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Review: The NYC Chocolate Show. With Little Chocolate.

The annual NYC Chocolate Show was back in Manhattan's Metropolitan Pavilion this October. Was this show just a way for chocolate companies to sell to captive audiences? With chocolate samples sometimes costing more money than before (on top of the helfty ticket entry fee!), and fewer "free" samples than ever, it was a crowded weekend for chocolate.

Is it worth is for guests? I'd say absolutely not. Even as press, I struggled to get in. I had to talk my way through security, past hundreds of angry ticket holders, and into the press area to show who I was. Though I was given an extremely nice gift bag full of treats from various vendors, I cannot vouch for happiness on the part of the actual paying attendees. Any event with so few samples and with such a limited-capacity arena feels like a waste of money.

There were so few free samples this year that I actually felt like eating chocolate the next day. Now if that doesn't tell you something, what does? Tsk, tsk.


Upcoming: The 2010 Japanese Food & Restaurant Show

This Saturday, September 25th, New York Mutual Trading will hold the 17th Annual Japanese Food & Restaurant Show.

The show will showcase culinary delights, cooking demonstrations, and a whole lot of sake, beer, and shochu. Past years at the show have resulted in the discovery of such foods as top-quality furikake, inedible tofu skin, and succulent wagyu beef. 0-calorie noodles, flavorful mushroom soups, and mochi ice creams round out the wide variety of foods for tasting. Meanwhile, Japanese businessmen and other willing participants are on hand to explain the art of sake, mixed drinks, and more. They're always on the happy side, if you know what I mean.

This year's demonstrations and seminars include creative cooking with all of our senses, innovative desserts, water comparisons, Japanese microbrew tastings, and more. Though the show has gotten smaller over the years, everyone is hopeful that this year's show will be back to a good ol' size, with plenty of learning and sampling to be had by all.



Saturday, September 25th, 2010


Metropolitan Pavilion

123 West 18th Street, bet. 6th & 7th Aves.



Event Review: The 2010 Fancy Food Show in NYC

This year’s NYC Fancy Food Show, which took place June 27-29, gave all attendees the usual taste of trends, redone classics, and far too much in the way of cheese and chocolate. The show was similar in “small” size to last year’s show, which took place right during the economic downturn. In 2007 and Raw Honeycomb with Berries from the Savannah Bee Company2008, for example, the show took up even more unknown spaces within the Jacob Javits center. Unlike last year’s show, however, the 2010 exhibitors had a renewed sense of excitement and pride, and the samples flowed abundantly.

I certainly noticed my own food trends, but apparently a top panel of food experts picked out some before I got there. As printed on a press release from the NASFT, the top five trends (in their minds) are:

  • Flavored Vinegars
  • Indian-Inspired Products
  • Grains, Nuts & Seeds
  • Squash, Pumpkin and Sweet Potato
  • Handcrafted Local Heritage Foods

For sure, several of these foods have been coming up in the specialty food world. But I certainly saw a lot of different and perhaps more specific trends. Honey appears to be one of the biggest names in specialty foods, with flavors such as buckwheat, citrus, myrtle, and many more gracing the shelves. And we’re not talking about the artificially flavored honey sticks here; we’re talking about letting the bees Specialty Pairing Honeys from the Savannah Bee Companylive, eat, and feed in different environments to produce honey unlike anything you’ve tasted. Savory, rich, and carrying a sharp bite, these trendy honeys are finally going to lead us on a non-cheese, non-fruit route.

            The folks at the Savannah Bee Company, however, have started their own honey trend. They’ve taken this substance that we’ve found multiple uses for, and changed it to suite different needs. There’s the specialty blended Cheese Honey, the robust Grill Honey, and the sweet Tea Honey. They don’t have any of these ingredients in the bottle; rather, they’ve figured out the perfect honey-food pairing and packaged the idea in a remarkably clever way, truly redefining honey.

            Another trend involved again pairing old with new. The Italians, who are better known for classics than for cutting-edge food, had what was likely the most delicious food at the entire show. Italy is certainly always a country with the The best-tasting food of the year: Pesto and Truffles from Urbani Trufflesbiggest presence at the show every year, and this year was no different. Out of over 80 countries represented, not one came close to the sheer number of Italian booths spread out over both floors. And while some may accuse them of acting stingy and a bit hostile to non-Italians (okay, I’m the one accusing them), this one dish was enough to almost make me forgive and forget. So what was the food, already?

            It was truffles and pesto—in a can! Sure, it may not sound completely original, but I can pretty much guarantee that you’ve never tasted anything this good. Sure, fat, bacon, and truffles make anything taste better, but the quality and richness in this sauce from Urbani Truffles was the best thing I tasted the entire show, if not for the entire year. Served over pasta, it almost tasted too good. I felt guilty for eating it. These “Truffle Thrills,” as they call them, were being advertised by young women in custom-made Truffle Thrill-designed dresses. Did I care? No. All I could think of was how my mind was exploding with happiness from eating this small sample. There were several varieties, the tomato and truffles of which I tasted the following day. Alas, it was not as tasty as the truffles and pesto. Well, nothing in the whole building was, really. And at only $10 a can, there’s a chance I might be cooking up my own heaven on my stove in the very near future.

