It’s no secret that the first Fancy Foods Show booth that I go to is Bongiovi Brands! I love to chat with Jon Biongiovi, Sr. and his sons Anthony and Matthew about everything that’s new as well as “classic” in their line. They are really going to start a thing with their new Classic Curry tomato sauce which really has a beautiful kick to it, as well as their Tomato Basil and Hearty Garlic (I cannot get enough of either basil or garlic, so I loved getting to taste test these at the show)! Going to the Bongiovi Brands stand lets me get more than my share of great sauce and there is no better way to start your day at the Summer Fancy Food Show than with some good pasta and sauce. Be sure to go to http://www.bongiovibrands.com to order some of these and check out their other products.
I admit that I favor Italian food, so next I had to press the flesh with Rao’s Specialty Foods founder Ron Straci and his lovely wife Sharon who knows more about their products than anyone else. They always have one of the prettiest booths with more than a dozen pasta sauces to try! This year I just chatted and didn’t try anything because I was super full (this is a common problem at the Summer Fancy Food Show because you are trying dozens of items)! For more info, go to http://www.raos.com.
I always love to test new sodas as that is my favorite drink even though it seems to get more bad press than hard liquor lately. I say that you only live once so try to enjoy what you love at least once per week! I was lucky to try Brooklyn Organics at home thanks to samples sent to me as well as at the show. I adore Ginger Ale so this was heaven for me–I dream about tasting artisan Ginger Ale all the time, as weird as that might sound. Let me say right now that Brooklyn Organics Craft Ginger Ale’s Zero Sugars flavors are some of the best diet product that I have ever had, and they come in awesome Coconut, Pomegranate and Cola varieties! For more info, go to http://www.drinkbrooklynorganics.com. The same company–BCGA Concept Corporation–distributed Bruce Cost Unfiltered Ginger Ale. I fell in love with the Jasmine Tea flavor the minute I tried it. If you love a powerful punch of ginger and specks of actual ginger in your ginger ale, nothing can beat this. All of Bruce Cost’s sodas are made in Brooklyn with 100 per cent pure cane sugar and 100 per cent pure ginger. Ginger Ale does not get better than this. For more info, go to http://www.brucecostgingerale.com.
I did look for a few healthy desserts and the one that impressed me most was Enlightened The Good-For-You Ice Cream which is only 80 calories per half cup (some of the flavors like Vanilla and Coffee are also naturally low in carbs). It is packed with protein and fiber and has much less sugar and fat than regular ice cream. People working the booth verified that they had lost 30 or 40 pounds eating this cold and delicious product everyday, and I hope to follow suit soon! For more info, go to http://www.eatenlightened.com.
I did notice less chocolate this year, making me think that maybe people are getting too healthy! I loved going to Gustaf’s candies to check out some of their Euro classics that I pretty much cannot stop eating like all-sorts and Jumbilees, a rival to the legendary Maynard’s Wine Gums in the UK. They get my vote for most colorful stand with their multiple color licorice pinwheels and they even had a super cool strawberry gummy called Pink Cadillacs. For more info, go to http://www.oldtimecandy.com.
I was impressed with the new product section that I have never seen before. There were cutting edge products including oxygenated water and delicious crackers in all sorts of unusual flavors. There was world-class maple syrup here but that seemed to permeate the show. There were more health-oriented items in the new product section and I have to say that I was very impressed with many of the sugar free baked goods that I encountered there.
My favorite “unusual item” at the show was Sucker Punch Gourmet–whom I also ran into at the press event called Food Fete which overlapped with the Summer Fancy Food Show! This Illinois-based company specializes in dill pickles but they have killer relishes which I tasted paired with pulled pork on a special slider–and just adored it! Did I mention their Spicy Green Tomato Salsa that tastes so fresh and has become my favorite new salsa. They also have a killer Bloody Mary Mix which packs a bit of heat. For more info on these wonderful and unique products, go to http://www.suckerpunchgourmet.com.
I also have to add Bradbury’s Cheeses to my “unusual products file”–they are the UK’s top worldwide distributor of cheeses made in the Derbyshire countryside. Sure they make killer mild and medium cheddars which is their staple product but there were a few cutting edge ones that I tried including a tray of dessert cheese that you can buy prepackaged at your grocers and an unusual Wensleydale made with blueberries and an actual Celtic Whiskey Cheddar. For more info, go to http://www.bradburyscheese.co.uk/.
In case you are curious whos booth I would vote the prettiest, that one goes to Stonewall Kitchen. They really try to find the most beautiful vintage style white cabinets and bric and brac to put in their booth. They even had a old-fashioned fire truck in the center of their booth this year. They make a terrific variety of home-style products so I never mind running around to them all and tasting them! They make the best pancake mix out there, by the way. For more info, http://www.stonewallkitchen.com.
Every year at the Summer Fancy Food Show I gets stuffed to the gills to the point where I can barely move about two hours into it–and sore feet. But it is all worth it. For more info on all the Fancy Food Shows held each year across the country, go to http://www.specialityfoodassociation.com. Keep in mind that it is just for people in the food trade one way or another–the brands are looking for people to sell their items–and food media. So you might have to find an “in” through a friend or relative in the biz. Cannot wait until next year’s Fancy Foods Show! Maybe one of these days I will make the trip to San Francisco to check out the Winter Fancy Foods Show they have there each year