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.