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.
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.
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?
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?