Julie, Mike and I just returned from our annual pilgrimage to the Holy Land of Fancy Food – The Summer Specialty Food show in New York City.
The show displays more than 180,000 food items – we tried to taste them all – inside the cavernous Javits Center in NYC. If you could eat it – it was here.
I use to joke that this was a show exhibiting sugar, salt and corn starch in every permutation.
But a healthy dose of new food attitude was evident. More emphasis on local, pure, farmstead, gluten free, organic, fair trade, anti-GMOs and antibiotics could be seen everywhere. Still plenty of really good chocolate, olive oils and cheese – especially cheese – cheese has exploded in a big way and is the leading specialty food category in this country.
Cheese, not just imported, but home grown, has taken on a new dimension in just the past few years. Dairy farmers are using Old World styles to raise and tend the herd. More organic pastures, no hormones, better cheesemaking techniques, all adding up to better cheese for us.
For example, our friends at Springbrook Farm in Reading, Vt., produce a raclette that is now preferred by some of our European customers. But we also found new farms from all over the country, and with better distribution methods we can get their cheeses with longer shelf life.
But the Old World still makes fabulous cheese – we found a new cheese from Tuscany which we are bringing in this week.
We also noticed a new trend which we know will continue to grow – craft beer makers. In the past, an occasional brewer would open a booth, now, an entire section was devoted to craft beer, and we saw our friends from Nantucket, Cisco Brewers, at the show.
It was good to walk the endless acreage of the Fancy Food show. Sure, there were booths after booths of dark chocolate, beverages with wacky ingredients – lots of ice cream, olive oils, vinegars and just odd foods. Everything had a market.
For us, it was a week in nirvana, and for you, surprises are in store as our selections make their way to Marlboro and Hopkinton.