Archive for the 'Bacon' Category

Savory Cocktails – Trend or Fad?

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Blogs are exploding with reports of meaty cocktails on the menu. I’m not going to lie – my first reaction is “ewwww.” I want bacon with my morning OJ, not in it.

But then I let it simmer a little (sorry, it was one of the only puns not taken), and thought about the savory drinkables that have been around for a while. There is, of course, the Bloody Mary, with its sweet, spicy and savory components. Then there is the age-old Chelada cocktail that uses Clamato juice – a product that has always made me run away (but then again, I don’t exactly like clams). And recently, modern bartenders (a.k.a. bar chefs or mixologists) have reverted to hand-crafted cocktails from real fruit, herbs and spices, rather than relying on mixes (admittedly moreso in higher-end establishments and independents).

Considering these elements makes the savory cocktail seem like a no-brainer – so why the buzz? Oh, maybe it’s the term “fat-washing” that has us talking. Mixologists are adding fat (as in, bacon fat) to whiskey, popping it in the freezer, then cutting out the solidified fat. Bacon flavor infused – greasy fat in the trash.

And ok, I’ll admit it. With the extreme love for bacon I see on a daily basis, and the versatility we’ve been opened up to in the past few years, maybe this could work. After all, bacon is amazing in chocolate, so why not in my chocolate martini?

But how about salmon-flavored vodka? Now you’re cringing, right? Yes sir, one distiller has added a salmon flavor to their line-up. I’m all for shaking things up, but…

So, the question remains – is this a growing trend, or just a fad? Well, the thing about a fad is that most of the time, it has some basis in a functional long-term trend. Take leg warmers for instance – a fashion fad, but not for those in the dancing world. And in food, fads may fizzle, but they tend to stick around in one way or another. In other words, while the liquor store of the future may not stock the makings for a Philly cheesesteak cocktail, what we are seeing is a slow move away from overly sweet, candy-coated cocktails. We’re scaling back the sweet for a more balanced drink, be it savory, fruity or otherwise.

There are elements in the meaty drink craze that are shaping the future of drink. And focusing on those nuances, the driving forces, will help us determine future flavors for this category. Just please, don’t let it be salmon…

The 2010 Summer Fancy Foods Show Review – Part 2

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Probably the most innovative product I spotted at this year’s Fancy Foods Show was the Brazilian import, Bacon Krisps. Distributed by Acme Import Co., Bacon Krisps are very interesting little snacks. A minute in the microwave, and voila, these little wheat nuggets puff up into perfect little red, white and tan striped bacon-flavored snacks (you know, the kind of striped coloring you wish your at-home bacon actually looked like). And bonus: they’re vegetarian! (To view a pic of this product, check out the Frommer’s blog here.) And on a side note, this was just one of many air-popped snacks for kids and adults on display.

Danielle’s Crispy Veggie Chips sells a line of exotic dehydrated fruits and veggies, including jackfruit, roasted coconut, spicy carrot and okra. What I most surprised by was how popular the durian was at the show. If you’re not familiar with this tropical fruit, the durian is a highly prized fruit of Southeast Asia – even though it is actually banned in most public places due to its pungent odor. But, durian lovers (and there are many), are more than willing to withstand the smell to get to the custard-like filling of this spiny, football-shaped pod. Apparently, Fancy Food Show goers couldn’t wait to taste it either – by the time I made it to the booth, it was all gone…

And speaking of Fancy Food hits, I was lucky enough to sample from the last pint of Vosges’ Bacon Toffee Ice Cream. I’m a HUGE fan of their bacon chocolate bars, so I was pretty excited to sample this new, not-yet-available-in-stores treat. The verdict? Smoky, caramel, and a little meaty. Not sure I could eat a whole bowl, but I imagine a scoop melting atop the right dessert would be pure heaven.

And speaking of chocolate – my main source of sustenance at the show – an unexpected favorite was the Toasted Corn chocolate bar from Philly’s own Eclat Chocolate. And I don’t even like corn-flavored things! But this was excellent – crunchy, toasty and tasty.

Next up – granola chips, maqui berry, drinkable vinegar, and my personal show favorite!

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.

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!

Let me Finish my Meal with a Donut…

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

A few months ago, Danielle (our Marketing Coordinator) and I went to Dave & Buster’s for some delicious fried appetizers. When time for dessert came, the “oh no, I couldn’t eat another bite” quickly turned to “we’ll have those!” when we caught site of the donut holes on the dessert menu. Sugar and chocolatey goodness, with chocolate and raspberry dipping sauces.

It’s Fat Tuesday today, and I’ve got donuts on the brain (and in the stomach). Did you know, that Canadian chain Tim Horton’s compliments their sandwich value meals with donuts? So, instead of, “would you like fries with that,” yummy breakfast time sweetness rounds out your lunch.

Bear with me and my indulgences, I swear there’s a trend here.  

Last week, the New York Times noted a growing trend in offering sweet breakfast items for dessert. Donuts are a casual chain restaurant staple right now, but that’s just the beginning.

