Last night I attended the Fresno Food Expo's preview event for their People's Choice and San Joaquin Valley New Product awards. There were samples of 52 products from 30 valley based companies, some familiar, some new. Today's blog is to talk about some of my faves, to encourage the public to vote on the People's Choice portion (which you can at: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.559964030687884.126821.189068064444151&type=1)and to plug a very special event at the Tioga-Sequoia Brewery. First the food(and the drinks!). The apparent trend this year is dairies/creameries putting their milk back in bottles. There is a definite flavor difference between milk in plastic or cardboard and milk in glass. It seems fresher, creamier, and has a cleaner taste to it. I tried milk products from Top O' the Morn Farms, Rosa Brothers Milk Company, and Dairy Goddess (who definitely won my heart with their presentation This brand is pasteurized but non homogenized, which gives it a fresher flavor.
Of all the supposedly "hot" or "spicy" items (hey it's not easy to impress a chili head like me!), the real standout in both flavor and heat were the Simply Smoky Jalapeno Peppers from Deb's Gourmet. Real smoked sliced jalapenos, had a delicious smoky flavor, which complemented the flavor of the pepper and helped tamp down the heat a bit by sheer distraction. Unbelievably (and deliciously) paired with blueberries, this is another item I would seek out on my own.
From our old friends at Star (Borges USA - Star Fine Foods)comes a new item in its Balsamic Glazes. They come in apple, raspberry and Modena (aged balsamic), and are an easy way to have a sweet and tasty balsamic glaze on hand to garnish savory or sweet items. tried it on a spinach based pasta, and found it tart with a sweet finish. I also saw the raspberry variety on cheesecake.
For sheer inventiveness, I have to give a shout out to Phillips Farms Marketing new "Finger Limes". They look like..well..finger shaped limes, about the size and shape of a small pickle..and the inside..looks like... green caviar.. and the taste? Like limes. I think the real selling point here is in presentation, because the inside is small nodules of lime pulp, you can easily add a lime flavor (without the juice)to any dish.
My fave pick of the night, was a unique product from Noah's Spring Water/Varni Brothers Corp. Noah's Sparkling Varni Almond Spring Water. If you love almonds, (and sparkling water) you will love this. It isn't a sweetened beverage, but something with a true, strong almond flavor with a refreshing finish. Like fizzy liquid almonds, times 10.
But there was more than just food..there was some delicious adult beverages waiting to be sampled..
The first offering was Raspberry Romance from the San Joaquin Wine Company. A red wine based light (not heavy or syrupy), with a bright raspberry finish.
At the bar, from the Valley Spirits LLC, came two delightful and dangerous offerings in the way of Cold House Cake Batter Vodka, and Outlaw Moonshine Apple Pie. Both spirits tasted exactly like their namesakes, sweet, enticing, complex, and delicious. The moonshine had a wicked kick at the end...
And then the ale.. our local boys at the Tioga-Sequoia brewery were offering up two as yet unreleased items: Sugar Pine Porter, 9flavored with vanilla beans and cacao nibs0, and 99 Golden Ale (a honey golden ale). I tasted the 99, and found it smooth and easy to drink. Which led to an interesting conversation with one of the makers, who told me that they were finally opening the brewery to tours for their second anniversary. Next Saturday, the 9th of March from noon to 6! Here is all the info: http://tiogasequoia.com/2nd-year-anniversary-party/
It was fun, exhausting, crazy, trying to juggle food, camera, information, etc.. looking forward to the Food Expo itself...and don't forget to vote for the People's Choice awards!