As far as trends went, this year couldn’t have been more different than the last. We’ve traded spice for tea and ice cream for fruits and vegetables in one of the wildest years of foods yet. Here’s the Top 15 in Sweet and Savory categories for your entertainment.
Top 15 Savory
1. Brooklyn Piggies BBQ sauce:
I’m not a fan of most barbecue sauces, but when we came across this beautifully-designed booth and the sweet owners of the company, it was hard to resist! It carried a tangy, almost citrusy punch.
2. Olia tomato and fig caviar: This was from Israel, and don’t be fooled by the petite size of the jar. The ripe flavor of the figs makes the tomatoes even jammier.
3. Falksalt Citrus:
One of the best in the burgeoning ‘specialty flavored salts’ category that emerged during the show, this variety featured huge, honking salt crystals and a sweet, lemony aftertaste.
4. Chili and Limon dehydrated nopal: Spicy and sweet was the name of the game this year, and these dehydrated chunks of cactus had a texture to them similar to fruit leather, making them the healthiest, and tastiest gummy candy we saw.
5. Vermont Smoke and Cure Honey Mustard:
Great balance between tender turkey jerky and a sweet, snappy mustard. Slim James, if you will.
6. Cabot habanero cheese dip: Holy habanero! Cabot has just introduced this creamy, spicy new spread. It’s the perfect kind of dip for parties, or in my case, to slather atop hot brisket sandwiches. A new kind of cheesesteak!
7. Rogue La-Di-Da lavender cheese: I’ve had this for a day and have already used it in grits, barbecue chicken dip, and a killer fried chicken sandwich. The slightly bitter, slightly sweet flavor accompanied by mild cheddar keeps me coming back for more.
8. Brooklyn Salsa mole: This was the first thing we tried at the show, and boy, did it wake up our taste buds! Very chocolatey, but still easy to eat with chips.
9. Charlito’s Cocina dry-cured beer salami: We received both delicious meat and sweet hair compliments at this booth, and were lucky to take some of this spicy, hoppy salami home. It’s going to be a knock-out for our next charcuterie board.
10. One Screw Loose Coffee Jalapeno Jam: Both the jams and their owner were snappy and quirky- we spent a lot of time chatting up the sweet lady behind these wonderful flavors, but this robust, bittersweet spicier jam won our hearts. Yet another sandwich spread I’m excited to try!
11. P&H Soda Co. Lovage Syrup:
It might seem strange to put a soda syrup under the savory category, but this lovage syrup tasted identical to a fresh, salted stalk of celery.
12. Bissinger’s Point Reyes Blue Cheese and Wine Grapes:
Behold, the only candy in the savory category, too! Bissinger’s makes their wine grapes pop even more with the inclusion of chunks of Point Reyes bleu cheese.
13. Good Taste Creamy Rice with Squash and Poblano Pepper
14. Halen Mon Vanilla Sea Salt: I would have loved to receive samples of this! It was piquant, sweet, and very much infused with gritty, boozy vanilla beans.
15.Bare Fruit Crunchy Chile-Lime Apple Chips:
Finally, the fruity snack that chomped like a chip- the lime enhanced the acidity of the fruit while the chile left a substantial burn!
Top 15 Sweet
1. Pok Pok Som Thai Basil: This bright pink drink had a sour, herbaceous edge to it and a very refreshing flavor on such a hot day. Mixed with club soda, it made a fascinating cocktail mixer.
2. Found Apple Juice:
The new Scottish company comes bearing simple, clean juices and spritzers in a variety of flavors with an impeccable bottle design.
3. Poco Dolce Spicy Brittle: Another beloved company with a spectacular bar snack- spicy peanut brittle, with cayenne and a heavy dose of sea salt.
4. The Tea Room Lapsang Souchong Chocolate: This was likely my favorite product from the entire show, and my personal vote for the best. Heavy, but not overdone, on the smoke, with a smooth, rich chocolate base.
5. Willie’s Cacao Lime Chilli Caramel Black Pearls: Fantastic little balls of spicy, sweet joy, with a dark, deep chocolate that played beautifully with the caramel.
6. Owl’s Brew Naked Arnold:
Arnold Palmer for the set who already vodka-fies their Arnold Palmer. This takes it one step further and intensifies the tea flavors, making it even classier after the 18th hole.
7. Askinosie Hemp Bar:
Like no hemp bar I’ve ever tasted! It really showcases the nuttiness of the grain without resorting to pot jokes- or should I say, potshots? Ha. Ha. Ha.
8. Exotica Fir Honey: The sappy, sticky flavor of this was like no honey I’ve ever tried before. Something that I imagine would go well with dishes both savory and sweet.
9. Fior di Mandarino
: Creamy, delicate, and zesty, this bittersweet treat turned heads with its bright color and flavor at this year’s show. Its nutty counterpart, fior di pistacchio, won a silver sofi award at last year’s show.
10. MitchMallows Churros:
Covered in cinnamon sugar and a tiny bit of spice, these gritty, chewy treats blew Jet-Puffed out of the water.
11. Stephen Smith White Petal Tea:
Crisp, clear, and refreshing, this light white tea would be perfect for a garden or tea party.
12. High Point Crème Caramel and apple compote:
Holy cow. Rhubarb, mint, and roasted apples with this ice cream nearly killed me and blew the other ice creams out of the water. High Road, sell that TOPPING!
13. Noosa Lemon Curd
: I’d been aching to try the latest from my favorite yogurt company since I read about it on their website. True to form, it didn’t disappoint. Sweet, tangy, creamy lemon curd atop their already amazing yoghurt base.
14. Liddabit Dorie:
Salted cookie crunch, caramel ganache, and peppered orange caramel? Sign me up! Soft, balanced, spicy, and amazing.
15. Kicking Mule Tangerine Chocolate Milk: This was the only sample we didn’t try, but BBF founder Adam Sah told us it was fantastic, and with a flavor that likely tastes like a chocolate orange, how could it not be?
That’s all for this year, folks! We’ll be reviewing these throughout the month- this was definitely the best year yet! Can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2014.