by Meghan McGuire
Every year, food pioneers from all over the world meet in San Francisco’s Moscone Center to showcase their brands; the new, the old and the legendary. At Bang Pound Dot, the Winter Fancy Food Show is one of our favorite perks to the colder months because it’s a primo opportunity to get an insider's look at what’s happening in the world of food. Plus, we love meeting new, interesting people and seeing/sampling the expanses of edible creations on display.
First thing to note about this event; it is BIG. One section was dedicated to football fields of domestic brands, organized by state. If you manage to get through that in one day, you are lucky if your dogs aren’t already barking when you get to the other gigantic room. This one was organized by country, with a fair chunk of it occupied by a large, lively booth representing Italy. There, the free-flowing Chianti samples were a bold juxtaposition with the all-white decor.
One display creating a buzz around the show was Chirps Cricket Chips made with cricket flour. First utilized in the US by a kickstarter-funded protein bar that hit shelves in 2012, expect to hear a lot more about this creepy-crawly ingredient. Cricket Flour packs 3 times as much protein as beef, twice as much as chicken and is super-sustainable. Not to mention low-carb and Paleo. Of course, cricket flour has to overcome widespread insect-as-appetizer bias, but if you want a source of protein that is 20X more efficient as beef, put out your feelers.
We loved the Verdant Kitchen’s products, especially their Turmeric Dusted Baby Ginger. While a lot of the ginger in the US is imported, an Australian named Ross Harding figured out how to grow it and turmeric in the sandy soil of Savannah, Georgia. Utilizing both of their innovative, organic crops, this ginger was the most tender we’ve ever had. And dusted with the bright, finely ground and aromatic turmeric, this delightful treat made quite an impression.
Our local favorite was Pacific Pickle Works from Santa Barbara. We had a delightful chat with “Principal Pickle” Bradley Bennett and in addition to some bangin’ pickled fennel, got to try their delicious bloody mary mix. Everyone knows that the piquant zest of Worcestershire sauce can make or break a Bloody and Pacific Pickle’s homemade recipe hits a homer. The only disappointment from this laid back California brand is that they don’t sell the Worcestershire alone. Our fish and chips would be swimming in it.
Speaking of fish, a trend we happily saw growing at the show was sustainable seafood. With the health of the ocean more uncertain than ever, it’s now cool to know the tuna you are enjoying was once part of a thriving population. Nowadays, consumers can choose seafood that was either farmed or caught using sustainable methods from healthy populations. Organizations like the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch make it easy. And they endorse many of the qualified fishmongers we came across at the show.
A small section was dedicated to newer brands, in business 2 years or less. It was here we really saw some fresh items, including Säpp, organic birch tree water sourced in the Carpathian mountains of Ukraine. If you are in search of the next antioxidant-packed super drink, look out for this refreshing elixir. Portland Pet Food Company was another stand out. Born in the brain of one of the Northwest’s most dedicated pet-lovers, this company makes super nutritious and delicious dog food and biscuits in the heart of Northeast Portland. Where else can you say, “Don’t bother me, I’m making Bacon Beer Biscuits for my puppy.” Keep Portland Pets Weird!
Overall, the world’s interest in sustainability and food sourcing is evident at the WFFS, which gives us such joy at Bang Pound Dot. Because we have always found the knowledge of how our food and drinks ended up on our table genuinely appetizing.