The Summer Fancy Foods Show was a whirlwind of activity with demonstrations, presentations and HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of food products amassed under one roof (The Javits Center in New York City). I went to discover all the new food trends with one of my official taste testers (Scott) for the 3-day extravaganza. Of all the food trade shows, the Specialty Food Association assembles one of the largest. We sampled fun food fads and discovered a lot of innovation.
While the unique gourmet and artisan foods were the main attraction, it was really interesting to meet the people behind the brands and to discover what set them on their respective paths and how they’ve built their businesses.
Note: There were too many amazing foodstuffs to put them all into just one post, so be sure to check back for more mouthwatering highlights next week. Now, let’s sample some of the inventive foodstuffs coming to your local markets — starting with SNACKS .
New Food Trends in SNACKS
Snack foods have gone through a bit of a metamorphosis. Though there’s still a lot of “junk food” munchies on the market, these new entries are streamlining their concepts. Using fewer (and more pronounceable ingredients), making them more nutritious and all of them adding that little touch of flair.
Moon Cheese is the cheese that Crunches. Really crunches! We sampled several varieties including Pepper Jack and Gouda at the show. These uber-crisp morsels taste every bit like the cheese they’re made of and it should come as no surprise because the only ingredient is CHEESE. The Pepper Jack with a nice spicy kick was my favorite — My taste tester liked the cheddar.
Moon cheese would make a great portable snack for your purse or briefcase and a fun treat for a kid’s lunchbox. We also enjoyed them with a cocktail and if you bring some out at a party, you’re sure to have a conversation starter.
Moon Cheese is available in food retailers across the country or you can order your super-secret stash online.
What started out as an annual fundraiser for youth soccer has burgeoned into a 17,000 square foot production facility with this product being sold in thousands of stores nationwide.
BNutty Gourmet Peanut Butter is anything but ordinary. With 10 different varieties of amazing flavor combinations, you’re going to want to try them all. Our favorites were the Salted Caramel -aCreamy Caramel infused peanut butter with Pink Himalayan Salt & Irresistible Pretzel sprinkled with pretzels and white chocolate.
You may have to stir the peanut butter before spreading it onto your morning toast or smearing a bit between your ‘Nilla wafers, but it’s worth the effort.
Other fabulous flavors include:
- Totally Toffee: Honey Roasted Peanuts, Toffee Bits, Almonds & Milk Chocolate.
- Blissful Blueberry: Honey Roasted Peanuts, Blueberries & Milk Chocolate.
- Coco-Nutty: Honey Roasted Peanuts, Toasted Coconut, Almonds & Dark Chocolate.
- Skinny Dip: Honey Roasted Peanuts, Granola, Various Nuts, Raisins & Honey.
- Peacefully Plain Creamy: Honey Roasted Peanuts in a smooth & creamy texture.
- S’more Dreams: Honey Roasted Peanuts, Marshmallows, Graham Crackers & Milk Chocolate.
- Peacefully Plain Crunchy: Honey Roasted Peanuts in signature crunchy texture.
- Joyful Cranberries: Honey Roasted Peanuts, Dark & Milk Chocolate & Dried Cranberries.
You can find bNutty in Walmart or shop online.
Everyone’s familiar with the Brownie Brittle made famous at Sheila G’s. Crispy, chocolatey bites with deep brownie flavor and aroma. Sheila has rolled out new flavors this year, in the form of brownie’s buttery, rich cousin — the blondie. There’s a traditional blondie, studded with chocolate chips and a really fun take on Meyer Lemon. These snackers are crunchy and addictive.
The traditional Chocolate Chip Blondie Brittle reminded tasters of a cookie version of that sweet bar, very buttery and great with a glass of milk.
The surprise was the Meyer Lemon Blondie Brittle, which reminded tasters of the flavor of Froot Loops cereal in a convenient “snacking” form. Neither of the samples sent lasted long enough for second tastings a good indication that this new food trend has staying power.
This hopelessly addictive Blondie Brittle is available in stores nationwide or buy it online.
The next BIG superfood on the health scene is Moringa – a super green that’s more nutritious than kale. Seriously, with 2x the protein, 3x the calcium and 4x the iron of kale, Moringa packs a nutrition punch that’s hard to beat. Kuli Kuli is the leading Moringa brand in the states with products ranging from Moringa powder — to power your morning smoothies and energy shots and teas for a quick burst. They even have on-the-go energy bars for snacking.
