EATS scoped out the Fancy Food Show this Sunday, a giant forum where purveyors large and small come to display their goods. From people proffering food display cases to artisan olive oil makers from the other side of the globe, the show is a stunning marketplace revealing how vast the food world really is. To put it plainly, the experience was pretty awesome.
Tastiest Food with a Message: Endangered Species Chocolate
Endangered Species Chocolate really impressed us. A lot of companies with good intentions tend to fall a little flat on flavor, so dedicated are they to pleasing mass taste buds in an effort to relay their purpose-not so with ESC. Instead its chocolate is rich and flavorful, almost intense. Combinations are also taken to new heights: dark chocolate is paired with blueberries and raspberries respectively, each component enhancing the other in a bittersweet whole. Never have we seen an 88% cocoa bar handed out with such indiscretion; we reveled in every bite.
Best Booth We Already Knew Would Taste Good: Valrhona
Valrhona’s display was impressive rife with its signature colors of black, red and gold, and the chocolate wasn’t bad either. We tried two confections: a caramel enrobed in crisped rice and milk chocolate, and a dark chocolate cacao nib number. Sweet!..but not overly so.
Best Product with an Absurd Health Claim: Pomegranate jelly beans from Jelly Belly
Jelly Belly was another substantial presence at the festival, promoting its newest flavor releases: Soda Pop Shoppe, Smoothie Blend and Pomegranate—“high in antioxidant vitamin C” if you buy the ads. First off, is vitamin C an antioxidant? And second, maybe look into a multivitamin if you’re in such dire need, or at least some OJ, maybe even an orange perhaps? Who knows. They were pretty darn good though.
Best (Worst?) Superfluous Packaging: Aquadeco Water
At a time when companies are going out of their way to show their “green” dedication to the environment, Aquadeco is apparently taking the opposite route. They were handing out small bottles of their H2O that bore a striking resemblance to an Academy Award—and they were almost as heavy coated with plastic so thick and extraneous it prompted a collective shudder throughout our green souls.
Best Affordable Foodie Gift: Good Fortunes
These guys easily had the best gift idea of anyone we saw at the Fancy Food Show. Who wouldn’t want to receive a massive, lavishly adorned fortune cookie with a personalized message inside? Good Fortunes can also put any photograph onto their “Picture This” cookies, perfect for any party favor. If you’re not the photogenic type, they can also decorate your cookies with a cartoon that looks like you.
Best Alliteration: Pestos with Panache
Inventive pesto sauces with flavors like pumpkin chipotle, bangin’ blueberry, prosciutto & smoked almond, and succulent strawberry. Takin’ pasta to a new level.
Best Unappetizing Company Name (With Delicious Food!): Curdelicious
Offers fruit curds in a variety of flavors but the lemon curd is absolutely divine.
Best Mmm: Sticky Toffee Pudding (from the Sticky Toffee Pudding Company)
A moist, flavorful and sweet pudding that only needs 30 seconds in the microwave. Pure heaven. All flavors are great, but if you made us rank them, the English lemon would edge out the sticky ginger only slightly.
Best Food Sculpture: McCain v. Obama Hummus Statues (from Sabra)
Though it was merely a work in progress when we happened upon it, this undertaking was the event of the day.
Best Brand Name: Chocolove
The name says it all. These luxurious Belgian chocolate creations come in a multitude of flavors ranging from traditional (plain, hazelnut, toffee and almond) to fruity (cherry, orange peel and raspberry) all in a range of potencies (65%, 70% and 77% cocoa). Chocolove also offers two organic choices, made with Caribbean cocoa beans. What’s not to…um…love?
Best Sample: Applewood Smoke Bacon from Nueske’s
While Nueske’s offers a wide range of specialty smoked meats, the applewood smoked bacon stole the show. In an era where “fake-on” is replacing bacon on many a health-conscious plate, Nueske’s lets the natural, robust flavor of their bacon shine through. If you’re going to indulge, you should enjoy every minute, and Nueske’s old-world preparation and hand-blended spices make it well worth the splurge.
Best Most Awesome Product Ever: VitaMuffin
We’re all for ignoring calorie content in the name of eating something truly delectable, but wouldn’t it be great if that fabulous morsel was healthy to begin with? Enter VitaMuffin. The Deep Chocolate muffin only contains 100 calories and 1.5 grams of fat, plus a whopping 6 grams of fiber and 15 vitamins and minerals. This nutritious snack also happens to have the taste and texture of chocolate cake. Need we say more?
With our feet throbbing and our stomachs protesting, we reluctantly left the show, satisfied and filled to the brim from the fabulous cornucopia laid before us. We can’t wait for next year.
*The Fancy Food Show goes on through Tuesday, but us hard-at-work Eaters are chained to our desks during the workweek. Sigh*
Written by Liz Norton and Elise Stern. Additional reporting and photo by Carey Polis.