Recap: Summer Fancy Food Show 2014, Day 1, Part 2
This is what happens when the Fourth of July falls on a Friday and I have no work:
1. Wake up late.
2. Get coffee and bagels, like it’s the weekend.
3. Rub eyes, realize it’s NOT the weekend, and that there’s still a blog to be written.
4. OH HEY WordPress. Let’s write a blog post…now that it’s noon. Oops.
Let’s continue where I left off yesterday:
Same as last year, these little ice cream cones full of duck mousse were a big hit. Interestingly, what I thought was fois gras was, in fact, NOT fois gras. Instead, these duck mousses from Alexian contained NO fois gras, as noted on its site. I know that pate and meat mousse isn’t everyone’s cup of tea…but if you’ve got the palette for it, this was super tasty.
Seeing a company like Jelly Belly at the SFFS is always a little weird, since it’s a pretty established company that you’d think doesn’t need any help getting into stores. Still they were present, and pushing their new beer-flavored jelly beans. I didn’t hate them; my friends did. Keep pushing those horizons, Jelly Belly!
OOOO these finger limes from Shanley Farms were AWESOME. Tiny limes that you squeezed to push out the tiny spherical pips – like lime caviar – directly into your mouth or onto other foods. Shanley Farms’ website calls these Citriburst, which is an appropriate term – really tart and sour, like a lime/grapefruit, I thought the burst of juice that came from each pip was incredibly potent. Imagine a margaritas with some of these sprinkled on top? REALLY cool.
Shanley Farms were also pushing their Gator Eggs, or small “single serve” avocados. Cool concept, and tasted just like every other avocado. Still, it begs the question: Who can’t finish a whole regular avocado? Or maybe it’s ME who has portion control issues? Moving on…
Presenting the most boring game at the SFFS14! There was no sign for what the closest guesser received. My guess: something equally unexciting. Like maybe that whole tank of dried garbanzo beans.
In the “New Products” row at the SFFS14 were these jars of “Gooey on the Inside” cookie butters – basically taking the concept of Speculoos or Biscoff spread and carrying it out to every single different flavor of cookie imaginable. I liked some flavors better than others (thumbs up S’mores, meh on the Red Velvet). Still, it’s amazing to me that other companies haven’t tried this yet. Big things ahead for this company.
Another “New Product” at the SFFS14 – bagel balls that were filled with various cream cheeses by Bantam Bagels. On one hand, you might say how lazy can you be? On the other hand, Bantam Bagels is a legit popular bagel shop on Bleeker Street in NYC, and these were DAMN TASTY. Like, surprisingly good.
These cube-cake petit fours were designed to taste like ICEEs and Jelly Belly beans. Did they? Amazingly, they did! Super sweet and ultra Cherry- or Blue Raspberry- flavored, the taste of these cakes hit the nail on the head. Still, not sure when the occasion would pop up when I’d require ICEE or candy-flavored petit fours. The guys pimping them seemed similarly unsure. “Where should we sell these?” they asked my group. Rob gave them the best suggestion – beach boardwalks, where the salt water taffy is typically sold. The dudes behind the table seemed genuinely blown away that someone had given them a decent suggestion. YOU’RE WELCOME.
I’m a HUGE maple sugar fan, being from Upstate New York, and these maple sugar cubes that you could shave onto food from Tonewood were out of this world. Those sugar shavings? Melt in your mouth delicious.
Just a random picture – my group had some snarky words with the Belgium folk from Belgian Boys regarding the then-upcoming soccer match. I mean, they were dribbling this neon soccer ball right there in our faces. I asked to take a picture of the ball so I could tweet them after the US victory. They managed to sneak a bag of their product into the photo as well. Damnit…
Speaking of soccer, this company, “Eat the Ball,” makes a very simple product – bread shaped like various sports balls. Soccer balls, volleyballs, hockey pucks, and of course…
…FOOTBALLS! At this point in our food adventure, we all warned Jen that adding a mini loaf of bread on top of all the other crap in ou bodies was not a good idea. She insisted on taking a bite…
…and we found out the inside was FILLED WITH NUTELLA. HOLY CRAP. WELL PLAYED, EAT THE BALL!
