Food & Drink

Top 10 finds from the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York

It’s the ultimate food shopping: More than 175,000 products from 2,600 exhibitors lined the aisles of the Javits Center in New York for the 2015 Summer Fancy Food Show. Except instead of buying groceries, I was there to sniff out this year’s new and exciting food trends.

The show, organized by the Specialty Food Association trade group, is the biggest of its kind in the country, attracting about 23,000 food manufacturers, importers, distributors, retailers and media.

It’s a feast for the eyes and palate, with all sorts of colorful packaging and enticing aromas competing for attention throughout the convention hall.

Turmeric, hot spices, sweet heat, smoked infusions, “souping” as the new juicing, guilt-free snacking and delicious indulgences were some of the trends I noticed, looking at the crop of new products set to hit shelves.

Turmeric is the orange-yellow spice you may know from curry dishes. It has a warming, somewhat bitter flavor and is thought to help with health problems from headaches to arthritis. It’s the new spice darling: Look for it infused in and added to oils, crackers, teas and more.

Hot chiles are in, with jalapeño, poblano, serrano and other varieties getting mixed in both savory and sweet foods. And where there’s fire there must be smoke: Rice and olive oil are just two of the items being given an earthy, rustic note from a smoke infusion.

Ready-to-drink gazpacho in a bottle made an appearance at the show, as did Asian-flavored bone broths. Snack brands continue to put out new guilt-free choices, like light, low-cal chicken and beef bars. Keeping us on the healthy track, broccoli seems to be the new kale, showing up in many snack options.

Gluten-free and non-GMO were the main buzzwords gracing a lot of new food packaging. I found a very good gluten-free pasta made with chickpeas, which, along with black beans and other legumes, are showing up in more crackers, chips and elsewhere.

And because the Fancy Food Show also includes confections, many booths were featuring cookies, brownies and candies. Sea salt and hot spices gave many of them an added jolt.

Here are my Top 10 finds to be on the lookout for on a grocery shelf near you:

The Heat

▪ Mary’s Gone Crackers Ancient Spice Thins have turmeric and other seasonings for a slight kick. Vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO and organic. Suggested retail price: $4.69 for a 4.5-ounce box.

▪ Masala Pop is popcorn mixed with crunchy papadums (an Indian cracker bread) and flavored with a blend of Indian spices, including turmeric. It has a rush of savory, salty flavors with a subtle spicy finish. It’s air-popped and non-GMO. Suggested retail: $6.49 for a 4-ounce bag.

▪ Fat Cat Strawberry-Serrano Hot Sauce was inspired by the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City. It’s a fruit and chile combination from an Orlando company. The not-too-hot sauce is great on grilled meats and even as a topping for cheesecake. Suggested retail: $4.99 for a 5-ounce bottle, $5.99 for a 12-ounce bottle.

The Sweet

▪ The Gracious Gourmet Roasted Poblano Peach Spread will make any sandwich a sensation, or try it with fish, chicken, or spread on hard cheeses. Suggested retail: $10 for an 8-ounce jar.

▪ Coop’s MicroCreamery Salted Caramel Sauce is a next-level indulgence for cakes, ice cream and fruit. Coop’s also makes a vegan fudge sauce. Suggested retail (salted caramel): $8.99 for a 10.6-ounce jar.

▪ Scharffen Berger Raspberry & Almond Dark Chocolate Bars marry the winning combination of 72 percent dark chocolate and tart raspberry with crunch almonds. Suggested retail: $2.50 for a 1-ounce bar, $4.95 for a 3-ounce bar.

The Meat

▪ Epic Bars are on-the-go meat protein snacks — not jerky — featuring beef, bison, chicken and pork from grass-fed, antibiotic-free, hormone-free animals. I liked the Sesame-BBQ Chicken flavor. Suggested retail: $2.49 for a 1.5-ounce bar.

The Ready-to-Eat

▪ Tio Gazpacho, based in Miami, is a line of drink-from-the-bottle cold soups made from fresh, all-natural ingredients. Suggested retail: $8.99 for a 12-ounce bottle.

The Elite

▪ Arbequina Smoked Olive Oil from the Culinary Collective won the SOFI (Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation) gold award in the oil category. It adds a touch of smoky flavor to vegetables, salads or meats. Suggested retail: $27 for an 8.4-ounce bottle.

▪ Rainbow Trout Blood Orange-Infused Caviar from Sunburst Trout Farms is a pricy indulgence but makes a special addition to a range of recipes. Celebrity chef Daniel Boulud uses it to dress his caviar-cucumber salad. Suggested retail: $61.99 for a 2-ounce jar.

Cookbook author and WLRN radio host Linda Gassenheimer is the Miami Herald’s Dinner in Minutes columnist: linda@dinnerinminutes.com.

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