Whittling down 80,000 products from the 36th Winter Fancy Food Show to just 10 was no small feat. In fact, we couldn’t do it (there are actually 11 on this list).
Our top 10 includes an herbaceous Spanish honey, sweet Armenian walnuts and a luscious golden pineapple vinegar.
Not all of these products are brand new — and some are not even available yet — but each one left an indelible imprint on our taste buds.
Pen & Fork’s “Best of Show”
10. Basajo – this dessert wine-soaked blue cheese from Treviso, Italy (above) is sweetly perfumed and velvety smooth. On the strong/mild scale of blue cheeses, where Gorgonzola is strong and Maytag is mild, Basajo falls somewhere in the middle. Info: La Casearia Carpenedo.
9. McClure’s Bloody Mary Mix – Deep tomato flavor, fresh cucumber taste and just the right amount of peppery heat — who knew a five year-old pickle company from Detroit could make such a delicious, briny Bloody Mary? Great with or without vodka. Info: McClure’s Pickles.
8. Sir Kensington’s Spiced Ketchup – Plain or spicy, this ketchup makes the mass ketchup brands seem ridiculously fake. The spicy flavor, our favorite, is smoky from chipotle, and spiced with coriander and allspice. Sir Kensington’s echews high fructose corn syrup in favor of agave nectar, brown sugar or honey. Info: Sir Kensington’s.
7. Skillet Bacon Jam – Sweetish from the caramelized onions and reduced balsamic vinegar, this “jam” will rock everything from a turkey sandwich to a thumbprint cookie. Info: Skillet Street Food.
6. Pure Dark™ chocolate bark – Slabs of dark chocolate, some studded with dried fruits and nuts are made in small batches from a blend of different cacao beans. Info: Pure Dark.
5. Hammond’s Luscious Lemon Meringue – lip-smacking, sweet-tart jar of joy. It isn’t available until April 1, when the Denver, Colorado candy company is set to launch several flavors of dips.
Use in a pinch for unexpected company as a dip for a fruit platter, or as an instant dessert sauce for ice cream or pound cake. Info: Hammond’s Candies.
4. Sparrow Lane Golden Pineapple Vinegar – Pure “wow” on the tongue — juicy and tart. It hasn’t been released yet, so consider the blackberry vinegar and walnut champagne flavors in the meantime. Info: Sparrow Lane.
3. Dulcet Moroccan Mustard – Seduction by way of paprika, organic mustard and hints of cinnamon and saffron. Frankly, all of Oregon-based Dulcet’s products, which include dry spice rubs, grilling sauces, dressings and flavored ketchup will make you swoon. Info: Dulcet Cuisine.
2. Abella Propolis Honey – Rich, slightly tart and herbaceous, this intensely flavored raw, unfiltered honey from Galicia in northwestern Spain is in a class all by itself. It’s brand new to the U.S. market but should be in gourmet stores soon. Info: Abella Honey.
1. Harvest Song Walnut Preserves – Whole walnuts, picked green, are simmered in a gently spiced sugar syrup until soft. These preserves are dark, rich and, well, nutty with an excellent texture. Use as an accompaniment to roasts — especially game — or serve on a cheese tray with blue cheese, perhaps the Basajo we mentioned above. Info: Harvest Song Ventures.
Bonus Pick: Taste No. 5 Unami Paste – A delicious amalgam of mushrooms, anchovies and soy, this paste reinforces Britain’s Laura Santtini company tag line: “Spellbinding Flavours.” Check out her 5 minute video featuring 5 quick recipes — from a vinaigrette to a steak sauce — using Taste No. 5 paste. And catch her using our new favorite measurement term: “glug.” Info: Laura Santtini.