As our gourmet food section expands, the annual San Francisco Fancy Food Show becomes more and more important to source new items for The Wine Country's customers.
Each year in January, one of our staff members flies up to San Francisco for the annual Fancy Food Show. This year it was was Randy's and my turn.
"Fancy Food" implies that items on display at this show will be specialty foods rather than the staples you would find in a typical grocery store: Kellogg's, Betty Crocker, Heinz, etc. And for the most part, it's true.
Imagine two-and-a-half convention halls filled with aisle after aisle of cookies, jams, jellies, every kind of cracker and cheese imaginable, Italian, Spanish and American hams, coffees and teas, condiments, chocolates, cured meats, jerky, pastries, nuts and lots more.
It sounds like fun, and for Randy, it is. He loves the hunt for new items. He also loves to nibble. His entire wine career has been about tasting things, and with food it's no different.
For me, however, it becomes exhausting rather quickly. One year I was in a sugar coma and napped in the hotel room for about four hours after a day's tasting at that show. (While I was sleeping, Randy was at the Irish pub down the street sampling about 15 different shots of Irish whiskey to freshen up that department in our store. He does things like that.)
This year's show was no different than in past years, except we were able to discover great tasting products new to us, like Cucina & Amore pasta sauces, Callie's Biscuits from Charleston South Carolina, Tandoor Chef Chicken Tikka Masala and Chicken Curry, Fiddyment Farms Pistachios and Pistachio Butter from the Central Coast, two outstanding Morgada honeys from Portugal, new cheeses from Oregon's Rogue, impressive dolmas (stuffed grape leaves) from Divina and much, much more.
In addition to the new items we discovered, we also came across some old friends--Long Beach's own Propers Pickles, Route 11 Potato Chips, Ritter Sports German Chocolates, Chocolove, Abba Pickled Herring and accompanying rye crisps (for an authentic Swedish experience), Wilhelmina Mints (especially useful after a tasting at The Wine Country), Jeni's incredible ice creams (new flavors coming in March), and Stonewall Lemon Curd and Lime Curd to go with our Nutella to help dress our new frozen sweet crepes from The Belgian Boys.
Speaking of frozen and refrigerated foods, have you noticed some of our newer items for meals in a hurry? Last night I heated up the outstanding Fra' Mani Chicken Marsala, added a few frozen peas and poured it over some Borgo de Medici Pappardelle. I was surprised at how much chicken was in there. And our house smelled delicious.
In addition to the Pizza Romano and Sonoma Flatbread pizzas in our display freezer, you can discover Yang's Mandarin Orange Chicken, the aforementioned Tandoor Chef Chicken Tikka Masala and Chicken Curry, an assortment of The Perfect Bite appetizers, and the incredible, fluffy tamales from Tucson Tamales in four delicious flavors.
Be looking for some new chocolate bars--we discovered one incredible line of artisan single-origin dark chocolate from Dandelion Artisan Chocolates of San Francisco, actually near the Jet Blue terminal while we were waiting for our flight. Be on the lookout for the arrival of other new products in the coming weeks.
Whenever you find yourself hosting an impromptu gathering, feel comfortable you can find cured meats, cheeses, chips, dips and ready-to-heat items that'll satisfy you and your guests. Oh, yes, and don't forget our new Brothers Spumoni and Chocolate covered Bon Bons for dessert!