Wednesday, January 25, 2012

International Fancy Food Show - Day 3

Whatever self-control I exhibited on day 1 and 2 were thrown out the window today! :) While I was not quite the "pig" that I normally am at the Fancy Food show, I did a lot more sampling on day 3. Here's todays favorites...
The French Patisserie's Macarons de Paris - I've seen pictures of these in gourmet magazines many times, and always wondered what they tasted like. WOW! They are so different from what I imagined! When I picked it up (I tried the Sea Salt Caramel flavor), it looked like a light brown whoopie pie, so I was thinking of a cakey treat with frosting in the middle. Well, it is hard to explain exactly how this is nothing like a whoopie pie. The best I can tell you is that the outside pieces are almost melt-in-your-mouth flaky. The inside is more like a thick saucey filling - not frostingish at all! I'm pretty cheap, and these taste expensive, but I might consider buying some if I ever find them in a store.

Helen Grace's Ultimate Truffles - Ultimate is a good word for these! They start with what they call a "meltaway" (I first misunderstood them and thought they said "Milky Way", which I thought was strange to use as the first layer of a fancy chocolate!). Well, the meltaway layer is the creamiest chocolate my mouth has ever had the opportunity to taste - think about the creamy inside of a truffle and you will be pretty close! It is aptly named "meltaway"! On top of the meltaway is a layer of perfect caramel - I say perfect because it is a smooth, melt in your mouth caramel, not the kind you have to bite into. Then, to top off the super yumminess is a "cap" of white chocolate. Truly amazing!! I think the best place to find these truffles is through a fundraising company called "Innisbrook". And, yes - I will spend the exorbitant fundraising prices to get another bite of these chocolates!

Agave Dream's Cinnamon Ice Cream - I love this ice cream! The cinnamon flavor is subtle, yet easy to imagine how perfect this would taste with a snickerdoodle cookie or apple pie. And, while taste is important - I love what the company has done. They have created an ice cream that uses Agave Nectar to sweeten it, so that those who are sugar sensitive or even diabetic can enjoy naturally sweetened ice cream. I found the ice cream to be "just sweet enough" which is a nice change from the corn syrup laden frozen treats at the local grocery story.

The Pasta Shoppe's Chicken Pasta Salad - This is one of my favorite items at the show! The Pasta Shoppe has a great line of shaped pasta, with everything from your favorite college team mascots to little hearts for Valentine's Day. They also make a few meal items, and the Chicken Pasta Salad is a family favorite! I had never thought of putting pasta in chicken salad, but it is absolutely delicious.

So, that wraps up my 3 day series on favorite tastes at the International Fancy Food Show. I guess I need to get back in my kitchen and start cooking again! Hmmmmm - what's for dinner???

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

International Fancy Food Show - Day 2

Day 1 was an exercise in will-power, but I found a few flaws with my plan. For one, too many of the samples were gone at the end of the day. Also, I thought I may need just a few more than 5 samples or "tastes" so that I will have 5 good ones to write about (because it's all about the blog and our 14 followers!). So, I tasted about 10 things today, but I'll highlight my favorite 5 for the day....

1. Oro Tempo Formaggio Piave - similar to eating a chunk of parmesean cheese, which I love! This is delicious cheese, but since they are from Italy, I'm not sure how easy it would be to find here in the US.

2. Fage 0% fat Greek Yogurt with Honey - my favorite of the Fage (pronounced fa-yee), flavors! If you like yogurt, but have never tasted this brand, you really should try it. If you don't like the tanginess of yogurt, then you definitely should try Fage. The flavor is mild but rich, the yogurt is smooth and creamy, and you'll never miss the fat and calories of the 2% or 4% versions! I promise!

3. Lucero Arbequina Olive Oil - my picture didn't work out, so I'll attach the link to their website Our family loves to dip french bread in olive oils, but we usually add pepper to the oil. This particular oil has so much flavor, and even a peppery taste, that you don't need to add anything at all! If you thought all olive oils are the same, then it's time for you to do some tasting - and I recommend you start with this one from Lucero! This is what I will be buying from now on!

4. Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt Caramel filling - It seems like every year at the show, they introduce a new flavor in their little square chocolates. I've been impressed with others, but they really did it right this time! This is worth trying!

5. Kara's Chocolates have always been a favorite of mine, but this time it's not about the chocolate. They are introducing these amazing buttery caramel waffle cookies (for which I can't remember the name). The packaging is still in the developmental phase, so I just took a picture of the cookie. Soon, we'll be seeing it on the market, and I'll be eating more of these delicious cookies!

Monday, January 23, 2012

International Fancy Food Show - tasting on Day 1

Last week, I had the amazing opportunity to exhibit our gourmet cookie mixes at the International Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. Going to that show is one of my favorite things to do for the whole year! This picture is our booth on set-up day.

Well, normally, I'm a complete pig when I get to this show - there is no other way to put it! Imagine yourself confined to a convention center for 3 days where there are literally several miles of aisles of booths, all sampling gourmet and specialty food from around the world! It's hard to not eat your way through the show.

This year, I decided that I was going to approach my sampling habits at the show a little differently. On Day 1, my goal was to wait until the last hour of the show to start sampling, and then to only sample 5 items! Yes - sounds crazy for a pig like me, but I had to try. And, it was very interesting (to me, at least). As I walked through some of show booths, I would scan for something that looked "tasteworthy". There were many items that I would have eaten "just because it was there" if I had not made my 5 tastes goal. I saw a few things that I've had many times before and absoultely love, but I know where to get them after the show is over (one favorite was specificially those Guylian seashell chocolates), so I passed them by, too. As I talked to representatives from each of the companies listed below, I decided to document each "taste" with pictures of the product, too.

Now for the moment you have been waiting's what I tasted and my thoughts on each...

1. Jer's Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares - delicious peanut butter middle with krispy cereal pieces, all coated in milk chocolate. The company is from Salt Lake City, and they have a fabulous line of chocolates!

2. Three Twins Organic Lemon Cookie Ice Cream - super creamy ice cream with a great flavor! No weird aftertaste like you get with some fake lemony flavored desserts - all natural and delicious! I meant to go back the next day and taste their Cookies and Cream flavor, too, but forgot to - however, I'm sure it's delicious!

3. Braswells Balsamic Sweet Onion Jam - this won a Gold SOFI award last summer, so I had to taste this jam. I absoultely loved it! They were serving it over cream cheese with crackers. I'm sure there are a lot of more complicated things you can do with this, but why? It tastes so wonderful and this is so simple! The guys at Braswells have outdone themselves with this one!

4. Olympus Authentic Greek Feta Cheese - maybe this is a lame thing to taste, but honestly it was about time for the show to close and I was only on taste 4! I do love Feta cheese, and wondered what "authentic imported from Greece Feta" tasted like. Well, let me say that it's pretty much like what I get at the grocery store.

5. this is hardly worth mentioning and certainly not worth a photo, but......after taste #4, I looked around and realized that the booths were closing, and no one had samples out anymore. So, I just went back to the Olympus booth, where they had another cheese to sample. It was a semi-hard cheese, and it was just OK.

After my experiment in tasting, I decided that Day 2 would need a few more tastes, and it would have to start a little earlier in the day. More to come...

Sorry we are so lame!

Well, first I need to apologize to all 14 of our loyal followers! It's been a REALLY long time since either one of us posted anything. You would think that with all the cooking and baking we did during the holidays, we would have posted SOMETHING, but NO! Instead we just enjoyed each and every bite of it without sharing any recipes or ideas with you. :( Of course, we kept intending to post all of the yummy food, but it just didn't happen. We will try harder to be more consistent - in fact, as of right now, it's a New Year's Resolution!