Arriving at the 2013 Winter Fancy Food Show in Moscone Center on Sunday must have been the most memorable moment in the long, illustrious history of the event: I had not even cleared the long down escalator at 3 p.m. when the place exploded as most of the thousands of attendees watched or heard the Niners' Giants-torture-like win over Atlanta.
I say most because for the next half hour I ran into "food artisans, importers, and entrepreneurs" (constituting the 61-year-old sponsoring National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, Inc.) who still didn't know the earthshaking, whey-curdling score, so I had the pleasure of informing them, at the top of my voice.
NASFT officials are proud of this year's show of 1,300 exhibitors, already breaking records: total square footage of 210,400; 19,000 attendees, well over the previous estimate.
Speaking of whey, I'd like to temper (but not substantially alter) my rhapsody yesterday (http://www.examiner.com/article/elegant-italian-simplicity-ushers-fancy-...) to Italian cheeses with a repeated oath of loyalty to Cypress Grove Chevre (http://www.cypressgrovechevre.com/), a standout among (literally) hundreds of cheese exhibitors.
Once again, there is the unique and irresistible Humboldt Fog, with its bizarre and triumphant mixing of edible vegetable ash and cultured goat milk ("wrap in waxed paper, never use plastic wrap — cheeses need to breathe").
Besides The Fog, there is Purple Haze (lavender and wild fennel pollen), PsycheDillic (with dill pollen), Sgt. Pepper ("secret combination of four peppers and exotic spices"), and the others, but there is one change:
When I first heard, at the show, that Bermuda Triangle (another soft ripened cheese, double-rinded with ash) has been reformulated, I thought why fix what ain't broke, but it turns out this new, milder version of the product is a change for the better; I wish, however, Cypress kept the original, offering two variations.
Another quirky and unusual product at the show is the line of pepper jellies and chutneys by Aloha from Oregon (http://www.alohafromoregon.com/) - a visually pleasing gustatory sensation: beautiful colors in glass jars invite tasting of fruits-berries-garlic-peppers blends.
Mom's preserves were never like this. In addition to already special cranberry, peach, mango, and other jellies, the company also offers mixed jellies that both sound and taste outrageous... in a good way: Pineapple & Jalapeno, Mango & Plum Ginger, Sweet Onion & Jalapeno, and one jar mixing six different preserves!
Besides exhibitors from Europe and Asia, there are companies at the show from around the corner. You'd expect a garlic exhibitor from Gilroy or China (largest producer by far, with 23 billion pounds annually), but what caught my attention was a company from Sonoma, and Andy Davis, CGO - Chief Garlic Officer.
Aglio di Mirabella (http://addgarlic.com/) has gourmet garlic of tasty variety: jalapeno pepper, honey Dijon, lemon butter - the last containing juice from two Sicilian lemons in each jar.
More later from the three-day-long show.