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Ciao Bella
Two new flavors from Ciao Bella were winners with us: Lemon Poppy Gelato and Cantaloupe Tarragon Sorbet. Their Pistachio Gelato won the NASFT Product Award for Outstanding Dessert.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
KAREN HOCHMAN is Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE™.

 

August 2005

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles

Fancy Food Show ~ July 2005

New York City  

 

The biggest specialty food show in the country, the annual Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City, draws more than 24,000 buyers to see the wares of 2,300 exhibitors. This year, 1800 domestic and 500 international companies showed 100,000 specialty foods and beverages, including 1200 new items. Twenty trophies were bestowed by the National Association of Specialty Food Trades (NASFT), the industry organization that sponsors the Fancy Food Shows. Categories include Outstanding New Product, Outstanding Product Line, and outstanding products by item type—beverage, cheese, dessert, jam, et al. The winners are selected by the NASFT’s member retailers who sell specialty foods.

Although THE NIBBLE doesn’t bestow trophies, we do prepare a “Best of Show” list after every major food show. We can’t claim to have tasted everything, but we did search like foodie bloodhounds with an eye out for the “best of the best.” Of the thousands of foods we did taste, more than 25 products caught our eye as Best of Show; and we present them to you below. Good news: eight of them have no calories, few calories, or are better for you alternatives.

What made the list?

  • Foods that are not just delicious, but special. Products we’d stock our kitchens with, serve to guests we want to impress, and recommend to our friends.
  • Some debuted at the show, others have been around. We may not have sampled them before, or may not have tasted them with a clean enough palate to appreciate them the last time around.
  • While we still love them, nothing chosen as a prior Best of Show is eligible again.

One overall note: as in fashion, each year a “fashion flavor” ripples through the show, appearing in beverages, chocolates, mustards, vinegars, and other foods it does not traditionally inhabit. Recent years have seen flavors like chipotle, cranberry, jalapeño, raspberry, wasabi, and yuzu integrated from the culture or niche where they have lingered for generations into almost every specialty food item they can complement.

The runaway success of California’s POM Wonderful pomegranate juice seems to have made pomegranate this year’s hot flavor. While only one of our winners is pomegranate-flavored, look for delicious teas, jams, vinegars, and mustards on the shelves of your specialty food stores.

And The Winners Are...

Of all the products in this winners group, three distinguished themselves as not only superb, but distinctly different from anything else in their category. It is to these three that we bestow THE NIBBLE™’s Gold, Silver and Bronze “awards” for the July 2005 Fancy Food Show.

  • Plantations Arriba Progressions Ganache Chocolates Gold
  • Bear Pond Farm Pestos Silver
  • Grandville’s Gourmet BBQ Sauces Bronze

But all are winners. Congratulations! We look forward to writing complete reviews of you in the coming months. Presented in alphabetical order:

Beverages

  • Belvoir Ginger Beer: The best ginger beer we’ve had to date. Ginger beer is a non-alcoholic drink, a complex and intense relative of ginger ale for the sophisticated palate. If you haven’t had any, or any lately, here’s an introduction.
  • Caffe Sanora Antioxidant Coffee: Coffee with more antioxidants than green tea, so you can drink all you like. NO CALORIES!
  • Hint Infused Water: Calorie-free, nonsweet, flavored waters in Cranberry-Orange, Cucumber, Lime, Pear, Pomegranate-Cranberry, Raspberry-Lime, and Tangerine; plus flavors for kids that wean them off high-sugar juices in favor of Apple, Grape, Mixed Berry, Strawberry-Kiwi, and Tropical Punch-infused waters. NO CALORIES!
  • Ineeka Organic Teas: This company, which private labels tea for the toniest brands in the world from their family farms in the Himalayas, has created their own fine line. In highly innovative, single-serve packaging. It lets tea lovers enjoy the superior flavor of brewed loose tea without any fuss, measuring, or clean-up. NO CALORIES!
  • Jian Nan Chun Group’s Mianzhu Alcoholic Spirit: A 52% alcohol that tastes like sake kicked up five notches (and made of five different grains). Coming to the U.S. this fall.
Hint Water
Hint’s cucumber-infused premium drinking water. We love the concept for adults, and think the children’s flavors—the opportunity to get kids off of sugar-loaded drinks, even juices, and get them to drink more water— is both brilliant and a blessing.
  • Stirrings Cocktail Essences for Martinis: Mixers with essences of herbs and flowers that create must-try martinis. In Basil, Lavender, Rose (our favorite), and Rosemary.
  • Schokinag Moroccan Spice Drinking Chocolate: Another exciting cocoa flavor from this fine German chocolate manufacturer.
  • Tea’s Tea Lemongrass Iced Tea: The jewel in the crown of this fine line of iced teas. The exciting flavor of lemongrass—hopefully next years’s hot flavor—infused into top quality iced tea. NO CALORIES!