The New York Times article notes Panna Cotta from Momofuku restaurants, flavored with milk from the bottom of the cereal bowl. (A concept we’ve tried ourselves in RTD flavored milk.) Then there’s toast flavored ice cream at Tailor. And at Chicago’s Moto restaurant, guests can sample hot doughnut soup with coffee-flavored whipped cream.

Restaurants & Institutions senior editor Allison Perlik also commented on last week’s article, noting the French toast and maple-bacon flavored ice cream with carmelized apple at Lola in Cleveland.

Speaking of bacon ice cream, you may have noticed a bit of bacon love in this blog. The funny thing is, that I wouldn’t consider myself over-obsessed with the stuff, but I’m just loving all of the ingenious ways that restaurants, chocolatiers and bakers are reinventing it. And while the New York Times article notes that bacon flavored sweets are “trendy to a fault,” you have to admit there is something there. Yes, I’m sure the bacon craze will reveal itself as fad, but how could a staple completely fade away? I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of sweet bacon!

But I digress, breakfast for dessert is such a logical move…why have we not thought of this sooner? I know I’m not alone here when I say that pancakes, French toast and beignets, while completely delightful, are a little too sugary for the morning hours. Why not save them for that “I just need something sweet” feeling after a savory meal. Years ago, a friend of a friend would bring his homemade coffee and donuts ice cream to every party he was invited to – in fact, it was so good that I don’t believe he was allowed to attend without it!

With consumers increasingly looking for something just a little bit different, but still approachable, and restaurants and manufacturers looking to set themselves apart in a very competitive market, breakfast for dessert sounds like a pretty good idea to me. Now bring on the blueberry pancake parfait (with maple syrup flavored ice cream, of course)!

Baco-licious!!

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

putting bacon sprinkles on bacon mocha cupcakes

Creative Commons License photo credit: D.L.

For everyone that loves bacon, I have another yummy treat for you. You may remember last month we discussed Bacon Salt and the Bacon Explosion. (And I cannot tell you enough, how fabulous the Vosges Mo’s Bacon Bar is!). Now, prepare yourself for the (drumroll, please) Bacon Cupcake!!!

Brainchild of Boulder’s Tee and Cakes, this buttery maple cake is topped with decadent chocolate ganache, and bacon pieces. They’re all the rage, and I imagine fellow trendy cupcake bakeries may be quick to catch on.

Winter Fancy Food Show 2009 Review – Part 1

Friday, January 30th, 2009

With only one day to take in all the sites, smells and flavors of the annual west coast edition of the Fancy Food Show, I packed my comfy boots, my roomy purse, and trusty notebook to record this gastronomic display!

You’ve Gotta Give a Little

There were a number of themes that permeated the floor. The first and most pervasive of which was “cause marketing.” Booth after booth, products touted their charitable causes, but no one made quite as much of an impact as Project 7. Selling bottled water benefiting seven different causes, Project 7 donates over 50% of its profits to seven areas of need within each cause. How do they decide who gets what? Well, first of all, consumers choose their causes through the products they purchase. Let’s say the environment is at the top of your agenda, simply buy a bottle of Save the Earth water. Consumers also get to vote on the specific benefiting charities through the Project 7 website (www.project7.com). The company also sells three gum varieties: Save the Homeless Mango Mint, Save the Earth Fresh Mint and Feed the Hungry Peppermint Vanilla. Project 7 allows consumers to give just a little bit, purchasing items that are already a part of their daily routine. And in today’s economy, a little bit is a heck of a lot easier to part with for many of us.

Project 7 - Build the Future Water

Project 7 – Build the Future

Chocoholics Anonymous

From the charitable, to the luxurious, I rushed to the Choc-O-Lait booth for a moment of pure indulgence. Taking what looked like a chocolate lollipop, I stirred the confection in a cup of hot milk for a delicious cup of hot chocolate. The concept reminded me of the Truffle Creamers we showcased at the 2008 Innovation Roadshow (creamer, sweetener and flavor in one truffle).

Want Some Bacon in Your Salt?

Despite the fact that American consumers are demanding healthier foods, personal bacon consumption has actually risen over the past 10 years. The Vosges Mo’s Bacon Bar may just be the beginning, and a delicious one at that. (Yes, that would be a chocolate bar.) Check out J&D’s BaconSalt, because, according to the manufacturer, “Everything should taste like bacon.”TM In three flavors, original, hickory and peppered, this artificially flavored seasoning salt is vegetarian, kosher, low sodium, zero fat and zero calorie. The company also offers a natural variety, as well as a number of limited edition flavors. Don’t like salt on your turkey sandwich, not a problem. J&D’s has Baconnaise too!

[Really love bacon? Check out Lane Cardwell's recent blog post on Chain Leader, or check out the "Bacon Explosion."]

Of course, there is way more to talk about from this year’s show! Check back next week when we’ll discuss superfoods, super teas and super soda!

 

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