Best of Winter Fancy Food Show 2014

Last week I visited the Moscone Center in San Francisco for the 2014 Winter Fancy Food Show, a production of the Specialty Food Association. Companies from around the world showcase their food products, mostly for buyers from all over (think CostCo). Because of this blog, I qualified for a press pass, which I used to suss out interesting foods for my new low-carb, low-sugar, natural foods, real-food-whenever-possible way of eating. I was also searching for local, family-run, companies. This is what I found, in no particular order.

LAFAZA Vanilla Extract

LAFAZA is a small, family-run business, based in Oakland, California. Using vanilla beans from Madagascar, grown by organic and sustainable farmers, LAFAZA’s product line includes extracts, ground vanilla and vanilla beans. I was drawn to this company because they are local, making a quality product that emphasizes organic and sustainable practices and socially conscious. LAFAZA products can be purchased on their website.

Numi Tea Chocolate Teas

Numi Tea is another small family business, also in Oakland, California. They use only high quality, hand picked organic and fair trade teas in their blends, with no “natural flavors” of any kind. I was drawn to their new collection of Indulgent Teas, chocolate teas in black, herbal teasan and rooibos varieties. They also have a line of savory teas, in flavors such as Tomato Mint, Carrot Curry and Spinach Chive, which to me sound interesting as recipe ingredients and flavor enhancers. These teas are widely available at Whole Foods,

Two Moms in the Raw Grain Free Cereal

Two Moms in the Raw from Lafayette, Colorado, is a raw foods company started by a mother-daughter team focused on food and wellness. I came home with a couple samples and have enjoyed the Grain Free Cereal as a no-sugar snack in the afternoons. Their products are available on Amazon, as well as Whole Foods and other natural foods stores.

A&B American Style Pepper Sauce

It is astonishing how much sugar is in everyday condiments. Just read a label sometime and you will see. I went to the FFS looking for condiment companies making sauces without sugar and found A&B American Style from New York. They are making pepper sauces without added sugar or preservatives, using quality products from local farms. I tried their original Pepper Sauce (which was plenty hot for me) and the ingredients are White Vinegar, Red Chili Pepper, Carrot, Onion, Habanero Pepper, and Salt. Compared with the hot sauce I found in our fridge which has Acetic Acid, Xanthan Gum and Sodium Benzoatte, as a preservative. Love a list of ingredients that I can pronounce and replicate easily! These hot sauces are available on their website.

Seely Mint Peppermint Patties

According to the many press releases I received before the show, Mint is the new “it” flavoring. I am ok with that, I love mint. Seely Mint is a 3rd generation grower of mint at their family farm in Oregon. Sustainably grown from native spearmint stock, the mint is steam distilled once to keep the peak flavors. Most of the mint oil is sold off to other companies, but Seely has retained enough to start their own line of chocolates. I loved the mint flavor and the family-run business aspect of this company. Their products are available through Bi-Rite in San Francisco and on their website.

Hey Boo Coconut Jam

Ok, this product is definitely not low sugar, but it is local, made in the Bayview neighborhood of San Francisco. Hey Boo Coconut Jam, called Srikaya in Indonesia, is an amazing product that I could probably eat straight from the jar. In Original and Mango, alongside a Coconut Caramel (great for ice cream), these three products are all natural, dairy free, gluten free and contain no preservatives. Hey Boo Jams can be purchased at Draegers, New Leaf and other specialty markets.

Super Seedz Sea Salt Pumpkin Seeds 

Pumpkin seeds are a great snack, especially for folks who have nut allergies or need something quick on the go. I loved these sea salt pumpkin seeds from Super Seedz because they have just two ingredients, pumpkin seeds and sea salt. Kathie has other flavors too, including Super Spicy and Coco Joe, and all are available on her website and Amazon.

Neo Cocoa

No samples were available to take home from this delightful company, since the owner Christine makes everything from scratch and the truffles are designed to be eaten, not stored for long periods of time. Another local company (based in Belmont, California) Neo Cocoa truffles are available at the La Cocina Kiosk at the Ferry Building, plus several Whole Foods in the Bay Area. I tried the newest flavor Salted Caramel with Hawaiian Sea Salt, but next time I will look for Almond Butter and Smoked Salt or Cool Peppermint!

Unbound Pickling Dill Pickle

In my quest to find processed food without sugar and a a laundry list of ingredients, I spent lots of time tracking down pickles and fermented foods. Unbound Pickling won a 2013 Good Food award for their Pickled Beans, but I was drawn to their Dill Pickles. Nice snappy taste, made with locally sourced vegetables and herbs. These pickles can be found at most Whole Foods in the Bay Area.

MoonShadow Grove Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Towards the end of my day at the show, I stumbled into the California Olive Oil Council booth and met Diane, one of the owners of MoonShadow Grove. We discovered we live in the same town, except during the summer and most weekends when she and her husband are at their 150 acre grove in Butte County, California, managing their olive trees. MoonShadow Grove is organic and the grove has been producing olive oil since the 1990s. The Ascolano Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil just won a 2014 Good Food Award. Any of the MoonShadow olive oils would be welcome additions in my kitchen!

Spicely Tea Infused Chocolates

I have been buying Spicely Organic spices for several years, mostly when shopping at Whole Foods and I need to replenish something in my spice collection. I like their eco-friendly packaging and selection of unusual spices. At their booth, I discovered they also have a line of loose leaf organic teas as well as tea and spice infused chocolates. And they have a store at 2nd and Market in San Francisco, which I plan to visit Real Soon Now.

Herbal Water Lemongrass Mint Vanilla

I only tried a couple beverages at the show, because many had sugar and other “natural” ingredients. Herbal Water was refreshingly different, offering a wide range of water-based beverages with herb flavorings. No chemical preservatives, no artificial flavors, and all organic ingredients. I tried the Lemongrass Mint Vanilla (remember, Mint is the new It flavor) but was also intrigued by the Peppermint Melissa Spearmint Herbal Tea (Melissa is another name for Lemon Balm). These beverages can be found at Draegers and Whole Foods in the Bay Area.

Note: I was not offered compensation from any of these companies for reviews of their products. In most cases, the sample I tried was on the show floor, along with 5 Billion of my best foodie friends (ie. not ideal sampling conditions). These are my opinions and my opinions alone, developed while walking the show floor, talking with the small business owners and researching these companies online. The only item I received for free was a press pass to the show, a $35 value. 

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One Comment

  1. Karin Stein
    Posted February 13, 2014 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    FYI Acetic acid is another name for vinegar.
    (I’m not sure why they used the chemical name when the trade name is less objectionable, but its just white vinegar.)

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