Archive for July, 2009

So this is where all of my free time goes!

Monday, July 20th, 2009

I recently read that women spend almost two years of our lives thinking about food! The study, conducted in the UK, found that the average British woman thinks about food for 44 minutes each day, or an entire day each month, which adds up to one year and 11 months over an average lifetime.At first, I gasped at this result. But when I think more about it, two years may actually be a little on the low side for me. Even removing all work-related food thoughts, I spend way more than 44 minutes each day thinking about food. And why not! I’m planning a menu for dinner, contemplating lunch, preparing breakfast, food shopping, fighting off ice cream temptations – it adds up.

So often, we paint food as the villain. Sometimes, we almost forget that it is essential – and even enjoyable! Hmmm…maybe we need one of these studies in the states.

2009 Summer Fancy Foods Show Review – Part 3

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Another product that caught my fancy at this year’s show is healthDropzTM. Called a “Beverage Booster,” the company claims that by adding six drops to any beverage, you get the benefit of the supplement, free of flavor or calories. Available in energy, focus, and green tea, I decided that I was in grave need of a kick and tried the energy in water. There really was no flavor. I was truly surprised – it just tasted like plain water!

But since I am here to talk flavors, I was very pleased to find a line of flavored dulce de leche from the Argentian company el Semillero. Also a producer of chimichurri (yum), the dulces were available in mint, orange, and, I believe, cinnamon and coconut, aside from original, of course. I sampled the orange which was delicious. What a fabulous idea!

While walking the aisles of the show, I found inspiration for a friend’s baby shower at the Sutter Home booth. Alcohol Removed Fre® Wine tastes just like the real thing, and is available in all the classic varieties – Merlot, White Zin and Chardonnay, just to name a few. The Fre website also boasts “cocktails” using the wines. And at the booth, a few “Preggatini” recipes were available too – “cocktails for the mom-to-be.”

Other highlights from this year’s Fancy Foods Show included Jelly Belly’s new Superfruit mix, featuring acai, Barbados cherry, blueberry, pomegranate and cranberry flavors – a delicious mix, especially if you’re a red fruit fan like myself. Another fave, Brownie Pops take brownies, dip them in chocolate, and put ‘em on a stick – HELLO!

At the Winter Fancy Foods Show in California, hibiscus seemed to be all the rage, but in NYC it was all about the blood orange. In fact, quite a few blood orange flavored items (confit, juice, marmalade) took home Sofi Awards.

With over 2,300 exhibitors on the show floor, I had a tall order for this one-day jaunt. But once the feet start aching, and too much sampling leads to a thousand-yard stare, it’s easy to miss a great product. That’s why it’s always helpful to check out other show reviews – because we all see something different!

A few of my favorites this year are Bobby Flay’s review from the CBS Early Show (check out the video), New York Daily News (check out the mini-melon), Sara Moulton on ABC’s Good Morning America, and Slashfood’s day-by-day highlights.

Plus, you can revisit our reviews from the January Fancy Foods Show in San Francisco!

2009 Summer Fancy Foods Show Review – Part 2

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Next up on the fancy brigade is a stop in Peru. Last month, we took you on a little journey through Peru, with flavor chemist Yuko Nodo. But at the Fancy Foods Show, the flavors of Peru came to me.

So often, I avoid the international pavilions. The mind (and feet) can only take in so much in a day, and typically the pavilions are filled with a lot of commodity products. And let’s face it, there are only so many nuts and so much olive oil a girl can take.

But Peru did it right. At a large endcap of the pavilion I was drawn in by the call of Pisco Sours…delish! After one turn around this overly crowded display, I found out that the trade organization PromPeru had joined forces with a local Peruvian restaurant, Oh! Calamares (Kearny, NJ), to present an amazing spread of goodies. I snacked on potato pastries and chocolate flan! The lucuma fruit was heavily promoted through samples and signage, as were Peruvian potatoes and purple corn. Elderberry, amaranth and quinoa were also displayed in the pavilion. With all of the foodie interest in Peruvian cuisine recently, it was no surprise to see this was the absolute busiest booth at the show.

And, speaking of crowded booths, Ciao Bella Gelato had its fair share of traffic, too! I sampled the Key Lime Graham Cracker Gelato – a 2009 Sofi Award Winner in the Perishable Foodservice Product category. There’s no question why this product won! So often, key lime flavored products don’t translate as well into non-pie applications. If not done right, they can taste, well, artificial. But this was right on – authentic and refreshing, like a frozen slice of fresh pie.

Last fall, I read about Skyr - a strained Icelandic yogurt that’s been slowly making a name for itself. Plus, it’s non-fat and sugar-free. So when I happened upon the Siggi’s booth at the show, I was excited to taste! I tried the plain first, to experience the true flavor of skyr. It tastes quite a bit like traditional yogurt, only much thicker and creamier. It’s very filling, and sour. They had a number of flavors on hand to sample, and I went immediately for the grapefruit. The flavored varieties are sweetened with agave nectar. The grapefruit seemed a bit thinner than the plain, and was more tart, or course, but quite good. I wish I hadn’t been so full at the time, or else I would have tried more of their flavors – they all sounded delicious!

