There were a number of things I saw at the Winter Fancy Food Show that really intrigued me this year. But tasting something is not the same as cooking with, or trying something in my own home kitchen, so I decided I would put some of the most provocative products into a separate post from my favorites. Hopefully this makes sense. Next up will be the trends from the show and beyond...
If you love cheese, how can you not fall head over heels for this wedding cake? It's made entirely of Cypress Grove chevre and lovely fresh flowers. For someone who prefers cheese over sweets, it would be a fantastic way to celebrate in style. In fact, master cheesemaker and Cypress Grove founder Mary Keehn served one at her own wedding.
I've been hearing about black garlic for quite some time, but I'm not sure I'd ever tried it before the show. It was offered up in various forms from whole heads, to cloves to liquid. It is fermented and all the natural sugars come out creating a very sweet molasses like flavor and a texture somewhat chewier than a raisin. It has no bite and is actually used in various desserts, believe it or not. I think it would be great with caramelized onions, on pizza, or even in bread. I snagged a sample and look forward to experimenting with it. Hopefully it will be more widely available soon.
Let me tell you, the show floor was simply buzzing about smoked olive oil. Everyone I met asked if I had tried it. Yes, I did. And I liked it, but will need to see how it works on various dishes. It seems like it would have good potential on soups and drizzled over vegetables or to boost flavor on grilled foods. It's supposedly a top seller in Tyler Florence's kitchen shop in Mill Valley.
When I was in Japan I discovered yuzukosho, a paste made from the yuzu citrus and kosho, a Japanese green chili pepper. It's got loads of tangy citrus flavor not just pure heat. I was so crazy about it I bought tubes to bring home, afraid that I might not find it here (fortunately it is available in my local Japanese grocery store). This new product is yuzusco, like Tabasco, and it is yuzu and kosho but in a thin vinegar sauce. It has all the complexity and mild heat of yuzukosho but is much easier to use. I would use it in place of Tabasco, which I find to be fairly simple and one note. I hope the company producing it is able to get distribution soon.
I only tried a packaged mole sauce once, and it was dreadful (actually Trader Joe's discontinued it not long after I bought it)l. I tried both the black and red mole sauces from award-winning San Angel as well as the red cascabel sauce and was very impressed. The red was a bit spicier, the black a bit sweet but each tasted homemade and contains high quality natural ingredients. They were layered with flavors and I could see keeping them on hand to use with leftover chicken and turkey. I'd use the cascabel to make enchiladas.
My friend Vanessa of Italy in SF introduced me to these fantastic Etruria Gourmet vinegars from Italy and their producer, Giuseppe Cagnoni. I had never had honey vinegar before and fell for it, hard. I plan to pick up a bottle and see how many ways I can use it. I bet it would be great on fruit salad as well as bitter green salads. Vanessa suggested using the mild honey vinegar with sparkling water for an aperitif, which sounds great. The raspberry vinegar was also amazingly fragrant and floral. Giuseppe explained how the ancient honey vinegar was probably first invented by accident. All his vinegars are living, contain "mother" and are not filtered.
Another vinegar I liked was this Sparrow Lane pear vinegar. Again, I tried it plain, so I don't have a good idea how it will perform in recipes, but I did like it very much.
One of the oddest things I tried, also all the buzz at the show, were savory filled macaroons from Fabrique Delices. Supposedly these are popular in France. I liked the goat cheese one, but the other flavors such as porcini and sun-dried tomato were problematic for me, as the cookies were too sweet. Since they are made from egg whites and sugar, I'm not sure how the baker will get the balance of sweet and savory right, but I think it's an interesting idea and look forward to trying them again, perhaps with a glass of wine?
The Fancy Food Show has very few gadgets and gizmos, but there was an interesting invention, Bread Armor a special plastic zip top bag designed specifically to keep artisanal bread fresh. It wasn't an ordinary plastic bag, but one made of 7 layers and supposedly it keeps baguettes fresh for up to 20 days. Obviously I need to put this to the test! But as someone who routinely makes bread crumbs or tosses out petrified baguette remnants, I am very excited at the prospect of this product. It can also be reused many times.