Friday, February 5, 2010

Fancy Food Show – Our Favorites (Part II)

The French Patisserie Desserts display

Yes, I’m still writing about the Fancy Food Show. For those of you waiting for posts on flowers, quilts, or travel, sorry, it’s still about food. I know that it feels like the eleventh post on the Fancy Food Show but the “II” in this post title is Roman numeral two, because it follows "Our Favorites (Part I)".

It’s time to move to the main course.


We spent a lot of time in the Fermin booth, not only because of the fantastic goat cheese I shared with you in Part I, but also because of their beautiful displays featuring Spanish hams from the Ibérico pig:




Stephanie’s and my favorite was this delicious tender ham rolled with seasonings that were a beautifully complement to the smoky flavor of the ham:


I've enjoyed white anchovies in the past, but this is the first time I tasted smoked anchovies, available via Atalanta. They were superb and would enhance any pizza, Caesar salad, or spaghetti alla puttanesca:

DSC04305 anchovy display

We all enjoyed the Cherrywood Smoked bacon by Nueske’s and felt it was well-deserving of its Sofi Gold Medal in the Meat, Pate, or Seafood category:

Nueske's cherrywood bacon


I admire Lotus Foods’ quest to preserve and propogate heirloom species of rice, each distinguished by its own terroir, like Indonesian Volcano Rice, Madagascar Pink Rice, and Cambodian Mekong Flower Rice. Their Forbidden Rice was my favorite starch of the show. It has a deep, rich, nutty flavor and the black grains would create a dramatic presentation on any plate:

DSC04367 Lotus Foods booth

DSC04369 Lotus Foods forbidden rice

Jams and Jellies

Tracy, Stephanie, and I unanimously agreed that Mussini’s compote of Strawberries and Balsamic Vinegar was an unbeatable flavor combination.


I love a good margarita and this Margarita Jelly started life as a great margarita and then was preserved into a delectable, crystal-clear, refreshing jelly by the talented folks at Cherith Valley.

Cherwith Valley Margarita Jelly

They also make mimosa, sangria, cherry brandy, and peach amaretto versions that would perk up any Mother’s Day scone.

Chocolate, Chocolate, and more Chocolate

We loved tasting all the chocolates presented by Guittard, a local family-based chocolatier with a rich history since 1868:

Guittard Chocolate display

My daughter bakes the most awesome chocolate chip cookies with these Guittard’s super-sized chocolate chunks:

Guittard Chocolate

Another fantastic chocolate booth was Valhorona’s. I was bowled over by the variety and range of chocolate flavors they create.

Valhorona chocolate display

I was especially intrigued by their Crunchy Pearls are tiny chocolate-covered biscuits (think chocolate-covered Rice Crispies) that don’t melt during baking. How good would a yellow cake with crunchy chocolate surprises be?

If baking a cake from scratch seems too daunting for you, you can enjoy the oozing warm chocolate of Dean Jacobs’ Lava Cake in merely fifteen minutes:

Chocolate Lava Cake

The gift pack comes with four ramekins. The Cake ‘n Cup red velvet cake gift box, complete with two ceramic cups, would be perfect for Valentine’s Day:

Cake 'n' Cup Kit

The personnel at the Callebaut booth gave their undivided attention to local food aficionado Narsai David and Joseph Schmidt whose chocolate brand was consolidated into Hershey’s artisan chocolate brand Scharffen Berger Chocolate. Seeing Joseph Schmidt reminds me how much I miss the artful hand-painted gift boxes that used to house his chocolates.

Callebaut Chocolate with Narsai David and Joseph Schmidt

Hot Beverage

The most unique beverage we came across was explained to us by this charming woman from the tiny island of Moloka’i who represents Coffees of Hawaii.

Tisane cherry coffee

Tesani is a tea infused from the dried flesh of the coffee cherry, that is, the fruit portion of the coffee bean as opposed to the roasted seed from which coffee is brewed. This tea has all the antioxidant qualities of coffee without the caffeine. I tasted the slightly citrus-flavored lemongrass version and it was truly delicious. This is a more natural and less processed alternative to decaffeinated coffee.

To give you an idea of just how fatigued my palate got by the end of the day, I did not taste any of the incredible-looking desserts from the French Patisserie in the top photo. There’s only so much sugar, butter, and cream a body can hold.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Macro Monday - There’s a Fungus Among Us

DSC03141 Portabello mushroom gills

It took me forever to figure out that I developed an allergy to mushrooms. I was eager to learn why I was struck down with debilitating migraine headaches that came out of nowhere. I discovered early on that crab cakes were often the culprit -- but not always. The ones made with a mélange of many ingredients were more likely to cause a problem than the flaky ones that consisted only of flaked crab, some herbs, and a few simple binding ingredients. Finally one time, after a fabulous plate of wild mushroom fettuccini, a migraine felled me for a day and a half. Even though I used to eat mushrooms with no ill effects for years and years, I had to face the fact that I could no longer indulge in one of my favorite foods. The saddest realization is that I could no longer eat truffles like these glorious specimen I saw at the Fancy Food Show…

DSC04351 Sabatino Tartufi truffles

… in the Sabatino Tartufi booth:

DSC04352 Sabatino Tartufi booth

There was a time not all that long ago when I would have salivated in wonder seeing a store like this one located in the San Francisco Ferry Building:

DSC03126 Mushroom and Truffle Stand

I can still take pleasure in these magnificent rarities as eye candy:

DSC03134 Nameko Mushroom $5

DSC03135 Tree Oyster Mushrooms

DSC03139 King Trumpet Mushrooms

DSC03144 Pioppini (Agrocybe aegerita)

I might have even gone for one of these mushroom mini-farms…

DSC03127 Mushroom mini-farms

… but now I’m afraid I only see a year’s worth of migraine headaches.

For other Macro Monday close-ups, pop over to Lisa at Lisa's Chaos.
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