If Suzy Gershman has taught us anything, it’s that travel and shopping go hand-in-hand. But let’s not forget about food!
Earlier this month, Suzy checked out the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco to find out which favorite international treats are now being embraced by foodies right here in the U.S.
The magic of January comes with many splashes, even before the Chinese New Year.
So between my trips to Las Vegas and Europe, I attended the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, the annual trade show that features everything from pumpkin-ginger biscotti to popping bubble tea. I’m munching on my Obama inaugural cookies as I write this.
The show is enormous, with a huge number of international vendors setting up booths. The largest far-from-home square footage went to Italy, but there were a surprising number of foodstuffs from Hawaii. Perhaps no one told them Hawaii wasn’t a foreign country.
But then, after Bette Midler and Barack Obama, Hawaii is the place to come from, so the fact that ice cream treats called Bubbies weren’t very good doesn’t matter as much as the fact that Hawaii is a major contender.
Here’s some of the internationally inspired trends I spotted that you can begin to research in your own supermarket, local eatery or online.
Salts from oddball places, chocolates infused with green tea and olive oils from down under are all passé.
Let’s toast the new year with some new flavors and look forward to Valentine’s Day with some sweet treats.
COCKTAILS AND BEVERAGES
Since I have a 20-something son and daughter-in-law, I have become aware of the trend toward cocktails within the last year. People like to go out for cocktails because restaurants are too expensive for a full meal now that times are tight; bars can be cozy or decorated over the top to give you an extra bang, outside the glass.
Many consumers are also becoming more interested in do-it-yourself mixed drinks. I buy cocktail mixes at off-price stores like TJ Maxx, but nothing prepared me for the hit of this show—a system for rimming cocktail and shot glasses with flavored sugars. (You can also rim chocolate shot glasses, which are another off-shoot of the cocktail resurrection.)
A firm called Roxispice (www.RoxiSpice.com) has a rimming system they made for the trade but which they are selling to private individuals at a rate of 40 percent of their business. For $200 you get their rimming syrup, five flavors of rim-spice and a distribution system that looks like a CD player with drawers for each flavor. There are about 20 different flavors and custom flavors can be created. I went nuts for “toasted marshmallow.”
I also got hooked on a new liquor called Sense (www.sensenectar.com) which is a ready-made rose cocktail. This is a pink and fresh “girly” drink that will be great this summer.
Should you not be interested in booze, there were plenty of flavored waters, energy and vitamin drinks and do itself supplements to add to your water, all new ones claiming to be superior to Airborne and Emergen-C.
There was also a “popping boba cha” for those who are already over regular boba cha (bubble tea). There are numerous advantages to the new stuff; it’s made of agar, which is high in fiber and good for you and comes ready to go in a giant baggie. If you use the traditional tapioca beads, you must cook up a batch (which takes 45 minutes) and then it goes bad rather quickly. Popping Boba is a product of Taiwan, where the bubble tea craze originated. For more information on the whole range, go to www.sogousa.com.
POMEGRANATE FIELDS FOREVER
Pomegranate became the flavor last year, but has even more products on the shelves now because of the healthful properties and the pretty color of this exotic fruit. While I must have seen a dozen new products flavored with pomegranate, my favorite is jelly beans … partially because it seems so culturally ridiculous that I have to laugh.
Who said jelly beans weren’t a fashion item?
Don’t look now, but along with their pomegranate beans, Jelly Belly also now has energizing “sports beans.” Jelly Belly’s sports beans come with caffeine, so keep them away from the kids. I’ve plopped a few mini-bags in my travel tote, though.
GOOD SHIP LOLLIPOPS
Anything on a lollipop stick seems to be trendy. I had a frozen lolly dessert in Vegas last week. Today I found brownies on a stick, marshmallows on a stick and my favorite new product, the Choc-o-lait (www.choc-o-lait.com) which is a cube of chocolate (choose from three flavors) on the end of a swizzle stick to add to warm milk or hot coffee.
Chocolate truffle pops are not new, but are certainly out there at the show, while brownie pops (www.browniepops.com) are decorated and come in a handful of flavors in both classical and seasonal flavors and styles. This is, they tell me, the newest trend replacing cupcakes.
Foodie kisses with sprinkles,
By Suzy Gershman for PeterGreenberg.com. For 25 years, Suzy Gershman has written the popular “Born to Shop” series, now published by Frommer’s. Her most recent book, Where to Buy the Best of Everything, is available now. For more information, visit www.suzygershman.com.
Don’t miss part one of Suzy’s adventures in Las Vegas.
Get more great info on Seoul with the Suzy’s Postcard from Seoul, South Korea.
Headed on an Asian jaunt? Don’t miss Suzy’s Postcard from Hanoi, Vietnam.
Check out Suzy’s Postcard to Peter: Santa Barbara Shopping.
Hitting up San Francisco? Don’t miss Suzy’s Bay Area Baubles.
Get more Suzy with her Postcard to Peter: The Wares in Buenos Aires.
And for surprisingly offbeat shopping closer to home, don’t miss Suzy’s San Antonio Adventures.