Recap: Summer Fancy Food Show 2014, Day 1, Part 1
Junk Food Nation, I’m sorry to do this, but after reviewing all of my pictures, there’s just too much to share! So, today is Part 1 of Day 1, which happened on Sunday, June 29. I had hiked it up to Brooklyn the evening before, leaving the Junk Food Gal behind in DC to wallow in bar exam misery.
The next morning, I was up early, happy, and full of caffeine – READY TO TAKE ON THE 2014 SUMMER FANCY FOOD SHOW!
My shirt, which you can’t read so well, states I LOVE ME SOME BUTTER. Because I do.
Now there are some rules for the SFFS14. The first is to DRESS COMFORTABLY. Look, I know that other exhibitors and vendors are going to be “dressed professionally” since they are trying to “make money” – but I ain’t selling anything and I’m not buying anything. What’s the point of being “media” if you can’t wear a t-shirt and shorts everywhere you go? Someday I’ll grow out of it, but for now, I’m still into silly t-shirts. Sue me.
Rule #2 of SFFS14 is to not eat anything for. like 72 hours beforehand. I am firmly NOT in the camp of people who say, “Oh, but you have to eat a little to stretch out your stomach,” etc. No, I don’t. The SFFS is not some eating competition. This is a marathon, not a sprint. I’ll be eating three noodles here, a cube of duck pate there, for the next SEVEN HOURS. No need to waste valuable stomach space on egs, or salad, or nutrients, or even on these amazing looking donuts by DOUGH that I found at the cafe near where I crashed, The Hungry Host.
I had a mocha at the Hungry Host, violating my own Rule #2, but it was DAMN GOOD. I would move to Brooklyn just to go to this coffee shop every day. Holy moly.
I took the subway from Brooklyn to Penn Station, during which I saw two super hot chicks wearing amazing cling-to-your-body micro-dresses. But why were they wearing sunglasses and had their hair up in buns? Oh, because they were taking the ride of shame home from the night of partying before, ahhhhhh. One girl looked in rougher shape than the other, and this was confirmed when she (a) took her spanx off to get more comfortable during the train ride, and (b) proceeded to spew everywhere two stops later. Yikes – I guess the de-spanx-ing didn’t do the trick.
Let me tell you, seeing a hot chick throw up is NOT a turn on. Her friend was useless, holding a random bag out too late. They got off at Wall Street. Everyone else on the train was un-phased. I moved to the other end of the car.
But yes, back to the SFFS14. I took a shuttle from Penn Station to the Javits Center, where the event was held. The entire show took TWO floors of Javits, plus the entire North Lobby. It was HUGE. Over 2000 vendors, and 180,000 products. It’s not open to the public – there were no tickets for this party. It’s just vendors (in booths) trying to pitch buyers (walking around) to put their goods in their stores. Plus, people like me (media) covering the event for various outlets.
The rest of my crew thought it was adorable that I took a shuttle from Penn Station to Javits, by the way. “You can’t walk three avenues?” NOT WHEN I DON’T HAVE TO, JUDGEY MCJUDGEALOT.
One of the very first things I tried was an old favorite from last year, the Sea Fare Pacific Seafood Bisque. One of the best soups I’ve ever tasted – FULL of flavor. And it comes in a bag! I tried LOTS of soups while at the show, and there’s a reason this was a 2013 SOFI Finalist. Restaurant quality.
BTW, the SOFI awards are like the food Grammy’s. Every single booth that had a SOFI nomination statue of a winner statue attracted me like a fly to honey.
Usually at the SFFS14, I tried to avoid dried fruit like the plague. I mean, how different can dried fruit be? “Oh, but ours is dried without the use of heat lamps.” I DON’T CARE. But these dried cherries from Stoneridge Orchards were ABSURD. Big and fat and juicy, these cherries were so full of flavor my cheeks puckered. Now THAT’S a good dried fruit!
Stoneridge Orchards also had a new product: Chili Lime Cherries flavored with Tajin. For those unfamiliar with Tajin, but who have tried a variety of Mexican candy, this is that spicy/sweet/tangy powder that is used to coat everything from gummies to added to candy powders to candy liquids in Mexico. Great stuff. And when added to these super sweet cherries? Epic. So delicious. I have a bag at home and I can’t stop eating them.
