Summer Fancy Food Show 2015: Day 1, Part 1 (AKA How to Pace Yourself…Sort Of)

As dawn broke on Sunday, June 28, your friendly neighborhood JFG woke up on a couch in Brooklyn. He was tired. The JFGal was tired. There was no coffee in sight. But, after a few blinks and yawns, I remembered: RABBIT RABBIT. No, that wasn’t it…..oh RIGHT. THE SUMMER FANCY FOOD SHOW!

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY

Ok, maybe it wasn’t QUITE like that, but I was excited. The Summer Fancy Food ShowΒ is one of my favorite times of the year. This would be my fourth year in a row, and so I felt like a veteran. I explained yesterday what the Summer Fancy Food Show was, just in case you were wondering. But just to give you an idea of the SIZE of the show, this year there were 25,000 buyers milling around, checking out 2,500 exhibitors showing off more than 180,000 products. 180,000 PEOPLE. If you tried one product every ten seconds, that would be almost 21 STRAIGHT DAYS OF EATING WITH NO SLEEP. I think my math is right. I write a food blog, I don’t work for NASA.

Anyways, with a show this big, there’s only one place it could be: the Javits Center on 11th Avenue.

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Of course the Javits Center. Because why NOT put a food show where you’re going to be consuming thousands of calories in a place where you have to walk 3-4 avenues from the nearest subway stop to get there? My steps were already in the 1000s by the time I arrived.

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When I first stepped into the Summer Fancy Food Show 2015, all those old feelings came rushing back. The familiar red-maroon signs. The people milling about, already eating samples that were passed out OUTSIDE of the Javits Center. My colleague Jen saw someone munching on a pack of Brownie Brittle on the way in through the doors. “Rookie,” she muttered.

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Like last year, I assembled my crack JFG team to help me tackle the show: Rob, Jen, and Nicole. I went for the suns-out-guns-out look. 10:23AM: It was time to eat.

Before we entered, we had a serious group talk. PACE OURSELVES. In year 2, JFG Jen and I ruined everything by eating too much meat and cheese in the first hour. We were better last year. And we were all determined to pace ourselves even MORE this year. It worked…sort of. With a “go team” mentality, we stepped into the fray…

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The Summer Fancy Food Show 2015 started off with a bang as one of the first display’s I wandered by was for Wagshal’s Imports! I know this brand because they have their HQ store right next to the law school I attended. Wagshal’s, for me, was known as the expensive deli next door to class where I had the privilege of buying an $18 sandwich. Seriously – as a student, I was like, WTF ARE YOUR SAMMICHES LINED WITH TIGER BLOOD? WHY DO I NEED A LOAN TO PURCHASE THESE. But I won’t lie – they were damn good sandwiches.

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At the show, they were showing off their individually packaged Prime Smoked Beef Brisket, seen here served on a sliver of bread. It was smoky, fatty, and DELICIOUS. It would have beene asy for me just to stand there eating small cup after small cup. But then people would’ve stared. I only grabbed two – call it second breakfast.

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Indikitch is apparently a Chipotle-like Indian shop in NYC, which has baller Indian food. There have been some knockoffs in DC, but I haven’t found one that I LOVED yet. But any fast casual Indian joint that has GOAN FISH, I’m down with.

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At the Summer Fancy Food Show 2015, they were debuting their standalone sauces for home cooking. I’m a HUGE Sukhi’s mark (I buy their stuff ALL of the time), but after three years running, Sukhi’s wasn’t at this show. Boooo. In their absence, I think these Tikka Masala and Vindaloo sauces by Indikitch were pretty spectacular. Good spice. Good flavor. I’d buy this.

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Lots of booze at the Summer Fancy Food Show 2015, EVERYWHERE. I didn’t even stop to talk with anyone at this company; I grabbed a cup full of pomegranate molasses, Prosecco, and pom seeds, and skedaddled. Tasty, in case you were wondering. Call it a second breakfast cocktail.

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Dubba, this one is for you! The folks from Enjoy Life were at the Summer Fancy Food Show 2015 again, showing off their allergy-free foods, including new brownie and muffin mixes which were LEGIT. I was first intro-ed to this company by Dubba from OnSecondScoop.comΒ – never thought I’d like sunbutter, but I loved these bars. Enjoy Life is doing it right.

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FIRST HOT CHEESE SPOTTING OF THE DAY! At several places around the Javits Center, various companies spend their day grilling cheese – taking large blocks of either manchego or another soft yet oily cheese and grilling it up like pancakes. JFG Jen’s favorite pastime is locating all of these companies. Right before I spotted this, I saw Jen go robotic and stammer HOTCHEESEHOTCHEESEHOTCHEESE as she beelined for the booth. I followed.

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ZOMG. Each block of cheese ends up with a slight crust that makes the outside buttery and crisp and the inside slightly gooey like a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s like the best Mozz stick you’ve ever had, but with no breading and still all the crispness. I live for this.