Lisa Curtis, the founder of Kuli Kuli, first tried Moringa while she was volunteering in Niger as a member of the Peace Corps. A few months into her service, she was feeling weak and lethargic. One of the women in her village suggested Moringa with its dense nutritional properties. It made a dramatic difference in how she functioned and felt.
You won’t find fresh Moringa leaves in any store stateside. That’s because the Moringa tree is found in areas of Africa, South America and the Caribbean and the leaves are too fragile to be shipped fresh. Consequently processing at the source is the most efficient way to capture the nutrition benefits of the plant.
However, there’s more to this new food trend than nutrition. Harvesting Moringa has brought income and stability to the Moringa farmers who previously teetered on the edge. Lisa Curtis, the founder of Kuli Kuli explains in this uplifting clip.
So what does Moringa taste like? I tried the powdered form without any enhancement, and noted it’s strong vegetal quality, almost like spinach. Mixed into your morning smoothie or swirled into yogurt, it flavors without overpowering.
The Daily Green Energy Shot has a green apple and spinach flavor while Get Well Soon Vitamin C Energy Shot is a bit sweeter with a focus of citrus flavors. Our tasters favorite were the Kuli Kuli Morning Energy Bars. They were chewy and sweet with a noticeable cocoa flavor perfect for a snack or light meal replacement.
MIXES, SAUCES & FLAVORS
These new food trends from the Summer Fancy Food Ahow are products which captured our attention for very different reasons. One was distinctive for the simple problem they sought to solve… getting kids to eat their vegetables. The next for it’s “buzz-worthy” concept of making a baker out of anyone with their genius bread mixes. And the third for its overall innovation, transforming and uplifting even the most tried and true dishes to new heights.
Andrew Suzuka was exhausted with the constant battle of trying to get his finicky daughter to eat her vegetables and set on a course to conquer the tastebuds of picky eaters everywhere. Partnering with Maxime Bilet, James Beard award-winning co-author of the tome, Modernist Cuisine, they developed Otamot Sauce.
Otamot (Tomato spelled backwards – don’t tell anyone) is a mild, almost sweet blend of 11 different vegetables and healthy oils including:
- Bell Peppers
- Sweet Potatoes
- Butternut Squash
- Red Beets
- Grapeseed Oil
Yes, you can top your favorite pasta with Otamot, but the real magic of this sauce is in its versatility.
- Add a bit of broth or cream and it makes a healthy, indulgent soup.
- Toss it with cumin powder and shredded chicken to pile onto tortillas for a flavorful taco.
- Add a bit to ground meat with eggs and breadcrumbs for tender, moist meatballs. That’s what I did here and the kid-friendly results elicited smiles and anticipation from our diners.
Available in stores in Brooklyn and New York, you can also order your own Otamot Sauce online.
Handcrafted in small batches with natural ingredients, Soberdough is a super-easy beer bread mix that turns out deeply flavored, chewy loaves and you don’t need to be an accomplished baker to make any one of their foolproof varieties. Just add beer and bake. We tried several samples of this crusty loaf at the Summer Fancy Foods Show and were impressed with the multitude of different flavor combinations and how the beer shone through in each slice. Not overpowering, but enhancing the flavors.
Also notable is the simple Soberdough mixes work with a variety of beers and seltzers. In fact, there are beer and lager suggestions for the “Novice“, the “Enthusiast” and the “Non-Beer Drinker” (club soda, carbonated water or NA beer).
I mixed up a batch of the Roasted Garlic Beer Bread using a Jamaican lager. The flavors were true to their billing. The sweet roasted garlic permeated the loaf and I definitely tasted the brew, but it wasn’t overdone. The crust was craggy and firm while the interior had a dense, chewy bite that all of our tasters really enjoyed. Note: there are also several sweet breads available and I sampled a few at the show and was surprised at how well they paired with beer.
If you have a beer aficionado in your life, these Soberdough mixes would be a great gift or surprise treat. Soberdough is available in select specialty stores across the country or order your favorite varieties online.