Candy & Chocolate

  • Plantations Arriba Progressions Chocolate Ganache: A box of assorted bonbons with increasingly higher percentages of cacao in both the ganache and the couverture: 50%, 65%, 75%, 90%, and 100%. Superb quality chocolate in an innovative format for the most demanding connoisseur, also delicious and instructive for any chocolate lover (new product, may not be on the website yet).
Sencha Natural
Sencha Natural Green Tea Mints
  • Sencha Natural Green Tea Mints: If you’re going to enter the breath mint category, do it this way—with delicious, sugar-free, mints that have green tea’s health benefits and just happen to be beautifully colored and shaped like tea leaves. In Original, Delicate Pear, and Lively Lemongrass. Three mints provide the nutrients of one cup of green tea. LOW CALORIE!
  • VereGoods Low Glycemic Chocolate: Beautiful bonbons that are low carb, low glycemic, high fiber, and taste great. Top quality couverture from Plantations Arriba is used; and no artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols. Available September 1. BETTER FOR YOU!

Condiments, Jams & Sauces

  • Bear Pond Farm Organic Pestos: A line of gorgeous pestos in flavors so good, the only choice is to choose them all (Premium Basil, Onion Garlic, Fresh Lemony, Rich Cilantro, Robust Arugula). Nut-free, GMO-free, and lower sodium, made by a certified organic farmer.
  • Bear Pond Farm Rhubarbeque™ Sauce: A fat-free, all natural, exquisitely delicious sauce and marinade for barbecue or any other purpose. Made with rhubarb, raisins, onion, garlic and smoked paprika.
  • Delicaé Gourmet Jams: It takes a lot to get noticed in this category, and Delicaé has it going on. Imaginative favors include Raspberry Horseradish and Key Lime Ginger Wasabi Jams, Piña Colada Rum Jam & Dessert Topping, Burgundy Wine Jelly and White Zinfandel Wine Jelly.
Bear Pond Farms Pesto
Bear Pond Farm’s perfect pestos: get the whole stack, for sandwiches, eggs, potatoes, pastas, dips, or eating out of the container.
  • Grandville’s Gourmet BBQ Sauces: These sauces are so packed with good things, you can spread them on toast, pour them on vegetables and potatoes, and use them on meats that haven’t even been near a barbecue. Thicker and more textured than a typical BBQ sauce, the consistency is between a dessert sauce and a jam. Absolutely superb in Original, Mild, Extra Spicy, Cajun, Tropical, & Teriyaki.
  • Kerala Curry Chutneys: Memorable Tomato Chutney and Coriander Chutney. Use the Tomato Chutney instead of ketchup for intense tomato flavor with a kick of spice. Use both as a fusion condiment on sandwiches, meats, eggs, anything fried, hors d’oeuvres. These savory chutneys are more the consistency of mustard and are not at all like the syrupy chutneys with large pieces of fruit. The Hindustani word chatni simply means “hot, spicy condiment.” LOW CALORIE!
  • LuLu’s Mayonnaises: These three superior mayonnaises from the prominent San Francisco restaurant are not to be missed: French Mayonnaise with Dijon Mustard, Saffron & Garlic Rouille, and Garlic Aïoli. For sandwiches, salads, hors d’oeuvres, or garnishes.
  • Olivado Extra Virgin Infused Avocado Oils: These wonderful infused oils pair with pasta, seafood and chicken (Basil Infused), salads and fish (Lemon Infused), red meats, salmon and potatoes (Rosemary Infused), or universal (Thai Chili & Bell Pepper Infused). In addition to being a heart-healthy oil, avocado oil has a high smoke point, to 500°. BETTER FOR YOU!
  • Savannah Bee Company Black Sage Honey: The black sage tree only blooms every three or four years, so this honey would be a special event even if it weren’t complex and layered with flavor on its own. All of this company’s products are tops, but their Black Sage Honey and Sourwood (which can’t be had for love or money, as the trees haven’t bloomed in four years) will linger in memory. (Note: it isn’t on the website yet, but call.)

