Here's the thing about the Fancy Food Show, you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you meet the prince. There are thousands of products to sample and not nearly enough time to try them all, so I let my intuition guide me and keep my eyes peeled for what could be something delicious (plus I ask everyone I can about their best discoveries).
Today I'm excited to show you the things I loved the most. Next I will show you some cool new discoveries that I think have a lot of potential...
So without further ado I give you my top 10 picks!
Please don't be offended but I affectionately call this salted butter caramel sauce, sex in a jar. It is hands down the most delicious caramel I have ever tasted. It comes from Isigny in Normandy featuring one of the only AOC's for butter. This jar of caramel contains salted butter, sugar and creme fraiche. That's all. It has depth, balance, texture, and the flavor lingers lusciously on your tongue. I discovered it in the French section of the show floor and so far it is unavailable in the US, but I did my best to convince someone at Zingerman's to import it. Fingers crossed!
Mother-in-law's Kimchi was the only kimchi I saw or tasted at the show. I liked both varieties, but was most impressed with the fresh and crunchy cubed daikon kimchi, it had a wonderful bright quality. I think I could have eaten a whole jar. It wasn't too spicy, and was bursting with freshness.
I'm already a big fan of Rogue Creamery blue cheeses but there were two new ones I fell for at the show, Cave Man, which is aged in a limestone cave and has some earthy notes, and Brutal a limited edition cheese which is intensely flavored and super creamy aged for 3-4 years. Good stuff! Keep your eyes open for it.
Do you ever use creme fraiche? Then you must seek out Kendall Farm's creme fraiche. It is the most delicate and scrumptious creme fraiche on the market. It also works great in recipes, you can whip it and you can add a dollop to pan drippings and it won't just melt into nothingness, it will thicken your sauce. It's tangy and silky and very decadent.
I found Zix ravioli cookies in a section of products searching for a home "on the shelf." They are flaky and rich, filled with a raspberry almond filling. I liked both the regular and gluten-free versions. These are pretty cookies that taste as good as they look. Locavores take note! They are from Sonoma county.
Sometimes you give something a chance that you're not quite sure about. So it was with J. Burger Seasoning from August Kitchen. It is kind of like a mirepoix, that mixture of onions, celery and carrot but in this case it has onions, Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes, bread crumbs and spices, cooked down to a flavorful melange that can season and add texture to meatballs, burgers, sauces, soups, stews, you-name-it. Available at Foodzie. Makes me wonder if I should make something like this to keep on hand in my own kitchen?
I liked all the Ramar ice cream flavors I tried, but the More Than Coconut was my favorite. It was green and included the flavoring of pandan leaves which lent herbal vanilla notes. Very memorable. I look forward to finding this ice cream from the Philippines in Asian grocery stores in the Spring of this year.
I recently went out to a much lauded Italian restaurant in San Francisco. The pizza was ok, and the pasta wasn't anything special. I knew exactly what was wrong. The dough of the stuffed pasta lacked that silky smoothness with just a bit of give. Bertagni pasta from Bologna is way better. It's available fresh in the refrigerator section of markets and delis. The thickness of the pasta varies depending upon the filling, for fillings that take longer to cook the pasta is thicker. I tried the tortellini and am looking forward to trying some of the ravioli next.
I have mixed feelings about goat milk products. Some cheeses and yogurts made with goat milk are good, others are stinky, with too much barnyard for me. The goat milk caramels from Happy Goat made in old fashioned copper pots are pure genius, mild, soft but not too soft, smooth and tremendously satisfying. Very impressive! A local product too.
The final product is something I was sent a sample of not too long ago. It's the pancake and waffle mix from Kodiak Cakes. I generally make pancakes and waffles from scratch, because no mix ever lives up to my expectations. Kodiak not only makes light and crisp waffles, and fluffy, tender pancakes, it is lowfat and filled with whole grains! The ingredients are 100% whole grain wheat flour, 100% whole grain oat flour, non-fat dry milk, dry honey (honey, wheat starch), leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate), egg whites and salt. Amazing! Available at my local supermarket and a new staple in my pantry.
Other Fancy Food Show round ups:
Oyster Food & Culture
Lettuce Eat Kale
Lick My Spoon
Local Food About.com
Eat Something Sexy
The Baking Bird
Go Dutch Baby
Cake Grrls Cakery
Bay Area Bites
A date with flavor
Eat. Drink. Better.
The Second Lunch
3 posts on the show from Is it EDible(!)
The Well-Tempered Chocolatier
Italy in SF note: Vanessa and I went to the show together, so seeing her post will give you a sneak peek at some of the products I will be writing about next...