Monday, January 22, 2007

Show Notes - Fancy Food Show - Monday

Yup, no real organization here, just a data dump as I go through my samples and notes from the day:

- I spent most of the morning with Dawn & Irene from Artisan Sweets (yes, Dawn’s the one who gave me those awesome Apothecary’s Garden hard candies). I followed them around as they visited some of their current suppliers and looked at new products and opportunities. I also introduced them to Mashti Malones (I had some of their new Lavender ice cream), which is a Persian-style ice cream shop based in Los Angeles.

- Dagoba (now owned by Hershey’s “Artisan Chocolates” division) has a bunch of new products including four bars for their Classic line:
Seeds (Hemp, pumpkin and sunflower seeds ... I’m not sure why there’s no flax in there)
Superfruit (acai, goji berries and currants)
Nibs (yeah, nibs)
Lemon Ginger (crystallized ginger and lemon essence ... crunchier than you’d think)

- Veritas who makes Thins for Trader Joe’s & Choxie is coming out with a line of single origin chocolates later this spring.

- I tasted a bunch of “comfort candies” at Allie’s Edibles and really liked the Chocolate Pretzel & Toffee Bark, which is a fun mix of pretzels and toffee bits in chocolate. Both the pretzels and the toffee provide a salty hit and a distinct crunch. It’s all Kosher too (she has Marshmallows as well).

- I sampled a few candies from B.T. McElrath of Minneapolis. They specialize in local ingredients and of course lovely-looking candies. The Salted Caramel Butterfly I tried was really nice, the caramel was dark and flowing with a strong and distinct smoky deep caramelized bite to it but also a smooth buttery mouthfeel.

- Since I enjoy Chuao Chocolates so much I visited their source chocolate supplier, El Rey. Their beans are all Venezuelan but a mix of all three varieties (Criollo, Forestero & Trinitario). I tried their nibs and a few of the single origin but I really enjoyed the Icao White Chocolate. What sets this white chocolate apart from all others is obvious when you taste it ... it tastes like chocolate even though it doesn’t look like it. They don’t “deodorize” the cocoa butter, so it retains some other woodsy scents and it’s not freakishly white, more like a pale yellow. I’m definitely going to be checking out more of El Rey in the future.

- I dropped by a booth called Mrs. May’s Naturals ... how could I pass them up, they’re named after me? They have dry roasted nut brittles that are so jam packed with nuts, there’s barely any room for the candy. The sweet toffee/candy is just there to hold it all together. Some are a mix of fruits and nuts but I liked the pure crunchiness of the Sunflower, Pecan and Cashew.

- It wasn’t all happiness and smiles, there were a couple of odd experiences where the booth-cops didn’t want me looking or tasting things. I can’t quite figure that out, but hey, there were literally thousands of things to look at. If they don’t want me trying their tea infused chocolate disks or gourmet lollipops, me and my blog can go elsewhere ... and we did!

- Harry London Chocolates is once again under new ownership (now 1-800-FLOWERS) and they’re taking a turn towards the dark side now. I was impressed by their new packaging and their dark tasting squares in 70% cocoa content (all natural) with flavors of Raspberry, Orange, Espresso and of course plain Chocolate. The proof will be in the pudding ... well, the chocolate tasting anyway. If the Raspberry is any indication, it’s some tasty stuff, but perhaps a little odd. More on that later.

- I had more fun at Jelly Belly today as they let me preview some new items that aren’t quite ready yet for the public. What I can tell you about is their new Pomegranate bean ... tasty and complex. I tried it when I was there in ‘05 and they were still working on it, the tinkering resulted in a tasty bean with some nice dry finish much more like a real pomegranate. It also has some Vitamin C and antioxidants in there! In other new product news they’re also putting some focus on Black Licorice and have a new Licorice Bear that will be presented soon.

- Brown Paper Chocolates has to take the cake as the most novel presentation of chocolate for the week so far. Think of it as a solid ganache that you treat like a fine parmesan and shave off pieces. It looked kind of strange, like a hunk of fudge, but the flavor was anything but grainy. Smooth and infused with herbs and spices, it was really impressive. The white chocolate went like this, “Fragrant with Lavender, Pimm’s(r) No.1 and Chervil with a cracked pepper and lavender fleur de sel afterthought.” Check out the whole line here.

I’m sitting in on another panel discussion (the other two I did were kind of “State of the Industry” ones that weren’t sweets oriented) but the one on Tuesday morning is about Chocolate. So I may post some session notes about that on Wednesday.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 5:38 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry     CandyFancy Food Show

  1. About the booth cops…were you trying to taste things that weren’t officially “samples”? I’ve been to the FFS in NYC and there’s always boxes out at some booths that LOOK like samples, but if you try to take one they’re all “Hey, you can’t have that!” Apparently, at least at the east coast show, they’re very strict about what can be given out because all the showed stuff that is not given out by the end of the show is donated to local food banks. I’m not sure what this has to do with not giving out larger samples that are there already, but hey, ok, can’t argue with feeding the homeless.

    I just thought maybe that’s what it was because otherwise, what numbskull would look at a person wearing a media badge and be snappy to them at a show where they’re trying to court the media?

    Comment by Fluffernutter on 1/23/07 at 4:01 am #
  2. Cybele's avatar

    Fluffernutter - oh, I know what you mean, I went by the Godiva booth and was talking with one of the women about some new products coming out that they only had mock-ups of. She wanted to show them to me, but they had GLUED them down. Even an actual chocolate bar out of the wrapper and above my head on a shelf was glued down. She said that earlier in the day someone broke off a piece of one of the glued chocolates and ate it!

    But in the case of the couple that were not cooperative, they were definitely samples ... one example was placed on a plate with the box glued down in front of them. The woman by this table was on the phone. No one else was in the booth except for two other guys who worked there who were chatting and drinking coffee from someone else’s booth. She wagged her finger at me but didn’t get off the phone and the other fellows couldn’t be bothered to get up.

    No biggie. I’ve tasted most of their line already. I took a photo of her, to remember the experience. 

    If something is obviously not a piece of food cut up on a sample plate, I always ask. There are just a couple of places that are weird about sampling and they should probably invest their time someplace other than a trade show like this.

    Comment by Cybele on 1/23/07 at 4:14 am #
  3. I gotta love a blogger who can use the phrase “nice dry finish” about a jelly bean. 

    You go, girl!

    Comment by good enough cook on 1/23/07 at 11:07 am #
  4. Oooh, this all sounds like exciting stuff. Especially the Jelly Belly, I just love their products!

    Shame about the “booth cops”, goes to show there’s always someone out to spoil the fun!

    Comment by Sera on 1/23/07 at 4:58 pm #
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