Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Top Ten Best from the Fancy Foods Show 2011

This year's Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco did not disappoint! From sparkling elderflower beverages to puerh tea to herb infused grapeseed oil, this year seemed to have even more unique products than last. We've posted our favorites in 2009 and in 2010

Here are a few of my favorites from the 2011 show:

1. Bacon Jam by Skillet

Okay, I know the bacon trend is overdone and even I am sick of it but this isn't your typical "bacon" novelty. This savory spread is made by rendering Niman Ranch bacon and simmering it for 6 hours with onions, balsamic vinegar and spices. As a result, it was full of incredibly complex flavors.

It was served on a cracker with brie and was the best thing I tasted at the show.

2. Fresh Ginger Ginger Ale

This isn't your airplane ginger's how ginger ale is supposed to taste! After a sip of this, I knew I had tasted it before! Twice! First at Big Bowl restaurants in the Minneapolis area and then last year at Publican, in Chicago. I had actually mentioned it in a past post! It's phenomenal- sophisticated and totally appropriate as an accompaniment to a nice dinner. Available in original ginger, ginger jasmine green tea and ginger pomegranate.

We saw quite a few pairings with wine this year- chocolate, nuts, crackers, cheese. But, I really liked the idea of sweet and savory cookies that are matched with different wines. Each box contained three different flavors for a group of wines.

And to help you pair, there's a handy guide on the side of each box matching each flavor with a varietal.

4. The Bacon Pickle by Unbound Pickling

Ok, we've seen a rise in homestyle canning and Unbound Pickling has created a wonderfully hickory smoke flavored pickle that is actually vegan and has no bacon whatsoever.

We love umami- often called the fifth taste along with sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Umami is often described as a savory or meaty flavor and is common in Asian cuisine. There are natural sources of umami in foods like tomatoes, mushrooms, and seaweed etc. These naturally occurring glutamates give that delicious umami flavor. You might recognize that another common food ingredient can provide umami- mono-sodium glutamate (MSG). However, this paste is made of foods that have naturally occurring glutamate and the ingredients list includes porcini mushrooms, olives, anchovies, parmesan cheese, tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. (There is no MSG in this paste.) We can't wait to try cooking with this!

We ate this before snapping a photo! Yum, this single origin chocolate, Pure Nacional chocolate, has been recently rediscovered in Peru. And paired with the cacao beans, it is quite marvelous to taste. There's a lot of chocolate at this show, and thankfully, one of my colleagues had read about this rare chocolate in this article in the NY Times.

We featured the unusual Filipino ice cream last year in the best of 2010 Fancy Foods but this year, we liked the pops just as well! From halo halo to ube to Thai tea, these were a refreshing new taste in the category.

8. FruBee Fruit and Honey Pops

This room temperature blend of fruit and honey in a pouch can be frozen at home into a delicious treat. We loved the flavors in this sweet little treat from New Zealand!

9. Peque Oliva olive oil for kids

What would your first olive oil taste like? This Spanish olive oil, meant specifically for children, has a low acidity and delicate taste. It touts vitamins and high oleic acid content as well as aims to be beneficial for growth, sleep and health.

10. The Republic of Tea travel tea cup

This was the best giveaway at the show: a travel cup made by Bodum, complete with a tea strainer that allowed you to steep loose tea and then press it out to drink ( photo coming soon). It reminded me of a French press for tea and in a travel size! It was marvelous and I enjoyed their milk oolong tea during the show. I also loved the chocolate tea line as well.

And that was the show...did you have any favorites?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Glass of Liquid Sunshine

That's what this smoothie reminded me of on this January morning. We are having beautiful California winter weather and after Justin's morning bike ride, we made a smoothie using leftover frozen fruit from last summer. An eclectic mix of frozen mango, pineapple and honeydew melon plus a scoop of Greek yogurt yielded this sunny yellow smoothie. A perfect use of leftover rich, ripe fruit from summer to brighten this winter day!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Taste of Summer in the Middle of Winter: Toasted Marshmallow Hot Chocolate

It isn't often that my food expectations are exceeded at a restaurant but my favorite local restaurant, the Sideboard, in Danville, continues to pleasantly surprise me. Today's unexpected delight: this hot chocolate! When I ordered hot chocolate, I didn't expect to receive a gently toasted marshmallow atop milk foam rimmed in graham cracker over the chocolatey warmth. Can you imagine the memory of campfire s'mores flooding my senses as I took an indulgent bite of that bruleed marshmallow? And that taste of summertime in the middle of winter was marvelous.

If you find yourself in Danville at the Sideboard, I also highly recommend the beet, fennel and grapefruit salad- posted here. It's my standard order with a side of pommes frites.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Vanilla Snowflake Marshmallows

This isn't the first time we've posted about homemade marshmallows on foodspiration. In fact, that link shows our step-by-step photos of how to make this deliciousness and links to the recipe I used. We've blogged twice about this because we're in love with the light, pillowy texture of these little clouds. Ok, they are so good that I just had to step away from writing this post to go and eat one of these marshmallows!

We used Martha's recipe as we did in our previous post but I wish I had remembered to spread the marshmallow into two pans not just one 9 X 13. Because we were cutting shapes, the 9 X 13 pan made very thick marshmallows which were almost too big for the cookie cutter to get through. So consider putting this sticky yumminess into two pans and having slightly less thick marshmallows. I actually had to cut the shape and then half the shaped marshmallow with a sharp knife.

For this batch, I wanted to make snowflake shaped marshmallows instead of the simple stars from before. Now, I am impatient...and I didn't let my marshmallows set for 3 hours so they were a little soft. And with some help from my neighbor, we were able to get a several large snowflake ones out- but it wasn't easy. It's good to note that complex shapes really don't work here- we tried smaller snowflakes but the detail got lost and the marshmallow got stuck in the cutters.

The marshmallows taste great on their own but they also look fantastic in a cup of hot cocoa! These required a very large mug however!

Shapes are great but they do create quite a bit of scrap which still tastes good but doesn't look as nice. We actually cut a lot of the scrap pieces into squares -some which I wrapped and gave out. I'm also thinking about what we could do with the misshapen pieces...coat them in chocolate perhaps?

These were your basic vanilla recipe but next time I'm thinking about trying a flavored recipe.

Have you eaten a flavored marshmallow that we should try? Got a recipe that you can share?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Winter Wonderland? Guess this food...

Any guesses what this food is?
It reminded me of freshly fallen snow on the ski slopes...