We met the folks behind The Mushroom Benefit on the day they launched their business at the Summer Fancy Food Show. Yes. Day 1. Brimming with enthusiasm about their new products, we were more than curious to learn how their Mushroom Cuisine Bags could amp up the richness and depth of so many dishes.
At the booth, the chef was sampling a rich, creamy mushroom infused penne pasta as well as an Asian stir fry. The secret was in the individual Cuisine Bags filled with mushrooms and aromatics. These little sachets pack a powerhouse of aroma and flavor. Use them to dramatically enhance the flavors of soups, stews, sauces and more.
I went home with samples of each of their offerings including “Classic, “Italian” and “Asian“culinary cuisine bags. For this post (and because I happened to have a pound of pork belly in the freezer), I used the Asian Cuisine Bag to make this Asian Braised and Seared Pork Belly by first soaking the sachet in hot water to extract the flavors and then creating a braising liquid for the pork by adding a few more ingredients like soy, honey, red pepper flakes and brown sugar. I did a quick braise in the pressure cooker and finished it on the flat top. Searing the belly produced a beautiful charred crust that further enhanced the aromas and flavors the pork had absorbed from the sauce.
Tasters were impressed with the aromas and authentic flavors and I was blown away by how much could be steeped from the unassuming Mushroom Benefit Cuisine Bags. Each box comes with 5 sachets. I can’t wait to use the Classic and Italian Cuisine Bags in some hearty stews as we head into fall.
BEVERAGES & COCKTAILS – Food Fads or New Food Trends?
So what does a dairy farmer know about plant based milk? Turns out, a lot. After closing the Elmhurst Dairy, which had been in business delivering milk to Queens and Brooklyn neighborhoods since 1925, the company turned a new page. A plant-based one. Aware of the recent decline in dairy consumption and burgeoning attitudes of healthy habits from plant-based nutrition, Henry Schwartz embarked on a new venture. Plant-based milks. Despite the fact that they’re made with no gums or emulsifiers, these nut milks are creamy, pure and delicious.
I’ll preface this by saying that I usually drink my coffee black, so adding anything to my morning joe, is a novelty for me, however, I was curious about the Hemp Creamer. Rich in Omega-3 ALA fatty acids, hemp seeds are the tiny nutritional powerhouse base for this “creamer.
The consistency was similar to half and half and there was no need to shake the contents of the bottle. It poured smoothly, like a homogenized product.
I added a few tablespoons to my morning brew and sipped. While not unpleasant, it had an earthiness that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Instead of simply mellowing the boldness of the coffee, it actually changed the flavor and made it more earthy and grassy. If you’re interested in adding hemp to your diet, this is probably the least intrusive way to do it.
Also from Elmhurst are a variety of nut “milks”. We sampled the Milked Cashews and Milked Almonds.
The cashew variety was a lovely, creamy white color with the distinct flavor of cashew nuts, pure and unadulterated. It isn’t sweetened by anything but the nuts and was really delicious by the glass.
The Milked Walnuts had a pronounced tinted hue and noticeable walnut flavor, true to its origins. Our tasters zeroed on in the really “milky” quality.
Both milks were very smooth and homogenized, which is not always the case with nut milks. Tasters liked both equally and would recommend them in a morning smoothie to add body to the drink as well as nutrients. You can find Elmhurst products in stores and online.
Cold brew coffee is a very “hot” commodity right now and Grady’s Cold Brew has a little extra flair! It’s New Orleans-Style Iced Coffee Concentrate is brewed with a bit of chicory in the mix. Just add the “bean bag” to a glass container and add two cups of filtered water. Refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight.
It turns out a richly flavored, ice coffee with no bitter aftertaste and the mahogany color of this brew is deep and rich. Tasters enjoyed the smooth taste and the added chicory. Grady’s Cold Brew makes a spectacular sipper for breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up. Being the foodie that I am, I’m also thinking this would make an excellent cold brew panna cotta or ice cream… More on that to come!
Grady’s Cold Brew is available at retailers nationwide, so you never run out of a good thing.
At King Floyd’s Bar Provisions, they’re obsessed with producing the finest hand-crafted bitters in the world. Through painstaking processes, they blend and macerate their blends for up to two months, testing and verifying the quality all along the way.
