Spotted on Shelves is back for more at the 2019 Summer Fancy Food Show (FFS) in New York City. I scoped out new products from familiar brands and interesting things from up-and-coming companies.
I, and everyone else present, ate many free samples. So many samples. This did not affect what was chosen to appear in this column or my opinions of the products.
Part of the thrill of the Fancy Food Show is discovery. Finding ingredients you’ve never heard of. Finding products that use familiar ingredients in new and novel ways. It’s a novelty addict’s dream come true!
Sun Tropics Soursop Guanabana Nectar
There seems to always be a fruit at FFS that I’m totally unfamiliar with but delighted to be introduced to, and this year it’s Soursop (aka Guanabana). At first, I mistook it on the label for cherimoya – turns out they’re cousins. This nectar was the right amount of sweet, tangy and creamy. I’d love to try working this into baked goods somehow.
Available now in select big box retailers on the West Coast and East Coast.
Nova Crisp Sea Salt, Maui Onion, White Cheddar, and Barbecue
Nova Crisps are air-popped snacks made with cassava, a South American root vegetable. I’m not sure if cassava is a new ingredient to most Americans since I keep mixing it up with casaba melon. In any case, the packaging on these crisps caught my eye – the Sea Salt and Maui Onion flavors fit right into the current unicorn/mermaid aesthetic, with a deep-space twist. Love it. The crisps themselves were tasty – the Maui Onion was my favorite. The texture was similar to a rice cake, but more delicate.
Available now on Amazon, coming to select regional grocery chains in August
Goldthread Tulsi Clarity and Schisandra Supreme Tonics
Goldthread had two plant-based tonics with flavors that were new to me. Tulsi Clarity features tulsi (aka holy Basil), a plant leaf native to Southeast Asia that gives you – you guessed it – clarity…and calmness for good measure. The tonic also includes hibiscus and goji berry and tastes very fruity. The Schisandra Supreme features a medicinal berry from China/Russia that gives uplifting energy, similar to ginseng. This tonic has goji berry, ginger, and mint. Both were fruity and delicious.
Available now online and in select Whole Foods, regional grocery chains, independent groceries and health food stores
Pan’s Mushroom Jerky Original, Salt & Pepper, Zesty Thai, and Applewood BBQ
Mushrooms are not a new food to any of us, but they appear in an unusual format here. I’m kind of a sucker for anything with the word “jerky” in it, so I had to try this, and I wasn’t disappointed. Based on a family recipe from Malaysia, all the familiar deep, meaty, savory beef jerky elements were present, and the BBQ and Thai flavors added a nice dimension. The texture was a little softer than I anticipated, but still with the bite and chewiness of more familiar jerky products.
Available now online and specialty food markets and independent grocers nationwide.
Garden of Flavor Cold-Pressed Energy Pear Reishi, Aronia Berry Blackberry, Wheatgrass Pineapple, Turmeric Root Ginger Root, and Aloe Collagen Drinks
Garden of Flavor’s Cold-Pressed Energy Drinks were based on a new-to-me ingredient: the guayusa leaf, from Amazonian caffeinated holly trees. Two of its flavors also featured foods I hadn’t heard of – Reishi, a Chinese medicinal mushroom, and Aronia (aka Chokeberry) a berry native to the Eastern United States and Canada. This entire range of juices were delicious – the wheatgrass was shockingly not overly grassy (I didn’t think that was possible), aloe ginger was a tart shot of lemon and ginger, and while the Pear Reishi was earthy, it didn’t scream mushroom.
Available now in select Whole Foods and specialty grocery stores on the East Coast and Midwest, West Coast distribution in Fall 2019.
Yolélé Fonio African Supergrain
Now that we all know what quinoa is, let’s find the new quinoa — FONIO! This grain, that’s barely larger than sand granules, is grown in West Africa. It’s gluten-free, high in protein, cooks in five minutes and has a neutral flavor that makes it a great base like rice, quinoa, or couscous. The samples on hand were mixed with tomato and herbs into a delicious pilaf. Yolélé as a company is also working to boost West African small farmers and female-owned collectives.
Available now on Amazon and specialty grocery stores in the Northeast, wider distribution TBD.
Kamsa Superfood Infused H2O Deep Forest Hibiscus/Berry, South Island Mango/Peach, High Mountain Lemon/Ginger, Wild Tropics Pineapple/Coconut, and Low-Key Peach/Ginger
While a lot of novel ingredients at FFS were geared towards herbs or fruits that have medicinal or health-boosting properties, Kamsa are flavored waters featuring a familiar sweetener in a more natural form. Panela is a raw cane sugar product from Colombia that retains the original flavor of sugarcane juice that’s lost in refining it into white or brown sugar. Because these waters were dominated flavor-wise by the fruits and vegetables in them, I couldn’t really tell the difference in sweeteners, but overall they were tasty drinks.
Available now online and in select grocery stores and gas stations in Florida, wider distribution TBD.
Matzo Project Harissa Matzo Chips
Again, Matzo is not a new ingredient here in the US, but I haven’t seen it as chips before, and I’m loving it. First, the packaging is adorable – I’m pretty sure I’ve met that Granny on the bag a hundred times. Second, the texture and flavor of the new Harissa variety is great – crunchy and spicier than I would usually prefer, but I couldn’t stop eating them.
Available now online and at specialty food stores nationwide.