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Winter Fancy Food Show 2014

Some savory, sweet and spicy standouts from San Francisco's massive specialty food show

by Julie Wolfson in Food + Drink on 23 January 2014

Walking through the rows upon rows of exhibits at San Francisco's Winter Fancy Food Show proved to be a herculean task. The goal of surveying as many products as possible was made easy with McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams ' new Eureka lemon flavor with Marionberry preserves, a St. George Single Malt Whiskey gelato bar by Naia and some stellar salumi by Olli.

The massive gathering of the specialty food community brings together makers, chefs, entrepreneurs and specialty food businesses to tell products' stories and offer samples—including several hot sauces with habanero, heritage cheddar cheeses from Quickes, and chunks of sweet lobster from Shucks in Maine. Major sections of the convention floor highlight foods from different countries and around the States. It can be daunting to sample spicy kimchi-seasoned seaweed followed by single-origin dark chocolates, but after several hours of food adventuring, these were some of the standouts.

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Lafaza Vanilla

Sourced from sustainable Madagascar vanilla beans, Lafaza sells whole beans, pure ground vanilla, as well as single and double fold pure extracts. All beans are purchased directly from farmers who use organic and sustainable practices. Lafaza was launched when a Peace Corps volunteers assignment in Madagascar evolved into creating a company that sells delicious organic vanilla and makes a meaningful, positive impact on farming families in the region.

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Lillie’s Q Hot Pepper Vinegar Sauce

Combining red Thai chillies with apple cider vinegar and garlic, Chef Charlie McKenna formulated his new Hot Pepper Vinegar sauce to pair with collard greens. It also works well with pulled pork, salads, stews and soups. Named for McKenna’s grandmother, Lillie’s Q in Chicago and also Destin, Florida serves South Carolina-style southern barbecue.

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José Andres Foods

The famed Spanish chef now has a line of products to bring the flavors of Spain home. The selections include Cornicabra, Picual and Arbequina extra virgin olive oils, canned razor clams, cockles, sardines and mussels. Andres has also created several jarred Spanish classics like pisto and tomato fritto to streamline making authentic tapas dishes at home.

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Seven Sunday Muesli

After seeing the healthy lifestyle of many Kiwis during a trip to New Zealand, Hannah and Brady developed Seven Sundays muesli. Flavors include Ginger Pear Macadamia, Cherry Vanilla Pecan, original and Birchir in Minneapolis—which offers a high fiber, low sodium version with a listing about the benefits of each ingredient including golden flax seeds.

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Grove 45 Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The most pleasant moment at the Winter Fancy Food Show was meeting Nena Talcott and Bonnie Storm of Grove 45. Named for the year they were both born, these longtime friends offer up their organic olive oil made with olives from Tuscan bare root trees in Napa Valley. The Grove 45 aluminum bottle features a hand-embossed pewter label that would look great sitting on the counter next to the stove.

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Big Picture Farm Cocoa Latte Caramel

Big Picture Farm (already a CH favorite) debuted their new Cocoa Latte Goat Milk caramel made with Mocha Joe’s Espresso coffee from the roastery in Battleboro, Vermont. Big Picture Farm caramels are crafted from fresh goat milk from owners Lucas Farrell and Louisa Conrad own herd and are entirely delicious.

At the end of the show, the longstanding tradition of the exhibitors making donations of food to Bay Area food pantries and soup kitchen, in partnership with Feed the Hungry, brings the event to a close. Acknowledging that while the food community creates new products, it's important to give back to the community—especially those most in need.

Images courtesy of respective brands

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