With the explosive demand for craft cocktails, King Floyd’s Bar Provisions are a must for the home bartender. Their product line ranges from bitters to rim salts (and sugars), even quality bar snacks. Their hand-crafted potions will take your standard Old Fashioned to the next level.
At the show, we sampled a cocktail using the cardamom bitters and were impressed by the intense flavors. You don’t need a lot (just a few drops) to transform the profile of your favorite libation into something decidedly more interesting. Here are just a few of the stand-outs:
- Cardamom Bitters are a bold and accurate representation of that floral spice.
- Pear-Ginger Bitters include hand-charred pears that add a caramely-toasted note to the characteristic fiery ginger burn.
- Orange Bitters had a characteristic citrus note that was deeper and more intense than most.
Another unique find was King Floyd’s Chocolate Cinn Rim Sugar to take a holiday cocktail or even a hot cocoa up several notches. Sold primarily in the San Francisco Bay area, you can order your favorites online.
Clever. Unique. Transformative. The idea behind this Spanish company is to infuse gin (and vodka) with subtle floral notes from the pyramid shaped silk pouch filled with herbs, spices and botanicals. It’s a novel approach to the craft cocktail and was one that truly wowed my tasters.
Té Tonic makes aromatic infusions for gin in multiple flavor combinations including:
- Red Passion: Dried apple, hibiscus, elderberry, rose-hip, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry and black currant.
- Rose Jasmine: Hibiscus, dehydrated rose petals, orange blossom, green jasmine tea and dried apple
- Yellow Citrus: Lemon rind, hibiscus, juniper berries, camomile, physalis and cardamom.
- Orange Energy: Dried orange rind, dried lemon rind, whole cinnamon pods, mint, physalis, juniper berries and orange and cinnamon tea.
- Green Fresh: Dried Cucumber, lemon rind, physalis, juniper berries, lemon verbena and cardamom.
- White Essential: Physalis, lemon rind, juniper berries, black pepper, cardamom and orange blossom.
Additional flavor combinations are available for vodka cocktails.
Tasters loved the bouquet and subtle botanicals present in their gin cocktails, not to mention the novelty of the infusion bags, which imparted flavor as well as a cheery hue to our libations. Té Tonic is available in variety packs of 6 and 24 (party size) and while they’re not sold in the states yet, (they’re available in some European countries and Mexico) you can check out their website for availability.
Condiments & Ingredients
This isn’t your average honey. Yes, it’s sweet, but that’s not the first thing you notice. This wildflower honey is infused with chilies. Seriously infused. As in HOT. Feel the burn. In a good way.
This is a condiment that really has a multitude of uses. On your morning pancakes or waffles for an eye-opening start? You bet. Over crispy fried chicken? Definitely! And, you know how we like a bit of heat in our cocktails? Well, muddle jalapeños no more! Mike’s Hot Honey eliminates the need for simple syrup and chili peppers and it’s ready anytime. They also suggest rimming the glass with the honey and dipping the rim in salt for a real kick to your margarita.
Another simple, but really delicious idea is to drizzle a bit of honey over sharp cheddar, goat cheese or cream cheese on your favorite cracker to go with that spicy cocktail. We’ve been happily munching these for the last several nights as a prelude to dinner. Scott mentioned that Mike’s Hot Honey would be good on my Manchego Stuffed Dates, too — and I think he’s right.
You can find Mike’s Hot Honey in grocery stores and specialty markets or online.
Runamok Maple hails from northern Vermont, where you’d expect to find some of the finest maple syrups. They don’t disappoint. In fact, they go beyond. Inserting more than 81,000 taps by hand, this is a labor intensive business… and they don’t stop at plain maple syrup. The folks at Runamok have created a line of infused, smoked and barrel aged maple syrups that are other-worldly.
Each flavor profile is distinctive and unmistakable. For instance, the barrel-aged selections have a nuanced flavor of the barrels they’re aged in… Some from bourbon barrels, others in rum or whiskey barrels. Each one brings a little something different to the individual syrups. My personal favorite was the Rum Barrel Aged Organic Maple Syrup, but other tasters really enjoyed Bourbon Barrel Aged Organic Maple Syrup.
The Merquén chili infused syrup is spicy, sweet and rich — it’s what you want on chicken and waffles.
