The West Coast Fancy Food Show, which has brought the newest, tastiest and most trendsetting gourmet foods to San Francisco’s Moscone Center for the past few days, is a foodie’s delight.
The “miles of aisles” at the Moscone are lined mostly with entrepreneurs, many who have risked everything to bring their recipes and great ideas to market with the hope that gourmet-food buyers from across the globe will stop, taste and choose their products to adorn the shelves of their stores.
The Fancy Food Show is a testing lab for the mainstream supermarkets and warehouse clubs. The products that are exhibited, if they pass the test of the discriminating food buyers, can wind up setting trends (though it can often can take two or even three years until it’s on supermarket shelves in every city).
So what products did we like this year? As usual, lots. But to make it easy on Katie, Matt, Ann and Al — our “Today” tasting panel — we decided to select the best in just six categories: White Tea, Bottled Water, Snacks, Sauces, Entrees and Most Unusual.
Can you guess which of our “taste testers” will like which products? Here’s what they have to choose from:
White tea (and more)This beverage is hot (and often served cold). The least-processed of all teas (and containing the most antioxidants), white tea is made by steaming and drying tea leaves and buds. Some studies show that white tea has the same types of cancer-fighting antioxidants as green tea, but in even greater amounts.
Here are our favorites:
- Made from premium white tea and a splash of fruit, these ready-made beverages contain no sugars, sweeteners or preservatives, all the while providing three times as many antioxidants as green tea. Four flavors available.
- This line of tea bags comes beautifully packaged and in eight varieties, including certified organic and single-estate white teas.
- This product is peppermint water, pure and simple. It combines natural peppermint and purified water, creating an all-natural thirst-quencher which soothes and refreshes.
SaucesWhat would a gourmet-food show be without special sauces? Here are come of our favorites:
- A wonderfully clean-tasting and herbal pesto with the nuttiness of toasted Italian pine nuts and the traditional pesto ingredient of Parmesan cheese.
- A thick, hearty pesto combining dried porcini mushrooms and Parmesan cheese. This earthy pesto melts in your mouth.
- A new line of salsas (including Prickly Pear and Margarita), jalapeño jellies and spicy hot sauces from a company that has been creating products for more than 100 years.
SnacksYes, it is possible to snack and eat healthfully at the same time.
- There are two new fish in the pond. Pizza Guppies combine pizza flavors of tomato, cheese and seasonings. Sea Salt Guppies are light and crunchy, with a touch of pure sea salt. These new snacks join the popular Cheddar Guppies and Honey Wheat Sesame Guppies.
- These are the newest additions to the popular Veggie Snacks line. Vegimals combine corn and rice alligators with light cheddar bites in a crispy, all-natural snack. Veggie Party mixes veggie stix, rings, chips and bistro chips in an all-natural snack mix, flavored with tomato and spinach.
It’s not just munchies and beverages at the fancy foods show — complete courses are available, too.
- With almost everyone touting the health benefits of seafood, you might want to try these tasty treats, which are all-natural and free of chemicals, sulfites and preservatives. Six varieties available including Breaded Clam Strips, Shrimp and Scallops, Garlic Butter Shrimp, Spicy Cajun Shrimp and Crab Cakes. Individually quick-frozen Wild Alaskan Salmon and Lox are lightly marinated and smoked with alderwood for a delicious taste. All can be prepared in a few minutes.
- And for those looking to keep their kids eating healthy, think green, purple and pizza! Kids will love making pizza with green crust and purple sauce that tastes, um, out of this world.
Phil Lempert is food editor of the “Today” show. He welcomes questions and comments, which can be sent to or by using the mail box below. For more about the latest trends on the supermarket shelves, visit Phil’s Web site at