Despite my intense love of food, I would never consider myself a “glutton”. However, there are 3 days a year when I truly allow myself to behave like one! Those are the days of the annual Fancy Food Show at the Jacob Javitz Center in New York City. This year it was June 28, 29th, and 30th.

Holy mackerel-snapper-chocolate-coffee-cheese…I love the Fancy Food Show!

I love the Fancy Food Show not only because I get to eat unlimited small tastes of the finest and most delicious variety of foods, all in one building, but also because I love to check out the new trends of the year in food. What’s hot? What’s new? What’s creative? What’s bizarre? What works? And what missed the mark?

My Review

My Prize for the strangest new product this year (drum roll, please): BLACK GARLIC

No additives or preservatives. Black garlic is aged for a month in a special fermentation process, under high heat where it develops its darker color, softer texture, and sweeter taste.  It looks bizarre…kind of like tar (which I know doesn’t sound very appetizing), but I tried it tonight on my roast chicken. I combined it with olive oil and a Mexican spice mix and rubbed the mixture under the skin of the breast meat.

The result was a smoky taste that was aromatic, sweet, and delicious! Apparently, black garlic is loaded with twice as many antioxidants as raw garlic, and contains a compound: S Allycysteine, which is proven to be a factor in cancer prevention.  No bad breath either!  Who would have thought?

My Prize for the most Ubiquitous Ingredient of the Year: CHOCOLATE!

Chocolate is in everything these days–especially organic chocolate, mixed with sometimes unique, sometimes very bizarre ingredients. There was Red Chili Hot Chocolate, Chili Pepper Chocolate Wafers and Chocolate Strawberry Tea.  The food show hosted chocolates from all over the world and of every origin and for a chocolate lover, it was close to heaven!

One of my favorites was the new Double Dark Chocolate Mate by The Republic of Tea. South American, organic, roasted Yerba Mate blended with organic dark chocolate.  The tea has distinct chocolate overtones and is very rich and satisfying.

Another chocolate highlight was Anna Shea Chocolates.  These chocolates are so beautiful, works of art even. Like jewels to savor! She makes 38 different flavors and all are hand crafted bon-bons. Combining the finest ingredients with the highest quality Swiss Couverture.

My Prize for the New Fad of 2008-2009: WATER!

Yep! Water. But not just any kind of water. FLAVORED water. Naturally flavored, sugar free water is a rapidly expanding business these days. Actually, it’s probably one of the more successful businesses in the world at the moment. Who could have imagined years ago that we would be paying money to drink nature’s most natural and most abundant resource?

The new ones I loved are called Ganic Waters and are enhanced with natural extracts and aromas. Cranberry, Pearl, Smooth Ginger, Citric Lemongrass and Merry Cherry. All sugar free. Now that’s the way to stay quenched—all naturally.

My Prize for Biggest Food Word of the Year: BIODYNAMIC

I didn’t even know what this meant until the food show and it was used very often throughout the show. Biodynamic means “Beyond Organic.” Wow…who thinks of these things?

For example, a Biodynamic Tea would be grown and processed according to the highest sustainable agricultural and environmental canons, exceeding the standards of the U.S.D.A. Organic Standards. Organic on steroids is another way to put it.

Other highlights and fads: antioxidants, acai berry, salt, pesto, and olives

Just like chocolate, antioxidants are in everything this year! As are açaí berries.

The Republic of Tea has a whole new line of super berry antioxidant teas for Women’s Health. Flavors are: Wholeberry, pomberry, cocoaberry, acaiberry and cherryberry.

Salt is also huge this year…a continuing trend of the last few years.

HimalaSalt claims to be the purest salt on earth. I loved their display.

The company LeGrand also was a highlight for me. Their pestos are so fresh and they’re a leader in the production of cold-processed sauces. My favorites were the 4 nuts and cheese pesto, the lemon confit, the pumpkin seed aromatic sauce and the spicy olive and sun-dried tomato tapenade. Many different tastes and textures, but all so fresh, especially for a packaged food product!

I could definitely see having them in my fridge to serve with fish or simply as an easy spread for unexpected company!

And then of course, let’s not forget the olives!

I adore olives and I have never seen so many kinds in one place! Although there are so many olive importers, I loved FoodMatch Inc.  They specialize in olives and antipasti from the Mediterranean.

“Except the vine, there is no plant which bears a fruit as great importance as the olive”-Pliny (AD 12-79).

Still holds true today.  The olive is still considered one of natures most perfect creations and there is nothing quite as satisfying to the soul and senses as a welcoming bowl of olives.

To be honest, there was so much incredible food at this show that I could write forever on it. And, even after a hearty stomach ache, I would go back again tomorrow and do it all over again! Alas, I have to wait for an entire year to pass before the Fancy Food Show comes back to NYC.