Fancy Food Show 2018 Highlights: Visiting Old Favorites And Checking Out New Innovative Brands

I have attended the Summer Fancy Food Show at the Javits Center for 20 years now and it never disappoints. It’s the ultimate place to check out the latest food trends but also a place where you know you can visit old favorites–and always get to taste something good. It’s for three days and you will find yourself incredible full within your first hour of “noshing as you go.” Everyone is entitled to one small to medium tote bag worth of samples to take home–everything else is donated to City Harvest at end of the final day. Here are a few of my greatest moments at the FFS and we won’t talk about the tummy ache I got stuffing myself with everything from gumdrops to prosciutto and back again (and in no particular order)!
I know it’s a matter of opinion and a lot people claim that tomato sauce out of a jar just can’t be as good as fresh, but Rao’s Specialty Foods makes a great variety of pasta sauces that can stand up to anyone else’s, fresh or jarred. They were at the show to not only announce a new pasta line that at first will just be available to restaurants but also to introduce their new Bolognese and Garlic Alfredo sauces. Both rock and let me add that the Alfredo is special because it is light–not overly rich like most Alfredo sauces. Their official website is www.raosspecialtyfoods.com.
Confection-wise, I think that I love caramel even more than I love chocolate and McCrea’s Caramels were at the show to introduce new flavors and holiday packaging. They are the only company that I know that make Jalapeño Caramels and also bring the art of making Sea Salt Caramels to new heights. Their pieces are perfectly bite-sized, superfresh and wrapped in a special plastic wrap that will keep them that way for a long time. The Boston area based McCrea’s assortments and individual flavors come in so many shapes and sizes and the classy cream-colored paper boxes and tubes with illustrations of the plants used for each flavor inside are endearing. I hope to have a marathon session of trying ever flavor in this top-notch small batch caramel line someday. I have already managed to eat three different size packages in two hours. For more info, go to www.mccreascandies.com. They always come up with quirky new caramel flavors thrown to keep their line fresh and updated.
I encountered MadeGood for the first time at the recent Kids Food Festival back in the Occulus on Mother’s Day but checked them out at the Fancy Food Show as well. Their all-natural healthy squares are a great way to get kids to eat healthy without them knowing it. Their products are packed with vitamins and protein and it was their vanilla squares that blew me away at the Kids Food Fest–but at the FFS, I tried the Chocolate Chip Crispy Squares and could not stop eating them. I was lucky that I did not clean the MadeGood booth out of all their boxes. I was happy to learn that they make granola–it is actually called Crisply Light Granola. It’s available in four irresistible flavors–Apple Cinnamon, Chocolate Banana, Strawberry and Cocoa Crunch. For more info on this highly creative line that adults love just as much as kids, go to www.madegoodfoods.com (their extra colorful official site).
Bantam Bagels held a special breakfast party in their booth on Sunday and people scuffled to try samples of their new Breakfast Bagels–which are filled with cheese and scrambled eggs–as well as their Original Egg Bites. But my soft spot will always be for their Onion Bagels stuffed with cream cheese. These bites are not big but they are super filling. Two or three of them are good enough to fill you up in the morning before you head out to work–and you can even eat them on the go! The Chocolate Chip is more of a snack item and tastes like a fresh baked chewy chocolate chip cookie while the Pizza flavor packs a big wallop of cheese and tomato goodness (and is a heck of a lot neater to eat than a New York slice). Stock up on these; they not only taste really fresh but they are one of the most convenient food items that any family can keep in their freezer for themselves or for unexpected guests. For more info on this bonafide Brooklyn baked bagel product, go to www.bantambagels.com.
The Sugar Bowl Bakery’s booth was rockin’ because everyone wanted to try to newly launched Button Cakes as well as the company’s other legendary sweet treats. Their hero products are their Brownie Bites, Petite Palmiers and Madeleines and I scarfed down samples of all three while I was at the Fancy food Show. I have spent the last few days thinking about making a sundae with Sugar Bowl’s madeleines on the bottom as a “base”—they are buttery and moist and taste like they just came out of the oven in a bakery in Paris. I find it fascinating that you can download the recipes for Sugar Bowl’s recipes on their site but I can honestly say to jist go buy their products. The way that they make them tastes the same as if you tried to make them from scratch at home yourself, maybe better. Their official site www.sugarbowlbakery.com shows not only the recipes but the great press that Sugar Bowl has been getting—and, of course, where to buy their authentic tasting and easy packable products.
R.W. Garcia’s 34-year-old family owned and operated snack brand is something that I was not familiar with before attending this year’s Fancy Food Show but I immediately fell in love with their organic corn chips—which are perfectly salted, organic, non-GMO, preservative-free and available in Organic Yellow and Blue Corn varieties. This is a good alternative to the unhealthy corn chips that so many Americans are addicted too and they blow anything else off the shelves taste-wise and crunch-wise. You can find R.W. Garcia’s world class snacks–including their recently launched Organic Lentil With Tumeric And Organic Chickpea Artisan Crackers–at Harris Teeter stores. Their philosophy is to keep things simple and pure and their quality is impeccable as a result. I am simply dying to try their Sweet Beet Crackers and their Black Bean & Garlic Tortilla Chips and I plan to by the end of the summers. R.W. Garcia’s list of revolutionary and healthy flavors just never ends. Their official website is www.rwgarcia.com.
Nothing will give you a greater nostalgia burst than eating the candy of your youth and that is why I love Gustaf’s candies. Some of the greatest classics of all time are created by them including the incredible English licorice collection known as All-Sorts and Gumbilees, which are a classic British wine gums. Let’s not forget red or black licorice pinwheels, either…or even a new discovery I just made at their booth this past Sunday called Satellite Wafers. Gustaf’s makes gummies in all shapes and sizes and I could literally spend hours scooping samples of candy from their booth which was literally set up as a Memory Lane of candy with a giant sign that read Candy Memories. Gustaf’s parent company is Gerrit J. Verburg Company and you can find out more about them at www.gerritjverburg.com.

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