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The Summer Fancy Food Show 2015, besides having various companies showing off, has section after section of various COUNTRIES who have brought their wares in hopes of increasing general cuisine awareness among vendors. Rows and rows of Japan, Italy, Morocco, Tunisia, etc. – it’s quite the international experience! If you’re curious about the cuisine from New Zealand, you can learn about that here too!

Above we see on of the offerings from the Japan section…Custard Cream Vanilla Cakes, shaped like fish! Thankfully, there were no fish inside of the cakes themselves.

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The metal contraption above moved ever so slowly, as the pipes squirted hot batter into the heated plates. The windows would then close and cook the dough; by the time it reached the end you had fully formed fish-shaped cakes! It was a slow and boring process to watch, I’ll be honest. But cool machine! And the cakes were delicious.

Next to Japan was Brazil, and as I sped walk through the row, something caught my eye:

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Uh, eh-squeeze me? What is Playboy doing here? They’ve….made their own cachaca????

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….and have also paired up with Kirin, a Japan-based brewery?????? WHAT THE.

Talking to the marketing director, she explained that Playboy was getting into the alcohol space, which, as she explained, made total sense…sort of made me wonder why Playboy didn’t try to get into this space earlier. But, would it be any good? It was up to your JFG to find out…

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LINE UP THE SHOTS! Cachaca, the sugercane spirit, was imbibed three ways: first, I had it straight with a squeeze of line. SMOOOTH – no burn. Then, I had it already mixed with lime juice – tasty, but I liked the straight shot better. Then, I had it straight with a squeeze of li….oh, I had it just two different ways. Whoops – I blame the three shots. Still, not bad at all! Nice work, Playboy.

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How the Playboy beer? I didn’t have this until the next day, but it tasted strangely like Kirin beer (go figure) – just a light, unoffensive lager that had a tiny bit of flavor, no bitterness, no real heavy substance. One of those “drink 8-17 bottles over the course of a football game” sort of beers.

The marketing person told me to come back the next day to get a picture with the Playboy bunny that would be in attendance. ROGER THAT.

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Not all things at the Summer Fancy Food Show were winners. Corona branded salt…this is still JUST SALT, right? I think I’ll pass, despite the pretty packaging.

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The JFGal hates stevia and other not-quite-sugar sweeteners, so she was skeptical of the In The Raw company putting out their own drink series. She was right – these weren’t horrible, but they weren’t great. I’d probably opt for drinking water over these :/

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Still, old favorites were everywhere. Maple Leaf Farms were the company I LOVED because every year they featured a nice grill pan full of DUCK BACON. Oh, and lemme tell you – Duck Bacon is DAMN GOOD. But this year, they were featuring a new product – DUCK CONFIT FROM A BOX!

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Sounded weird, but they had all these nice pita pieces covered in duck confit with basil and cheese ….I grabbed one and jammed it into my mouth greedily. IT WAS DELICIOUS. Damn you, Maple Leaf Farms, for doing duck right. Soft, not gamey, full of flavor. Best duck of the show.

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Year after year, Alexian puts out mini ice cream cones full of goose liver pate. The Summer Fancy Food Show 2015 was no different. I jammed two of these into my mouth, actually moaning with delight.

That’s the thing – the Summer Fancy Food Show is not just packaged products. It’s EVERYTHING – farms trying to get their meat into delis. Companies trying to get their new nut butters on the shelves at Giant. And even smaller meat shops just trying to promote their online business.

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I don’t even know what company this is, but it’s a common site to see at the Summer Fancy Food Show – just some random dude with a huge leg of Iberico Jamon slicing pieces off for passing eaters.Β This is the JFGal’s favorite type of booth.

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Watch that knife buddy!

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Or, if you prefer NOT to grab a slice of jamon right off the blade, there are plenty of slivers of cured meat goodness to go around.

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Jan’s Farmhouse Crisps – what else can I say about them? Easily, STILL, my favorite cracker of the show, year after year/ I don’t know why they aren’t bigger – these multigrain crisps with fruit and nut are SUPER flavorful, well balanced, and ultra crispy. This year they had two NEW flavors besides their awesome cranberry pistachio – sesame citrus and salted almond. BOMB DOT COM. I need a crate of these to sleep in, please.

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Skillet Bacon Spread! Another ultra-favorite of mine, year to year. I saw a couple of other bacon jams at the show this year, and one company commented, “Aren’t we better than our competition?” Uh, no. Skillet is pure meaty bliss. Looks funny, but this bacon spread is a meat lovers DREAM. Other companies, when they make bacon jam, used a fruit base or something – so what I tasted was sort of a mix between fruit and meat, almost like a BBQ sauce flavor. Which is fine – but Skillet is all balsamic and brown sugar based, so all I tasted was MEAT MEAT MEAT with a bit of sweet/savory. That wins the day for me.

