Photos: Hot trends and favorite finds from the 2014 Fancy Food Show
The Winter Fancy Food Show, held every year at the Moscone Center, a labyrinth of 212,000 square feet that showcases new finds in the food world, took place earlier this week in San Francisco, and I spent god knows how many hours shuffling through the halls stuffed with 1,300 exhibitors pimping everything from Hello Kitty paraphernalia to a make-it-yourself ramen noodle bar. Bacon, I learned, is still at the top of the food chain; gluten-free products are apparently more popular than sex; Jelly Belly will never run out of flavors; and chocolate is still everyone's favorite sugar rush.
Still, over the three days that I spent bumping into the culinary cognoscenti, including Thomas Keller, who was there to ballyhoo Cup4Cup, his gluten-free flour line, I spotted some noteworthy trending food and beverage products, along with a few favorites that I'll be seeking out in the weeks and months to come. Flip the page for my finds.
Sriracha steals the show: On every corner, in every gridlocked aisle, there was some sort of sriracha: in hot sauces and in chocolate, dusted on popcorn and chips, infused in mayonnaise, heaped high in a grinder, in jellies and jams, and for those with chapped lips, I even spotted sriracha lip balm. No idea why anyone would want that glossed on their lips, but they've done it with bacon, so why not sriracha? The best use of sriracha went to the Jam Stand's Not Just Peachy Sriracha jam, which unleashed equal degrees of heat and sweet.
Buy it: thej.am/products/not-just-peachy-sriracha-jam
Coconut comes out of the closet: If you have an affinity for coconut, then 2014 is your year. Along with coconut water and coconut oil, both of which were everywhere, I came across a product called Dang Toasted Coconut Chips, little on-the-go pouches of toasted, slightly sweet, slightly salty coconut chips that are made in Thailand. True to their name, they're dang good, and a snack, too, that your kids will love, provided, of course, that they're nuts for coconuts.
Buy it: Safeway, Whole Foods and Sprouts Farmers Market stores, or online at Amazon.com.
Beer here, there and everywhere Beer is no longer just a sudsy substance consumed in a bottle or glass. At the Fancy Food Show, it was in taffy (really, really bad taffy), jelly beans (the latest -- but not greatest -- flavor from Jelly Belly), and in cheese, another misguided attempt to capitalize on the beer craze. But the one product that did right by beer was the "Firey" beer brittle from Brent's of Napa Valley. The brittle, made with Red Tale Ale, chile de arbol and salted Spanish peanuts, is roasty, rich and buttery with a pronounced hoppy finish. Really good stuff.
Buy it: anettes.securesites.com/shop.html?Category=Beer%20Brittles%20plus...&Product_ID=35, or Amazon.com.