The 5 Top 2015 Summer Fancy Food Show Finds

Raymond Hook shares his favorite items from the annual food expo

Raymond Hook

Korean manjoo can best be described as a cross between a cream puff and a Twinkie, and can be molded into endless fun shapes. 

The 6th Annual Summer Fancy Food Show was held June 28 to 30, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. Our resident cheese expert (and member of The Daily Meal Council) Raymond Hook spent these three days walking the halls and assessing the thousands of specialty food items on display. Here’s this year’s list of his top five Fancy Food Show finds – look for these fun, original products on shelves in the coming months! You can find Raymond’s 2014 Fancy Food Show top picks here.

Most Artistic: Hernán Día de los Muertos Chocolate Skulls

Raymond Hook

As I was walking through the Javits Center, the colorful Hernán booth immediately caught my eye. Hernán is a Texas-based company that makes hot chocolate, mole, cooking tools, and serving ware — all of which is made in Mexico with materials sourced from small artisan producers. Hernán’s stunning organic chocolate skull bolitas (hot cocoa balls) are a brand-new item created to celebrate Día de los Muertos. Socially responsible, organic, delicious spicy Mexican hot chocolate in the shape of a skull? Too cool.

Most Delicious: Losada Olives

Raymond Hook

Being “The Cheese Guy,” naturally, my favorite foods tend to come in wheels, disks, and wedges, but the distinctive flavors of Losada olives instantly propelled them to the top of my “best of” list. This family-owned, farm-to-table producer of traditional olives has been operating out of Cardona, Spain, for over 50 years. They don’t over-salt or over-cure their olives, instead opting for a neutral brine that allows the olives’ pure, natural depth of flavor to shine through. My favorite was the Cornicabra, a forgotten varietal only recently resurrected by Losada. The brand is becoming more readily available in the United States, and with good reason: Their olives are the best of the best.

Most Party-Ready: Boska’s Mr. Big Party Fondue Set

Raymond Hook

The name says it all. This absurdly large fondue pot, made by the cheese tool experts at Boska Holland, is enough to get any party started. You might be thinking, “But traditional fondue season is so far off,” but I’d suggest using this set for a traditional Italian bagna càuda (hot garlic-and-olive-oil-based dip) or Japanese shabu-shabu (thinly sliced beef and vegetables dipped in broth) at a summer garden party. While I’ve always been a big fan of Boska’s conventional serving tools, it’s their uniquely Dutch sense of humor and fun that make this new product stand out.

Most Health-Conscious: Pop’Box by Magic Pop’s Microwave Popcorn

Raymond Hook

Pop’Box is an Illinois company that’s bringing the French popcorn line Magic Pop to U.S. consumers. What makes these guys different from other popcorn brands — in addition to their convenient movie theatre box format — is that they don’t use any harmful additives or chemicals. Popcorn manufacturers have been coming under fire recently for the use of perfluorooctanoic acid, or “PFOA” (a chemical linked to certain cancers, infertility and high cholesterol), in their bags, as well as other additives such as MSG and beaver’s anal glands (no joke). Needless to say, when I spoke to the representative from Magic Pop she was thrilled to bring a healthy alternative to the marketplace. The packaging is fantastic, too… not to mention the taste!

Most Trendworthy: Deli Manjoo Fish Shape Custard

Raymond Hook

The Korean “subway snack” manjoo can be described as a cross between a cream puff and a Twinkie: a small, custard-filled cake that’s molded into a fun shape such as an ear of corn or, in my case, a fish. Yes: a vanilla-custard-filled fish. Deli Manjoo is bringing this snack to the United States, and I’m so glad they are. When I first walked by their booth, I thought, Wow, kids would love these. Then I tried one for myself and thought, Wow… I love these. Deli Manjoo bakeries have been popping up in New York City and are on their way to becoming a serious trend in other U.S. markets. Soon, you too shall be able to enjoy these light, fluffy cakes… in the shape of a fish. What more can you ask for?

You can follow Raymond's cheese adventures on Facebook, Twitter and his website. Additional reporting by Madeleine James.

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