Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Fancy Food Show 2010 - Day 2 Notes

Monday was the big push at the Fancy Food Show, I was there for the full day and tried to see as much as possible. But I have a list of 250 companies and know I won’t see or taste it all.

Yes, I ate that. It’s a little chocolate version of a margarita. A bit of Patron, a bit of lime and a lot of creamy, creamy white chocolate in a dark chocolate cup with a salt rim. From Lillie Belle, part of a little line of cocktail inspired chocolates that also includes Maker’s Mark and my favorite a Gin & Tonic.

I stopped by a beautiful display at Kim’s Chocolates, a Belgian company. The booth was simply a double glass case of elegant and classic Belgian chocolates. I tasted an incredible orange and thyme truffle, smooth and savory with strong herbal and zest notes were just the right balance with the not-too-sweet chocolate. Also tried a cognac and cacao nib truffle that was quite dense and had some oak and deep molasses notes. They’ve taken over the shop on Larchmont in Los Angeles that used to be occupied by Leonidas, so I’ll be sure to stop by there so I can do a complete review.

Chuao Chocolatier: I mentioned the new Panko bar in my product announcement roundup, but there are three others also hitting the market: an Anise & Coffee and a Honeycomb. The fun thing about Chuao is that they also do sugar free bars, so everyone gets to have fun.

I found out how poorly I pronounce the international confection brands like Hachez and Pernigotti but enjoyed tasting all of the new items at the importer’s booth. Hachez is always so insanely smooth, the company conches their chocolate for seventy two hours which means that the particle size of the cacao is extremely small so it’s extra buttery. Penigotti does lovely gianduia, though I still prefer Caffarel, they have other tablet bars that are pretty compelling.

One of the trends mentioned in the Fancy Food Show press release was comfort foods. Chocolatiers like Gorant, which is from Youngstown, Ohio and a favorite of my mother’s seem positioned well for that. They do an excellent peanut butter meltaway and mint meltaway. They’re chocolate is quite sweet, but also buttery. They’re expanding national.

Rain Republic from Ecuador is an all-Ecuador chocolate. All ingredients are source from Ecuador: the sugar, the cacao and the vanilla beans. Plus it’s all made in Ecuador. I haven’t actually tasted it yet, but the packaging is lovely (the box actually opens with a tab on the top and can be easily reclosed) with its bold graphics and colors.

New Tree has evolved away from their initial line of Belgian chocolate in crazy names like Sexy. Now they’ve got interesting mixes of grains, nuts, seeds and flavors mixed in. They have some cute new single serve bars like Belgian Biscuit and Roasted Almonds that have stuff like omega 3 as well as less sugar without artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols.

I tried their Thyme infused bar last year and loved it ... now I just need to find a store that carries their bars.

Caffarel, the originator of gianduia, is usually at the show via one of their importers, this year they had their own booth. The stuff just takes my breath away ... if the folks who made Legoland ever wanted to do a gianduia theme park, please make it with Caffarel. I got a few samples of their leetle tiny hearts and some fruit gelees and will try to do a roundup after I play with them on my desk like matchbox cars for a few days.

Jelly Belly has Fruit Snacks. They’re not gummies, they’re just fruit chews made with starch and pectin as well as real fruit juice. No artificial colors. They were also showing off their mango and chili jelly beans, I haven’t tried them yet, because I’m a big baby.

B.T. McElrath introduced the Salty Dog bar last year. I’ve picked it up a couple of times at Whole Foods but I actually just keep eating it without reviewing it.  This year the dark chocolate bar with sea salt and almond toffee chips got a companion, the Prairie Dog Bar, which is made with milk chocolate. I also tasted some of their new bonbons, which are always nicely packaged and designed. Pave Coconut isn’t too sweet and has a nice blend of the tropical notes and smooth creaminess. Lemon (pictured above) was also more on the tangy and zesty side and beautifully molded in a flower shape with a swirl of yellow white chocolate in the milk chocolate shell.

Hammond’s Candies sent me a tweet and bid me to come by to try their Honey Koko, one of their oldest products that they recently restarted production on. It was invented by the founder of the company eighty years ago. It’s just a coconut fondant covered in milk chocolate and more coconut. Much smoother and creamier than an Almond Joy but oh so sweet. They only sell them at the factory store and a few other candy shops in the area because they’re not a prepackaged item.

They also have some other fun flavors for their handmade and hand twisted creations like nutmeg candy canes, champagne candy canes, cabernet candy canes. It’s insane! Their booth always makes me so happy. I love the look of candy, it’s just amazing how versatile it is and Hammond’s really appreciates the impact that a one pound lollipop can make visually.

Hint Mint always has such fun packaging and flavor combinations, though I’m a kind of mint purist and stick with the original plain mint. I did pick up some samples of their Pomegranate Acai and Chocolate Mints.

In non candy tasting notes:

Yanni Grilling Cheese was awesome, you can get all the punch of gooey melted cheese without deep frying or bread.

I’m excited to try Purple Prairie Barley. It’s a heritage barley variety that’s supposed to have a nice toasted and smoky flavor. (I happen to love barley in all forms.)

I’ll have some more photos & roundups and of course will be trying to send out a few tweets during the day. Perhaps I can get back to full reviews later this week. (I’ve been tasting too many things to give one thing the focus it deserves.)

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:23 am Tracker Pixel for Entry     CandyFancy Food ShowFeatured News

  1. So much chocolate at the Fancy Food Show!  I really need to make it there one of these years.

    Comment by Julie on 1/19/10 at 12:41 pm #
  2. In the SF Bay Area, at least, you can find New Tree chocolate at fancier grocery stores like Andronico’s and Whole Foods, and of course the best grocery store in the world, Berkeley Bowl.  I love their bars, especially the lavender one and the cinnamon one.  I usually like dark chocolate, but their milk bars tend to be more interesting IMO.

    Comment by JJR on 1/23/10 at 6:48 am #
  3. Hi there,

    hello from Brussels, Belgium, and thanks for reviewing NEWTREE chocolate. You can get our bars at Walmart, and also online (http://www.newtree.com). Have fun trying and let us know if you liked them! smile

    Olga at NEWTREE

    Comment by Olga on 2/23/10 at 1:44 am #
  4. Rain Republic Chocolate is from Guatemala not Ecuador, all its ingredients are from Guatemala as well!

    Comment by Leslie on 7/30/10 at 4:01 pm #
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