News From the Fancy Food Show & Quick Pickled Apples

ApplesFood Circus
The Fancy Food Show happened over the weekend. It’s one of my favorite things about January. Same goes for my kids—because at no other time during the year do I bring that much salt water taffy and random samples home.

It’s not just the taffy. I like to bring them interesting stuff to try. I unfortunately wasn’t able to get any of the “bug” products (crickets, cricket flour, chocolate covered bugs, Bugitos…you get the idea) ‘cause it would have been kinda fun to see their reactions. For the record, anything made out of bugs, chocolate covered or otherwise, is a no-go for me. Not saying they don’t taste good, or that they are bad for you but, no thank you. Just like my father’s philosophy on tomatoes, I will sell them but I don’t have to eat them.

I was not able to bring home any samples of the 100 or so purveyors of jerky either. But know this—jerky is a big thing. There was jerky everywhere, and in many forms: beef jerky, chicken jerky, salmon jerky even bacon jerky with Sriracha. (Which by the way was so good.) If you can dry it, season it, and use it as protein, chances are it was being shown at the Fancy Food Show. Also, if your company could possibly get away with putting Sriracha on whatever you were selling? You did…Sriracha everywhere.

The bone broth trend is still going strong. I was able to sample a really tasty chicken bone broth (they have a variety of broths to choose from) that comes as a K-Cup for your Keurig. Just make sure you are awake enough to realize what you’re brewing in the morning ‘cause that could be an unfortunate surprise…

Kale was in abundant supply once again. Even in frozen detox bar form with other greens. this is one of the items I wish I was able to give the kids. Just tell ‘em it’s melon-flavored and see how it goes…

Though I am not usually a fan of nut milks, I tried a Macadamia Nut milk that was fantastic especially in the latte that they gave me.

Staying with the nut theme for a moment, coconut anything was a big trend. The Coconut water thing has seemed to wane a bit but I did really enjoy a lemon coconut drink called Lemoncocco that was great, Not too sweet ad not too lemony it was really refreshing. Look for this to hit our shelves soon. Coconut as a replacement for sugar was big also.

And then there were the pickles. Pickled veggies and fruits were beyond popular and not just the obvious ones. I had some pickled fennel and some Brussels sprouts that were very tasty. For those who like their cocktails “dirty”, straight up pickle brine was available for mixing.

The highlight of the day was the tasting “flight” I did of Balsamic Vinegar. Phenomenal. Aged 6 years on up to 100 years. (Yes, you read that right.) If you ever have the chance to sample a 100 year old balsamic, please do. Your mouth will thank you.

At this point, my colleagues and I are sifting thru our materials and discussing the possibilities for our shelves, based on the products we all agreed were great. Be on the lookout in the store and on Facebook for any of the new items we saw at the show. They should be appearing soon.

Quick Pickled Apples
Adapted from Food 52 

1 cup water
1 cup white wine or champagne vinegar
1/2 cup maple syrup, plus additional if desired (grade B if you can find it)
1 1/2 teaspoons pickling spice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large Pink Lady apples
2 to 3 star anise pods

Combine the water, vinegar, maple syrup, pickling spice, and kosher salt in a small to medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat heat to low. Cover and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Spoon out a small sample of the brine to taste. (Make certain it is cool!) Adjust the sweetness of the brine by adding maple syrup a tablespoon at a time.

Wash and core your apples. Thinly slice them into approximately 1/8 inch pieces. Remove any seeds. Transfer the slices to a glass quart sized bowl, and star anise pods to the bowl.

Pour the brine through a strainer into the bowl with the apple slices, then cover and allow it to come to room temperature. The apples will float, so I used your strainer or a small plate to keep them submerged. Cover tightly with plastic wrap.

Once the brine has reached room temperature, transfer the apples to a pint glass jar. Layer them evenly around the perimeter. Transfer the star anise pods to the space left in the middle of the apples. Fill the jar with brine, and discard left over brine. Cover and refrigerate. They are good for at least a week in the fridge.

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