Last Thursday (3/14) was the night of the annual Fresno Food Expo (still a fairly new event in town). This is a great event for the valley because it brings together the best produce, products, and food producers we have, and the sheer amount of excellence should make us all very proud of what we have to offer. The stories I heard from the farmers alone, about how much of the country's produce they actually provide, would make the rest of the country pay more attention and respect if they only knew.
Nearly all the products I found at the Expo are available in local stores, at local farmstands or markets, or online. If you'd like to see a particular product in your store, be sure and ask the manager! If enough people are asking for something, they will go out of their way to acquire and provide it.
Since pictures really are worth a thousand words, I'll let those tell most of the story, with commentary to follow.
My favorite use of produce goes to perennial fave, Wawona Foods, for several items. Particularly, ready to bake peach cookies, that taste more like little peach dumplings or pies, than cookies. For the more adventurous home cook, they offer a frozen pie filling and glaze in one. Wonderful bags of fruit, that you can either just put into a pie crust, or use any way you like. Completely unlike those gloppy, sugary canned fillings, these are the closest thing you can get to buying fresh fruit and making your own pie filling. Even their simplest frozen fruit was fresh tasting and delicious.
Best innovative new product comes from Pacific Choice's Ya! Greek Salsa... a mixture of olives, capers, and peppers mixed with a light 3 tomato base, this fresh tasting offering would be great on pita chips, or as a topping for gyros (prounounced YEAR-o's for the love of pete!).
My favorite cheese of the show went to Hacienda's Teleme. It was everything I could want in a cheese, it was creamy, with a bit of tang. Rich, without being cloying, it would melt well, and has a flavor that would go with pretty much any food or just as a snack.
My favorite meat product has to go to our old friends at Harris Ranch. Smoked prime rib (served on sandwiches here), are you kidding me? The flavor and tenderness was off the hook! I would serve this at any gathering and be proud to say where it came from.
There were some extremely interesting citrus fruits from Phillips Farm Marketing (the finger limes I mentioned in the previous blog as well as citron aka Buddha's Hand), as well as Gold Nugget tangerines from Homegrown Organic Farms, that are shown in the first picture above (thanks to Cherie France for that!).
I was also pleased to see Fresno State adding to their already extensive lineup, delving into the chocolate bar market with Bulldog Bark, with local almonds and raisins in a delicious chocolate base.
And speaking of chocolate.. I was very pleased to get to speak with a representative of the company that rescued a childhood favorite, Flicks. Here is a link to the interesting history of this delicious treat, how we lost it for awhile, and thanks to local innovation, we got it back and now can enjoy it again! http://flickscandy.com/history.html
Of course the valley also produces some pretty tasty alcoholic beverages. There are more and more wineries producing here these days, and our craft beer industry is slowly growing as well. A Big shout out to our own Tioga-Sierra brewery for bringing their great offerings to the Expo. Particular Tamarack Amber Ale. An easy to drink amber with a clean finish and no bitterness. I also enjoyed the previous blog mentioned Cold House Cake Batter Vodka, mixed with pineapple juice and Sprite - Pineapple Upside Down Cake! YUM!
So tired and happily full, I made my way home, glad I came, and even gladder to experience the valley's best of the food and drink industry. Thanks to Danielle LaBouef Griffin for making this experience possible for me.!