Hooked on Cheese: Raymond Hook’s 2017 Winter Fancy Food Show Finds

More than 80,000 specialty foods were on display, and these were Raymond's favorites

The Cheese Vault keeps cheese in pristine condition. 

The annual Winter Fancy Food Show took place January 22-24, 2017 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Our resident cheese expert Raymond Hook spent these three days perusing more than 80,000 specialty food items on display. Here’s a list of his five favorite items from the show. Keep an eye out for these innovative products as they hit the shelves in the coming months.

The Cheese Vault by Capabunga


This innovation gets a gold star in my book. Besides being invaluable for cheese-lovers, this little storage box is environmentally friendly, easy to use, recommended by Oprah, and, frankly, adorable. Just place your unwrapped cheese inside, label the box with a ballpoint pen, and close the lid; your cheeses will be kept in pristine shape and won’t take on any plastic-y flavors ­– or smell up your fridge.



After marrying an Italian, American entrepreneur Jennifer Cue discovered this traditional lemon-coconut beverage on one of her many trips to Rome. This refreshing non-carbonated concoction is made with authentic Sicilian lemons and a splash of velvety Latte di Cocco (coconut cream), and the result is a supremely tasty drink that’s going to be my perfect go-to when relaxing outdoors this spring and summer.

ChocXO Organic Dark Chocolate + Quinoa Snaps


Amidst the countless chocolates being exhibited at the Fancy Food Show, these ChocXO Chocolate Snaps stood out. Intensely flavorful, responsibly-sourced South American chocolate and crispy organic puffed quinoa fuse to form a perfectly balanced treat with an awesome texture. I loved that these were not overly sweet, but what really won me over was the distinctive crunch of the quinoa.

Olive Crate Cream of Pistachio

Olive Crate

If you like Nutella, just wait until you try this rich, nutty pistachio-based cream. Olive Crate is a company celebrated for its stellar olive oils, but luckily for us, they’ve just begun crafting products from world-renowned Greek pistachios as well. This “pistachio butter” blew me away – it would be incredible on top of toast or waffles; as a filling for macarons or other cookies; on top of gelato; or even simply as a dip for fresh fruit. It’s so brand new that it’s not even on Olive Crate’s website yet, but keep an eye out for it soon.

Rogue Creamery Smokey Blue

Rogue Creamery

Rogue Creamery has been one of the top American artisan cheese producers for many years now, so it’s no surprise that one of their delicious Organic cheeses landed on my Top 5 list. The first cheese of its kind, Smokey Blue is totally distinct: it’s cold-smoked over Oregon hazelnut shells that infuse it with sweet, earthy, toasted-marshmallow flavors you won’t find in any other cheese. I’d pair this with some dried fruits or nut brittle to allow the sweet, caramelized flavors to shine through.


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