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    Favorites from the 2020 Winter Fancy Food Show

    The specialty food industry, representing nearly $150 billion in annual sales, gathered in San Francisco for the Winter Fancy Food Show held at the Moscone Center from January 19–21. Hosted by the Specialty Food Association (SFA), a not-for-profit association with over 3,800 members, the show featured 1,400+ companies exhibiting over 80,000 specialty foods—something for nearly every palate.

    “The Winter Fancy Food Show is the first show of the decade to bring together the entire industry to taste, see, and buy what innovators are bringing to market,” said Phil Kafarakis, SFA president, ahead of the popular event. “Moscone Center will be filled with top makers, buyers and other industry professionals, gathering to share the latest trends, network, and conduct critical business. These are the folks who will be bringing consumers the best of the best in food this year.” 

    Hewas  right. Our team from the San Francisco Bay Times spotted buyers from all of the local major grocery store chains, including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and even Target. Companies from more than 40 countries were at the tradeshow, which filled all of Moscone Center. It was no surprise that California boasted the largest state presence, with representatives from more than 382 food companies present. New York and Oregon were also well represented.

    Some of our favorites from this year’s Show were:

    Aghati Oriental Sweets – Based in Amman, Jordan, this company produces fruit and nut-based sweets. The flavors are often familiar—dates, pistachios, rose water, walnuts, and more—but the combinations are unique and exotic, with a romantic flair that has us thinking of Valentine’s Day.

    Republic of Tea – This purveyor of premium teas just debuted their organic “superdigest” teas that include flavors like Cacao Cinnamon Pu-erh, Hibiscus Beet Ginger, and Honeybush Vanilla Turmeric.

    Wooden Table Baking Company Alfajores – The out and proud couple behind these yummy Argentine-style cookies is Andreas and Citabria Ozzuna. Andreas grew up outside of Buenos Aires and learned to cook from their grandmother.

    La Carmela Yellow Ketchup – This tasty condiment has the Betty Crocker of Italy, “Carmela,” pictured on every bottle. Her relatives almost got a bit teary eyed speaking about her with us.

    Sultan Power Drinks – You will be hearing more about the health benefits of black seeds—the base ingredients of these tasty drinks.

    Liv’On – The hors d’oeuvres from the assortment we tried were restaurant quality. The company is based in Austria, but we met one of the owners who was from Greece. A lot of the dishes showed her savvy, with high-quality Greek cheeses, for example, included in the bite-sized morsels.

    Daddy Sam’s – This family-run business out of Texas makes a delish BBQ sauce (they spell it “sawce”). It makes a great homemade sloppy Joe/Sam.

    Mamie’s Pies – An Oprah favorite, Mamie’s PIes is a woman-owned company that makes the cutest and tastiest pocket pies that often look like the fruit that is contained within them.

    NOW Foods’ Organic Monk Fruit – This sweetener with a low glycemic impact is basically just the dried fruit of a small green melon native to China. Unlike stevia, there is no bitter aftertaste.

    Corte’s Charcuterie – They make Spanish, Portuguese and Italian-style sausages that are often otherwise difficult to find in the U.S. Their Peruvian and Salvadoran chorizos, for example, taste like those found south-of-the-border.

    Fine & Raw Chocolate – The well-named company uses an innovative low heat process to keep in flavor and nutrition.

    The Konery Artisanal Waffle Cones – These come in a variety of flavors like Red Velvet and Pumpkin Spice and, when lined up, look like a cone rainbow.

    Tierra Farm Certified Organic – The dried fruits and nuts from this environmentally conscious company are full of rich flavor.

    Keto Pint – We have been enjoying this keto ice cream for a while, and were happy to see the company at the Food Show.

    Bob’s Red Mill – We missed seeing Bob this year—he was “away at lunch” when we stopped by his large booth—but he has one of the best run companies with a loyal staff and always great products.

    Sugar Bowl Bakery – This popular bakery has a new line of butter-rich seasonal fritters packed with apple, blueberry, cherry, and peach.

    Brooklyn Food & Beverage – Their small-batch, craft beverages are very refreshing and flavorful. We loved their spicy sugar-free ginger ale and calamansi-ades, made with a sweet-tart citrus native to the Philippines.

    Endangered Species Chocolate – Since 2016, the company has donated over $1.7 million to its partners. This year they are giving to the National Forest Foundation and to The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. They are delicious chocolates as well.

    This Saves Lives – A portion of this company’s profits for selling snack bars go to ending childhood malnutrition.

    Mama Kicks! – Adina Dahlin is the “mama” and founder of this sauce and marinade company. She donates a percentage of her profits to grassroots organizations.

    Sanders Fine Chocolates – This company out of Michigan has some of the nicest people on staff. It was started by Fred Sanders back in 1875. He brought his family’s candy recipes to the U.S. from Belgium.

    Judge Casey’s Irish Country Ketchup – A member of our team has been buying this regularly. It has a unique mix of ingredients—crushed tomatoes, onions, raisins, sun dried tomatoes, and vinegar are key—that give it a balanced savory and naturally sweet flavor.

    Glory Bee Honey – This company has an organization that works to eliminate pesticide use and to promote bee-friendly plants and urban beekeeping.

    Blount Fine Foods – This was an a-ha moment, as we discovered that Blount of Massachusetts is the company that makes the tasty Mac & Cheese dishes at Panera. Many of the vendors at the Food Show go incognito for stores, like the Italian pizzeria we saw a few years back that makes pizzas for Trader Joe’s.

    Purely Elizabeth – Even Bobby Parrish of Flav City (the influential nutrition-themed vlog) gives this granola his hard-won approval.

    Ivan Bar – It was fun to be given an almond macadamia bar by Ivan himself. He and his wife were proudly standing over a table displaying the “all you need” in life bars.

    La Tourangelle Oils – From roasted walnut to early harvest olive, the oils of this artisan company are always first rate.

    Published on January 30, 2020