This is the month when everyone from Ben & Jerry's to Mamma Chia unveils what's tasty and trending in 2015.
We're not talking about having meat, fish or tofu on the menu, but what seasonings, nibbles, desserts and sundries we will be consuming or cooking in the coming year.
Here’s a mini, virtual tasting menu based on some standouts amid the 1,400 companies exhibiting at the West Coast’s 40th Annual Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, which can be found on the event’s host website run by the Specialty Food Association.
The show, which ends today, is billed as the West Coast’s largest specialty food and beverage trade with 80,000 on-trend and best-in-class products including cheese, coffee, desserts, snacks, spices, ethnic, natural, organic and more. It features a “What’s new” and “What’s Hot” showcases on and offline.
On the new hot list are white balsamic glaze, American Grana® handcrafted cheese by Master Cheesemakers and something called Cavi-art – a seaweed-based caviar substitute that comes in black, red, salmon, orange red, yellow, wasabi, balsamico, chili, and ginger. Plus a new Belug-art and a Truffle Cavi-art all from Plant Based Foods in Middleburg, Va.
The Fancy Food Show is credited with helping to launch such brands as Pop Chips, Honest Tea, Ben & Jerry’s, Stonewall Kitchen, Walker’s Shortbread and Cypress Grove Chevre.
Nothing beats having dessert first.
Because they got their start at the California show it’s fitting to begin at the end of the meal with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream which has released it’s new “Cookie Core” flavor line for 2015. This includes pints with a “cookie butter” core, surrounded by ice cream that is also imbued with the cookie flavor: Hazed & Confused Core, Karamel Sutra Core, Peanut Butter Fudge Core, Salted Caramel Core and That's My Jam Core.
Also debuting (not at the show) are three new Girl Scout cookies for 2015, announced earlier this month, including gluten-free offerings.
The two new gluten-free offerings include:Toffee-tastic, buttery cookies with toffee bits, and Trios, made with real peanut butter, chocolate chips, and whole grain oats. The third new cookie is Rah-Rah Raisin, an oatmeal-raisin cookie with whole-grain oats, raisins, and Greek yogurt–flavored chunks.
Also, Joseph Lite Cookies of Florida made the announcement that it too will be coming out with a gluten free all-natural cookie for 2015. This will join the popular line of 6-ounce bags of cookie flavors which currently includes Chocolate Chip, Pecan shortbread, Oatmeal, Lemon, Almond, Coconut , Strawberry Coconut, and Peanut Butter.
Fans of the new Amazon television series "Mozart in the Jungle" could dip their Girl Scout cookies into yerba mate (yer-bah mah-tay), which is both a popular caffeinated drink trend as well as an ingredient for 2015.
The South American tea has become synonymous with the main character, Conductor Rodrigo, and has made a unique showing in San Francisco this week. The tea is what the Specialty Foods Association website terms “the 2014 chocolate tea craze” which apparently has flowed into 2015.
One interesting new use for the drink include Mate & Cacao Nibs Organic Extra Dark Chocolate Bars.
On the savory side of the aisle, seaweed on everything from salads to pizza is also popular among the trends at this year’s show, according to a report by CNBC.
Along with seaweed you might want to sprinkle some Chia seeds on, well, just about everything from soup to shakes.
Chia seeds aren’t just for sprouting on clay sculptures of President Barack Obama or Scooby Doo anymore, but have become a hot new "health" food trend and flavor for 2015, according to the Specialty Food Association’s roster of hot new items.
Chia is a Mayan word for “strength.” These itsy-bitsy black or white seeds come from a flowering plant in the mint family,
One standout item comes from Mamma Chia, which is adding two new flavors to its Chia Squeeze Vitality Snack line – mango coconut and wild raspberry. Both flavors are made using nutrient-rich organic chia seeds infused with organic fruits and vegetables.
Outside the show, the McCormick® Flavor Forecast® now in its 15th year posted its insight into “ingredients driving the future of flavor,” as viewed through the lens of a global team of McCormick experts, including chefs, culinary professionals, trend trackers and food technologists.
Global Blends On the Move include: Shawarma Spice Blend – A Middle Eastern street food favorite made with cumin, cinnamon, black pepper and Japanese 7 Spice (Shichimi Togarashi) – a pungent combination of chilies, sesame, orange zest, nori and more.