• Chiles and spices:
Cowgirl Creamery unveiled its newest creation (born just last week), Devil's Gulch, a creamy Jersey cow's-milk cheese with a rind beautifully speckled with sweet and spicy dried red pepper flakes. Chuao Chocolatier's Firecracker bar took dark chocolate and chipotle to another level with the addition of popping candy that audibly crackles and pops as the silken Venezuelan chocolate melts away.
• More subtle were Vignette Wine Country Sodas, nonalcoholic fizzy drinks made from wine grapes: refreshing, elegant, and not nearly as gimmicky as you might think. We liked the Pinot Noir. The Smoked Olive's Sonoma Smoked Olive Oil was also pleasantly surprising with its gently wood-smoked flavor that didn't overpower the delicate fruitiness of the premium California olive oil.• Innovative foods like black garlic, colorful foods like green and pink rice, and puzzling foods like bacon salt, which is somehow vegetarian and kosher. And of course, a few provocative slogans never hurt anyone (Deb Deb's Rub Rub, we're lookin' at you).