By Paul Partica
(as seen in the August issue of Ink Magazine)
I’m not sure that we have fully recovered from our annual visit to the huge international food show called Fancy Food, and I know I’m still a few pounds heavier, but in the end lots of new gastronomic treasures were discovered.
Just how big was the show? According to Mike Silver, Chairman of the Specialty Food Association, there were over 2,500 exhibitors from 50 countries, representing just about every continent. The show was visited by over 25,000 attendees who make up the network of the Specialty Food Business consisting of retailers, manufacturers, restaurateurs, caterers, cafes, hotels, distributors, wholesalers, brokers, cooking school and educational students, importers, exporters, and so forth. If I were to pick just one product from each company, we would have 2,500 new items, and I would need a bigger boat.
It would be hard to name all the products on display but just about anything in the specialty food business was represented. To name a few: chocolates, candies, coffee, tea, pastries, breads, caviars, olive oils, vinegars, ice cream, gelato, jellies, preserves, cookies, meats, beverages, baskets, gift boxes… You get the idea. Did I say there was a little cheese, too?
A major difficulty of the show was its immense size. If you have ever attended a trade show at the Javits Center in New York, you understand what I mean. The show not only covered the entire first and second floors, but also filled the 40,000 square foot annex next door. The show is so large that many cities could not cover the hotel rooms needed to accommodate it.
This represents a huge dilemma to one visiting the show. It would be impossible to see and taste everything, so attendees need to go with mission in mind. It’s a must to have a pre-determined checklist of what you are looking for and accomplish those needs before allowing yourself to wander. You also need to refuse hundreds of food samples. There were many delicacies that were hard to pass on. Simply put, if you were to eat everything offered, you would not have room to taste the things you need to.
That said, we obviously went with a goal to find new cheeses and specialty foods that would mix well with the current inventory in our store. The following represent just a few of our findings.
According to the company, Macaron Café was established to pay homage to the delicate French confection, the macaron. They over a wide array of flavors, including caramel crunch, chocolate raspberry, crème brulee, dark chocolate, pistachio and vanilla, just to name a few. The product is frozen and keeps 6 months. Once allowed to thaw, they keep one week refrigerated. These macarons give new meaning to the coffee break.
Mississippi Cheese Straw Factory
These straws, or cookies, are a great product that can be found in many stores across the country. The product is fresh-shipped and arrives within a few days. The flavors are many, ranging from Cheddar cheese, lemon, toasted almond, cranberry, chocolate chip, and my favorite, sea salt caramel. The company was established in 1991 in Yahoo City, Mississippi. It was time for me to add them to our specialty foods section.
This company was established in 1992, but they are always coming out with new products. One of my newer favorites is the Brownie Brittle. It’s like eating the best part of the brownie that everybody fights for – the crispy corners. Once you start on a bag, it’s hard to stop. They also come in great flavors: chocolate chip, salted caramel, mint chocolate Chip, and my favorite, toffee crunch.
Last, but certainly not least, we found many great new cheeses. “New” is really a relative term when a cheese has been in existence for hundreds of years and we just now decide to bring it in; it’s not really new.
Here are some of the new additions with brief descriptions:
This is a combination of goat and sheep cheese from Portugal. Thistle rennet is used instead of animal rennet.
Casatica di Bufala
This is a firm, soft-ripening cheese made from Buffalo milk from Italy.
Very similar to Humboltd Fog cheese, Lakes Edge is a soft-ripening goat cheese with a centerline of edible ash from Blue Ledge Farm, California.
Nocetto di Capra
Sprinz is one of the oldest known cheeses in Europe and is said to be older than Parmigiano Reggiano from Italy. The aged version, at least 3 years old, is a great full-flavored cheese that can be used as a great eating cheese or in place of Parmigiano Reggiano. It has been very popular since we first introduced it.
There you have it – a small insight as to what the Fancy Food Show is. If you had any thoughts of attending next year’s show, I’m sorry to report that it is for the trade only. We will do our best to bring it to you.