This was my second year visiting the Summer Fancy Food Show in NYC and once again, I came back feeling overwhelmed by all that our world has to offer. Food and drink purveyors from all over the world congregated on 3+ ginormous levels of the Jacob Javits Center for a weekend long exposition of creativity, meeting as well as exploration of minds and ideas in food.
Each country had a separate dedicated area showcasing its vendors: Mexico, Argentina, Morocco, India, Italy, Spain, Malaysia, Thailand, Canada, Germany, Japan, Korea….and the list goes on! It was fascinating to explore and get a sense of what each country’s strengths are in terms of food exports.
Where do I start? How about tens of varieties of Kimchi in the Korea section! I thought a few visits to Koreatown NYC made me something of a Kimchi-savant! Boy, I had no idea! Did you know that Kimchi has been selected as Top 5 Health Foods of the World by American Health Magazine? Cool, huh?
I chatted with a wonderful family and owners of Acetomodena– a vinegar farmhouse in Modena. They were showcasing their balsamic vinegar varieties. It was incredible tasting the difference aging makes. For the first time in my life I tasted vinegar that has been aged 25 years. What struck me the most was its deep sweetness and smooth finish. Just a few drops of this elixir is enough to cause an instantaneous flavor-explosion in your mouth! My mind is still boggled by its applications in a variety of dishes I can create from appetizers to main courses to desserts. Wow!
Another product that made a lasting impression on me is Mezcal from Mexico! I have been hearing a lot of buzz about this alcoholic beverage and never expected that I would fall instantly in love with it. Mexico section had tons and tons of purveyors of Mezcal. I particularly loved the many varieties offered by a company called Koch El.
Two products really excited me because they blended the exotic and exciting flavors of worlds far away! One was a company called Nevado Roses that makes some very exciting products with roses. Think rose sea salt, rose honey, rose vinegar, rose tea, rose mermelade … and rose liquor! Oooh the things I could create with all these goodies!
The other exotic product was from a company called Miasa, who makes Saffron flavored liquor, saffron basmati rice, saffron honey, saffron essence, saffron salt and even saffron coffee, espressos and teas! I loved the deep intensity of this most expensive flavoring agent in the saffron essence and saffron liquor. I may get addicted to it. If one could buy individual products at this show – I would have most certainly purchased this one. But for now, I will just try to get it online or search for it in local speciality food stores….Somehow. Somewhere.
I must mention a couple of Connecticut based vendors I met at this show as well. Their products were genuinely delish and I expect to see more of them around here. So here goes:
First up- Cornelia Confections out of Westport CT. They make fabulous flavored brittles. Check out their website for all the flavors. Pecan Chipotle may be my most fave thus far.
Next- Barefoot & Chocolate out of Norwalk, CT. Their absolutely creamy and incredibly delicious chocolately spreads had me at the first lick (wait, can I say that on the internet?) 🙂 These products are along the same lines as Nutella except its more healthful and are made with non-GMO ingredients that are organic or acquired from fair-trade. A conscientious company making delicious product is a win-win in my eyes and I wish them tons of success.
The most exciting and awesome moment at the show, for me, was when I came across a booth for a California based company called The Sugar Lab. They use 3D printers to generate edible creations. Nope! It is not just your imagination. It is a mind-blowing reality. I was amazed at the complex 3D, sugar-based creations on display. And they did not taste so bad either. Cake toppers? Candy creations? Display pieces? The possibilities are endless.
Aside from these handful of standouts mentioned above, I noted that most other products at the show were same-old same-old. Often in just a different package. That was particularly true for most of the USA based companies.
I hope to see more of these great finds in stores and restaurants near us in the coming months and year. Fingers crossed.