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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What We Ate at the Fancy Food Show: Day Three

Posted By and on Wed, Jan 20, 2016 at 1:30 PM

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With a name that starts with "fancy," I expected the three-day Fancy Food Show to be a little more exquisite and a little less redundant (seriously, how many jars of marmalade or varieties of cheese does the world need?). That being said, the sheer number of vendors (1500 to be exact) and plethora of products (which topped off around 80,000) does give some idea of what the food world has to look forward to.

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One trend I noticed was a wellspring of waters among the bevy of beverages to be found on the floor. Move over coconut water, despite the current drought, apparently hydration is going to be a big deal.

Boasting 46 nutrients and free of pretty much everything else (including a very distinct flavor), SEVA Maple Water will run you 60 Canadian dollars for a 12-pack of liters. Consider your investment a donation to the forests of Quebec.

Closer to home (well, from Connecticut) comes Sapp, an organic birch tree water bottled in three flavors (that is, one flavor and two infusions): original, nettle, and rosehip. Like Seva, it is nutrient-dense and low in sugar and promises to help cleanse and detox. The flavors are subtle, but refreshing (as water is want to be). A 10-ounce bottle contains less than 10 calories and will run you roughly $3.

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Elderflower-infused sparkling waters sounds like something you should be drinking on the set of Downton Abbey, not amongst a throng of bustling food purveyors. Bottled in Sydney, Australia, Found Beverages are made with naturally sparkling spring water (who knew?), infused with aromas and slightly sweetened with beet sugar. All of those healthy elements can be easily compensated with a simple splash of spirit.

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In the same vein is a line of sparkling sodas — er, beverages — by the American company DRY. Conceived of by a woman who wanted a grown up beverage she could drink while pregnant, DRY's sparkling lavender is herbal and elegant. Sweetened with cane sugar, it leans more towards soda than water, but with significantly less sugar.

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I know what you're thinking, and I'm sorry to disappoint, but Hemp2O does not contain pot. Touted as a health beverage that is nutrient dense thanks to hemp seed oils, the "naturally-flavored" Strawberry tastes just about as unnatural as any sports drink on the market.

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More tea than it is water, Buddha Tea's Matcha Now looks any other squeeze and go bottle, aside from the cap full of matcha waiting to blend into your beverage. Expect to see matcha infiltrating your local markets, from gelato and cookies to cream puffs, rice chips and kids' snacks (matcha is a new featured flavor for Laughing Giraffe). Matcha is the future.

Of all the booths I visited and products I tried at the Winter Fancy Food Show (and believe me, there were a lot), there are precious few that I'll remember a week from now.

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One is Chuao Chocolatier's new Lovely line of chocolate bars. I'm not even a chocolate person (or at least that's what I told myself to keep from sampling a year's worth of cocoa calories in a single afternoon), but the marketing rep for Chuao sold her product like a pro (and even got me to make a GIF while holding a sign that read "I am enough"). Just in time for Valentine's Day, Chuao is launching a line of slender 2-ounce chocolate bars targeted at females. With delicate flavors like Coconut Hibiscus and Raspberry Rose, they have "gimmicky cliche" written all over them. The pink-rimmed packaging is covered with messages of self-love and acceptance, and the bars themselves bear full paragraphs of inspiration, for example, "The mischievous sparkle in your eye. Those smile lines around your mouth. The beat of your heart when you dare to dream big." It's everything I love about Dove Promises, only bigger. (I surrender).

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Also inspired by chocolate (but more-so inspired by coffee), is Crio Bru's roasted cocoa drink. Made from Criollo cocoa beans that are roasted in much the same manner as coffee beans, Crio Bru has the consistency of coffee, but with a primarily chocolatey flavor. Though cocoa beans lack the caffeine of a coffee bean, they do contain a natural stimulant called theobromine, which is gentler (a lot gentler) and non-addictive. Crio Bru itself isn't something I'd call delicious, but it does make for an interesting alternative to coffee and cocoa. Touted to be "appetite-supressing and heart-healthy," I found the best way to drink it was with a sizable splash of coconut milk. - A. K. Caroll

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For obvious reasons, I was immediately drawn to the Fartless Chili booth. In a convention center chock full of fancy food purveyors, many of which take themselves very seriously, it was refreshing to visit with an equally passionate company with a goal to earnestly share recipes they love, but without any of the pretense. The Idaho-based husband and wife team behind Fartless Chili brought this recipe to wider-scale manufacturing after developing a way to reduce the *ahem* gas level post-consumption. Delicious, natural, and fart-free - what more could you want? - Ali Wunderman
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A. K. Carroll


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