15 Fancy Food Finds for Foodies

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Fancy food finds for foodies photo © Nancy D. Brown

From wellness tonics for relaxation and detoxing to healthy travel snacks and sinfully delicious chocolates, San Francisco’s winter fancy food show delivers gourmet foods to foodies. Hosted annually in San Francisco and New York by the Specialty Food Association, this annual trade show is the place to discover the hottest new products and trends in the gourmet food industry. Here are my 15 fancy food finds for foodies.

Who doesn’t love English toffee? An old time favorite is Brandini Toffee based in Palm Spring, but a new fav is B Toffee, This handcrafted milk chocolate toffee is made in Newport, California with Betsy Thagard as the head candy maker.

Every Christmas my mother made caramels and wrapped them individually in waxed paper. If I promised not to eat them all, my mother would let me help her with the holiday candy making. My mother is no longer with us, but I found a truly great replacement for my mother’s caramels in CC Made artisanal caramels. I love the Himalayan pink sea salt caramels that are made in small batches in Berkeley, California. These soft and slightly salty caramels are hand rolled and made with care (and without corn syrup) by Cassandra Chen (and her crew) in Berkeley.

If you follow this blog, you know that I seek out healthy travel snacks. I am a fan of jerky snacks. My latest beef jerky find is Chef’s Cut Real Steak Jerky. A little bird told me that the premium hand-cut steak jerky will be carried at Costco. I live in northern California and I am not a food distributor so please visit their website if you have questions on where to find this nitrite-free, high protein snack.

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Cowboy Up with Cocoa Parlor photo © Nancy D. Brown

Of course I had to find a horse-related food item at the fancy food show! I found a winner in Cowboy Up 70. This organic 70% cacao single origin dark chocolate bar is made by cocoaparlor.com. The Laguna Niguel-based company makes premium organic chocolate and has a small store front in this southern California beach town.

Continuing along the certified organic chocolate theme, I’m sure you are familiar with Dagoba Organic Chocolate. The Hershey Company purchased Dagoba in 2006, but has since removed the line from their portfolio. Hershey’s loss is Scharffen Berger Chocolate’s gain. The former California-based gourmet chocolate maker now uses the Dagoba facility to make their upscale chocolates in Ashland, Oregon with a continued commitment to sustainability. 

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I met the former Dancing Deer Baking Co. CEO Trish Karter at the Winter Fancy Food Show in 2009. She was sporting black spandex pants and pumping a stationery bicycle in her efforts to help end family homelessness. Not only was I impressed with her philanthropic endeavors, her Boston-based company made a darn good cookie. Karter has since pedaled on from Dancing Deer, but the cookies and brownies are still as irresistible as ever. I am a sucker for their molasses clove cookie. These scratch-baked cookies remain the companies best seller for a reason!

Are you a snacker? If you love popcorn, chocolate and nuts, you’ll love Harry & David Moose Munch as much as I do. Originally based in Medford, Oregon, Harry & David is now owned by 1-800-flowers.com. The company still operates a flagship store in Southern Oregon; my husband and I went there on Black Friday and stocked up on Moose Munch to give as gifts for our snack-happy friends. I have to hide the bags from myself, as the contents tends to disappear rapidly on my desk – milk chocolate and caramel are my go-to faves. What are your favorites?

Leave it to a San Francisco drag queen to bring a taste of Humphry Slocombe ice cream to the Winter Fancy Food Show! With imaginative flavors such as salted caramel cocoa nib and peanut butter fudge ripple, how can you go wrong licking that San Francisco ice cold treat?

When I travel I try to eat healthy. One of the fun pleasures of being a lodging editor is reviewing bed & breakfasts and unique inns. During my years of travel I’ve made a sport of seeking out the best granola finds. This year I came across Lucy’s Granola and Lucy’s Granola Toffee bar from the small town of East Blue Hill, Maine. Lucy’s Granola comes in convenient travel sizes, but it’s the granola bar that piqued my interest. Now if only I could visit this place in Maine.

