The annual Fancy Food Show is in town and vendors from around the world are showing off their best offerings. The Food Truth team hit the crowded aisles at the Javits Center to find the best real food products and report back to you.
Here's an overview of what we found.
There was A LOT of cheese and A LOT of chocolate... First the CHEESE please...
On display were the usual suspects like (corn-fed) Wisconsin cheddars and processed cheese food spreads (yuk). Fresh cow's milk mozzarella, ricotta and burrata stood quietly with the more aromatic aged European standards that always thrill Americans with their scary-looking rinds (yum). But the real show stoppers were the sheep and goat's milk cheeses from the raw milk of pastured animals. It was a thrill to taste the complexity in these cheeses and to meet the artisans who made them. Tiny bites for the tasters and a giant leap forward for mankind. Our favorites included a Camembert-style cheese called DIRT LOVER from Green Dirt Farm in Weston, Missouri. Beneath the edible bloomy rind is a thin black layer of flavorful vegetable ash against the delicate creamy cheese. If you don't live in the Midwest, the grassy flavors (and great stories) of their aged and fresh cheeses are available to you by mail order: www.greendirtfarm.com. Solar-powered Big Picture Farm in Vermont was there again this year offering samples of their delicate goat cheeses and photographs of their producers (the goats). We love them for their dedication to the environment and the animals they work with. Find them in New England speciality shops and online at www.bigpicturefarm.com.
In the beloved CHOCOLATE arena...
We found 2 especially worth mentioning to you, though we happily sampled many, many more and probably missed a lot too. You can only eat so much... Kate McAleer of Bixby & Co. Craft Chocolate offered a standout organic chocolate bar with all of the right creds (organic, non-GMO, etc.). Among the inventive flavor combinations are found Sweet Currant Maine Sea Salt Hazelnut and Goji Berry, Cardamom, Pistachio & Almond. Order directly from bixbyco.com. The beautifully designed Sel Magique appeared at first to be a sea salt company (it is) but closer investigation revealed the most delectable chocolates accented with blends of herbs and sea salt. The alchemy of premium chocolate with fine French sea salt and herbs create a sweet and savory experience way beyond usual. Order immediately from www.selmagique.com.
Blue Hill at Stone Barns Creamery has produced the most elegantly delicious savory yogurts... with 100% grass-fed milk and organic vegetable purées! We sampled carrot, butternut squash, tomato and parsnip. They are a culinary revelation. If you're skeptical about a savory yogurt, check out what you can do with it on their recipe page. Then get over it and get some (at Whole Foods stores in the Northeast USA, or try making your own)! We met the folks from an ambitious organic farm in Oregon that is growing and freezing or puréeing a plethora of fruit and vegetable crops. Stahlbush Island Farms grows and processes everything from berries to broccoli to beans for customer convenience and environmental sustainability. A very impressive rainbow of frozen produce was displayed at the show and it looked as vibrant as if it was fresh picked. Look for the brightly colored bags in your market's freezer section and read more about this amazing family farm at www.stahlbush.com. Pistachios seem to be enjoying their 15 minutes of fame. They appeared in concoctions of all sorts including cereal blends and ice creams as well as alone represented by several brands boasting their nutritional virtues and California origin. Yeah, they're real food, we love 'em. Overall, it was a great show - tiring but inspiring. It's fun to see the Real Food Revolution gain momentum on the international stage.