The Fancy Food Show is, among other things, an opportunity for food manufacturers to find buyers from specialty stores and larger supermarket chains. Some vendors will do almost anything to attract attention to their products, sending funny mascots out into the crowd or using other gimmicks. And then some products are just plain different by nature. Here are a few of the more unusual foods we saw at this year’s show.
1. Aloe Products
Culinary use of aloe isn’t exactly new—it’s been popular in Asia for a while. But we saw more of it than ever before, mostly in the form of tiny jellied cubes. We found it particularly refreshing (and fun to chew) when mixed into yogurt or added to juices.
2. Flavor Crystals
Will we ever call for a measured amount of flavored crystals in a recipe? The idea sure is intriguing. We sampled crystals from SavorTree in a range of flavors, including ginger, basil, rose, and hibiscus. Made with cane sugar, these crystals are a sweet take on flavored salts, but are larger, crunchier, and nubblier. Each version was aromatic, vibrantly colored, and true to its fresh origin. We can imagine sprinkling them over desserts or adding a little pinch on top of hummus, pastas, and salads.
3. Finger Limes
We'll be thrilled if finger limes catch on in the States. This Australian citrus fruit is much longer and narrower than the limes in American supermarkets—shaped like a small pickle or cornichon—and boasts an intensely tart, slightly bitter flavor. They’re affectionately known as the “caviar of limes” because their vesicles are quite firm, slide out of the thick skin easily, and pop when you bite into them.
4. Crapola Granola
It took us a few minutes to work up the courage to sample Crapola Granola, but after talking to the owner, we learned that the bold name is actually a shortened version of cranberry-apple granola (cr-ap-ola). That said, the company has played up the gastrointestinal association with other products named “Number 2” and “Colon-ial Times.”
5. Dardiman’s Dried Fruits and Vegetables
We’ve all had dried fruit before, but never such pretty and intensely flavored versions as those from Dardiman’s. In addition to pineapple, strawberry, and kiwi, Dardiman’s had intriguing, less-conventional options like red bell pepper.
6. Gold Rush Cheese
This cheese from the folks at World's Best Cheeses, a distributor, wasn’t all that special—mild, sweetish, slightly tangy and firm. But its edible gold rind, supposedly an homage to the prospectors who worked the land near where the cheese is made, was definitely meant to get some attention.
FlavorPrint is a service founded by McCormick and tech startup Vivanda that claims to be able to identify the recipes or products you’ll like by coming up with your unique “flavor print,” based on a two-minute survey. The survey itself isn’t very high tech—each question gives you a list of four foods and asks you to pick the one that most appeals to you. The magic supposedly happens on the back end, where the company analyzes the “flavor print” of various recipes and products and matches them to your tastes. At the show, they provided recommendations for which booths to visit based on how the flavor print of those products matched with your tastes. I was surprised to see that my top recommendations were all products I had already tried and loved, such as K-Mama Gochujang Hot Sauce and McClure’s Bread and Butter Pickles, 76% and 81% compatible, respectively.
Photography by Forest Kelley.
Do you have a question for the tastings and testings team? Let us know on Twitter @testkitchen with #CooksIllustrated.
Be first to know about new stories! Sign up for our newsletter for revolutionary recipes and insightful reviews.