Cheese, chocolate, chia seeds, shrubs, jerky: this weekend marks the Winter Fancy Food Show at Moscone Center, a tradeshow that offers food products, celebrities, and aisles of mainly decadent foods (there are some seaweed or kale chips and bowls of hummus thrown in for good measure). We spotted Duff Goldman as soon as we arrived, and he said he was there to trend watch, join the club! Chef and TV personality Joanne Weir reported she was on a similar mission. This trade show is meaningful for the Bay Area because it marks a chance to see and sample new products, network, and be a host for the $86 billion specialty food industry -- Alta being the hot spot most mentioned by visitors, along with nods over our unseasonably warm weather.
As for trends, coconut in various forms may be having something of a moment. La Tourangelle has a coconut cooking spray that saves consumers the trouble of melting the coconut oil; the show's 80,000 specialty foods and beverage products from the U.S. and over 35 countries and regions tend to simplify steps in cooking and eating. Coconut water was almost as popular as tea, and low calorie versions may lure consumers in.
Chia remains a nutrition powerhouse and chia products spotted on the aisles included jam, crackers, granola, and even a whole-wheat pasta -- a modern spin on a seed that has ancient leanings. From Western Australia comes chia pods (available locally at Whole Foods), a convenient on-the-go product akin to pudding that has chia, coconut milk and fruit -- that's indeed dairy-free and vegan and pretty tasty. The Chia Co. also has a chia oil for baking, fancy that.
Sriracha and dark chocolate are two of our favorite things and Sugar Plum Chocolates has some devilishly good creations that artfully combine the two.
Popcorn, chips and crackers are usually a part of this show, since they make up the building blocks for any party or gourmet happening. Lentil crackers are one interesting version. Every party needs a drink and what better tipple to try than shrubs or drinking vinegars -- on trend for the Bay Area. Our personal favorite? The basil scented version from the charming crew at the Pok Pok Som booth, available at Bi-Rite Market.