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Winter Fancy Food Show 2013: Best New Product

Numi's new Savory Teas win my vote for best new product

Tea has been around for thousands of years and, yet, the folks at Numi have managed to do a brilliant new thing with it. Meet their Savory Teas, in six flavors that star vegetables as the key ingredient, with support from herbs, spices and decaffeinated tea. They’re like the lovechild of tea and vegetable bullion, with a subtle, well-rounded flavor profile. These inventive new tea bags easily earned my “best new product” award at this year’s Fancy Food Show. Fennel Spice is the most expected, with licorice and orange notes – but it gets more interesting after that. Broccoli Cilantro has a bit of a kick, with cilantro and celery. Spinach Chive is perhaps the most complex, with lime, coriander, dill and green tea. Beet Cabbage not only has the crimson color you’d expect, but gets a lot of personality from mustard seed, coriander, clove and apple. My two favorites are Carrot Curry (who wouldn’t love carrot with ginger and turmeric?) and Tomato Mint, which has a Greek feel to it, with lemon peel and cinnamon. Fortunately, they’re available in a sampler pack, as well as boxes of  individual flavors, so you can easily try them all. Boxes of 12 teabags are expected to retail for about $7.99

Packaging for Numi Savory Teas - six flavors plus a sampler pack.

The tea bags need to steep longer than regular teas, eight to 10 minutes, to hydrate the ingredients. The taste is light enough to enjoy with a sandwich, but might be a little funky with a chocolate chip cookie. The Numi folks also suggest the brewed tea can be used to cook rice or noodles. Interesting. If you try them, let me know what you think! Every year, I attend the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, where thousands of  products are displayed for tasting. Any opinions – good or bad – are my own. Nobody pays me to write about a product. Follow me on Twitter to keep up with my latest travel and food adventures.

How Sour It Is! The pleasures of sour cherries

I’m a sucker (or should I say pucker?) for sour cherries. Fresh ones are nearly impossible to find, and the season is a brief blink in July. So when I found some at the farmers market – a small box, stuck in a corner, nearly hidden by towering mounds of boring Bings – I pounced. These are Montmorency cherries, a variety that’s over 100 years old, and the most plentiful type of sour cherry in North America. They’re a beautiful, bright crimson – so pretty, I almost don’t mind the tedious task of pitting each one. I remember pitting cherries when I was a kid, using one of my grandmother’s old-fashioned U-shaped hairpins to fish-out the seed. Now I’m thoroughly modern and use a paperclip. I didn’t make a cherry custard pie, like I remember adoring when I was young (anybody got a recipe?). Instead, I went for a sugar-cookie crust cobbler, from The Best Recipe cookbook – my go-to cobbler recipe. You spoon the dough on in mounds, and as it bakes, the juice bubbles up through the cracks. The crisp, sweet, buttery crust is the perfect foil for sour cherries. The Bottomless Pit (not to be confused with a cherry pit) thoroughly approved. La Tartine Gourmande is another sour cherry fan. She has some sexy cherry shots and an intriguing cherry soup recipe here. Dommage! I’ve got no cherries left to experiment. So what to do in those dreary months when you can’t get fresh cherries? One of my favorite risky-things-that-might-break-in-your-suitcase is Confipote cherry jam, from France. You can find it in just about any supermarket (in French, “cherry” is “cerise”). It’s a low-sugar jam, so the zing of the cherries comes through brilliantly. (Yes, I know this photo is a jar of fig jam, but obviously, I already ATE the cherry jam!) Want to know when a new post is up? Subscribe to my RSS feed and follow me on Twitter!

2010 FANCY FOOD SHOW – POST #5: Enough, already!

At every Fancy Food Show, I run across a few products or trends I could do without. Here’s a look at this year’s candidates. Enough already!
  • Single origin chocolates. OK, there’s such a glut of SOCs that now even the origins are getting origins. Amano – whose chocolates are superb – tells us which valley in Madagascar one bar is from, and the river basin where another is sourced in Ecuador. What next? Legendary chocolate growers? Sacred mini-plots?

  • Is there ANYPLACE that doesn’t produce olive oil these days? Australia’s into it in a big way – and now Chile is getting into the act, too. There was enough olive oil displayed at this year’s show to turn vast Moscone Center into a huge Slip-n-Slide. Now THAT would have been fun!
Soooo Last Decade
  • I remember being bedazzled by fancy colored salts when they first showed up a few years back. But for the most part, I’m no longer excited. Salt is pretty much salt, once you put a small amount on your food.
  • Would you people PLEASE stop making candy with wine in it? Thank you.
  • I don’t care whether you’ve put a straw in the lid or charged it with “intention” (Melavia) bottled waters are bad for the earth, unless you live somewhere that doesn’t have clean tap water.

Dept. of Wha???

Cupless Joe is capsules filled with instant coffee. So when a cup of coffee is just too hard to find (or make), you can pop four of these and get the equivalent buzz. Right.

Wild & Crazy Names

Anything to get attention! There’s no end to the cheeky products trying to lure you with whacky names…
  • Mother-in-Law’s Kimchi. Not sure whether this is a tribute to the maker’s mother-in-law or a comment on her spicy tongue.
  • Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning. When I asked these folks what their mama thought, they said it was her recipe, and their dad named it. Hmmm.
  • Mary’s Gone Crackers
    Another “Death to gluten!” product. Perhaps eating gluten is what sent Mary over the edge?
  • Bone Suckin’ Sauce
    Please insert your own naughty joke here.
  • Bermuda Triangle cheese
    Maybe I shouldn’t pick on this one. It tasted good, and at least the shape is appropriate. But on the other hand, I fear it might disappear when I close my fridge door.
  • Very wily! Now here’s an entertaining name! I never would have guessed that Wile E. Coyote had a booth at the show!

Check back tomorrow, to meet some interesting people whose personalities are the secret ingredient in their products. Like what I have to say? Subscribe to my RSS feed and spread the word with Twitter!