Not Cheese. These are moscato raisins dried on the vine. They have a softly chewy skin, and moistly sweet on the inside. Something so simple as Moscato grapes left to dry on its vine, concentrating its’ natural sweetness yet retaining each grape’s moist texture. This is like the Bentley of raisins.
Fancy Food Show 2009 – Hundreds of Thousands of gourmet food products in the block long cavernous space of the Javits Center, which means hundreds of thousands of gourmet foods to sample and taste. I tasted A LOT of superb CHEESES. At this year’s show there were numerous booths which had whole leg of Bellota Jamon, and Serrano Jamon, as well as other types of cured meats. I saw at least 3 whole suckling pigs, roasted to a crispy crackling brown. Cheese and Prosciutto. Pastries and Chocolates. Chips and Sauces. After 2 days of tasting cheeses and cured meats, chocolates, cookies, coffees, pasta sauces, snack chips, candies – my palate cried out for……… FRUIT !
I was dying for some plain, unadorned refreshing juicy fruit. My salvation was the Sid Wainer booth, a purveyor of fine foods including the most beautiful fresh vegetables and fruits. On their counter was a bowl piled with clusters of tiny champagne grapes. Each grape is smaller than a salmon caviar. As these miniature grapes popped in my mouth releasing their cold delicate sweet grape juice, it felt like the best thing I tasted at the whole show. It was certainly the most transcendent. I scarfed downed a couple of bunches happily. This 3″ baby purple artichoke is from Sid Wainer, as well as the moscato raisin clump above .
Bacon Lip Balm – everything should taste like bacon? Only if you want to smell bacon all the time, and this lip balm does smell exactly like a very smoky bacon. As scientists tell us that 90% of ‘taste’ is actually smell – I fear this bacon lip balm is gonna make me want to eat bacon day and night. Bacon fans will love this, vegetarians, not so much. Brought to you by Justin & Dave, who created BaconSalt and Baconnaise.
Artisanal cheeses at the show are always of a high quality, with each cheesemonger offering at least a dozen cheeses for tasting. Some truly fabulous cheeses. But, how many hand made goat cheeses do you have to try before IT ALL TASTES LIKE CHEESE ?? After my 85th sample of fine artisanal cheese, as I was being regaled by the Italian owner about how this was his grandmother’s cheese company, and after her death he left his career as a naval officer in Italy to expand his grandmother’s cheese company, a wave of sludgey moraise infused my body as his voice seemed to fade away into the distance. My ears started tuning out because I noticed that my tastebuds were saying — IT ALL TASTES LIKE CHEESE !! I could no longer distinguish what was so special about this goat/sheep’s milk blend vs. any other fine cheese. I was suffering from Cheese Fatigue. At that moment, if you gave me some Velveeta, I would have said – it all tastes like cheese………..
Almond Butter Squeeze Pack – I like this product because it gives you no-mess one oz. serving packs of almond butter anywhere you go. It’s a healthy snack and although it’s perfect for when you go rock climbing or camping, since I engage in neither activity, I think this is a good thing to keep around your desk or in your car for those times when you’re starving and tempted to get junk food. Good for dieters to keep on hand. Comes in 9 flavors including Cinnamon, Maple, and in Peanut Butter, Hazelnut Butter,by Justin’s.
Carica Fruit from Chile. Carica is one of the few fruits on Earth that cannot be eaten raw. It must be cooked in order to soften it enough for human consumption. It has a mild delicate flavor, somewhere between a pear and a white nectarine with a firm toothsome bite. It now comes in plastic vacuum packs, which the personable rep Daniel happily demonstrated “You can’t break this!!” by dramatically throwing a pack on the floor in front of my feet !
The One You Remember – Lemon Zest Madeleines. I really liked the lemony flavor of this madeleine, surprisingly good considering it’s a packaged bakery item. It tasted of butter and just enough sweetness. If your last name is Proust, no need to pine for your one unforgettable love because you can simply keep a bunch of these on hand. Donsuemor also makes madeleines in Chocolate.
Choc-O-Lait – a.k.a. Hot Chocolate on a Stick. This is my favorite new invention at the 2009 Fancy Food Show. You just dunk this Cube-O-Chocolate into a cup of hot milk, and within 10 seconds you get a pretty good cup of hot chocolate! There is no measuring with a spoon and getting cocoa powder all over your counter, no dripping spoon to find something to rest on, the little wooden stick becomes a lightweight stirrer. This is made with Belgian chocolate and comes in 4 flavors – Dark, Milk, Hazelnut and Cointreau. My fave is the Cointreau. It comes in various sizes: 2 cubes to a pack, or a nice tall box. I like the Mug Pack which comes with their signature Choc-O-Lait porcelain mug & saucer and a 2 cube pack of hot chocolate. This item would make a great gift for any chocophile. I had very low expectations for an ‘instant’ product, so I was quite surprised at how good this tasted. This is a new product from Belgium.
