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Food Fete 2014

by Eleanor Lee
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After the sensory overload I encountered at the Winter Fancy Food Show, it was nice to visit the much more intimate Food FĂȘte. However, compared to last year there seemed to be fewer exhibitors on display. I tried everything and there were still a few things worth mentioning, either because they were tasty or just weird.

The new truffle combinations offered by Seattle Chocolates not only have fun names but also catchy packaging perfect for gifting, especially the Cocktail Party box, containing alcohol free truffles with mimosa and margarita flavors. Admittedly, the flavor names and wrapping may also be on the feminine side (birthday cake batter and pink bubbly, for example). The pink bubbly chocolate actually really had a surprisingly pleasant subtle tingly taste in my mouth, due to the crackling candy ingredient. I am more of a chocolate purist so I am not generally a big fan of mixing chocolate with all sorts of other ingredients and fruits, but the samples I tasted did not overwhelm me with the non-chocolate influences and I could still enjoy the actual quality of the chocolate.

I tend to associate quail with dining out at a French or finer dining restaurant and quail eggs with giving you that extra cholesterol boost when cracked on top of a piece of uni nigiri. However, Manchester Farms seems to want to do something about that perception, marketing the quail egg as "the incredible speckled egg." I like quail whenever I have it but it generally isn't something I choose to cook at home. Manchester Farms does make this bird more approachable for aside from selling quail eggs, customers can find frozen quail (whole and in parts) and quail appetizers available in the frozen poultry section of the supermarket. I still do not see myself using quail eggs much at home but now it may be easier not to shy away from recipes that call for quail.

Buying lots of fresh herbs is really a pet peeve of mine when cooking at home. It just seems so cost inefficient and wasteful since I only need a few sprigs and inevitably am left with a bunch of extra basil, or parsley, or dill that goes bad. Last year at Food Fête, I found out about the Dorot frozen fresh herbs and this year, Litehouse Foods gave attendees a bottle of their Instantly Fresh Basil. You just add water to the herbs and they turn into fresh herbs. The herbs are already chopped up and they have 17 herb or herb combinations available. Upon adding water to a teaspoon of the basil, I found that it didn't quite equate the smell and texture of fresh basil but it is a nice compromise between fresh and dried basil. At $4.49 a bottle, I can see myself buying a few of the most commonly used herbs in my kitchen to sometimes supplement or substitute for fresh ones.

I am not entirely sure why La Marca Prosecco was at the Food Fete as they certainly aren't a new company or new product and their representative told me they did not even want to exhibit at the Fancy Food Fair. However, I was glad to pick up a tasty glass of prosecco to sip on. I really like sparkling wine and prosecco often provides customers with a less expensive but still satisfying option. You can find La Marca almost everywhere (my outlet of choice is Costco) and at the $15 price range, it is a solid option to bring to big dinner parties or serve at home, knowing that the guests will generally be appeased.

On the other side of the class spectrum, there is Ivanabitch Vodka (named after a Russian aristocrat who was supposedly exiled to the Netherlands, where the company is based). They were launching their latest flavor, tobacco flavored and menthol tobacco flavored vodka. I am not sure why there was a need for this but apparently it stemmed from someone high up in the company who was a smoker but was annoyed that many drinking establishments ban smoking indoors. Since every vodka company seems to make flavored versions, I suppose why not a tobacco flavored version? The representative assured me that there nicotine was not an ingredient, but he would not reveal how they achieve that smoky taste. Describing something as "tobacco-flavored" is certainly catchy but not very appetizing. I sampled the vodka on its own and it actually wasn't all that unpleasant. However, essentially, the vodka just tasted smoky and considering many whiskies are smoky and I prefer whiskey infinitely to vodka, I don't see myself eager to order up a tobacco-flavored vodka drink anytime soon. At Food Fête, Ivanabitch was serving two different cocktails with this vodka and I imagine that the many curly-mustached mixologists out there would find this an interesting ingredient for future concoctions.

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Written by Eleanor Lee
Published on April 11, 2014 at 11:30 AM
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