In an issue of Fast Track Fast Trends last year, we explored Coneinn Pizza, which is basically, a pizza in a cone! The product heats in the microwave, in an upright package. Sounds great, doesn’t it! Problem is – it’s a European product. That’s why I was so excited to see the Coneinn booth at the show! I was pretty sad that they didn’t have any samples to try (I’ve been drooling over it for a year, after all!), but I did find out that they’re looking for stateside distributors. They will be mine…oh yes, they will be mine.

One more installment to go! Next time we’ll talk alcohol-free wine and flavored dulce de leche!

2009 Summer Fancy Foods Show Review – Part 1

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Another season, another Fancy Foods Show! Last Monday I hopped the train to New York and breathed in the scents at the Javits Center.

Perusing the booklet before hitting the show floor, I got pretty excited to see one product in particular – black garlic. I first caught wind of black garlic late last year, and have seen it pop up in a number of foodie blogs since then. More recently, it was written up in the Washington Post and Gourmet, but I still had yet to try it. Black garlic is an ordinary garlic bulb that has fermented for about a month, resulting in what you see below. The taste is unexpected – sweet, fermented, and almost smoky. It has a subtle garlic flavor, but not at all overwhelming, and the texture is very soft. I brought a sample back to the office for our chefs to try, and they were blown away by the flavor. While at the booth, I also tried the black garlic jam, which was tasty and sweeter than the actual clove, and experienced a number of visitors running up to the booth excitedly yelling, “we love this stuff!” While I had read about this new flavor phenom in a number of blogs, this was honestly the first commercial product I had found – most foodies have been making it on their own. Expect to see black garlic grow on restaurant menus in the near future. Also, the folks at Black Garlic, Inc. were featuring a black garlic energy drink. Since black garlic claims to be loaded with antioxidants, it’s possible that this foodie favorite may also grow as a healthy ingredient.

Black Garlic Uses

Now to the important stuff – chocolate!! Grazing the show floor, a girl could make a mean meal on the stuff (and did, by the way). In flavors, sea salt prevailed, as did varietal dark chocolates, caramel, tea flavors and even some florals, like lavender. But at the Vosges booth, it’s still all about good old-fashioned bacon. Those fabulous cocoa gods and goddesses debuted more bacon chocolate goodness – a dark chocolate version of the Mo’s Bacon Bar, a bacon chocolate toffee, and even, dare I say, bacon chocolate pancakes! Alas, I got to the booth a smidge too early for the pancakes – and I’m still kicking myself…

Now, I’m not much of a honey fan myself (I know, I know…how can I not love honey), but I was impressed by the concept of varietal honey from Savannah Bee Company. These varieties have been specially chosen to pair with tea, cheese and grilled foods.

Of course, there is way more to talk about from this year’s show! Check back next time, we’ll talk about Peruvian flavors and Skyr!

A Detour with Fro-Yo

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

On Monday, I had the pleasure of attending the Fancy Foods Show in New York City!

But, a little more on that later – first I want to talk a bit about my post-show, pre-train detour to Pinkberry!

Sure, Pinkberry is old news…and yes, I’ve had it before. But with a lack of fro-yo joints in the Philly area, a gal gets a little excited when the opportunity to visit a Pinkberry arises.

An added bonus this trip was the addition of flavors to the fro-yo menu since the last time I visited. (At that time, they only boasted plain and green tea.) This trip, I sampled the pomegranate yogurt, topped with blueberries (aren’t I healthy) and Oreos (well, just a little).

Pinkberry Pomegranate Frozen Yogurt

The whole experience got me wondering about the fro-yo craze, and eventual fall, only a mere two decades ago. And, as fate would have it, the infamous frozen yogurt episode of Seinfeld was on re-run that night when I got home.

Watching that episode got me concerned. Does frozen yogurt have the legs make it this time? What’s so different? Well, first of all, there seems to be a better focus on health and nutrition this time. Not just as a fat-free/low fat alternative to ice cream (although, Seinfeld fans may believe differently!), new fro-yo promises certified cultures, just like in “real” yogurt, as well as low calories and natural ingredients.

The refreshing taste and encouragement to top with fresh cut fruit only adds to its perception. (Ok, so the occasional Oreo winds up in there too!) Plus, it’s even tastier, now that the tartness of yogurt has seemed to catch on with consumers.

And, according to USA Today, even though Pinkberry and Red Mango have had to close some shops in an overcrowded southern California market in the past year, both are still growing rapidly – with an estimated 1,000 shops between the two to open in the next five years.

Fro-yo certainly has a better a chance of survival this time around…or, at least, I hope so!

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