Trend Spotting At Summer Fancy Food Show In NYC

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Susan Fine of The Chocolate Path shows off some loot.

Don’t be too surprised if you find tea-infused chocolates, bacon chipotle sea salt, and alginate “flavor pearls” sometime soon in a grocery near you.

These unusual products were among those on display at the Summer Fancy Food Show, which ended today, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of accompanying Montclair chocolate master Susan Fine of The Chocolate Path to the event. “I come because I’m always on the lookout for new, high-quality  products,” says Fine. “It’s also a chance to hear the stories behind new companies, face-to-face. You learn things you can’t find on the internet or get by phone.”

While Susan sampled dark chocolates with laser focus, I cast a wider net in search of overall food trends.

Sea salts galore.
Sea salts galore.

But let’s start with chocolate. We found that adding natural fruit flavors, such as coconuts, pear, pomegranate, and blood orange to chocolate is still very much in vogue. A bit more cutting edge were the tea-infused chocolates, such as those produced by the Tea Room. The California-based company introduced their Lapsang Souchong chocolate bar fusion at the show, where it was offered alongside their Raspberry Rooibos, Earl Grey, and Black Masala Chai bars.

As with ice-cream and other sweets, it was hard to find a line of chocolates that didn’t offer a “caramel sea salt” flavor. Mind you, I’m not complaining.

Speaking of sodium chloride, many companies are mixing all sorts of flavors into sea salt. Smoked Bacon Chipotle salt, anyone? And how long before someone combines that with chocolate?

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Alginate flavor pearls.

One of the most curious new products were Christine Le Tennier’s “Flavor Pearls.” The tiny, luminescent balls, made of thin alginate (also known as seaweed extract), pop in your mouth and release powerful savory and sweet flavors such as balsamic vinegar, truffles, maple syrup, and pink grapefruit.

The strawberry and black currant pearls would pair perfectly and look lovely tossed into Holly’s Yankee Doodle Cocktail. Now, that’s more fun than fireworks!

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