Category: Food

JERKY BOYS

Among the number of specialty food niches one could survey at the International Fancy Food Show at the Javits Center this year I was particularly struck by the expanding varieties of packaged dried meat products – and this was only in the North Pavilion annexed to the main building of the Javits. Certainly I have noted more and more different brands of various beef and other jerkys on offer in the supermarkets, delis and specialty food shops around the city, but the International Fancy Food show, as always, featured varieties I had no prior knowledge of. After sampling a number of these over the time since the show, I can offer an account (by no means exhaustive) of notable products in this area.

USTA FLAVOR OF THE OPEN

Each year when August comes, New Yorkers can count on several annual rituals that mark the waning days of Summer. The movers and shakers who’re determined to wring every last bit of hard-earned relaxation from the season decamp even more fervently to the Hamptons and other points east (and north, for that matter), and this in turn leads to an events calendar in the city drastically pared down from the typical hurly-burly. As September nears, however, the human tide flows back to the metropolitan area, and perhaps the biggest happening signaling this shift is the US Open tennis tournament, the showpiece event of the USTA (United States Tennis Association).

2014 SUMMER FANCY FOOD SHOW TOP 10 DISCOVERIES

A quiet Fancy Food Show, that’s a first for me. I’m also surprised at the number of vendors expected who didn’t show. The economy is still on the ropes around the world and it shows. Too many repetitive products this year but as usual, a number of surprises that you will enjoy.

UPGRADING YOUR SUMMER ENTERTAINING

With Summer upon us our entertaining heads outside to our yards, pool, boats and vacation rentals. Instead of stocking up on your usual refreshments take a chance on some of the new products coming to the marketplace with wider distribution due to the mergers in the spirits, beer and non-alcoholic beverage industry.

2014 SOFI AWARDS

Just as the James Beard Awards function as the Oscars of the realm of fine dining in America, the SOFI™ Awards represent the best in products in the area of specialty foods and beverages, and are the highlight of the annual Fancy Food Show, taking place this year from June 29-July 1 at the Javits Center. The acronym SOFI stands for Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation, and this years finalists were culled from a record number of 2,734 entries – resulting in more than 130 finalists across the 32 awards categories. Up for the awards, with winners to be determined on June 30, are the following products in their respective categories:

2ND ANNUAL NYC HOT SAUCE EXPO

It seems far more often than not when I am out and about, taking in meals or attending receptions, that I find the food I am presented with is too bland for my tastes – so much so that I regret not carrying around with me a bottle of preferred hot sauce to make whatever is before me either more palatable, more enlivened, or simply to bring out the essential flavors already inherent in a more pronounced way. For those like me, who like to challenge their taste buds (and stomachs, and colons – not to mention their endurance and fortitude), the 2nd Annual NYC Hot Sauce Expo at the Penn Pavilion Plaza was the place to be on Saturday, March 29 and Sunday, March 30.

FOOD OF QUEBEC AT MORTON WILLIAMS

For most people living in New York City and its environs, the most regular exposure they get to products of the nearby Canadian Province of Quebec is the annual December display of fir trees for sale on city sidewalks – most of which end up as Christmas trees in peoples’ apartments (and then typically are returned to the sidewalks once people discard of them after the holidays). A few years ago there was a sort of boomlet in poutine-themed restaurants – not surprisingly some were located in the Lower East Side area that’s become overrun with bars and bistros serving a youthful clientele both residing in the neighborhood and not; poutine is after all an ideal postprandial feast – but that trend seems not to have taken hold, lacking here the deep cultural roots which make poutine an essential element of dining options in any Quebec town large or small. However, there will now be a more sustained opportunity for New Yorkers to enjoy products of Quebec, as the year-long “Foods of Quebec” promotion will bring to the eleven Morton Williams stores of the Metropolitan area a number of fine brands produced in the Province.

HOT SAUCE & BEER HEAVEN

What can be better than hot sauce and beer? I went down to Jimmy’s #43 at 43 E. 7th St. [http://jimmysno43.com/] for the press preview of the 2nd Annual NYC Hot Sauce Expo. Now my limit is two of anything but unfortunately I had five at Jimmy’s. Maybe six.

FOOD FETE – FEBRUARY 2014

Several times a year a group of food purveyors gather under the Food Fete banner to present their newest products to assembled journalists. Here is a round-up of notable products I was able to sample at the most recent edition.

BENVENUTO BRUNELLO 2014

Mount Amiata, at 1,740 meters high, stands to the south of the Brunello region in Tuscany like a climatic guardian, shielding the territory from weather conditions such as cloudbursts and hailstorms – and thus yielding the mild, sunny, typically Mediterranean climate ideal for producing the light, appealing wines the area is known for. One would hardly suspect, then, that the region was the setting of fierce military battles throughout the 12th to 16th centuries, when the municipality of Montalcino first fought Siena, and then with Siena against Florence, to maintain control of its territory. Despite the city walls and great fortress protecting Montalcino as a man-made Amiata, when in 1559 the inhabitants handed over the keys of the city to representatives of Cosmo de’ Medici, it became the last town to survive as an independent municipality in Italy.