Every January, the Fancy Food Show rolls into San Francisco for a 3 day eating extravaganza. This trade show is put on by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade. The show fills up both the north and south exhibition halls of the Moscone Center. It is a ginormous feast.
What is a “fancy food”? Think gourmet. Jams, dips, tea, popcorn, shortbread, biscotti, olives, olive oil, cured meats, cheese, cheese and more cheese. Pasta sauces, BBQ rubs and sauces. Plus a lot of chocolate. From all over the world. Samples abound, and pacing is a must. One small bite, and ditch the rest of the sample.
Out of 80,000 food and drink samples, I’ve distilled it down to these absolute favorites. (And no, I didn’t get anywhere close to trying even 1% of that.)
The Sauce Goddess – a line of sauces and rubs from Jennifer Reynolds, aka Sauce Goddess. Loved the Moroccan Twist rub, and the very spicy Sweet Red Devil sauce.
|Skillet Bacon Spread – Bacon in everything continues to be a trend. Made with Niman Ranch bacon, onions and balsamic vinegar. It’s sweet and smoky. Imagine this on a BLT. Yum.
|Jimtown Romesco sauce, spread and dip – The Jimtown Store is a must see when you’re in the Alexander Valley of Sonoma wine country. This combo general store / cafe is known for their delicious sandwiches and spreads. Proprietress Carrie Brown has created a wicked good Romesco spread.
|Clif Family Winery wine pairing – You probably know the name from their Clif Bars, but the Clif family also makes wine and now Gary & Kit’s Mountain Mix. The Climber Sauv Blanc goes with the dried fruit and almond mix; The Climber Zin blend works really well with the smoked paprika almonds.
|Beppino Occelli Italian cheeses – Ok, so these rounds of Italian cheese look pretty gnarly. Turns out these are aged cheeses. The one on top is Cusie di Tobacco, a cow and sheep milk cheese that’s wrapped in tobacco leaves. It’s amber in color and has a sweet and earthy taste. The cheese on the bottom is Testun Occelli al Barolo, a sheep milk cheese that’s been soaked in Barolo grape must (Nebbiolo grapes). We call it “drunken cheese.” Perfection!
|Tisano Chocolate Tea – Yes that’s right, chocolate is the hot flavor for artisan teas. Patrick Pineda came up with the idea to brew a tea from the cocoa bean shells (also called hulls). The result is a deeply aromatic brew. I don’t even need to drink it for my chocolate fix.
|Speaking of chocolate, I thought it didn’t get any better than the Vosges bacon bar. But it does! Vosges Chocolate now has three filled chocolate bars – blood orange caramel (with Campari), black salt caramel and marzipan. To die for, especially the marzipan, which also has Amaretto in it. Beyond decadent!
|Products are also on exhibit, with everything from packaging to cooking utensils. For Life had an eye catching display of personal tea pots, complete with diffuser for whole leaf teas.