Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The CES of Food Shows: 2017 Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco

By: Irene Yang

Being an engineer in the Silicon Valley, I’ve tried to describe the Specialty Food Association's Winter Fancy Food Show to my coworkers many times. “Big food convention,” “giant snack show,” never quite hit the mark. However, I realized the perfect way to describe the glorious event of the Fancy Food Show: The CES of Food. All the new trends and interesting takes on what America is eating come out in full force in the Moscone Center in San Francisco every January. You didn’t think they could make coffee out of chocolate? Well they did. And it’s vegan. And gluten-free (probably).
Banana Car
Here are some of the best new brands and ideas in food.

Popcorn Everything

What’s a better snack than chips? That’s right, nothing. But popcorn is pretty close. With half the fat and calories, the health-savvy snacker would be wise to pick up popcorn instead.
T-Pop Popcorn
There was a wide variety of sweet and salty popcorn this year, look forward to seeing it on the grocery shelves soon.

Gluten Free Everything

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m from California, but it seems that everyone was clamoring to put the tag “Gluten-Free!” on all of their foods this year. Next to that label was the assertion that it “doesn’t taste like other gluten-free foods!” or “Now tastes better!” Not very encouraging, but nevertheless, it seemed to be true. The problem with gluten-free goods is usually in the texture—a bit crumbly and not as soft as gluten-filled foods. However, even with the large showing of gluten-free cookies, cakes, baking mixes, this year, I genuinely couldn’t tell that many of the products were in fact gluten-free.

Lucky Spoon Gluten Free Cupcakes
Apparently a gluten-free cookie can taste as good as a fresh-baked cookie. Lucky Spoon had a delicious showing of gluten-free baked goods.


Gluten Free
Casalare had an amazing and healthful assortment of gluten-free flours. Look forward to a review of the Tempura Flour soon!

Casually Eating Raw Cookie Dough

You know how everyone sneaks a few guilty bites of raw cookie dough before baking it into cookies? Now, there’s no more need for guilt. There was a large showing of edible cookie dough this year at the 2017 Winter Fancy Food Show. Made with heat-treated flour (little known fact: in raw cookie dough, the danger comes from the raw flour, not the eggs most of the time) and no eggs, this raw cookie dough is completely safe to eat out of the tub. Just not safe for your waistline.

Cookie Dough
Edoughble is one of the players in the market. Their Birthday Bash cookie dough was fantastic!

Best Bites

SnoqualIce Cream

If I could choose a title for myself, it would definitely be “Ice Cream Connoisseur.” There were quite a few booths showing their ice cream this year at the 2017 Winter Fancy Food Show, but Snoqualmice Ice Cream takes the (ice cream) cake for richest and most flavorful ice cream. With such an amazing depth of flavor, Snoqualmie doesn’t rely on gimmicky add-ins to prop up their taste.


Bobo's Bars

Let me just say—Bobo’s Oat Bars are delicious. Something like a mix between an energy bar and a delicious dessert, I can’t think of a better snack I’d rather have after the gym (or before the gym… or any other time, really). Moreover, Bobo’s is vegan, non-GMO, and soy and gluten free. A win-win-win-win!


Ozery Bakery Breakfast Rounds
Ozery introduces their breakfast rounds, which is a fast, healthy, and relatively low-calorie way to jump-start your day. Having eaten these for a week, I felt much more energized and satiated in the morning, without any of the guilt of a high-calorie muffin or pancake. You can also use them as a more delicious sliced-bread substitute.


SweetStacks Pancake Mix
As much as I love baking my own sweets from scratch, SweetStacks at the 2017 Winter Fancy Food Show really blew me out of the water. This is not your Mama’s pancake mix. This is Founder Elaine Camacho Babauta’s Mama’s Gourmet Pancake, Waffle, and Donut mix (try saying that with a mouthful of fresh baked donuts!). I was especially impressed with the Guam Banana Donut Mix. It was just the right level of sweetness, with a soft, but chewy center.


The Konery Ice Cream Cones
Pecan Praline, Phish Food, Butter Pecan, Rocky Road… Why does ice cream always get the wacky, iconic flavors? Well, The Konery founder Kristine Tonkonow aims to change that.
With a slew of different flavored ice cream cones both for retail sale and use in Ice Cream Parlors around the US, The Konery is really bringing something new and delicious to the market. I particularly enjoyed the Salted Blue Corn cone, which was a great mix with sweet ice creams.


New Ideas in Food

Plantain Flour
Like many people, I’m always looking for a way to lower my calorie-consumption while still eating delicious foods. I think Iya Foods’ Plantain Flour is the answer, guys. Lower calorie than traditional wheat flour, and gluten-free, the Plantain Flour Waffle I tried was simply out of this world. Amazing!


Crio Bru Cocoa Coffee
No coffee beans were harmed in the making of this drink. Crio Bru is a coffee-like drink made exclusively from cocoa beans. Even in the black state, it was far less bitter and a bit sweeter than traditional coffee. Moreover, it had the most amazing chocolate aroma.


Mame-Mage Vegan Cheese

For a country that doesn’t eat cheese that often, Japanese company Fuji Oil has shattered my perception of plant-based cheese. I’ve eaten my fair share of vegan cheeses, trying to find something that properly emulates the taste and texture of dairy cheese, but Mame-mage has blown them all out of the water. If I hadn’t been told before, I would think that I was just handed a block of mozzarella. It melts perfectly and has the perfect umami-taste of real cheese. Currently only being produced on a small scale of restaurant use, I have a feeling that if marketed correctly, Mame-mage will become the cornerstone of the non-dairy cheese market.


Oskri Fruit Bars
I love fruit leather as much as the next adult, but I could eat about 30 of those in one sitting. Here’s where Oskri really blew me away: all of their fruit bars are made of 100% pure fruit—no fillers. I don’t know about you, but eating a bar of nothing but figs makes me incredibly happy. Gluten-free and low calorie, this is the perfect grown-up snack.


Bonus: Celebrity Sighting!
It’s Bob, from Bob’s Red Mill! I was honestly a little surprised he was a real person, or otherwise alive.

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