Archive for the 'Flavor' Category

Reflections on the Roadshow

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

2011 Innovations Roadshow room 267

It’s hard to believe that another Innovation Roadshow® has come and gone. With 18 months of planning, our annual event was over quicker than you can even say the word “Roadshow.”

Throughout 26 booths, our global technical staff showcased almost 100 new concepts, flavors and technologies that got our attendees’ creative juices flowing.

All that noshing built up energy for presentations on food & beverage trends, alternative natural sweeteners and new EU flavor legislation. And the day culminated with a keynote presentation from Mary Wagner, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Global Research & Development/Quality for Starbucks Coffee Company. Her presentation educated our attendees on how to remain authentic to your brand, yet appeal to the local market to which you are selling.

But back to the food! When it comes to the products we show at our Innovation Showcase, the tabletop exhibit mentioned above, everyone has their favorites – based on personal preference, uniqueness and applicability – but let me share with you some of mine….

Varietal Mint Ice Creams - developed with David Michael’s Michtex® technology

  • Varietal Mint Ice Creams – Inspired by chewing gum, we explored the use of spearmint (paired with blackberry) and wintergreen (paired with vanilla) in ice cream, as well as a new texture. Utilizing David Michael’s Michtex® technology, we were able to replicate the “stretchy” texture of Turkish-style ice cream, also known as dondurma.

 Fortified Fruity Chicken Nuggets Varieties - Cherry Pir and Apple a la Mode

  • Fortified Fruity Chicken Nuggets – For the picky eater in need of a nutritional boost, these nuggets boast vitamins and minerals, or deliver a serving of fruit. Choose from Cherry Lime or Apple Pie a la Mode (coated with real pie crust and vanilla ice cream flavored icing!).

Aloe Beverages - Borojo Rooibos Tea, Old Fashioned Lemonade, and Spiced Peach

  • Aloe Beverages – Each year at the Fancy Foods Show, the number of vendors showing aloe beverages grows and grows. With their sweet taste and flavorful adaptability, why haven’t these taken off? One theory is the large pulp. Our beverage group addressed this with three flavors with varying degrees of pulp. And the flavors! The beverages were shown in Borojo Rooibos Tea, Old Fashioned Lemonade, and Spiced Peach (with cinnamon, vanilla and mastic).

Mood Truffles - Aphrodisiac Foods

  • Mood Truffles – As in get-in-the-mood truffles. We’ve spotted some trends lately pointing toward aphrodisiac foods gaining favor with baby boomers. Anti-aging foods that enhance energy and vitality, are going a step further. The flavors also test our level of comfort, another emerging trend, with oyster and uni (sea urchin roe).

Maghreb Fruit & Almond Smoothie

  • Maghreb Fruit & Almond Smoothie – Not only does this fruit and almond milk smoothie highlight dairy alternatives, and North African flavors (honey fig, and honey fig with orange blossom and cumin), but it’s also a multi-purpose beverage. The smoothies can also be used as sauces for meats.

But these are just a few of the amazing items showcased this year. Learn more about the Innovation Roadshow. To taste samples from this year’s show, or get copies of the presentations, please contact your account manager.

The Best Part About Working for a Global Flavor Company…

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

…is the cool swag. It’s true. Not only do I get to interact on a daily basis with co-workers worldwide, but we like to trade products, to give each other a taste of what’s out there.

Whether it’s trading American Heath Bars for Mexican Pelon Pelo Rico candy (mango, of course), trying exotic vinegar beverages from China, or giving a visiting French co-worker a tour of the local Whole Foods – we take care of educating each other on local flavor (and feeding those global food cravings).

Recently, our Deputy General Manager of David Michael Beijing contributed a bag of goodies from his local supermarket, which included various flavored Oreos (vanilla ice cream, green tea ice cream, blueberry raspberry and orange mango), seaweed flavored Pringles, candied waxberry (aka, yumberry), and both blueberry and cucumber Lay’s potato chips.

