For gourmands, walking into the Fancy Food Show is like entering Disneyland but with the perks of being a Costco member: the endless, free-flowing, bite-size samples eagerly offered by the exhibitors, from chocolate truffles to Spanish ham.
As more than 2,200 purveyors, buyers, and distributors connected and struck deals, we leisurely perused the show floor and ate as much as we possibly could. Here’s a quick rundown of the most memorable bites we took at this year’s event. And if these samples are any indication, you may soon see these delicious bites on your store shelves too.
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1: Plantain, Cassava, and Yucca Chips
Chips that are not made from potatoes are a growing trend. South America is home to a number of starchy root vegetables, and we tried a few types of crispy chips made from yucca, cassava, and plantain.
They’re well seasoned with spices and blends grown locally and imported from afar. The plantain chips were thick but crunchy, and more filling than potato chips; the yucca and cassava chips were chewy and slightly sweet.
2: Grilled Halloumi
Already massively popular in England, grilled-at-home halloumi may be making inroads in America.
Trying gently grilled halloumi hot off the griddle was a treat, as the slightly charred and crispy exterior contrasted with the chewy interior and had a delightfully savory, cheesy flavor. We even got to compare two different types of halloumis from two Cypriot producers.
3: Pea Protein-Based Beef Jerky
New Zealand-based company Off-Piste brought a plant-based beef jerky using pea protein, the same building block as Impossible Burgers. We were delighted by its rich flavors and tender texture, which did a great job of creating a jerky-like power snack for the outdoorsy types. It tasted very close to the real deal, but the vegetal aftertaste and chewy texture gave away its true identity.
Beef JerkyThe right cut of beef and a flavorful marinade create an irresistible snack.
4: Fancy Butters
From New Zealand and Australia to Vermont, we were satisfied butter lovers at the end of our time at the Fancy Food Show. We were especially impressed with Ploughgate Creamery’s Seaweed Butter, which featured Dulse seaweed from Maine. The smooth butter combines intensely savory flavors and rich butter notes.
5: Halva-Coated Pecans
We’ve known about Seed and Mill’s amazing halva, a Middle Eastern confection made of sesame paste and sugar. But they debuted a new snack: halva-coated pecans. These roasted pecans covered with sesame halva make the perfect salty-sweet snack.
6: Aussie Pies
Aussie pies are savory meat fillings wrapped in buttery, flaky pastry puff. They are more similar to chicken pot pie than a semi-circular Cornish pastry because of the round shape. They’re stadium staples in Australia, just like hot dogs in the U.S. They can come in various sizes, and we tried the ones shaped like hand pies and filled with beef and curry. Watch out for Aussie pies because they may come to your supermarket freezer soon!
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7: Tonic Water With “Benefits”
We tried a number of different tonic waters, each claiming to have some health benefits. One interesting probiotic tonic uses upcycled whey, a byproduct of dairy production. We also tried a rose-infused Ecuadorian tonic water, which was refreshing and floral.
8: Japanese Seaweed Pesto
We’ve seen a ton of seaweed products, but the seaweed pesto from a Japanese company definitely stood out. We tried it as a schmear on a piece of toast and were delighted to report it wasn’t bad. But we had a hard time comparing it to pesto as we know it.
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