News From the Fancy Food Show

Winter Fancy Food Show 2019Foods of Fancy
The Fancy Food Show was held this week at the newly renovated Moscone Center. And, I can honestly say it was the most fun I’ve had at the show in a number of years. It was considerably larger with more vendors than had been there previously (which is not surprising). You can always tell how well the economy is doing by the number of vendors packing the pavilions. I can’t really say that there was one obvious overall theme to what I saw at the show, what I can say is that this was a year of innovation and exploration.

In shows past, certain categories have dominated the landscape. Last year you couldn’t take a step without running into vendors with jerky or meat sticks. It was jerky here, jerky there, jerky everywhere. Before the jerky, we navigated the very crowded category of coconut water and vitamin water craze. And don’t get me started on the chocolate years…Yes, there really is such a thing as too much chocolate. This year there was no dominant item. Variety was everywhere. If I had to sum it up in three words they would be: Innovative, multi-cultural, and female.

I chose Innovative because there were plenty of vendors who took a good product and made it better. For example, there was one company that proved that peanut butter is not just for the lunch box crowd. Their Spicy Thai Peanut butter was fantastic and would be great thinned out and used with chicken or directly into a salad dressing. Another company was not happy to simply produce great honey. Instead, they decided to combine the health benefits of honey with other ingredients like turmeric, black garlic, and calendula for great tasting honey that not only improves your health but ups your cheese plate game. Finally, there’s the beverage from Japan that looks like beer and tastes like beer but has no calories, sugars, carbs etc. It’s basically water and it’s all natural—blew my mind.

Last year the influence of Korean cooking was everywhere. This year the flavor doors to the rest of Asia have been thrown open. We tasted a fresh lemongrass paste made by a local vendor that was heaven. (Look for that on our shelves soon.)

One of the items in the “New and Exciting” section was a puffed water lily seed snack that you would swear was popcorn—but with more protein, less fat and fewer calories. Copper Cow Coffee offers coffee addicts the intense coffee flavor and sweet indulgence of organic sustainable grown Vietnamese coffee but in a portable single-serve pour-over set. And they are women-owned…

This brings me to my last word: female. There were a lot more booths promoting the products produced by women-owned businesses. Now, it may have seemed like more because those businesses were making it a point to let people know that they were owned by women. And, that’s fine by me. The fact that being a women-owned business is being presented as a positive thing is what makes it great. One such business is Muddle & Wilde which produces elegant citrus-based drink mixers that can be combined with your favorite liquor or added to sparkling water for a refreshing soda. They are fantastic!

As I sit here pouring over the stack of sales sheets and informational brochures that I collected, I feel energized and excited about what’s to come in the food industry this year. We’ll try to keep you up to date when something we loved from the show arrives. Until then, I have this recipe on my mind as I think about that lemongrass paste….

Grilled Pork Chops with Sweet Lemongrass Marinade
Adapted from Charles Phan’s Vietnamese Home Cooking

Ingredients
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon fish sauce (see page 36)
1 lemongrass stalk, finely chopped (see page Z07)
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 Thai chile, stemmed and finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 bone-in center cut pork chops, each about 12 ounces and 1 inch thick

Directions
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the sugar, fish sauce, lemongrass, garlic, shallot, chile, and black pepper and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Arrange the pork chops in a rimmed dish in a single layer. Pour the marinade over, cover with plastic wrap, and let marinate at room temperature, or overnight, for 1 to 2 hours. (If you refrigerate the pork, bring the meat to room temperature before grilling).

Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill. When the coals are ready, (you should be able to hold your hand 1 to 2 inches above the grate for only 2 to 3 seconds) push two-thirds of the coals to half of the grill, creating a hot zone. Spread the remaining one-third on the other side of the grill to create a cooler zone.

Remove the pork chops from the marinade and discard the marinade. Place the chops on the hottest part of the grill.
Let cook for 1 minute, then flip and cook for 1 minute on the second side.

Move the chops to the cooler side of the grill and cook, turning once, for about 10 minutes total, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chop registers 140°F. Rake over the coals from the hotter side of the grill if necessary to maintain an even temperature. Spritz any flare-ups with a spray bottle filled with water.

Transfer the chops to a large plate, tent with aluminum foil, and let stand for 10 minutes. Cut the meat from the bone and slice the meat across the grain on the diagonal. Transfer the slices and bones to a serving platter and serve.

Comments are closed.