Here are the top 5 trends from the Winter Fancy Food Show:
- Sriracha. Wasn’t that big a while ago?
- Weird chips (like pasta chips or sprouted wheat)
- Stuff with mint
- Low-sugar, nasty sounding drinks (though what I mostly saw was coconut water which tastes fine)
- Fancy condiments with things added such as herbs. I guess the guys with the “Creamy nuts” dressing would fall into this category!
Well, I don’t think I need to tell you that I tasted none of the above. I did have a cup of tea (technically from the “low sugar” drinks category) but I studiously avoided samples of anything that sounded too healthy — like quinoa chips (see above). You have limited calories at an event like this if you want to stay mobile and not have to be rolled out of the Moscone Center.
I tried to mostly sample candy (you have to pick your battles!). The candy that tends to show up at this kind of event (not counting Ghirardelli who has to come because they are local) usually has an angle — i.e., environmentally-friendly, super old school, or organic.
Here’s what I loved:
Michel et Augustin gave me a killer cookie square with chocolate on top. It tasted totally unexpected. The cookie wasn’t dry and the chocolate was soft instead of hard. It was delicious though I gathered from their website they are all about social justice and organic ingredients and being “cheeky” — thus their slogan which I believe translates into “Troublemakers of Snacking” or some such.
Jelly Bean Planet makes natural jelly beans in Ireland. I am normally not a fan of high-end jelly beans. Give me the generic bag from CVS every time. I make an exception for these beans. I didn’t realize that organically-flavored jelly beans could be this good. I just wish I could get some around here without having to order a fortune’s worth online!
Hammond’s Candies is the old-fashioned candy maker of the bunch. They have been making these caramel wrapped marshmallow surprises in Denver since right after the Great War. Or maybe it was the other war…You can read all about it on their website. Is their caramel extraordinary? Not really. I think I like their packaging most. They have a handsome, pinstriped look to their candy bars that screams to me “appetizing!” Another thing I learned about these shows? They tape the candy bars to their booth so you can’t steal them. I got a caramel or two though.
Remember the woodruff hard candy from Germany that regulates your period? The joke is on me with that one. It was tasty and now I wish I could get a whole bag of it — in case it really works. Again – Candy Meister requires you to order such large amounts. From Canada. According to their website, the only place in the US that sells it is in Portland and I bet they don’t carry the woodruff sweets. Why am I so obsessed with medicinal candy? Don’t answer that.
I rounded off my busy day at the show with a stop at the relatively new Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop in the Palace Hotel. They always give you free samples there, no questions asked. It may not be the best chocolate on earth (though it’s getting better — less wax than in my childhood) but they are a hometown favorite and the people who work there are awfully nice.