Desserts & Sweets

  • Ciao Bella Gelato: Lemon poppy seed gelato is rich and creamy with a yogurt-like tang. Cantaloupe tarragon sorbet tastes like you’re eating sweet ripe cantaloupe with fresh herbs, but cooler. Both are limited editions for summer.
  • Palette Fine Foods Dessert Topping & Pie Filling: From one of the consistently most innovative and outstanding producers of specialty foods, another dual purpose product. Use it to fill tarts and pie crusts, or top ice cream and other desserts. In Apple Pie and Ice Crème and Gingerbread Crème.
Marshmallow Fluff
Tiny Trapeze’s Marshmallow Creme updates the Marshmallow Fluff© of youth.
  • Starr Ridge Graham Crackers: Cinnamon Graham is a barely sweet cookie with a dusting of cinnamon sugar and powerful graham flavor—a graham for gourmets. Honey Graham, slightly sweeter, is equally sophisticated. At last, along with last year’s Best of Show grahams from Tiny Trapeze, graham crackers have returned to their original glory.
  • Sheer Bliss Pomegranate Ice Cream: Persephone had to spend six months a year in Hades for eating six pomegranate seeds. She’d never have left if she’d tasted this ice cream. The anti-oxidants in pomegranate are encouragement to enjoy it even more.
  • Tiny Trapeze Marshmallow Creme: What results when a specialty food company creates a superior version of Marshmallow Fluff. For cocoa, sundae topping, S’mores, and the general delight of all. (NOTE: In mid-2006, the Tiny Trapeze brand was acquired by Whole Foods Markets and is now sold there exclusively.)

Meat & Cheese

  • Association of Tête de Moine Cheese Producers Pirouette®: The famed cheese packaged with a fully functional, disposable plastic girolle that makes beautiful cheese flowers just like the ones costing $80 and more without the cheese
  • Gary West Hickory Smoked Elk Strips: Farm-raised, tasty, and just different enough to be a special experience. The elk is 98% fat-free and natural—no MSG or flavor enhancers. Just elk and hickory.
  • Stahl Quality Foods Haggis: Forget the comedy skits about Scots and haggis, and treat yourself to a new food experience. The Scottish national dish, made from minced sheep's offal, beef suet and toasted oatmeal, is very tasty whether stuffed into a baked potato, in mushroom caps or puff pastry as an hors d’oeuvre, or in ramekins as a side dish. For authenticity, top with turnips mashed with allspice and/or mashed potatoes and serve with whiskey.
Haggis

The elegant Gateau of Haggis is made from minced haggis layered with turnip and potato slices.

Haggis cans

Snacks

  • Kettle Foods Spicy Thai Potato Chips: This wonderful chip maker asked consumers to vote for their new flavor, and America chose well. More than a snack food, these chips can garnish dinner plates; and, when combined with an exotic dip (try blending chutney and yogurt), make a spectacular cocktail nibble.
  • Peeled Snacks Dried Fruit & Nut Mixes: Tasty fruit and nut snack packs in Bing Bing Cherry, Fig Sated and Shock-olate (with dark chocolate). The bright, snack-size packages appeal to the chic, the health-conscious and the younger set and beckon more than a candy bar. Unique stay-fresh packaging keeps fruits moist and nuts crunchy with no added sugars or oils. Gluten free. BETTER FOR YOU!
Peeled Snacks
One of three flavors of Peeled Snacks, Bing Bing Cherry combines dried peaches, apples, bing cherries, walnuts and cashews.

 

© Copyright 2005-2014 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. Images are the copyright of their respective owners.

 



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