Trends from the Fancy Food Show, Winter 2016 edition

Banana Bars

Fruit and fiber bars were everywhere at the 2016 Winter Fancy Food Show.

Spent two days this week at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. The two unmistakeable trends were healthy snack bars, typically a combination of fruits and grain, and definitely unhealthy jerky in a blizzard of flavors and fabrications. Obviously we need a bar that combines the fruit, meat, fat and carbs. Oh, wait, that’s pemmican. I’ll look for it in New York in June.

Bacon Jerkey

Bacon Jerky.. the best of both worlds

Two predicted trends that failed to materialize were paleo cuisine (though I discovered the by-the-pound food court at Whole Food has an excellent offering, and it’s also good value by weight because everything is dried out) and earth-conscious preps in the manner of the new Perennial restaurant in San Francisco, which considers every possible option such as composting meat separately, attracting flies, then feeding the fly larvae to the house-bred fish. But some previous predictions held up. High end ice cream/frozen custard is still going strong, as is peanut butter.

Waffle Cups

Waffle cups coated inside with chocolate or nutella got a lot of attention

In the “new and different” category (for me anyway) was Piedmontese beef. This is a breed that is grown by a cooperative of Nebraska farmers. It’s naturally lean but without the gamey taste and chewiness of grass fed. It tastes really good and I’m going to look for a local source (for me, and for a chef I know who would do it justice).

Seawater Beer

Seawater beer tastes as good as it sounds

It’s important to note that not all things are good and delicious. Some innovations don’t work, like a waffle cone turned into a cup and coated inside with chocolate or nutella to be melted when you pour in hot coffee or cocoa. The booth was busy, but the execution didn’t work. And beer made with seawater? Tastes as good as it sounds. Also, some producers are deliberately aiming for a lower price point or demo and it’s a shock to come across their offerings while doing a horizontal tasting of, say, blue cheese. (Sartori Cheese, yes I’m talking about you.)

Speaking of commerce, I had packed for the feared El Niño and found myself seriously overdressed on the steamy show floor. Tried Amazon Prime Now through the Android app and a short sleeve polo shirt was waiting when I got back to the hotel. I got $10 off as a first order… download the app and you may too.

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