Friday, March 08, 2013

Coconut & Chili--Fancy Food Show Trends 2013

In addition to "chia in everything" two other trends I saw at the Winter 2013 Fancy Food Show were lots of products with coconut and a more sophisticated use of chili. 

It was impossible to miss the virtual rivers of coconut water at the show. Interestingly, they don't all taste the same. Some are sweet and others have a funny aftertaste. Some are thin and others are slightly viscous or have chunks of coconut in them. I'm still not a huge fan, but maybe I just haven't tasted the right one yet.

Here were a few of my favorite coconut products.

Why So Good! toasted coconut chips are not yet on the market, but they will be soon. They are an addictive snack, salty and sweet but with a ton of crunch. Never mind potato chips, once you open a bag of these, poof! It's empty. Dang Foods makes a similarly delicious product, also imported from Thailand. 

JJ's Sweets Cocomels are nice little caramels that happen to be made with coconut milk. They are creamy, but not dairy so vegans can breathe a sigh of relief. 

I'm already a big fan of 479 popcorn, so I look forward to each new flavor. This time around, it's coconut, specifically toasted coconut caramel. And it's as good as it sounds. Not too sweet but kind of nutty flavored. 

Brad's raw onion rings are just one product in a line of "raw" chips and snacks. I liked the onion rings best. They are dehydrated and then flavored. "Classy coconut" is one of four flavors, but one of the best.


Chili has been a popular ingredient in specialty foods forever, but it used to be more about heat than anything else. Now chili is showing up frequently in sweet foods in a more nuanced way. Here are some of my favorite chile products from the show. 

Chili lime chips might seem mundane these days, but Anette's Chocolate brand chili lime tequila tortilla chip brittle is anything but.  I don't know who thought it would be a good idea to make brittle out of tortilla chips, but it certainly was and incorporating sour and hot flavors into a sweet product makes it all the more delectable.  

Wild Poppy makes a line of interesting juice drinks. I particularly liked the grapefruit ginger and the blood orange chili. The heat in the ginger and chili add an almost refreshing quality to the drink, balancing the sweetness. 

Way Better Snacks Sweet Chili tortilla chips are made from sprouted grains and are flecked with sprouted chia, broccoli and daikon radish seeds, definitely a twist on the typical tortilla chip. The chili in these chips is cayenne but not too hot.

Chili mango flats from Pure Indulgent Foods are yet another example of sweet and spicy coming together, this time in a cookie like hazelnut cracker that is a good accompaniment to cheese or charcuterie. 

I'll have more favorite discoveries from the Fancy Food Show soon...