Peanut Hottie is a drinkable peanut butter drink. It’s literally just a hot beverage that seemed to be essentially diluted warm peanut butter in a cup. To half of the JFG crew, this sounded awful. But I thought it sounded, and tasted, pretty good. I mean, imagine if someone said, “Oh, this is Reese’s-flavored hot cocoa.” You’d be all over it.
One of my favorite stops at the SFFS14 is Mexico. The reason?
BECAUSE MEXICO IS FULL OF BOOZE VENDORS. Mezcals, tequilas, liquors – you name it, Mexico had it, with plenty of samples to go around. In the above shot, this liquor company kept pouring shots for Jen without stopping. “Do you like mango?” “Um…yeah” *pours mango liquor shot* “Do you like pomegranate?” “Um…yeah.” *pours pomegranate liquor shot* ……and so on and so on.
Meanwhile, I busied myself at the Drink Lab, a yearly favorite spot where mixologists from Junior Merino’s Liquid Chef mix amazing cocktails all day long in tiny little plastic shot glasses. The combos they come up with using cucumber or tamarind or chiles – spectacular. I don’t really drink much anymore, generally, but I always make an exception for this drink lab. I am quite unabashed when it comes to this drink lab, grabbing tiny cup after tiny cup. The rest of the group had to pull me away from the bar…
One awesome moment during the SFFS14 – being in the Mexico section during the Mexico/Netherlands soccer game. Even though Mexico ended up losing, we were there for the first goal and EVERYONE burst out cheering around us. Shots of tequila flowed freely! We high fived complete strangers! It almost made me forget that I’d spent the past five hours eating cheese. Almost.
The biggest flavor trend I saw at the SFFS14: hibiscus. Hibiscus was EVERYWHERE. Dried hibiscus, hibiscus tea, hibiscus in soda, hibiscus in candy, and even these – hibiscus flower buds in syrup, and then stuffed with cream cheese. I stuffed one in my mouth, and I must admit, it was tasty – sort of like a dried fruit. Surprisingly tasty. I’d only really had hibiscus in Mexican drinks before (Agua de Jamaica) so seeing hibiscus in a variety of other forms was pretty cool.
Cocoa Planet made some of the best chocolate I ate at the SFFS14. I know the packaging doesn’t look like much, but these discs of chocolate were ABSURD. Those little circular pockets were FULL of various flavors to complement the high quality chocolate. The cool thing was these chocolates are marketed both as regular eating chocolates AND drinking chocolates – i.e., you’re supposed to melt these down with hot water to make some of the best cocoa you’ve ever sipped (hence the name, Cocoa Planet).
Cocoa Planet was a SOFI finalist two years in a row, so you KNOW this stuff is legit. This Vanilla Espresso changed my life.
Awh, Hannah Max Cookie Chips, I love you! I didn’t know YOU’D be at the show! They were, and they were featuring their brand new Oatmeal Raisin cookie chips. And how else to serve them BUT as tiny ice cream sandwiches??? I approve.
I ended Day 1 of the SFFS14 with another favorite that I experienced last year – with Skillet’s Bacon Spread. I know the idea of meat spread still freaks people out, but this bacon spread, on crackers, was some of the smokiest, meatiest, flavor stuff I’d tasted all day. I LOVE bacon (who doesn’t) and this was anew way to experience it. So. Good.
By the end of Day 1, the JFG Crew was tired, full, delirious, buzzed on both caffeine and alcohol, but still smiling. After all – we still had one more day to go! Stay tuned for the review of our second day,
Happy Fourth, everyone! Burger it out this weekend!
Junk Food Guy