            But enough on truffles. Salt still played a huge factor in this year’s show, with Himalayan rock salt all over the place, rock salt garden displays, naturally colored salt, flavored salt, and more salt from all over the world filling plenty of display place.

            Gluten-free was more popular than ever, though I would still say that overall, the taste of these products has stayed devastatingly tasteless. A trend, however, seemed to be marking old products (having nothing to do with wheat) as gluten-free in an effort to win over more allergy-conscious folks.Chewy Goodness from Haribo Delicious Lickables from Hammond's Candies

            The usual big guns were there, including Hammond’s Candies, Haribo, Jelly Belly, and those people who put out more olives than anyone cares to eat.

            And among the ribs, sweet potato fries, and many ketchups and pasta sauces, there stood something I had somehow never seen: An above-ground, food-show-built cheese cave.

We were invited in and shown around the fly-friendly “cave” by a knowledgeable cheese monger, who proceeded to give us green cheese, a barnyard-y soft cheese, and about five other unmemorable selections. Though the idea was clever, and the cheese monger quite informative, They may have looked great, but these cheeses were nothing to write home aboutthe cheese was nothing special. And the soft one was, in fact, unfortunately reminiscent of many organic farm smells.

            A good food show it was, though the lack of state-by-state representation was rather disappointing. While Syria and Palestine had rows of booths, just New York, Kansas, and a few other states were represented this year. So what does 2011 hold for us? New York will not see it next year, as convention center renovations will prevent it from happening. So into D.C. it is moving for the time being, and we’ll just have to see if the nation’s capital can temporarily house some of the best food in the world.


For more information on the Fancy Food Show or other Specialty Food events, check out the NASFT's website:


Upcoming: The 2010 NASFT Fancy Food Show in New York City

Once again, NYC's Fancy Food Show is coming to the Jacob Javits Center! This incredible event takes up nearly the entire convention center and includes chef appearances, demonstrations, food and wine judgings, and much, much more. This is the food event in the city, if not the entire country, for culinary professionals to see new products, new ideas, and new foods from around the world. With over 80 countries represented, the variety is astounding. Whether you're looking for exotic new ingredients, new lines for your deli, or distributors, you can find it at this very show.

Last year's show was a tad disappointing in food and attendence, though the situation was understandable given the economic climate. Now that everyone realizes food companies are doing well, there should be the "normal" number of exhibitors and samples to buzz about. I'll look forward to seeing y'all there!


Show dates and information:

The NASFT Fancy Food Show

Jacob Javits Center, New York City

Sunday, June 27: 10AM-5PM

Monday, June 28: 10AM-5PM

Tuesday, June 29: 10AM-4PM



Event Review: Confusion d'Italia

When I attended the 2010 Gala Italia back in February, I had low expectations despite the fact that the event was highly touted. By the event's own site. It was thus not surprising that when I arrived at theThe Gala Italia wine awardsMarriott Marquis for a fun evening of all things Italian, I disappointingly saw some Fiat cars, several wedding dresses, some posters and books, and a big room. That was, of course, after I got through the two bodyguards who were on the verge of frisking me. These guys were scary, man. But not as scary as the site I was about to see inside. It was wonderful, the space. Just not the guests of honor.

You see, a great ballroom was filled with wine and samples from local Italian eateries. From Gusto to my old friends at SD26 (old friends as in I had salivated over their food 24 hours previous at the C-CAP event) to more Nutella than one could ever need. There was salmon, pasta salad, mini tartufo truffles, hearty soup, seafood salad, melt-in-your-mouth polenta with wild mushrooms and bacon wisps, tiramisu, and more. There were hundreds of bottles of wine, hundreds of bottles of imported Italian water, spreads of cheeses, veggies, crackers, and dips, and several Vespas. Confused models in wedding gowns

Though the mix was odd, the food was good and the place was cozy despite the snowstorm raging outside. Once the “entertainment” started, however, everything changed. I was not prepared in the least for the terrible representation of Italy which these elite gave. I was actually quite embarrassed to be watching, and from the looks of other guests, I was not alone in this feeling

The star guests (Simona Ventura; Elena Bonelli) had flown in from Italy just for the event, but unless one happened to me up on Italian culture and community, few would know these folks if not for the elaborate outfits and makeup, and the Vocalist Elena Bonellicondescending smiles indicating if I didn’t know who they were, I was out of my mind. It was quite creepy, and I’d venture to say fewer than half the audience knew who they were watching. That didn’t stop everyone from pulling out cameras and creating a flash frenzy. For what? I don’t think anyone knew.

 No one was as confused, however, as the models who came out in nightwear and wedding gowns. A normal combination, no? It was quite obvious that no one was prepared, that girls were walking around not knowing when to go out, and that they were crashing into each other on the catwalk with no direction. It was all quite amusing, but given what was likely a large mafia presence in the ballroom, I chose to laugh on the inside.

After eating my fill and speaking to several of the night’s patrons, I left as a rather confused lass. I believe the point was to attract visitors to the food, Sweet bites of tartufowine, and culture side of the country, but it came off as a strange attempt to showcase NYC versions of Italian edibles and self-deserving starlets who’d flown across the ocean to talk in front of mostly unknowing guests.

A giant, 3-tiered cake which no one was allowed to taste capped off this strange night.