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BUBBIES! Mochi ice cream is nothing new, but Bubbies is a popular cart every year. Awesome green tea ice cream mochi, and passionfruit ice cream mochi. This year, they also had a cookie butter flavor, which was INCREDIBLE.

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A look inside the Bubbies cart – SO MANY MOCHIS SO LITTLE TIME! This is a brain freeze death waiting to happen. But it would be so delicious.

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Our first divisive product of the show! The JFG team stopped at this booth because Nona Lim’s Thai Curry and Lime Broth had been nominated for Best Soup (Oh yeah, the Summer Fancy Food Show has awards like the Emmys and Grammys called the “SOFIs” – see the Oscar-like statue, carrying a domed platter wearing a chef’s hat Yeah, that went to every nominee. Pretty cool.)

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The Thai Curry & Lime Broth is BRAND NEW (not on shelves yet), and was served poured over a small cup of rice noodles. JFG Jen and I – LOVED IT. It was warm, full of chicken bone broth flavor, and the tangy lime was bold and reminded me of authentic Thai flavors. JFG Rob, JFG Nicole, and the JFGal? HATED IT. They thought it was fake lime, and gross flavor. Hmmmm.

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Nona Lim ended up WINNING for Best New Soup, so JFG Jen and I took some smug satisfaction in that. OUR PALATES REIGN SUPREME! Or….taste is highly subjective. Or that. πŸ™‚

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It was just after noon when we took our first eating break. We had been at the show for literally only two hours at this point, and we could feel some fullness setting inOMG ARE THOSE GIGANTIC CHICKEN WING-LIKE ARTICHOKE HEARTS?????

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So, I love artichoke hearts. Especially when they are huge, soaked in olive oil, and covered in herbs. I couldn’t resist. The rest of the JFG team looked at me, and JFG Jen asked, “Are you insane? Do you realize how much more eating we have to go? You’re going to waste valuable stomach space on a huge artichoke?”

What can I say? I love artichokes. This one was nice and tangy too. Yummers. Since we took a break at this point on Sunday, I’ll stop here for today. More show posts coming…but what do you think so far? Comments?Β Thoughts?

Tell meΒ below or hit me up on Twitter @junkfoodguy or LIKE my Facebook Page and message me there. I also have Google+!! Let’s hang out.

Sincerely,

Junk Food Guy

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Discuss - 23 Comments

  1. Dubba says:

    HA! Much Appreciated!

  2. Steve B. says:

    Here’s what I got out of this post – there is a JFG team that attends an annual trade show and eats a lot of good stuff. Here’s a contest for your blog — Win a spot on the JFG team (and a cool t-shirt). Or just appoint me to next year’s team.

  3. Nick Rovo says:

    Pretty sure the highlight of Day 1 should’ve been meeting me on the way to the press room!

  4. An average of 72 products per exhibitor? That can’t be right…

    • junkfoodguy says:

      @Dana: More like some vendors had 10 products, some had like 50 (one olive company alone was shilling like 50 different kinds of olives in various can sizes….maybe that makes 200 products for that one company alone? so maybe the whole thing is spin.)

  5. Elisa says:

    Love that shot of the Channel 4 guys getting excited about shopping for new suits! πŸ˜€

    As for Iberian ham, when Costco opened its first warehouse location in Spain last year, whole versions of it (with the leg included) are available for sale there as a local touch.

  6. LB says:

    This is a great post– love it and your instagram pics. Just one tiny tiny thing (from one lawyer to another)– it’s your PALATE. A “palette” is what painters use. Sorry to be nitpicky but I mean it’s important that a food blogger gets it right. Carry on with your great work!

  7. Alek says:

    I loved your photos!!! Really cool. Screw calories! Brownie Brittle the best idea ever. I love the itty bitty crumbs on the bottom of the bag and mix it with milk. Add it to ice cream, and I even used it in cake mix. Out of the world yumminess.

  8. ruckus says:

    I love that you did this – I had a great time reading this article – thanks!

  9. Btyson says:

    I live like 15-20 minutes away from Maple Leaf Farms in Northern Indiana! That is awesome that they have such a national prescence.

  10. Kaitlyn says:

    “I jammed two of these into my mouth, actually moaning with delight.” best quote.

  11. Jenny says:

    Hey JFG,

    I tried to find the indikitch sauces online since I live in the middle of nowhere (Wyoming) but had no luck. Are these commercially available? If so, do you think they’d ship to a poor girl in WY who hasn’t had Indian food in many years?

    Thanks,
    Jen

    • junkfoodguy says:

      @Jenny – Yeah I don’t think they’re available anywhere yet. I’d wait – since they were at the show, it’s clear they’re still trying to get picked up in stores. Hopefully we’ll see them soon!

  12. Kate says:

    I ate so many of those giant artichoke hearts, but FoodMatches antipasta bar had to be hands down the best pickins. And if you could get your hands on the real deal Italian grilled ones, omfg!!! Now if only they were handing out those sealed oil packs of grilled artichokes on the final day…. that is all I ask for!!!

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