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Summer Fancy Food Show 2011

For the past few weeks, maybe even a month or more, some of the folks I’ve seen in the NYC food world have been buzzing about the NASFT Summer Fancy Food Show taking place in Washington, DC this week. Usually, this conference has been held at the Javits Center in New York, so this geographic shift has been a bit dislocating to those based in the Big Apple who are usually accustomed to popping in and out of the show while also keeping to a regular workday schedule. For those who made the trip down to our Nation’s Capital, there were some really great products to check out and some very nice people to meet.

On my site, I try to cover the local, artisan food items created by those who live in the New York City area and which are usually found at the markets held in various spots around town. What was really thrilling was to see how many of these folks were displaying their wares here this year. For some of them, I know it was the first time that they’d been at the Fancy Food Show, which is a testament to how well-crafted and delicious their products are that they have the confidence to jump onto a larger stage.

Nuts+Nuts Spicy Mix

For regular readers of the site, you know I’m already a big fan of Nuts+Nuts, Schoolhouse Kitchen, Rick’s Picks, and Brooklyn Salsa Company. When I arrived on Sunday at the show, I made sure to pop by each of their stands to say hello and to let them know a friendly face was in town. This also gave me a chance to catch up with everyone to find out what is going on with them. Cyrilla of Nuts+Nuts is creating some new gift packaging options for those who are looking for delicious and unique presents to give.

The Sun from Brooklyn Salsa Company (photo from their site)

Rob and Casey introduced me to their Japan-inspired The Sun salsa, which I had known about but hadn’t yet sampled. Its fragrant notes of citrus with ginger and a little spice would be perfect on grilled fish or poured over a veggies and wrapped in parchment, letting all that great flavor infuse into them. This is definitely on my shopping list to pick up back in the city.

Coconut Citrus Vinaigrette from Schoolhouse Kitchen (photo from their site)

Another couple of terrific tasting products that I sampled were Wendy’s new vinaigrettes. I am still dreaming about the Coconut Citrus one. It would be perfect to marinade pork or chicken (or both) in preparation for grilling for satay. I’d pick up fellow show exhibitor Peanut Butter & Co.‘s Smooth Operator to make a tangy peanut sauce to go along with it. I also really loved her Poppy Seed Vinaigrette for its light, delicate finish. It would be amazing drizzled over grilled fruit and served with some vanilla gelato or coconut sorbet.

What was nice about this trade show is that I also got to see a few folks that I’ve never quite managed to connect with at some of the markets. I’ve eaten off of Brooklyn Slate Company’s gorgeous trays at a few Edible magazine events. It was so nice to meet them in person and to talk to them more about what they do. Their products might end up under the tree for someone this year, I have a feeling, or maybe I’ll treat myself to one instead.

“The spread” from Brooklyn Brine Co. (photo from their site)

Shamus from Brooklyn Brine Co. had his fabulous pickles on display and seemed to be winning over quite a few new fans when I stopped by. They are working on a new tasting room, so I’m hoping to get over there and check that out when they are ready. In the meantime, I’ll just have to figure out another excuse to entertain so I can introduce my friends to his tasty nibbles.

The pickle front was also represented at the show by McClure’s. Their relish is just begging to be paired up with summertime fare. Wonder how it would work with Les Trois Petits Cochons sausages or patés? I was told that the former will be available at the Edible Manhattan Good Beer Event on the 26th, so perhaps it might be possible to bring those two tastes together.

Washington, DC’s infamously steamy summer weather did not fail to deliver a few muggy, scorching days to its out of town guests. Fortunately, the folks from Chozen Ice Cream were there to keep everybody cool. I first met them at Smorgasburg a few weeks back. They’ll be there for the ice cream festival this weekend, so you can have a chance sample their unique flavors there.

Sir Kensington Ketchup, another vendor I’d met at Smorgasburg, was also at the show, mustaches and all. I’ve got a jar of their sauce on my counter that is waiting for me to open it up to slather on a burger or dip some fries into it. On my next trip, I think I’m going to grab a jar of the spicy variety. Both are great condiments sure to liven up your next cookout.

Mercer’s Wine Ice Cream (photo from their site)

There were some tasty and really intriguing products that I tried that haven’t yet made it into the markets or shops in the city. Mercer’s Wine Ice Cream, which uses milk from New York dairies, was a different taste profile from the usual frozen treats, somewhat like the red wine-chocolate gelato I tried earlier this year. The Peach and White Zinfandel had a nice creamy flavor that picked up the floral nature of the fruit and delivered a pleasant wine-tinged backnote. The Port would be fantastic with walnuts in syrup on top, perhaps the Pecans in Adirondack Honey from The Well-Dressed Food Company, another New York State exhibitor who had some wonderful-sounding products, including an herbal Rosemary-Riesling Jam made with Finger Lakes wine.

My Dad’s Cookies (photo from their site)

Gluten-free products seemed to be a growing trend that I saw this year. I don’t remember seeing quite as many at last year’s show. I tried a couple of them. Do you remember the flavor of Hydrox? That’s what the Chocolate Sandwich Cookie from My Dad’s Cookies taste like.  They have a wide range of other types and styles of treats, too, so that those who are staying away from gluten won’t have to sacrifice their sweet tooth.  I’ve been told that they also do a good slice, so I’m going to have to stop by the next time I’m around the Madison Square Park area to check it out.

Happy Baby Happy Morning breakfast pouch (photo from their site)

The folks behind the Happy Baby brand of organic baby food brought with them some new items from their Happy Family line, designed for busy folks on the go who would still like to fulfill their morning nutritional needs.  These are also gluten-free items. Wholesome-Kitchen (unfortunately their website is not yet active) was another gluten-free vendor that I saw.  I think they have an interesting-sounding product line of pre-mixed quinoa varieties.  You can find some of them here, but they had far more items on display at the show.

The Ultimate Fish Sauce by The Saucey Sauce Co. from Hester Street Fair

They didn’t have a table at the show, but I also managed to connect with Ken and Toan of The Saucey Sauce Co and makers of The Ultimate Fish Sauce. I first met them at the Hester Street Fair and completely fell in love with their products.  These will perk up all sorts of dishes and make great dipping sauces for whatever you are serving.  Laurie Pauker from Lush Candy, another one of my favorites, and I hung out together a bit as well, as she was also a show attendee.  She had come into town a bit earlier to take part in a chocolatier’s event.  As a plus, she brought samples of her wonderful toffee with her.  It was great to see them all there, and I’m predicting that they’ll each have their own place on the floor next year.

Overall, it was just wonderful to see New York’s artisan food community represented by so many fantastic and varied products and people. It has been such a pleasure getting to know the people behind these brands. Seeing them with their industry peers at the Fancy Food Show is kind of a neat experience, I have to say, especially when we are usually used to hanging out shooting the breeze at some local market or other. I really hope that the show was a good experience for all of them, and I look forward to hearing about it the next time we meet up in the city.

Buon appetito!

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