Saturday, March 15, 2014

Foods To Fancy

Is your chocolate ethical? Your peanut butter fair-trade? Are your frozen sandwiches gluten-free, soy-free and guilt-free?
    Such are the pressing questions facing consumers these days. We all have to eat, but when, oh when, did that simple act of survival become so complicated?
    As full of potential mines as the hunt for acceptable food has become, it's good to know that there are so many pleasing choices today in the marketplace.
   Visiting the Winter Fancy Food Show, North America's largest specialty food and drink trade show, at the end of January in San Francisco reinforced that notion for me: everywhere I looked there was something tantalizing: Moravian cookies from the American South and pure butter shortbread from Scotland, coffees and teas with a multitude of flavors added, and smart chips made of seaweed, chickpeas, or quinoa. Due to my schedule, I only saw a fraction of it (there were 80,000 products on display). Can't wait until next year.

   Here are a few of my favorite discoveries from the show. The Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City will be held June 29 - July 1, 2014.

Walkers Shortbread Chocolate Scottie Dogs: Yum.  Just the right amount of chocolate allows the purity of traditional shortbread ingredients (butter and sugar) to shine through.

Numi Indulgent Tea and Savory Teas The indulgent line refers to chocolate teas, such as Chocolate Earl Grey and Chocolate Mint (a good substitute for dessert at only 5 calories a cup). The Savory Tea line is an ingenious mixture of vegetables, herbs, decaf tea and spices -- a light broth without the heavy salt of most bullions, and decidedly different flavors like tomato mint and carrot curry.

Vintage Italia Pasta Chips: traditional baked pasta transformed into a creacker-like snack in a variety of simple, Italian flavors -- Alfredo was my favorite. The payoff? Cholesterol-free, no trans fat, no saturated fat or sugars.

Giovanni Rana pasta: fresh pastas and sauces (Alfredo, Pesto, Bolognese) that will make you wonder why you've been buying that dried and canned stuff for so long. Giovanni Rana pasta and sauces include Cheese "Delicato" Tortelloni, Chicken Rosemary and Mushroom ravioli, a light and delicate Alfredo sauce and a Pesto sauce that made me forget I had grown tired of pesto.
The family-owned company began in Verona, Italy, and is now selling 13 filled and flat fresh pastas and 4 sauces. Thin pasta dough and sauces made from top-quality ingredients like DOP Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and DOP Genovese basil imported from Italy. Some products available at Costco. Giovanni Rana products will be at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York.

José Andrés Olive Oil Potato Chips and Mussels in Escabeche. These chips are light, salty and satisfying. The Esbabeche Mussel appetizer is a classic tapas dish from the Spanish-Ameican chef said to have introduced tapas to the U.S. The mussels come from Galicia, and are shelled and cooked by hand in a traditional "escabeche" sauce of olive oil, vinegar, paprika, salt, bay leaves, pepper and cloves.

Enzo Olive Oil: California estate-grown, extra virgin, organic olive oils in robust flavors like garlic, basil and Meyer lemon. Their unflavored line of oils comes in Delicate, Medium and Bold, a great idea for more (or less) sensitive palates.