For me, the Cinnamon Vanilla infused is one of my favorites. I spooned a bit over vanilla ice cream and was instantly smitten with the beautiful blend of cinnamon softened by the vanilla and maple. It never would have occurred to me to combine these flavors, but having tried it, they’re a natural pairing.
One of the major standouts was the Pecan Wood Smoked Organic Maple Syrup. This one is bold and rich with an inherent smoked aroma and flavor. We used some in this Old Fashioned to stellar results. It would also be welcome in dressings and marinades.
I’ve used Neilsen-Massey extracts for years and love them for their quality and reliability for all my baking. I’m sure you’ve had similar positive experiences. Their latest entry to the flavorings front comes in the form of an old standard, Madagascar Vanilla in a lightly sweetened paste form that can be swirled into cakes, custards, ice creams and the like.
It pours like a thick syrup and is redolent with vanilla flavor and plenty of those tell-tale vanilla bean seeds. Above is a vanilla glaze I made using the paste — you can actually see the vanilla seeds throughout the glaze.
Unlike vanilla extract, this flavoring doesn’t contain any alcohol and its warm, round vanilla flavor would marry equally well in hot cocoa or white hot chocolate. Half a teaspoon of Vanilla Bean Paste in an Old-Fashioned would bring another dimension to that classic cocktail and it worked beautifully in these 2-Bite Cherry Vanilla Scones.
You can find Nielsen-Massey extracts in specialty stores nationwide and online.
New Food Trends For The Kitchen
Beautiful, stylish and functional, Brooklyn Slate has a line of artisan slate cheese boards, beautiful cheese knives and other thoughtful provisions that will elevate your entertaining and gifting.
The slate comes from a quarry in upstate New York and while the larger pieces are brought out with machinery (they can weigh as much as 10 tons), the smaller pieces are split by hand with a hammer and chisel to create unique, elegant pieces. I love that this is a woman-owned business producing beautiful, artisanal-ware that’s both functional and sophisticated.
This round cheese board is about 11 inches in diameter and has a medium textured surface to showcase your favorite cheeses, salumi or other antipasti. You’ll want one or two for your own get togethers, but you’ll also want to gift some to your foodie friends. Brooklyn Slate makes a phenomenal line of unique serve ware for gracious entertaining.
Available in select specialty retailers, you can also buy yours online.
I thought this was a really genius idea – reusable beeswax coated wraps. The founder of the company, Michelle Zimora, created these unique wraps to cut down on the waste generated by constantly wrapping leftovers and half-used food items in plastic wrap and foil.
These amazing wraps can be used over and over again (Michelle gets about a year of use out of each one). To clean, wash with mild soap and water and air dry. The tacky beeswax film sticks to virtually ANYTHING. From a bamboo salad bowl, to a pot, a plate, half an onion or an apple.
There are a multitude of sizes available (small, medium, large & extra large plus new baguette and cheese wraps). Best of all, Z Wraps come in beautiful fabric designs to liven up your kitchen. If you care about the environment and creating less waste, Z Wraps are a natural solution for your kitchen.
Creating environmentally friendly kitchen and household products is the mantra of If You Care. With everything from baking ware, coffee and tea filters to “good for the environment” cleaning supplies, If You Care, creates quality products with an eco-friendly bent.
Not only are their products thoughtfully created with minimal packaging, they’re also very high quality. I tested their Automatic Dishwasher Tablets, which happen to be about half the size of other commercially available counterparts and they stood up to the challenge, cleaning to sparkling an overly-full dishwasher (because I like to cram everything I can into it).
Another stand-out for me were the Paper Snack and Sandwich Bags. Instead of plastic bags, these baggies are free from Petroleum products, not chemically treated and they keep sandwich bread soft for up to 6 hours. They’ll definitely keep your kids’ PB&J fresh until lunchtime!
Be sure to check out the full line of cooking and kitchen supplies available at online retailer, Thrive Market or through their website.
Want More Innovative Food Finds From The Specialty Food Association Food Trade Show?
Stop Back Next Week For Innovative Ice Creams (and Toppings), Artisan Charcuterie, Organic Oils, Gourmet Sauces, Healthy Chocolates and More! Also, check out these taste-tested and recommended food fads!
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