In addition to eating lots of cheese and spotting a number of trends at Fancy Foods, we also had plenty of other intriguing encounters. Here, a few high (and low) points, from questionable creations to culinary celebrities.
Cheese spreads were all the rage at this week's Fancy Foods. I asked Michel Bray, who works with Cabot Cheese, what types of people buy spreadable products. That's when I came across the second interesting cheese fact from the show: people who purchase cheese spreads also enjoy eating traditional cheese — but those who primarily purchase traditional cheese eschew "cheese products." Which camp are you in?
At food expos, cocktail mixers are nothing new, but at this week's show, it seemed like there were few liquid mixers that wasn't a fruit puree touting therapeutic benefits, fewer calories, sugar-free substances, Stevia sweetener, or a low glycemic index.
While the idea's great in theory, too many of these faddy food products were also skinny on taste. What do you think of low-calorie cocktail mixers?
We're always on the lookout for upcoming trends, and there's no better place to spot them than at the Fancy Foods show, where thousands of exhibitors display the latest and greatest edibles they've developed for the mass market. There was some trends you could probably guess were huge — everything was gluten-free! — but here are a few that you probably didn't.
Before you answer this question, consider where you're from, because your choice may be predetermined based on where you live. At the Fancy Foods Show, we learned from the cheese reps that, while the Coasts prefer white cheddar, Midwesterners heavily skew in favor of yellow cheddar. "We'll show them a white variety, and they'll say, 'No, where's the cheddar?'" a Wisconsin dairy expert told us. Readers, tell us: is this correct?
While at Fancy Foods, we caught up with J&D's Foods, the masterminds behind Baconnaise. Cofounder Justin Esch revealed what's next in the world of cured pork: soon, Hickory BaconSalt will grace the top of every table at Denny's Restaurants nationwide.
In addition to Hickory BaconSalt's presence at Denny's, we also learned that Baconnaise is coming to the shelves of Wal-Mart.
Hickory bacon sprinkles atop a Grand Slam, and bacon mayonnaise for the middle-American masses; it'd be hard to dream up a better fit, don't you think?
With a gaggle of TV shows, books, restaurants, and endorsements under his belt, it's hard to imagine what else could be on the horizon for Guy Fieri. But at this week's Winter Fancy Foods Show, we managed to find out. The man himself was there to launch his first-ever line of supermarket condiments. While we didn't spot him in person, we did get to check out his barbecue sauces and salsas.
Fieri's salsas come in four flavors (Original Salsa, Salsa Verde, Chipotle Salsa, and 4 Pepper), as do his sauces, which are available in Kansas City, Bourbon Brown Sugar, Pacific Rim, and Carolina #6. We enjoyed the original and salsa verde salsas and the classic Kansas City barbecue sauce.
Whether we like it or not, it's only a matter of time before Guy's shaded, sun-bleached visage takes over the country, one mass-produced bottle at a time.
Tea has been an incredibly trendy ingredient for the past two years. Recently, I was bombarded by so many different types of new tea products that I was quite overwhelmed. So much so that I avoided the enormous amount of tea booths at the Fancy Foods Show.
Until one — the Republic of Tea's Be Well Red Tea line — caught my eye. With names like "get happy," "get some zzz's," and "get relaxed" the collection of South African rooibos teas are each specified to change a certain aspect of your life. They're caffeine free and naturally healthful. They come in brightly colored, tin canisters. I enjoy their unpretentious packaging, clean herbal flavor, and soothing qualities.
Do you drink decaffeinated tea? Have you tried Republic of Tea?
At the Food Fête party this week after the Fancy Foods Show, a representative from Nielsen-Massey Vanillas handed me a kit sealed with a vanilla bean. She suggested that if I didn't want to cook with it, I could take advantage of its pleasant fragrance.
"Oh, don't worry — I'll cook with it," I reassured her. Although they're rather expensive — pods cost around $5 each — cooking with vanilla pods, in my opinion, imparts a more natural flavor than using vanilla extract. I like to use them in everything from cakes to vanilla-flavored hot chocolate. What about you?