A Visit to the Winter Fancy Food Show
The Winter Fancy Food Show, held at San Francisco’s Moscone Center in San Francisco last week, may seem like an opportunity for gluttony. With 15,000 exhibitors, it can be, if you try to taste every sample.
But if, like me, you’re serious about checking out the show with a purpose, you only try the foodstuffs selectively, and with a focus.
I walk the show aisles looking for ingredients that might appeal to you, our Special Fork home cooks, to give you a heads up about new products that could up your culinary game. So, rarely do I sample the snacks—although there were lots of them (especially healthy snacks made from such ingredients as chickpeas, green peas, lentils and seaweed). And I don’t think I ate a single bite of candy, despite the siren call of chocolates and other delectable confections.
What I like about the Fancy Food Show is the opportunity to preview new specialty food products and to taste things I’ve read about but haven’t tried yet, such as birch water (it has a slight tartness), which has been trending in popularity for its minerals and antioxidants; and freekeh, an ancient grain that is so much in the news today for its health benefits (I learned you can cook it in a rice cooker).
Here are some new products to watch for:
- Finger limes are small, cylindrical limes that have been popular with upscale restaurant chefs. When you break one apart, the tiny individual beads of fresh lime pulp are like little jewels and they are intensely tangy. Citriburst Citron Caviar from Shanley Farms sells these jarred pearls as Citron Caviar. They have a shelf life of three weeks and will retail for $3.99 to $5.99, depending on the store.
- Don’t you hate it when you have to go to the market because you’re out of a fresh herb you need for a recipe? Darégal Fresh Frozen Chopped Herbs are stemmed, chopped and quick-frozen and have a freezer life of up to 36 months. The collection includes the everyday, such as parsley and basil, to exotics like ginger and lemongrass. The products have no preservatives or additives and are non-GMO.
- If you’re vegan or lactose intolerant, Nature’s Charm Condensed and Evaporated Coconut Milks can introduce rich and creamy flavors into your diet. You can use the evaporated milk in your coffee and in cooking; and the sweetened condensed coconut milk can be used to make dulce de leche and other desserts. Even if you don’t have dietary restrictions, these products are delicious, with a pleasant coconut taste.
- Mama O’s Kimchi Paste will simplify kimchi making. The paste contains all the seasonings you need in one jar; you simply add it to brined vegetables. You can also use the paste as a seasoning on its own. There are three varieties: the base flavor, Super Spicy, and Vegan. $15 for a 6-ounce jar.
- Two new products from Sabatino Tartufi will delight truffle lovers. Truffle Zest will add a truffle flavor and a boost of umami to any savory dish. Truffle Soy Sauce, in 5-ounce bottles, gives soy sauce a richer, deeper, enhanced flavor.
- Grapeseed oil, olive oil, argan oil…so many varieties of oils were showcased at the Fancy Food Show. One outstanding offering was Wei Organic Shallot Oil, a Vietnamese cooking oil made with organic pressed safflower oil, which has a high smoke point. You can taste the rich, caramelized shallot flavor in this scrumptious oil—use it to enhance your cooking or as a finishing oil.
- Vinegars are especially popular these days for health drinks. One I tried, Pureness Natural Health Vinegar, is made from brown rice, water and yeast that is fermented and slow-aged in ceramic vessels. The vinegars are available in three flavors: Brown Rice, Ume (Japanese plum) Brown Rice, and Anka (red yeast rice). The vinegars can be used for drinks, dressings, marinades and in cooking.
Here’s a recipe for a salad dressing using Pureness Vinegar that allows the vinegar flavor to shine; it has just a tablespoon of oil.
Pureness Vinegar Honey-Miso Salad Dressing
¼ cup Pureness Vinegar
1 tablespoon olive or salad oil
2 teaspoons honey (or other sweetener)
2 teaspoons miso
½ teaspoon soy sauce
¼ teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk smooth. Serve as a dressing for green salads.
Add finely chopped green onions, grated daikon, yuzu juice or minced garlic to enhance the flavor.
Makes 1 to 2 servings.
Recipe adapted from Pureness Vinegar.
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