Beijing Goodies - Blueberry and Cucumber Lay’s potato chips - Seaweed Pringles

In Philly, our overall favorite was the Orange Mango Oreo – the flavors were so juicy and authentic – we could definitely see this one working here in the U.S.

Another surprise was the use of cooling sensation in both of the ice cream flavored Oreos, as well as the Lay’s chips. It added a fun dimension (especially with the ice cream flavors) and was exotic to our palates.

If you work for a global flavor company or manufacturer, take advantage of it! Set up a trade program between locations – send new products to each other on a quarterly basis. It’s fun and engaging, and will keep your ideas flowing (not to mention your taste buds interested)!

Sometimes, I just get a feeling…

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

There’s a lot of research that goes into predicting trends – reading through countless new product reports, tracking new articles, examining non-food trends for societal influences. All of these things fit into a big puzzle that is constantly changing.

But sometimes, it just comes down to a gut feeling.

Recently, I’ve spotted some announcements for a free Malaysian food truck in New York, sponsored by the “Malaysia Kitchen for the World” organization. This organization sponsored other food-focused events earlier this year as well, bringing traditional Malaysian foods to the residents of New York City.

And today, CNN’s Eatocracy blog (always a fun read, by the way) featured a video on Malaysian street food.

I know…it’s only two mentions…but I’ve got that feeling. Malaysian food is strongly influenced by neighbors Indonesia and Thailand, as well as China, India and Portugal, due to early settlers. Some of these countries’ flavors are currently on-trend, as well, which only adds to the intrigue.

So, it may not be tomorrow. It may not even be next year. But at some point in the not too distant future, I’d say to expect a bit of attention on Malaysian flavors…. I’ve just got a feeling.

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 3

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

So much food, so little time…

I was pleasantly surprised at the 479° Popcorn booth. How exciting can flavored popcorn be? That’s what you’re thinking, right? Me too. But their flavors –Vietnamese Cinnamon Sugar, Madras Curry Coconut & Cashews, and Black Truffle & White Cheddar – were both creative and delicious.

And speaking of creative, I just loved the breakfast pitas, with real fruit pieces, from Ozery Bakery. Available in apple cinnamon, cranberry orange, and breakfast muesli, they make a fabulous substitute for your usual morning bagel, toast, etc. (I’m thinking the cranberry orange wouldn’t be too shabby with a lunchtime turkey sandwich either!)

Granola Flats weren’t much more than an ultra-thin flattened granola bar (Nature Valley type), but they were darn tasty! Plus, they’re sold as a “chip” rather than a bar which means I have something to snack on now when hubby dives into the Fritos during a baseball game.

When it comes to food, I’ll try anything once. (Whether I’ll try it again is a different story.) But there is the occasional product that my brain just won’t allow past my lips. That’s been true in the past of vinegar drinks brought to me by my wonderful co-workers at David Michael Beijing. I love vinegar – so much, that I load it up on my salads to the point of mouth numbing. But the idea of drinking it, like juice – I just couldn’t get past that. So, when I spotted Hong Cho’s pomegranate vinegar drink, I decided to go for it. And you know what? It’s pretty good! The vinegar is noticeable, but not overwhelming. Since there are a number of health-benefits linked to vinegar drinks, I’m officially adding this to my radar. With the right marketing (a downplay of the word “vinegar” I’m thinking) this could be a future trend to watch.

Other fun finds at this year’s show? I was excited to spot macqui berry at Honest Tea’s booth in the new Macqui Berry Mate – keep your eyes peeled for more of this superfruit. There was lots of prickly pear and blood orange flavored goodies, mostly drinks. I found Parisian macarons at a number of booths, including the frozen macarons at Galaxy Desserts – perfect for foodservice. The Naan Pizza at Tandoor Chef was awesome – it’s about darn time we had something like this on the market. And, Chobani Greek Yogurt now offers Chobani Champions, said to be the only Greek yogurt made for kids.

