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Foodporn Tue May 26 2009
I've finally come out of my food coma, first induced by a few days at the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show, followed by a couple of days at the All Candy Expo.
Although the NRA exhibits span two halls and feature anything you could possibly want in a restaurant (Viking stove, menus, Irish pub furniture, etc.), the food and beverages are the big draw, and it's easy to eat yourself silly with all the great products that might be at or coming to a restaurant or retail outlet near you.
After the jump, I'll fill you in on some of the best and/or most interesting products I found at the show.
- "The misunderstood sweet potato." Both Cavendish and Lamb Weston had some sort of fried sweet potato product. Cavendish had fries; Lamb Weston had fries and diced chunks. Julie Bachman, Division Sales Manager from Cavendish, said that sweet potatoes are the most demanded secondary fry (as opposed to your standard French fry). She also said that sweet potatoes can be misunderstood, since they're not potatoes, they're their own root vegetables. However you slice it though, sweet potatoes do make a tasty alternative to a French fry.
- "Eat more pork, be a better lover." This may be the best slogan ever, and it belongs to Gusto Packing, a pork products supplier from Montgomery, IL.
- Nuts about nuts. Emerald Nuts showcased a bunch of nut products and their new commercials that portray the nuts as being the food that can help you out of the 3:00 energy slump (if you liked the Robert Goulet commercials, you'll like these). Their cocoa toasted almonds were especially delicious, and supposedly the patent pending process used to add the cocoa to the nuts doesn't add any calories. Look for them in stores.
- Festival food as everyday snack. J&J Snack Foods, maker of the Superpretzel brand of hot pretzels, introduced Funnel Cake Funnel Fries. Yes, they're fry-shaped pieces of funnel cake, and unless you're a funnel cake devotee, they might be a little much for you. Me? I couldn't make it through an entire sample of them.
- Peanuts are back! The National Peanut Board was on hand to tell me that peanut butter is making a resurgence after the recent salmonella scare. They also had tastes of Paula Deen's Peanut Butter BBQ sauce, which was surprisingly tasty. The peanut butter didn't overpower the tangy sauce; rather, it smoothed out the flavor a bit. You can find this product online.
- What can't they fry? I would love to sit in on product development meetings at some of these companies who make fried foods. Mozzarella cheese sticks? Dead. Bring on dipNsides from Lamb Weston, which take dips like spinach & artichoke, spicy bean, and queso, and put them inside a breaded coating. Bellisio Foods had potato croquettes, which were breaded mashed potatoes filled with bacon and sour cream. Twist Potato, a Korean machine, takes a potato and cuts it into a spiral shape, which you can then put a stick through and deep fry. The finished product looks cool and tastes like a homemade potato chip.
- I can't believe I haven't seen this butter. Denver-based Epicurean Butter makes 17 different butters in sweet, savory, and seafood-appropriate flavors that really add a punch to a meal. Think Tomato Chipotle butter on a grilled cheese or ear of corn. Or Lemon Garlic butter for sauteed fish. Or Honey Pecan butter for pancakes. It's seriously, seriously good stuff. Availability in the Chicago-area is questionable--they are sold at some Jewel and Cub stores--but it's a product worth looking for.
- What is broasted chicken? The crowds at the Broaster chicken booth were pretty big for good reason. Broasted chicken is pretty tasty. But what is it? It's not what I always thought--some sort of broiled/roasted process. It's pressure frying. Instead of putting chicken into a regular fryer, with the Broaster machine, the chicken goes into a big pressure cooker-like contraption. This cuts down on cooking time, and supposedly (according to the sales rep I talked to) also cuts down on the amount of oil the chicken absorbs, making it healthier than regular fried--or even rotisserie--chicken. Broaster's website says you can find their chicken at Stanley's, Boston Blackie's, Staropolska, and Potash Bros. supermarkets, among other locations.
- It's your lucky dia. Not one, but two companies have taco-shaped fortune cookies on the market. Dichos, a company based in Douglas, AZ, has a cinnamon-flavored taco cookie with "dichos," or Mexican folk sayings in both English and Spanish inserted inside. Wisconsin-based Lucky Taco has five fruity flavors of brightly colored cookies with wacky sayings inside. And they also sell Lucky Cannolis and Lucky Crunchers that are meant to go with coffee.