By Susie Timm, Head Cheese
After 3 solid days of tasting, testing and talking, my lips and my legs were beyond exhausted. This summer’s Fancy Food Show was a fantastic success in it’s new (temporary?) venue, the DC Convention Center.
I went to the show with several objectives: competitive analysis (for a client), new product research (for another client) and as per normal, I was seeking the newest and most unique food trends.
I’ve read a few recaps from the show including the press release the National Association of Specialty Food Trade (NASFT) released announcing their trends and am pleased to say, I must know a little something about this whole food racket because I was spot on (for the most part).
So here they are in no particular order:
From spicy, to pumpkin to mustard to curry, ketchup is going to take the US by storm on menus and shelves alike. According to DC Star Chef Jose Andres, “Catsups” were historically thinner and came in many varietals before the standard “tomato” came to the forefront of our palates. Here’s some of my show favorites:
2. Crazy Wild Spicy Sweets
As a Wisconsin native, I have often joked that my mother thought ketchup was a spice growing up (hey she should be a big fan of trend #1 eh?). That being said, I didn’t get brave enough to try anything spicy ’till after I was a Sun Devil Alum.
This year I saw some pretty off the charts combinations of sweet and heat.
The two that stuck out and blew my mind were:
Chuao Chocolate’s Firecracker Bar: It’s dark chocolate with chipotle and popping candy. As it melts, the spicy popping hunks literally explode on your tongue. This might be the most awesome product at the entire show.
Theo Chocolate’s Ghost Chili Salted Caramel: This buttery caramel is infused with ghost chile peppers, coated in dark chocolate and topped with dried chiles and Hawaiian Red Sea Salt. Um…amazing? Yes. And it won a sofi Gold award this year (the Oscar’s of the specialty food industry).
Pegged as the “original superfood” the little red globes of sweet delight were center stage at this year’s show in a big, big way.
sofi Gold winning product “Spiced Sour Cherry Spread” by the Gracious Gourmet led the pack with their incredibly delicious jar of love. This product is so versatile as it can be used on meat and ice cream alike. I was wowed.
Bada Bing Cherries by Tillen Farms are the rage for sundae toppings and I love that they are all natural.
Montmornecy Cherry Concentrate: Highly concentrated, 100% cherry juice, this Michigan product is about as cherry as it gets.
The amazing thing–these three products don’t even scratch the surface of the amount of cherry goodness I encountered. Dried cherries, cherry pie drink, chocolate covered cherries, liquor cherries…it’s like Forrest Gump and Strawberry Shortcake mated and gave birth to a cherry kid.
4) Boozy Food
Ah, booze. Fun to sip and even more fun to eat! I found multiple products infused with liquors but my most favorites reigned supreme.
Probably the most unique product I found was sofi gold award winner “Chili Lime Tortilla Brittle” by Anette’s Chocolates out of Napa Valley. This brittle is crunchy and spicy and sweet and tangy and salty–all in one bite. The flavor combination is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted and I can’t wait to taste it again!
Happy Goat Scotch Caramel Sauce: I didn’t discover this gem until late in the day on Sunday and I came back for 2nds and 3rds. First off, the company is called “Happy Goat.” That in itself should be award-winning. The sauce was rich and and would make a scotch lover swoon. Simply outstanding.
5) Simple, Salty Snacks, Unique Flavors
Never have I been so excited by popcorn, peanuts and potato chips! This summer salty snacks took the show by storm in a big way.
Here’s a peak at my favorites:
Lord Nut Levington’s Thai Dyed Peanuts–Lemongrass and curry on a peanut? You betcha. And they rocked.
Crave Canyon Popcorn: From Anise and Sea Salt to Wasabi Ginger Kettlecorn, these flavors combined in ways I’ve never tasted on movie fare.
Want’ems: Wonton chips that literally melted in my mouth and brought back the happiest menu of my childhood over consumption of Chinese food.
What a rush. What a time. I look forward to San Francisco’s show in January–anyone want to join me?