Reflections on Fancy Food/NASFT Show, San Francisco – January 2011

Organized by color because, well, why not?

Pink is the new white. For salt, that is.  Peruvian and Himalayan salt is moving in on fleur de sel, sel gris and any other trendy-yet-ancient salts. Witness Moonstruck Chocolates and CC Made Caramels, among others.    
Red velvet: Stonewall Kitchen, which produces the Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten) product line, is betting heavily with new mixes of this traditional Southern cake. Pelican Bay, too, with their newest cupcake mix.  The Republic of Tea released a red velvet chocolate tea.  Really, it tastes like the cake, has a beautiful red hue from the rooibos tea leaves, and, according to their show floor rep, built to drink with dessert.
While not technically a color, at least for those of us not surrounded by Martha Stewart paint swatches, red-hues from wine and its by-products was to be found in resveratrol-fortified nutrition bars (ResVez) cookies (Skipping Stone), tea (Tea Forté – referred to as “natural flavors” in ingredient list), mustard (AJ’s Edible Arts), frosting (cabernet sauvignon in The Frosting Queens King Cabernet frosting), wine and fruit preserves (Tishbi Winery cherry shiraz and fig cabernet) and chocolate (Bissinger’s merlot salt). To be paired with wine, Brix Chocolates is making unique chocolates and the Napa Cookie Co is making “wine snap” shortbread biscuits.  It’s about time!
A gorgeous ube (purple yam) ice cream from Magnolia and Royal Blue Tea from Japan, meant to be savored like wine.
Chocolate tea, the Republic of Tea is going after it hard, check out the new line:
Fortified or naturally fortified foods move along:
Manuka honey has come over from Natural Products to Fancy Food (HNZ and Airborne, both of New Zealand), but witness CocoXan by Xan Confections fortified chocolates, peanut flour from Montebello Kitchens, the Omega 3 and 6-fortified Slims Collection from Trumps Food and Peque Oliva EV olive oil by M5 Corporation.
Umami Paste from Piccadilly Imports is sure to bring new awareness to “the fifth taste”
Sweet potatoes!
Just one – BLK Beverages’ BLK Water, made with fulvic acid, mined from Canadian Rocky Mountain soil.  It looked cool in the glass and tasted like mineralized water but it was tough to get an explanation of the benefits of fulvic acid from the show rep…(A web search tells me it is an antioxidant and micronutrient.)
Making its way out of Asian groceries, coconut is the new “other white meat.”  Find it in tea (The Republic of Tea), water (Harney and Sons Fine Teas), dessert (Simple Squares), cookies (Piccolinos!) and chocolate (Helen Grace).
Aloe is making its way out of co-op groceries and onto mainstream shelves, mostly in water or drink formats.  Check out JayOne Foods or Riba Foods aloe juice, SPI Westport aloe drink [with chunky bits of aloe – reminded me of bubble tea] and Harney and Sons coconut water with aloe .
The new “alternative” sweetener? Found in Montebello Kitchens dressings and marinades (agave inulin) and countless others.
A personal favorite: Liederkranz cheese (DCI cheese Co).  They are not kidding when they say it reminds people of Limburger.  I’d say the aromatics are less like Limburger’s stinky socks, more like “barnyard” typical French Sauvignon Blanc.  Gorgeous on hearty rye with a sprinkle of onion. 
Other visions of the immediate food future:
Cocktail trend moves to food:  Mojito marmalade tea and mojito lime mints (Tea Forté) and margarita morsels (Cheri’s Desert Harvest).
Truffles less important: 479° Popcorn launched a truffle popcorn. Anything else?
Are Peruvian/Andean foods coming out of restaurants and into the home?  
Peruvian quinoa, Urbane Grain quinoa blends;
Kañiwa, purple corn, Pussac Punay (heritage beans), mesquite flour and sweet potato flour (all gluten free) from Zócalo Gourmet/Culinary Collective.
Garden of the Andes, organic herbal teas from Chile
Will 100% acorn fed  Ibérico pig become the pork talk?
Gluten free the new standard – everyone puts this marketing term on their packaging now, but note this new cereal (for my GF friends): Crunchfuls, breakfast cereals made from pulses .
Raw/vegan – too many to count, some products noted above
Organic – practically implied these days
Finally, please note that not once did I use the word “green” in this piece.  Green is dead. (Long live green!)