve's ice cream...that is until I found out that it is not sold in California. Oh, and that shipping on dry ice costs $30-$90. Yikes!
    But I will definitely be on the lookout for those Semifreddi's biscotti! Thanks!

  20. Please tell me you took advantage of any samples at the Fermin booth--they have excellent jamon iberico (among other delicious meats)!

    Also, please tell me you needed several bags to walk out of there with all of your swag. :) It looked like so much fun!

  21. Wow his uniform is so spic and span and his medals are shining.

  22. Great reporting on the fancy food show- I will have to remember to attend next year-love the biscotti ;-)

  23. Oh no I can't believe I missed the awesome frozen cactus display! I did sample those cheese sticks - they were fantastic!

  24. It looks like you had fun there !
    Amazing pictures :)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...