Top Ten Fancy Foods

Summer Fancy Food Show 2009

No, I don't mean caviar and chocolate covered strawberries, at least not necessarily. The Fancy Food show is a bi-annual event sponsored by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade and it just ended here in NYC. I started going two years ago when I went to speak about food blogging. All you need to know is that it's a gigantic trade show (football fields' worth) and that I try to go each year to find a few new gems for cooking. Here are my top ten finds from this last show:

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Black Garlic: Fermented for 30 days under high heat, it turns out garlic goes black. That you can see. What you can't see is how sweet and mellow it is. Use it as you would roasted garlic: smashed on bruschetta, as a meat rub, in sauces. But then expand your mind to desserts: the Black Garlic people do something with bananas and vanilla ice cream... My only wish is that the treatment was being given to domestic garlic. This stuff comes from Korea and I'm not about to start fermenting my own in my 600 square foot apartment. (www.blackgarlic.com)
 
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Pickled Dwarf Peaches from Conti
: Not available for sale (yet) but a great idea to play around with for those of you who are into preserving. A little vinegar, oil and water, plus some bits of truffle. "Nothing else." Eaten like olives. Exquisite. I met these guys while in Florence. I also recommend their wild boar sauce and organic honey. (www.tuscanyflavors.com)
 
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Cottage Cheese from Mozzarella Company
: I love Paula Lambert's cheeses. Now she has a full-fat cottage cheese. For cottage cheese lovers, this is tops. Definitely not fancy, and in a good way. (www.mozzoco.com)

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Peanut Oil from La Tourangelle
: I adore La Tourangelle and this year they wow'd me with their new peanut oil. Peanut oil? Isn't that for frying? Yes, but it's not dreams of cookign up a batch of potato chips or donuts - it's ice cream. They served me gelato made with their nut oils and the peanut was beyond. I plan to hit the kitchen test lab soon and bring you my own version. Also, their toasted Pumpkin Seed Oil just hit the shelves and is a beautiful, deep dark wonder. The Roasted Pistachio Oil is another favorite for drizzling on salads and roasted vegetables. (www.latourangelle.com)

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Naked Nuggets from Blue Ribbon Bakery
: I get a lot of questions about what to feed kids. There is so much junk out there, so when I see something like the Blue Ribbon Bakery's Naked Nuggets, I can add another product to my very short list of recommended packaged foods for kids. No batter on these guys. My only wish is that they'd consider using organic chicken. The price would be higher, but so many people these days demand a highly-organic diet for their children. (www.shedthebread.com)

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The People's Pickle from Rick's Picks
: Your search for your house pickle has ended. Or at least mine has. Rick, a genius pickler and friend of mine, is making this snappy garlicky number to satisfy the world's hunger for a gourmet pickle without a gourmet price. Not too dilly, but still a dill pickle, it comes in a bigger jar with a lower price than Rick's customers are used to. (www.rickspicksnyc.com)

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Squadrilla Chutney from SchoolHouse Kitchen
: Think orange and chili. Slather on pork, pair with melted cheddar on a sandwich, or nibble with toast. This is another packed-with-flavor condiment from the mother/daughter team at SchoolHouse Kitchen.(We blogged them way back when...) (www.schoolhousekitchen.com)

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Sechuan Buttons from Koppert Cress
: Biting into this little yellow flower — gosh, it looks so innocent, like a big chamomile bud! — is an extraordinary experience. All you need is actually a tiny piece of one flower and you will feel the effects. Often compared to putting your tongue on a 9-volt battery, I prefer to think of it as some kind of rare magic that occurs between human and plant. Sounds more like a drug trip than a culinary experience? Good point. But as a garnish to a cocktail, or blended very subtly into an ice cream or mousse recipe, there's no question your kitchen creations will be quite an event. After standing dumb-founded with my tongue buzzing on the floor of the Javits Center, how could I not mention this product? (www.koppertcress.com)

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Grapefruit Yogurt from Siggi's Skyr's
: I've been a fan of this Icelandic-style yogurt since my daughter made it one of her first foods two years ago. Siggi, a dashing six foot plus Icelandic yogurt man, is introducing a new flavor: Grapefruit. Another yogurt company makes a sickly sweet grapefruit yogurt, which inspired the grapefruit yogurt cake in my book, but Siggi's is my new favorite. This one is going into heavy rotation. (www.skyr.com)

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Sustainably Caught Tuna from Wild Planet
: There's so much concern these days, and rightly so, over fish consumption and tuna is one of the big no-nos if you're paying attention to what's good for the planet and good for personal health. Wild Planet cans tuna that is "sustainably caught" and lower in mercury than traditionally canned tuna. They made a kickin' panino with it. I really love seeing food companies trying to do good things and while I have mixed feelings about canned fish, I think this is a great step in a new direction. (www.wildplanetfoods.com)

Any other fancy (or casual!) foods we should be trying?

Tell us about it!