A BIG trend I noticed this year – tea infused EVERYTHING. Tea bags, tea chocolate, tea crisps, tea ice cream, tea tea tea….MAN. Give it a rest with the dried leaves! Thankfully, these folks from the Tea Room did not give it a rest, because their tea infused chocolates were awesome – clear tea flavor with amazing quality chocolate. My favorite: the White Chocolate with Chamomile and Honey.
Traina Foods made the best sun dried tomato ketchup I ever had last year, and this year they took it up a notch with this Sriracha ketchup – HUGE sun dried tomato flavor, with an extra bright kick of spice. A big hit with my friend Rob. The ultimate in sweet and spicy ketchup.
I mean, need I say more? Duck Bacon from Maple Leaf Farms will ALWAYS be a hit. Basically, it TASTES better than turkey bacon, IMO, because the consistency is more like ham when raw (thicker, meatier). And when it’s crisped up nicely, as it was here? It’s the meatiest smokiest bacon you can find. AWESOME stuff. I embarrassed myself going back to this booth for fourths. So. Good.
Jan’s Farmhouse Crisps were also a favorite last year and I was STOKED to see them again this year. All they are are a multigrain crisp/cracker that has cranberries, flax seed, sesame, pumpkins seeds and pistachios. But you know what? LAYERS of flavor. Sweet, salty, hearty, simple, complex – these crackers were are cut very thin and ultra crispy. Pretty perfect, IMO. Notice the SOFI peeking out of the corner.
Hey! Enjoy Life! Me and the Nosh Show gang were first introduced to these by Dubba, whose son loves this stuff. Enjoy Life is one of those gluten free allergy friendly food companies. Now , I’ll admit – I didn’t try EVERYTHING, but their Chocolate Sunbutter Bars are damn good, and the Cinnamon Bun Bars there on the right side? Pretty scrumptious.
The little cubes you see above? MAUI FRUIT JEWELS. These square confections are essentially fruit purees that have been cooked down with sugar to form the epic tiny cubes of fruit you see on the sticks. LOTS of great combos as you can see from the little signs above. Some were better than others – the tumeric ginger pineapple was KILLER, while the banana was just ok. Passionfruit was money, while the noni was meh. Let’s take a closer look:
These were display models. I wanted to grab an entire skewer and run all the cubes off at once with my finger directly into my mouth.
I’m a Q Drinks guy, but my friend Rob insisted I try these sodas from Fever Tree – when Rob used to bar tend he said these were the go-to sodas. Let me tell you, these were pretty on point. Crisp, refreshing, and the carbonation was just right. The Ginger Beer was especially lip smackingly refreshing. Why have I never heard of this company before? I was missing out, clearly.
One of the best parts of the SFFS14 was that, besides vendors, entire countries were represented at the show. See, these countries will take out entire rows just to market the general cuisine of the show – Morocco, England, Japan, etc. Italy had like TEN rows to themselves – apparently they think we’ve never heard of olive oils or pasta. Anyways, many of these countries have cooking demos, like the one pictured above.
What you’re seeing on the right are two legit old Italian women making fresh bread/pasta, filling pockets with cheese and sliced cherry tomato, and hand forming the dumplings. The dumplings them would be then be dropped into the big pot of oil that the dude with the green glasses is standing behind. By the way, these Italian ladies did this FOR HOURS. Either they were incredible troopers, or someone needs to call the police. One of the two.
There was a large pan of bubbling red sauce that smelled incredible, and my friend Jen and I joked, “What if that sauce was just there for effect, and not really to be eaten?” We laughed and laughed, until…
…until they gave us a plate with cooked pasta/bread dumpling, with no sauce. The guy didn’t forget. He passed them out to everyone like this. NO SAUCE. WTF. GIMME SOME RED, CHIEF.
But whatever. When I cracked the dumpling open, the melted cheese plus tomato plus capers came streaming out. The aroma was heavenly. The crust was perfect and crisp and chewy at the same time. The flavors were so simple, yet perfectly married. Good work, old-Italian-women-being-worked-to-the-bone-by-an-unseen-tyrant. Good work.
I’d say we hit these dumplings around noon. And that’s a good place to stop – halfway through Day 1. More tomorrow! Tell me what you think so far in the comments below.
Junk Food Guy