Monday, January 18, 2010

Fancy Food Show 2010 - Day 1 Notes

Sunday was the first day of the annual Winter Fancy Food Show at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. It’s my fourth time attending. This year I have a list of 250 companies exhibiting with confectionery products. I hope to make it through the list ... though my first day was cut a little short as I had to drive all the way from Los Angeles at six in the morning.

I haven’t noticed any specific trends, which is great to be honest. Yeah, there’s a lot of sea salt, chili and exotic fruits in candy now, but sometimes it’s not so much about trends but just new availability of ingredients. When I’m at Fancy Food, I usually concentrate on candy, but that doesn’t mean that other foods and drinks catch my fancy.

Here are a few things I noticed:

Kekua

I love hot chocolate, though of course I don’t write about it much here because it’s not actually candy. Still, when I’m at trade shows I love to try the stuff. One of my favorites is the Mexican-style which varies quite a bit. This version from Kekua is stone ground cocoa, a touch of sugar. The tablets are easy to crush up and dissolve in milk (or water) either hot or cold. It’s available with or without almonds. I tasted the almond-less version.

What I liked about it was how it had a hearty toasted flavor, kind of like malt-o-meal or the barley tea I drink from Japan. They also make them in little nuggets so you have the option of either making hot chocolate with them or just eating them. Since the sugar isn’t combined with the cacao completely, it’s grainy and more like a dry cookie dough. (Kekua website.)

Lake Champlain has introduced a new Five Star Bar: Five Star Granola Bar. It’s in the same shape as the rest of the line and features a ganache/cream center filled with crunchy oats, almonds and cranberries covered in dark chocolate. The variation in crunch is fun as is the cereal heartiness of the granola. Of course the chocolate is nice too!

They also said there will be two new Breakfast Egg versions for Easter - they’re a larger Five Star Bar in either the Granola version or a Peanut Butter Crisp.

The folks at How Do You Take Your Coffee who make Javaz, the expertly roasted coffee beans covered in chocolate and beautiful shell also have some over-caffeinated products. I reviewed their GoGo Beans before and saw that they’ll have GoGo Drops soon. They’re the size and format of M&Ms, except the coffee flavored chocolate in a candy shell is then hyper-caffeinated. Not something I should be eating, but definitely a find for students and folks who need an extra kickstart.


Seattle Chocolates has a new line of chocolates called J. Truffles (website). I know, ho hum, everyone’s got truffles these days. What I found appealing about this line was the design, they’re created by Jean Thompson, the owner of Seattle Chocolates, as well as the flavor line. Each is shaped like a pyramid, four different molds and of course three different shells (milk, dark and white chocolate). At first I thought that the design was pretty but the truffles are rather large (so you’d better like the flavor - they’re nearly an ounce each). For tasting samples on the show floor though, they made special minis which were perfect. I could try three or five and not feel overindulged and still get a huge variety. Turns out so many people loved the little ones that they’re going to make those as well. More about the design of the product on their blog.

Just about anything with whole nuts attracts me. I stopped at Valor which is a Spanish chocolate company that I’ve never reviewed before. They make an incredible hot chocolate, for those who have had Churros y Chocolate, you’ll what kind I mean. They also have chocolate bars and I mentioned in a previous Candy Tease that they introduced single portion bars. Well now I’ve tasted them - whole Spanish almonds in silky chocolate ... quite satisfying.

The other whole nut stop was Lindt where they were showing off their new Grandeur bars which come in milk or dark chocolate and feature whole Hazelnuts. I’m a sucker for hazelnuts as well, and Lindt’s chocolate pairs excellently with it. I’ve already seen these in stores (Target) and plan to pick up a full bar (or both bars) for review in the future.

Finally, it’s not so much of a tasting note but an eye candy note.

Things are beautiful. Food is beautiful. Pralus, whom I’ve already fallen for, had an amazing display of their beautifully packaged products at their booth. There’s so much attention to detail at the Fancy Food Show. There were several other companies that I got a similar vibe from (that I’ll be covering later) that understand that we feast first with our eyes, then with our mouth and then with our minds. It’s a whole experience and I think gives more to appreciate.

One of the other non-candy things I do is discover cheese. I love cheese, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve become lactose-sensitive. So I have to eat less and less. The cool thing is that goat and sheep milk cheeses are easier for us lactose-averse folks to digest. So at the show I made full use of the tastings to find new products. One of the new lines I found is from Marcelli Formaggi of Abruzzi, Italy. They use sheep’s milk to make an incredible array of ricottas. There was a cave aged ricotta that was like a blue on the outside and a firm creamy ricotta on the inside. Amazing. I fear I’m going to be putting in a few web orders soon if I can’t find them in stores. (Marcelli website.)

I’ll also be doing some more live posting notes today and tomorrow via my Flickr stream and Twitter if you simply can’t wait for the later reviews.

(All photos above by Emanuel Treeson)

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:35 am Tracker Pixel for Entry     CandyFancy Food ShowFeatured NewsNews

Comments
  1. That looks like way too much fun and many delicious things to try.  Not to mention being in one of the world’s most beautiful cities!

    Comment by Pam Walter on 1/19/10 at 2:25 am #
  2. Which days did you go? This was my 3rd year and I focused on the ethnic foods, teas, and snacks. I went on Sunday and Tuesday. Monday was too stormy for me to leave the house! I feel like every year I go, I feel less overwhelmed.

    Comment by Fanny on 1/22/10 at 12:51 pm #

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