Oakland, Alameda, and Berkeley Artisans Shine at Fancy Food Show

Oakland's Endorfin, Numi, and Peerless were among this year's trendsetters; turmeric is in but kale is out.


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All images by Kristan Lawson

Licorice tea and matcha popcorn are now emerging culinary trends, as evinced at last week's Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, the annual Specialty Food Association marketplace where a thousand-plus food and drink purveyors to San Francisco, where they displayed their wares and debuted new products.

Exhibitors came from all over the world, but the East Bay was so well-represented by artisan bakers, brewers, coffee-roasters, and chocolatiers that it's easy to see why this swatch of geography is an eating and drinking paradise. Why go anything but local?

Longtime Oakland favorites at the show included Peerless Coffee, Mr. Espresso, Wooden Table Baking Co., Kuli Kuli Foods, and Numi Organic Tea

Oakland-based Endorfin Foods proffered samples of its award-winning absinthe- and wormwood-infused chocolate. 

Also from Oakland, husband-and-wife-owned Epicurean Solutions showcased its range of vegetarian salads, including an unforgettable curried tofu salad with currants and cashews. 

Alameda-based Semifreddi's was on hand with its famous breads and biscotti, as was Alameda-based Donsuemor with its classic madeleines, financiers, and other sumptuous, sun-bright little French-style cakes.

Founded in 1919 and also based in Alameda, A.G. Ferrari Foods displayed Italian desserts, wines, and its popular range of organic durum-wheat pastas crafted via the bronze-die-cut method at the foot of Italy's Dolomite Mountains. 

Berkeley-based Fogdog, founded by Teance owner Winnie Yu, attracted long lines for its bold coldbrews. Also from Berkeley, the Latest Scoop premium gelato and sorbet boasts an array of nearly 200 flavors. Founded in Berkeley but now based in Hercules, Gelateria Naia debuted its frozen Gelato Bars. Also founded in Berkeley but now based in San Francisco, Scharffenberger proffered toasted-coconut milk-chocolate squares; coconut was a major trend at this year's Fancy Food Show.

Berkeley's La Tourangelle Artisan Oils revealed its cutting-edginess with pure avocado oil and a superfoody oil made with South American sacha inchi seeds. 

Also from Berkeley, United With Earth showcased Persian cucumbers, pitted dates, and velvety-sweet almond-and-coconut date rolls. 

Founded by a pair who first met at Burning Man, Kickstarter-funded, Berkeley-based, and award-winning Caged Heat Syrup makes cold cocktails ... kickin' hot. Also based in Berkeley, Jittery John's coldbrew began in a home kitchen ... in Mason jars. 

Having been purchased by Peet's, Mighty Leaf Tea is now a Berkeley company too.

Richmond purveyors included Lotus Foods, whose exotic pink rice, red rice, flower rice, and forbidden rice are grown via the super-sustainable System of Rice Intensification method; and CC Made, whose Shanghai-born founder Cassandra Chen was a banker before deciding to handcraft caramels. 

Representing Hayward were Haig's Delicacies (maker of Meditteranean-style hummus, baklava, and more) and Sugar Bowl Bakery (birthplace of the irresistible Brownie Bites). 

Newark's Casablanca Market was on hand with Moroccan staples such as harissa, mint tea, and preserved lemons. Other East Bayites included San Leandro-based San Francisco Salt Co., Concord-based Tsar Nicoulai Caviar, and Walnut Creek's Sabores del Sur

If trends manifesting at the Fancy Food Show are anything to go by, then 2017 might be the Popcorn Year, the Matcha Year, the Drinkable Vinegar Year, the Year of the Coconut, and/or the Year of the Beet: Several companies proffered tasty pickled beets and beet-based chips. A super-standout was smoky-sweet beet-based ketchup from England's The Foraging Fox. Other waves to watch for include avocado products, turmeric products, wellness-based tisanes, and grass-fed milk, which shone in such FFS faves as Ohio-based Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, Paleo-friendly buttered coffee from LA-based Coffee Blocks, and farmer-owned, Wisconsin-based Organic Valley's snack-sized, small-batch, cream-topped Grassmilk Yogurt Cups. 

In other news, kale is now officially passé. 

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