Hooked on Cheese: Raymond Hook’s 2016 Summer Fancy Food Show Finds

This year’s winners include sriracha smoked salmon and high-protein potato chips

Top picks included sriracha-smoked salmon, passion fruit ginger ale, McConnell's Ice Cream, and Gran Toscano cheese. 

The 2016 Summer Fancy Food Show took place June 26-28 at the Javits Center in New York City. Over the course of three days, the Daily Meal’s cheese expert Raymond Hook perused over 180,000 specialty food items and selected his top 5 items from the show. Keep an eye out for these extraordinary products at your local specialty food store in the coming months.

Sriracha Smoked Salmon from ACME Smoked Fish
Brooklyn-based ACME Smoked Fish has been a family-run operation since 1905. Now run by the family’s fourth generation, ACME’s innovative new products continue to impress. This year, they were sampling a Sriracha Smoked Salmon that was perfectly spicy and achieved an ideal thickness and flavor. The Sriracha variety is so brand-new that it isn’t even listed in their “New Arrivals” yet – we can’t wait until this hits the shelves.

Passion Fruit Ginger Ale from Bruce Cost
It’s not often I prefer a flavored beverage to the straight-up original version, but Bruce Cost’s Passion Fruit Ginger Ale, made with “yellow ginger” (aka turmeric), is a stand-out. Made with whole, fresh ginger, cane sugar, and passion fruit pulp, this is one well-balanced drink with a pleasant tropical bite. Bruce Cost is a world-renowned chef who is ginger-obsessed – he even wrote a book on ginger – which accounts for the impeccable flavors and mouthfeel of this beverage. It’s the perfect drink for long summer days outdoors and any time you need some serious refreshment.

Eureka Lemon and Marionberries Ice Cream from McConnell’s Ice Cream
This. Stuff. Is. Incredible. Whoa. One look at a beautiful pint of this small-batch ice cream and you’ll know you’re in for a treat. For almost 70 years, McConnell’s has been making ice cream with phenomenal flavors in Santa Barbara using grass-grazed milk and cream and only the finest local, organic ingredients from partner artisans on the Central Californian Coast. Thank goodness their mouthwatering frozen concoctions are finally becoming more readily available country-wide!

Gran Toscano Cheese from Il Palagiaccio
You know an Italian cheese is stellar when it’s recommended by both Matt Reilly and Emily Acosta of Eataly’s famed cheese department. Both Emily and Matt have won the Cheesemonger Invitational and have impeccable palates, so right from the start I knew this lightly crumbly, raw cow’s milk cheese would not disappoint. Its complex flavor evokes fresh milk, a deep nutty quality, and a distinct olive-oil-tinged finish. In fact, each 12-to-16-pound wheel is massaged with extra virgin olive oil every week while aging in the Ubaldini Family’s Grottos in Florence. This cheese would be spectacular paired with a structured, robust red wine.

PrOTATO™ Crisps from Plocky’s
Plocky’s natural tortilla chip company has been around since 1988, which makes it a veritable old-timer in today’s ever-expanding world of snack foods. Their tortilla chips have always been unfussy, non-GMO, and simply delicious, and they were the first to pioneer the concept of the Hummus Chip back in 2004. Now they’re about to add something new to their repertoire: a high-protein chip made out of potatoes! These “PrOTATO™ Crisps” taste fantastic, have 6g of protein per serving, and are far healthier than the traditional chip. They’re not on the market yet, but check them out as soon as they arrive at your local store.

You can read Raymond’s Fancy Food Show picks from the Winter 2016, Summer 2015, Summer 2014, and Winter 2014 shows here on The Daily Meal.


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