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Wellness tonics for relaxation & detoxing. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

Wellness tonics for relaxation and detoxing are an emerging trend at the 2017 Winter Fancy Food Show and Mendocino Tea Company’s Tuber Tonic is leading the path. Personally, I liked the tonic for its soothing taste, but when I learned that it was a healing tonic, I had to add this Mendocino-made product to my list of fancy food finds. Owner Lee White drinks this five ingredient, 100% organic tonic of turmeric, ginger, elderberries, cinnamon and black pepper on a daily basis to bring relief to her arthritic fingers. As I have had two hip replacements, I figure it won’t hurt to add this tonic to my daily routine – certainly it makes my kitchen smell good.

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Nancy’s Fancy Gelato photo © Nancy D. Brown

As an active adventure baby boomer, I enjoy finding kindred spirits that share my passion for adventure. I recently met Chef Nancy Silverton, the woman behind Nancy’s Fancy gelato and Los Angeles-based La Brea Bakery. Not only do we share the same first name, we share a passion for enjoying fancy food! Try the creamy chocolate fondente gelato made with dark rum and Valrhona chocolate chips. How can this silky Italian bite of goodness be dairy and egg free and taste this decadent?

I have become a tea drinker relatively late in life. Like Winnie the Pooh, I have an appreciation for tea with my honey – or should I say honey with my tea? Whatever the case, I found Nature Nate’s Honey On the Run packs are ideal for travel. I take them in my purse, backpack, in the car for road trips and on the plane with me for a slightly civilized tea time high up in the clouds.

There are so many ways to drink tea that I find it a little overwhelming. Oakland-based Numi Tea has taken tea to the next level with their Nspire Tasting Tote Organic Tea Blends.  ThEses are super-premium tea blends that you’ll find in upscale hotels and spas. The hand-sewn cotton sachet’s hold Fair Trade Certified tea blends andare biodegradable.  Did you know there are cacao-based teas and teasans? This indulgent tea comes in four blends – I’m going to spice things up with a blend of chocolate spice and almond milk.

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Tea time is me time photo © Nancy D. Brown

As I mentioned, I’m a newbie to the tea drinking world. I take baby steps when I’m in unfamiliar territory. Recently I was staying at Carter House Inns in Eureka, California. To my delight tea and cookies were served by the fire every evening. Carter House had a wide assortment of Republic of Tea displayed in their colorful tins. Like many women drawn to beautiful wine labels, I found myself grabbing the Hibiscus Tea, cultivated from the Nigerian hibiscus flower. The ruby-red teas was light, without being too sweet and is said to relieve hypertension. The Organic Immunity SuperGreen tea bags are going in the mail as a gift to my tea-loving daughter.

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Stroopwafel in the air photo © Nancy D. Brown

If you’ve flown United Airlines before 9:45 a.m. in the morning, you know what a stroopwafel is. For those of you unfamiliar with this soft, toasted wafer filled with caramel, cinnamon and a hint of vanilla, you are missing out. The stroopwafel was invented in Gouda, Netherlands in the 18th century. My favorite way to eat a stroopwafel is to make a piping hot cup of tea, set the stroopwafel over the tea cup and let the tea bag steep and the stroopwafel warm. By the time the tea is ready, the wafer is soft and the caramel tucked inside is melted. How the Dutch people maintain their figures, while consuming an average of 30 stroopwafels per person, per year is beyond me; it must be all that bike riding in The Netherlands! For the chocolate lovers, Daelmans recently introduced a chocolate-caramel stroopwafel!

Insider Tip
As a bonus to 15 Fancy Food Finds, I’m including Omnom Chocolate to my list. The Reykjavik-based company is a bean to bar chocolate producer in Iceland. The Icelandic company offers factory tours Monday – Saturday at their shop and the chocolate bars are served on Iceland Air and Wow Air flights. For additional insider tips follow food blogger @Nancydbrown on Twitter or Instagram @Nancydbrown and Omnom Chocolate on Instagram.  Fancy food finds review and all photography by food writer Nancy D. Brown.