Edible Clay! For those of you who don’t like hot chocolate, why not try drinking some CLAY? That’s right, clay is good for you! Why? because it contains all the essential MINERALS that your body needs and is probably not getting enough of because of the modern diet filled with high calorie but low nutrient sugar-laden foods and snacks. Actually many of which are representated at the Fancy Food Show heh! … Many primitive cultures around the world actually dig up clay deposits, and carry a cone or a ball of clay from which they nibble on to get their daily minerals. You simply mix this with any liquid such as water or juice. It’s natural Bentonite clay from the earth, I prefer this to a laboratory made mineral pill. Redmond clay. Mud pie, anyone?
Staud’s Jams – This Apricot Jam blew me away! I can’t read German but this Apricot Jam was the most intense apricot-y preserve I’ve ever tasted, like pure apricots cooked down for hours with very little sugar, and Apricot is not even one of my most liked flavors. Staud’s is an Austrian company, and I’ve seen this brand in gourmet shops but never tried it before, now I’m sold.
Korean Sea Salt. To me, SALT is SALT. and this new one tastes SALTY. There is a whole category of gourmet sea salts, the most famous being the gray French Fleur de Sel from Guerande. Newer iterations range from Black Lava Salt from Volcanic Hawaii to Viking Smoked Sea Salt, and now the latest is Solar Sea Salt from Korea. translation- it’s dried in the sun. Duhhh………… I think they will have a hard time competing with French and American fancy salts.
Freezed Dried Honey Lozenges from New Zealand. This is pure honey from one of the cleanest non-polluted places in the world. Honey is a natural anti-microbial and these are perfect for a sore throat, or when you just want something sweet. It’s better than candy because honey contains antioxidants. Airborne Honey is a line of various types of honey from New Zealand.
PINE NUT OIL and Virgin Coconut Oil. I LOVED the smell of this toasted Pine Nut Oil from China. However, it is not available yet in any store in the U.S. There are various International Sections at the Fancy Food Show, they are usually sparse and forlorn, nearly empty booths with very little product on display, some do not even provide samples – no samples means I’ll just past them by. Downstairs, the Korea section flowed into the China section. The China sections comprised big wide booths with a few product packages on display but no edible samples. I noticed it must have been lunchtime as each Chinese exhibitor was eating – Chinese Take Out !! At the Fancy Food Show !!! HAHAHA!!
Pine Nut Oil is sold to distributors in gigantic 500 gallon drums, and the rep told me that they do not have a distributor here yet. I think this Pine Nut Oil would be insanely good on a salad or drizzled on top of toast and meats. Just needs good packaging and distribution. The Virgin Coconut Oil is from India.
Not Chocolate. This is an Aged Pu-Erh Tea Brick. This is from Numi Tea Co. Pu-Erh Tea compressed into a brick is the ancient Chinese way of packing this tea, prior to the Ming Dynasty. Tea bricks were easy to transport along the tea route to India and Tibet. Pu-Erh Tea bricks can also be aged for decades. It was interesting to see this tea brick by Numi since most of their tea are sold as teabags.
Pre-measured Spice & Herb Kits from World Cuisine. Have you ever wanted to make a Mediterranean recipe that required exotic spices like Sumac and Za’atar, hunted them down for your dish and then your jars of spices just sat there going stale for years? I once actually trekked out to Sahadi’s in Brooklyn to buy Sumac, forgetting that I live a mere couple blocks from Kalustyan’s, D’oh!
World Cuisine Institute has solved the gourmet cook’s problem of having to buy many jars of spices and herbs and not being able to use it all up. The aroma and flavor of all spices and herbs are derived from its’ oil which are highly volatile compounds. As soon as it is ground, it starts to lose its aromatics and go stale quickly. This is the Lebanese Recipe Pack which contains Sumac, Za’atar and Salt – enough for one recipe . They have larger spice packs, the Indian Chicken Curry pack has 9 spices and herbs for 2 lbs. of chicken. The Moroccan Lamb Tagine has 10 spices. This saves time and cost as you only purchase the spices as you need them, and they’re pre-sorted for the flavor profile of each world cuisine. An easy way to improve your repertoire of dishes.
Himala Salt. This is himalayan pink salt in 1″ bottles, and the cutest sample of the show.
Dagoba Lavender Blueberry chocolate. Smells like lavender but not much blueberry taste. Dagoba’s chocolates taste much better now than they used to. I also liked their Milagros 68%.
Overall, I was not that impressed with the chocolate offerings at the show. Nothing new or exciting. What happened to the chocolate vendors? It seemed like there were many more chocolatiers and companies in past years. The chocolate booths at this year’s show seemed to be mostly large manufacturers like Guittard, Callebaut and Valrhona.
Cabernet Pear Tart from David’s Cookies. This tart was even better than the warm chocolate chip cookies they were handing out. Big sections of pear over a layer of almond pastry cream on a butter cookie crust. David’s Cookies also makes cheescakes. and cookies.
Need a Can Drainer? Emeril has one for you. This was a freebie given out at the Emeril booth. I don’t buy any canned foods but I thought this could be used like a mini colander to wash small foods, like a few berries??
Pancake syrup and Jams. Not everything at the Fancy Food Show is “fancy”. There are plenty of mass market products like this line of fruit flavored syrups. The Lazzaris jams are from Italy.
Copyright 2009 Jo Jo Kwong. all rights reserved.