And my favorite product of the show? Nothing too crazy here – my personal favorite were the falafels at Falafel Republic. Lightly fried balls of ground chick peas, falafels are typically served in a pita from your favorite street vendor. This version needs only seconds in the microwave to heat up, and the falafels are satisfyingly savory and filling. Served with tzatziki sauce, I could eat them every day, with or without the pita.

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! 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!

Vanilla Unveils its Savory Side

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

In yesterday’s Washington Post food section, I spotted an article revealing that vanilla works just as well in savory dishes, as in an ice cream cone.

Well…with respect to the Washington Post, we’ve known this one for years.

Ask anyone in our labs, and they’ll tell you that their secret ingredient in a pot of chili, is always vanilla. Try it in a pot of spaghetti sauce too.

At past Roadshows, we’ve shown vanilla paired with tomato, curry, peppercorn, and brown gravy – just to name a few.

Thai Twist Salad Dressing with Vanilla

Roadshow 2006: Thai Twist Salad Dressing with Vanilla

Vanilla can modify the heat of many peppery products, while enhancing the flavor of the particular pepper. It can off-set the earthy and “weed-like” character of many herbs to allow a more palatable experience. It can also be used to create a divergent sensation, whereas vanilla stands out at a different time during the eating experience than the item with which it is paired.

Curious about vanilla’s savory side? I’ve pulled a few recipes from our archives to share with you. Enjoy!


Spinach Salad with Cranberry Vanilla Vinaigrette

Fresh Baby Spinach – Washed    –  6 oz.

Cranberry Juice  –  1 cup

Fresh Cranberries –  ½  cup

Crumbled Blue Cheese  – ½ cup

Olive Oil  –  ¼ cup

Toasted Pine Nuts –   ¼ cup

Sugar   –  ¼ cup

Orange Juice  –   ¼ cup

White Balsamic Vinegar  –   3 Tbsp

Vanilla Extract  –  2 tsp

Shallots finely minced  –  ¼ tsp

Garlic finely minced  –  ¼ tsp

Salt   –  1 tsp

Pepper   –   1/8 tsp

Raspberries – fresh (optional) –   2 oz

Combine fresh cranberries, sugar, cranberry juice and orange juice and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and steep for ten minutes. Strain the cranberries and save the cranberries and the liquid.

Mix together the spinach, blue cheese and pine nuts. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix together the vinegar, shallots, garlic, vanilla, salt, pepper and the cranberry liquid. Whisk in the oil. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

Dress the salad and toss with the raspberries and poached cranberries.


Sautéed Pork Medallions with a Wild Mushroom Sherry Vanilla Sauce

Pork Tenderloin cut into medallions –   8

Oil   –   ¼ cup

Flour    –   ¼ cup

Salt   –  To season

Pepper   –   To season


Veal or Chicken Stock   –  2 cups

Sherry Wine   –  ½ cup

Mixed Wild Mushrooms  –   1 ½ cups

Heavy Cream   –   ¼ cup

Vanilla Extract   –   2 tsp

Carrots – minced   –   1 Tbsp

Celery – minced  –  1 Tbsp

Butter   –   2 Tbsp

Sugar    –   1 Tbsp

Shallots – minced   –    ½ tsp

Garlic – minced  –   ½ tsp

Bay leaf    –   1 leaf

Salt  –   To taste

Pepper  –  To taste

Melt half the butter in a large sauté pan. Lightly sauté the shallots, garlic, carrots and celery. Add the sherry and cook reducing the liquid by half.

Add the remaining ingredients except the cream and butter and cook for 20 minutes.

Add the cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the butter and adjust the seasonings.

Flatten the pork medallions and dust with the seasoned flour. Sauté in oil. Hold in a warming oven until ready to serve.

Suggested serving: Serve with soft polenta with roasted red peppers. The pork and sauce go well with spaetzle as well.


