The city of San Francisco is alive and well with foodies from around the globe this week as the Specialty Food Show got into full swing, Sunday, January 21, 2006. After attending the show for over a decade, this blogger can honestly say that the food market is abundant with new items. Cheeses are the thing. And those are the waters and teas.
One of the show highlights come from Napa Valley, California. Napa Valley Spas Products is promoting her grape seed tea with the excitement of a full jolt of caffeine. And, for good reason. Whether a green, passion, or lemon tea aficionado, the Spa Teas are the in thing right now. Especially since 30% of the blend is ground grape seeds.
Pebble Beach Spa proudly sports the tea and from the looks of those on the links, something is working.
On another tea leaf note, the individual pyramid mesh containers, replacing the tradition bag, are also the “in” marketing theme this year if I am reading the leaves correctly. The trend is definitely not only in the flavor, but in the presentation. Tea has for centuries been a ceremonial situation, we are now defining a way to keep the ceremony simple, but elegant.
Another big swig on the beverage scene is” O” Beverages. The light and refreshing bevs are slightly infused with fruit oils, sans sugar, adding a touch of flavor and an aroma that is not only pleasantly noticeable but has some body.
Unlike the other water drinks that hold bragging rights to vitamins, but are highly sweet, O Beverages do not offer the rainbow colors of some drinks, but rather remain crystal clear, aromatic and flavorful.
If you happen to love cheeses, this is the show for not only your palate, but your traveling taste buds. Cheeses from around the world are being highlighted, sampled, and whisked away by the crowds of retail and restaurant owners at every turn and corner. The cheese booths are definitely the busiest. And, when it comes to pleasing your customer base, one of the major selling items in California high end restaurants are the combination cheese plates which many diners are substituting for a luncheon sandwich or soup in their quest for Frenchification.
A plate with three cheeses, a small selection of fruit and some stylish, tasy, Charcuterie is the perfect small noshing item for an afternoon menu. And, the price pint is reasonable, the margins profitable, and the prep time almost non-existant.
Where ever you find cheese, you will find crackers. The expanded cracker selection this year has become very noticeable. But the highlight of the show has to be the packaging and presentation coup of the season.
The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, has joined talents and marketing forces with Stonewall Kitchen of Maine and has launched a casually elegant, eye and and palate appealing product line of bakery mixes that are quick, easy, and as close to home made as one can find at seven o’clock at night when your cravings are shouting “coconut cupcakes.”
If you haven´t had the opportunity to attend the show, don’t worry. Most of the items at the show can be purchased through your vendors. If you need to find something just email me as I have the list of vendors and would be happy to share that.
In the meantime, I have got to go to the chocolate section to sample a few more Raspberry Truffles from Joseph Schmidt.