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Fancy Food Show 2011 - First Day Thoughts

waldrons | Jan 17, 201112:09 AM

This year's Fancy Food Show has more of the same trends as last year -- everything that isn't overtly poisonous is labeled "all natural", "healthy", "guilt-free", etc. Even teas are labeled "gluten-free".

Lots of sauces and dips, including a spicy cucumber dip and a sesame parmesan dip from Maggie & Mary's. Unfortunately, they don't do retail here in the Bay Area.

Olive oil is still big (flavorings are expanding) and now vinegar is catching up. There was even more than one company making peach balsamic vinegar (very light, actually, would be great on a fruit salad or maybe even a watermelon salad).

Seeds, nuts and flax are big, as are popcorns.

Ethnic foods continue their popularity, with Asian flavors coming from the Philippines and India, among others. Countries as diverse as Turkey and Azerbaijan are promoting food exports.

Lots of beverages, with I think fewer coffee vendors than before, but tons of teas -- hot, canned, brewed, etc. Lots of waters, as well, including coconut water and tonic water. And a sports drink in a plastic ball that you hang around your neck.

Celebrity endorsements are bigger than ever... the Barefoot Contessa was there in person, strangely NOT surrounded by fans. Duff from Charm City Cakes (and the Food Network) will be at booth 1088 on Monday. I saw Narsai David attending, and Marcia Gagliardi (The Tablehopper newsletter) was also wandering the aisles.

Oprah was darn near omni-present, although not in person. But every other booth seemed to have been listed on her O List or as a Favorite Thing. Photos of Rachael Ray, Ted (from Chopped) and other Food Network stars also were used to plug various products.

What did I like?
Helen Grace Chocolates had a very good chocolate-covered peanut brittle. They couldn't tell me where to buy it retail in the area, unfortunately.
Lehi Valley has very good flavored popcorn (most of the other packaged popcorn was crap). They sell at Blue Fog and Nuggets Market (which are supposedly in San Francisco).
Iveta Gourmet did a very good scone mix, which is available somewhere at the Ferry Building.
Blissful Brownies' Blissful Delight was quite good, but is available only in the William-Sonoma catalog.
Artisan Candies has a very good salted caramel (but my heart still belongs to Bequet). Both sell retail online only.
And Trois Petite Cochons had a very good chicken apple sausage which is sold pretty much at all the usual suspects -- Bristol Farms, Cheese Plus, Andronico's, etc.

It is interesting attending this show from a consumer perspective, as this is really a wholesale marketplace. The French and Italian pavilions are strictly serious business -- I hate even asking for a sample, as their suit-and-tied folks are busy talking big bucks with potential buyers and I just want to try some stinky cheese. And many of the booths have little or no info on where they do retail sales in the area.

It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it, so I'll go back again tomorrow looking for the Iberico jamon and other goodies. More later!

Cheese Plus
2001 Polk St, San Francisco, CA

Bristol Farms
845 Market Street, San Francisco, CA

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