It has been a little over a year since the maiden voyage of RealFoodies TastyBits! This will be the 50th post too! Woohoo! Thank you so much if you have been around since “day one” and have read every post. Thank you even more for commenting and spreading the word to your friends. I love you!
The very first post was titled A FOODIE PLAYGROUND and was about a handful of food products I was “wowed” by at the the 2010 Fancy Food show in San Francisco, so I thought it would be fitting, for this one year anniversary post, to report about the 2011 Fancy Food Show! Right? Well, that’s all I got.
This year’s show was a little different for me. I have been to 6 or 7 shows if you combine New York and San Francisco. The first few times I attended, I felt like I had been given the best foodie hall pass you could ever imagine. I could not believe that I would be spending the day tasting chocolate, charcuterie, cheese, crackers, nuts and any other specialty food product known to man. It was like Willy Wonka, without the scary parts.
This year my goal wasn’t so much to stuff my cheeks with everything every vendor offered me, but to really be “thoughtful” about finding those “special” items that would be worth sharing with all of you. Let me tell you that I passed up a lot of FREE stuff in order to fulfill my duty to you. The sacrifices!
In no particular order:
I was exhausted from walking up and down the long and cluttered aisles of food, full of stares from vendors hoping I was the distributor they were looking for, when I came upon an oasis, the booth for VIGNETTE. It was bright white, clean, crisp and simple and had a few bottles of pale colored fizzy drinks on the counter. I was in deep visual indigestion mode when I arrived at VIGNETTE and a little sip of their lovely, clean and tasty soda is all I needed to regain my food-sampling clarity. In this designer soda saturated world, what makes VIGNETTE so special? If you are on the wagon and everyone else has a glass of wine in their hand, except for you, you no longer need to feel like the red headed step child with a plastic bottle of water in hand. Vignette sodas are lightly flavored with grape juice from real wine varietal grapes like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. They are light and delicious. I am definitely going to include them on my next wine country adventure for that moment late in the afternoon when it is time to tone it down so I can enjoy and possibly remember dinner.
FLAMOUS FALAFEL CHIPS: Some people are chippers and some people aren’t. I am of the “aren’t” variety. I NEVER crave tortilla chips and only need potato chips when seeking a vehicle for French Onion dip. Someone at the show gave me a big bag of these weird “Flamous” Falafel Chips that went straight into the “mystery item” shelf in my pantry, perhaps never to be seen again. I was foraging for a snack this morning and spotted the bag o’ falafel chips in my pantry. I opened the bag with trepidation. Would they be good? Would I eat one chip and waste the entire bag? I hate to waste! I took a bite of the card board-colored chip, chewed a little and experienced a flavor explosion…. A little falafel, yummy spices, a little heat, a little salt and great crunch. Yummy. I put a small slice of pepper jack cheese on one of the rounds and went to town for about 5 chips when the words “wedding in less than a month” came to mind and I closed the bag up. I had no intention of writing about Falafel Chips today, but after sealing the bag, all I could think of was the multiple ways I could put them to use: nachos, canapés and hummus saucers. They were created specifically to be eaten with hummus, and much as I agree with that pairing, I think scooping hummus with them is but a notch on this lovely chip’s culinary belt. (forgive me for that one. Frustrated novelist?) Average price: $5.29 a 8 oz. bag.
CALIFORNIA WINE WAFER: Slightly thin wafer cookie thing to accompany wine? This must be some kind of silly gimmick. This combo can’t work. Well, I’ll be a spider monkey’s uncle, they taste great! As with the Vignette soda, the owner of this wine wafer factory was manning the booth. I get a little nervous when I taste something in front of an owner/founder/creator. What if I hate it? Luckily, I loved them. Before I left the show, I swung by the booth again to request a sample of the chocolate flavor that is to be enjoyed with red wine. The guy looked at me with suspicion when I said I was going to write about his product. I am sure he assumed I just wanted free stuff. I really don’t want to over explain this. These wafers aren’t truly new. In fact, I am convinced they are the wild cousin of the host that is offered during mass in Catholic Church. This company’s recipe is a family heirloom and this style of wafer dates back to 1640 Czech Republic. Read more. That is all good and interesting, but the most important point that I must convey is how to enjoy them with wine. Step one: pour a glass o’ wine. Two: take a wee bite of the wafer that matches said wine… chew a little, don’t swallow!!! And Three: take a wee sip of your wine. 4. Breath through your nose and enjoy the little dance the wafer and wine are doing with your taste buds. Wafer and wine, body of Christ, what? Average price: $8.50 for 8 wafers.
The word “Umami” is the new “black” in the food world. The word hails from Japan and popularly referred to as “savoryness” or the 5th taste. This little tube comes from England, but contains a concentration of Italian flavors that express umami like, tomato, garlic, anchovy paste, black olives, balsamic vinegar, porcini mushrooms, parmesan cheese, olive oil and just a touch of sugar and salt. When added to sauces, soups or when applied directly to foods, this deep red paste promises to infuse foods with that je ne sais quoi/ 5th flavor/UMAMI. Your mami? Who’s mami? Umami! They refused to give me a tube. Losers. They told me to write in for a sample, which I never did, but sampling a teensy bit on a spoon at the show was enough to make it post-worthy. I am going to have to buy some and at $6 a tube, it is a no brainer. (on a separate note: I happened to glance at the company web site and was floored when I heard the voice of the founder. When one reads the name, Laura Santtini and one clicks to watch a video, one expects that the accent of this woman will be thick Italian, not proper British. I am somewhat in awe of this beautiful, blond Italian woman with a thick British accent who has taken her family’s Italian food legacy in England and has given it a modern boost, without losing it’s original authenticity. I think I may have to meet her.)
PLEASE CLICK ON THE NAMES OF THE PRODUCTS TO LINK TO THEIR WEB SITES.