Pan Seared Steak with a Vanilla Peppercorn Sauce

Strip Steaks  –  2 lbs

Salt –   To season

Pepper  –  To season


Beef Stock   –   2 cups

Red Wine  –  ½ cup

Heavy Cream   –  ¼ cup

Cooking Oil  –  ¼ cup

Vanilla Extract  – 1 Tbsp

Green Peppercorns  –   1 Tbsp

Butter  –  1 Tbsp

Shallots – minced  –   ½ tsp

Garlic – minced   –   ¼  tsp

Parsley – chopped  –   ½ tsp

Salt   –    To Taste

Fresh Ground Pepper   –   To Taste

Season the steak with salt and pepper and sear in oil until both sides are lightly brown. Remove steak and finish in a warming oven until desired doneness is achieved.

Remove the excess oil from the pan and sauté the shallots and garlic for 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with the red wine, simmer and reduce the volume by half.

Add the stock, peppercorns and vanilla. Let reduce on medium high heat for 8 – 10 minutes.

Slowly add the heavy cream and simmer until the consistency of the sauce has become slightly thicker.

Finish the sauce by slowly adding the butter and adjust the seasoning with salt & pepper.

Serve over the steak.

Being Adventurous – In Life & Food

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

This past weekend I was in a wedding…in fact, I was the Best Maid (aka, a female Best Man). Since the groom and I had known each other since birth, it made perfect sense to me, him, and his wife. But others were unsure – it didn’t fit the mold.

The wedding was in “the city” – across the river from the safe New Jersey suburb everyone knew. Guests were nervous.

The reception was held not in a cookie cutter hall, but in a dance studio along a cobblestone street. And, in lieu of assigned seats, we mingled the entire evening throughout a variety of rooms (with ample seating, of course). Free to roam, guests were skeptical. “It will never work,” they said, “it’s going to be a disaster!”

But, it was beautiful. Just as the bride and groom knew it would. Their sense of adventure was just what their wedding needed. Everyone had a fabulous time. Cynicism gave way to acceptance. And acceptance quickly grew into enjoyment, as friends and relatives met each other for the first time, and danced the night away.

Just like life experiences, trying new foods can be a tricky endeavor, and may often require a bit of a push. A vegetable you’ve never heard of, a combination that sounds ridiculous, a preparation that seems foreign. Too often, we decide to play it safe, and just order the chicken fingers. (Nothing against chicken fingers – they tend to be one of my own personal favorites.)

On the menu, language helps. A dish that sounds so amazing, you just can’t resist. And in the grocery store, special promotions and sales are what get customers to say, “oh, what the heck, for a dollar I’ll give it a go.”

But as product developers, we cannot assume that words and discounts are enough. We also have to ease consumers into flavors they never heard of. While launching an exotic flavor for a niche product – something targeted to a specific ethnic group, or even healthy foods niche – can work out well, doing the same on a mainstream launch can prove less profitable. When flavors are still unknown, it is best to blend them with familiar flavors to help introduce the audience to the concept. While the wedding was different than the norm, there were still many elements that were traditional, which kept guests at ease.

There are excellent examples of products, past and present, that have pushed the envelope, while keeping it familiar. A few that come to mind are: the classic Kiwi-Strawberry Snapple, the new Eclipse Breeze gum with cardamom, and the still-catching-on Vosges Mo’s Bacon Chocolate Bar. All delicious. All fun. All adventurous.

2010: A Look Ahead

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

With minds on the recession last year, consumers returned to simpler fare – homecooked meals, comfort foods, cheap cuts of meat, and more. We even saw a spike in home canning supplies. Of course, a number of other trends were at play here – both concern over food safety, and environmental preservation.

For 2010, we see a bit of the same on the horizon, only with an updated twist. Consumers will still want to save money – they will still shop thrifty, they will continue to purchase private label goods. But this year, we see the addition of exciting ingredients back into the diet, as we all move forward.

Some of those flavors include florals, like elderflower (making a splash in bar drinks), rose water and lavender. But possibly one of the biggest flavor trends this year, will be hibiscus. Grown worldwide, hibiscus is a tropical flower, with a fruity disposition. It adds flavor to beverages, confections and other sweet applications.

