Friday, January 22, 2010
Fancy Food Show 2010 - Day 3 Notes
The final day of the Winter Fancy Food Show is always a little strange. The exhibitors are exhausted and are out of a lot of their samples and materials (if things have been going well) and many of the attendees are simply dazed, overfed and overwhelmed.
I’ve usually hit most of my list by then and just have a little bit of mop-up to do. It’s usually exhibitors that were too busy when I stopped by the first or second time or others that I heard about while I was there and added to my itinerary. I try to make sure that most of my business is wrapped by then so that when I do stop and talk I don’t feel rushed any longer. It’s probably one of the funner and more laid back days as the exhibitors feel free to be casual.
My original list had about 250 exhibitors on it, and I probably hit 90% of them the my satisfaction.
Chocoveda was one of those places I was a little leery of. I like my chocolate to be good quality, flavorful and attractive. All the other stuff is bonus material. So chocolate that’s infused with mantras seems, well, a little hokey. However, if I can just ignore the background chanting, I suppose it doesn’t matter as long as it tastes good. The good news is that their attention to detail is great. the chocolates are lovely and the flavor array was right up my alley. Their chocolate bonbons are all natural and vegan. They’re made with coconut oil and chocolate for the ganache center. I tried Ginger and Lemongrass which was fresh and vibrant and Honey Vanilla which was smooth and delicate. (Chocoveda website.)
Seth Ellis Chocolatier introduced Sun Cups which are sunflower seed butter mixed with sea salt, sugar and cocoa butter inside milk chocolate or dark chocolate cups. They’re made in a peanut free facility plus taste pretty awesome (well, I only tried a piece of the dark chocolate one so far). Organic, gluten-free, fair trade and nut free. (Photo here.)
Kookabura, an Australian licorice company, is also introducing some new Licorice Allsorts and cream filled assorted Licorice Straws including cola flavored. The Allsorts are notable because they don’t appear to have that coconut stuff in the fondant part.
Kenny’s Licorice has a nice brand of less-expensive Australian-style licorice (thick and soft chunks of wheat-based licorice) called Wiley Wallaby. I’d mentioned to them a few times it’d be cool if they made a candy coated version like the old Good & Fruity. Lo and behold they have! Outback Beans: they’re soft and short pieces of red licorice coated in a not-quite-crispy candy coating. (Photo here.) They’ll also be available in a black licorice version. They should be hitting store shelves in the next two months, your best bet to find them will be stores that already carry the Kenny’s or Wiley Wallaby brands.
I usually gravitate towards the goat cheese when I’m at the Fancy Food Show, but I’ll admit that I’m keen on most goaty things like goat’s milk chocolate. Last year I found some imported goat’s milk caramels with buckwheat. This year I found some from right here in California (well, the vanilla beans aren’t locally grown).
They’re called Happy Goat Caramels and currently come in the classic soft chew of vanilla. They’re actually not that different in taste and texture from most other plain artisan caramels but the whole goat thing will be a happy find for those who are less than lactose tolerant. (Happy Goat website.)
I spent some time in the California Pavilion (really just a corner where the Californian companies were placed) and finally got to try some of Elaine’s Toffee Company (ETC), it’s kind of famous because it appears in a commercial for some legal service ... though I don’t think the ad is that good at branding because I thought it was for American Express Business services when I finally found their table at the show. Anyway ... the commercial of course highlights the snazzy and classic packaging design. I tried a few pieces of the toffee and pronounce it excellent. The big squares (about 3"x4”) are sold at Nordstrom’s cafes and look like they’d be great with a cup of strong coffee while I mull over a shoe purchase.
On the other side of the planet is a man with some copper pots making classic Scottish Clotted Cream fudge ... in New Zealand.
Patrick Donovan’s Vanilla Cream Fudge is what it’s called for us Americans who might not know or appreciate the wonders of clotted cream. It also comes in a chocolate & hazelnut variety. I have some samples of the bars shown there and I’m looking forward to shooting them so I can eat them soon. (Gluten free, too.)
Poco Dolce, a toffee maker from San Francisco was showing off their new toffee bites, including this Double Shot variety which is extra coffee infused. I’ve had plenty of their stuff, I even bought a whole box of their Toffee Tiles before and ate them all without even taking their picture. One of these days I’ll get around to getting another box and doing a proper view. Suffice to say that the toffee is thin and has a good caramelized and bitter burnt note to it and always has the nicest dark chocolate coating. They have a great flavor array and the packaging is clean and simple.
I also picked up one of Ritter Sport new bars, the Neapolitan Waffle (well, it’s new to North America). I also found out why I couldn’t find the Peppermint in stores this past holiday. They will be back later this year, but last year there was a big issue with an import tariff on filled chocolates from Europe, so the Peppermint didn’t make it to the States for Christmas.
K.L. Keller Imports usually carries a nice array of fig and nougat things (including a fig nougat). This year one of her more exciting new finds were these:
El Caserio Caramel & Pine Nut Hard Toffee Pieces are rather large nuggets of dark caramelized sugar and butter with whole pine nuts in them. The flavor is buttery and not at all sweet but with a smooth texture. I tend to chew mine up, so the combination of the very oily pine nuts with their green and earthy flavor along with the smoky and molasses noted toffee was quite a mouthful.
I’ll be looking out for those in stores but at least I was able to pick up a handful of them for now.
That’s it for now. I’ll be back to regular reviews on Monday and the new “fancy foods” will be sprinkled in for the next few months as I see them hitting the store shelves.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.