Pristine backlit display cases usually illuminate golden rings or jewels. At the Fancy Food Show, halos instead surround brown paper packaging and glass preserve jars. Entrepreneurs from around the world display their passions: drinking vinegar, bacon-stuffed sausage, traditionally produced charcuterie, and mounds of cheeses.
Hosted by the Specialty Food Association, the annual Winter Fancy Food Show welcomes over 33,000 industry members and over 1,400 exhibitors to San Francisco. This year marked BlueCart's second visit to the show after moving our headquarters to the Bay Area. Shaking hands with our neighbors and sampling the goods of major SF food businesses, we introduced ourselves as members of this eco-conscious, diverse, and well-established food and beverage community.
Here at BlueCart I build relationships with these individuals who dedicate their lives to developing delicious products. While many of these conversations occur over the phone or over spreadsheets, the crunch of snowy sugar on a non-pareil and the bleeding juices of wild Maine blueberries bring life to the products I discuss with clients each day.
Here are some of the products I was able to taste:
Owl’s Brews Manhattan
Turning home mixologists into skilled bartenders, Owl’s Brew replaces artificial, sweet mixers with tea-infused flavors that add depth and freshness to cocktails. In addition to co-founding Owl’s Brew and its sister company Brew Lab Tea, Jennie Ripps and Maria Littlefield co-authored Wise Cocktails, a book with recipes for 100 different tea-based libations.
Le Bon Magot’s Chutneys and Preserves
Le Bon Magot fuses flavors to tell stories of intergenerational travel. Cumin and curry color their brinjal caponata. A jet-black spiced raisin marmalade hides fragrant rose, bold cinnamon, and cardamom. Each bite unites communities and culinary traditions, showcasing the unifying power of cooking.
Science of Living Natural Foods’ Macaccino
A caffeine-free Peruvian alternative to coffee, Maca often travels to the United States in capsule form due to the root’s bitter flavor. However, SOL Natural Foods transforms the energizing superfood into a milk tea-like beverage with pleasant notes of cocoa and nutmeg.
Chuao Chocolatier’s Totally Tangy Mango Bar
Biting into Chuao’s totally tangy mango bar produces a freshness and richness rarely seen in a packaged good. Notes of lime and chile evoke the senses of enjoying fresh fruit, and Chuao’s signature rich dark chocolate provides a familiar lusciousness.
The crowded halls of the Fancy Food Show allowed me to engage with the passionate artisans and chefs that make up the BlueCart network. Seeing the innovation and storytelling behind each product inspired a greater appreciation of each exhibitor’s work, and I can't wait to come back next year.