2018 Winter Fancy Food Show: Raymond Hook’s Top 5 Picks
The annual Winter Fancy Food Show took place January 21-23, 2018 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. The Daily Meal’s cheese expert Raymond Hook spent these three days investigating tens of thousands of products from over 1,400 exhibitors from around the globe. Here’s a list of his top five finds. Look out for these delicious and innovative products hitting the shelves in the coming months.
This spectacular cheese from the storied Tuscan dairy farm Il Palagiaccio was recommended to me by my old business pal chef Zach Allen, a Las Vegas-based executive chef who manages 10 restaurants in the US and Asia. Gran Mugello is made with raw summer cow’s milk and cave-aged for one year while being massaged weekly with extra virgin olive oil. The cheese first imparts a sweet milky taste before developing into a nutty, buttery flavor that bursts with the richness of the olive oil. It’s not surprising that a dairy farm with 13th-century roots would produce a standout amongst the innumerable cheeses at the WFFS!
In the midst of thousands of desserts, these perfect little jars of simple, organic goodness made quite an impression. Upon moving to San Francisco a few years ago, French pastry chef Maxime Pouvreau noticed that there were no traditional French pots de crème on the shelves of his local grocery store and decided to set things right. He crafted five pudding flavors (including a rice pudding) and packaged them in beautiful curved art deco jars; I was just as wowed by the packaging as the creamy, not-too-sweet taste of these subtly flavored custards themselves.
This 2017 sofi New Product winner is a fascinating mix of delectable sweetness, complex flavors, and noteworthy health benefits. Made from biologically active, antioxidant-rich, fair-trade propolis, these spreads come in flavors like Hazelnut Cocoa and Pistachio (my favorite) and pack an enormous nutritional punch. Bee & You is a new Anatolian company that produces both medicinal-grade propolis extracts and honey products for eating – truly everything from the realm of bees!
I may be a bit biased towards the realm of coagulated milk products, but I absolutely insisted that a second cheese make it onto his top 5 list. Made by veteran cheesemaker Franz Koster in northeast Switzerland, this soft buffalo milk cheese is not, in fact, made with Camembert cultures, but it resembles a Camembert-style cheese so much that Koster went with the name. Crafted from the Organic milk of only 50 free-ranging buffalo, this cheese has a pleasant tang and fruity notes balanced by the creamy, oozing texture of the paste.
Leave it to the Japanese to create the most fun and delicious dessert ever! These candy kits allow you to make mini-hamburgers, mini-donuts, mini-ramen, even mini-bento boxes…all from powdered mixes, sauces and crunchy decorations – just add water. While these may be listed as a children’s product, me and my (adult) team had a lot of fun making and eating these at the end of the day at the Food Show – and they taste shockingly good!
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You can read Raymond’s Fancy Food Show picks from Summer 2016, Winter 2017 and Summer 2017 here on The Daily Meal, and can follow his cheese adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and his website. Additional reporting by Madeleine James.