Raymond Hook’s 2014 Fancy Food Show Finds

The most innovative products from the annual festival

Tonewood produces pure maple sugar in the shape of a cube.

The 60th Summer Fancy Food Show was held June 29 through July 1, 2014 at the Javits Center in New York City. Our weekly cheese columnist Raymond Hook spent these three days walking the aisles of the show, investigating the thousands (!) of vendors exhibiting a vast array of specialty food items. Here is a list of his top five favorite Summer Fancy Food Show finds. Be on the lookout for these innovative products in the coming months!

Tonewood Maple Cubes — Pure maple sugar in the shape of a cube. This novelty comes in both light and dark versions and is intended to be grated and sprinkled on top of anything that strikes your fancy. Tonewood suggests shaving it over oatmeal, fruit, and yogurt for breakfast, or you can microplane it over ice cream, pancakes, or a cocktail for added sweetness. These cubes of pressed maple sugar are the perfect way to add a touch of deep maple flavor without overpowering a dish. When grated right from the block, the flavor is pure and the aroma is pleasantly strong.

Lotus Foods Organic Forbidden Rice® Ramen — Made from their organic heirloom Forbidden Rice®, this Japanese-style noodle is gluten free and incredibly tasty. The Forbidden Rice® is black rice, which makes this ramen stand out both visually and flavor-wise. At the show, Lotus served it in a traditional mild vinegar sauce with a bit of sesame oil and a few chopped veggies: simple, clean and healthy with a surprising depth of flavor. A lot of folks I know are gluten free, and I will definitely be recommending this satisfying noodle to all of them.

Grace and I Fruit and Nut Press — Made in Los Angeles, Calif. from mostly organic ingredients, these “presses” feature beautiful layers of pressed apples and plums with chopped almonds, pecans, hazelnuts and walnuts. These blocks look great as part of a cheese presentation, or they can be eaten on their own as a wholesome snack. I stumbled upon this unique product in the Cypress Grove Chevre company booth, where the owners feature specialty items from fledgling producers free of charge to help these small, promising businesses grow. It’s inspiring to see a successful company give new producers the opportunity to be seen by so many Food Show attendees in their extremely busy booth!

Boska —I returned to the Boska booth more than once during the show and spent quite a bit of time admiring (i.e., coveting) their astounding array of high-quality cheese tools. Boska crafts tools at all levels: high-production cutting tools, professional-quality tools for the cheesemonger, and presentation and serving sets for your average cheesehead. They have so many cheese-specific tools that if forced to pick a favorite I honestly don’t think I could. Beautiful Raclette machines, fondue sets of all kinds, every knife you could possibly need for slicing cheese, classy cutting boards… these tools offer quality and variety at all price points.

Lark Fine Foods Salted Rosemary Shortbread — These are, as Lark Fine Foods advertises, “cookies for grown-ups™.” Crisp but not dry; slightly sweet with subtle herbal flavors, and just the right amount of crispy sea salt. They have all the buttery richness that cookie fiends like myself seek in a shortbread, but it’s their delicate rosemary flavor that elevates them to the top of their class. The bakers at Lark have achieved a perfect balance of flavors with this cookie and managed to turn a very simple treat into a true delicacy. Try nibbling these with a strong cup of Earl Grey tea.


Additional reporting by Madeleine James.