Health is again a top priority, and one concern in particular is sodium reduction. Look for less salt from manufacturers this year – even ConAgra Foods recently announced that they will cut salt by 20% across their entire brand line-up.

Looking abroad, Peruvian foods will make a splash this year. We’ve already seen the Pisco Sour invade the drink menu, but look for more Incan inspired dishes, like ceviche, on the menu. One flavor to watch is the lucuma fruit. Lucuma ice cream is more popular in Peru than vanilla or chocolate!

Look for more fruity inspiration from Asia, as well. While you may not hear the term “superfruit” as much this year as last, antioxidant-rich foods are still a high priority. Jackfruit, red sweet dates, yuzu and sea buckthorn are just a few of the exotic, yet powerful, fruits to watch for.

And finally – black garlic. It’s a foodie fave and a health trend all in one. With a complex flavor that’s unexpectedly sweet, fermented, and almost smoky. It provides twice the antioxidants of regular raw garlic—without the sharp bite or bad breath issues.

These are just a few of our 2010 trend picks. For more – check out our forthcoming 2010 calendar. Don’t receive our annual calendar? Contact your account manager for more details!

From Little Russia by the Sea…with love!

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Little Russia By The Sea - Brighton Beach

This weekend, I stepped off of the subway, and into another world…literally. I, along with a gaggle of women, visited Brighton Beach, Brooklyn on Saturday night for an unconventional bachelorette party at The National – a Russian supper club where English is scarce, and the vodka is French.

Russian Cold Appetizers

A display of cold appetizers awaits us.

Russian Smoked Sturgeon and Lox

Smoked sturgeon and lox.

When we were seated at our table for 18, a traditional Russian spread was already waiting for us. A bevy of cold appetizers ranging from Russian potato salad, smoked sturgeon, lox, grilled vegetables, chicken liver pate, pickles, eggplant, assorted salads, and beef tongue. Even in this brave group of women, the beef tongue was met with cringes and “no thank you’s,” until our intrepid friend Jennie manned up, and chased it quickly down with pumpernickel and vodka – a scowl on her face.

Russian Beef Tongue

The infamous beef tongue!

Almost full already, the food kept coming, and miraculously found space on the table. More cold appetizers – pancakes with salmon roe, more fish, more salad. Then the hot appetizers – roasted potatoes, chicken-filled pirozhki (like a dumpling, pierogi or knish), grilled white fish, and stuffed roast beef.

Russian Chicken Pirozhki

Getting stuffed – chicken pirozhki amid a table full of food!

And, oh wait, there’s more!!! A few hours into dinner, dancing, and live music, and there were more hot appetizers to be had! Just when we thought we couldn’t eat another bite, the waiters served us a beautiful bread bowl filled with beef stew that was out of this world. All the while, straight vodka was the beverage of choice, and our requests for water were lost a bit in translation.

Russian Bread Bowl filled with Beef Stew

Bread bowl with beef stew.

Happy birthdays were sung to those from one year to 50. Anniversary dances were made with grandkids running circles round. And then, the stage show began. White suits and mesh leotards accented by wigs, hats and feathers. Salsa prevailed in the Carnivale theme that didn’t seem out of place, even though every other bit of chatter was in Russian.

Beef Tongue - Traditional Russian Meal

Beef tongue, later in the evening, remains mostly untouched!

Dinner was served as we watched, a collection of chicken and pork kebabs, stuffed chicken breast…and french fries (a little random, but completely appreciated!). The evening finished with more dancing and singing, as well as cakes, pastries and coffee. For those six hours of solid eating, I felt as if I had been transported to Russia, and all I did was drive up the turnpike. It’s amazing how food can do that – in concert with language, song and vodka, of course!

Balinoff Vodka

We asked why the vodka was French, but the Russian speaking waiters didn’t quite understand our question. The response? “It’s for fun.”

**Thanks to all the ladies that donated their food pictures!!!

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