Published with permission from LuxuryWeb.com
The Summer Fancy Food Show this year was an extraordinary spectacle. The event was the most expansive I’ve ever seen — with a myriad of booths intricately occupying every corner of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City.
There was an impressive array of national pavilions, with countries from the Mediterranean, South America, and Asia exhibiting a variety of delicacies under shared themes. The number of independent importers, producers, and other exhibitors far surpassed previous years — bringing a fresh diversity to the lineup. In addition, U.S. producers made a strong presence, representing both in state-specific pavilions and the independent producer area.
The introduction of product-specific pavilions like the cheese and confectionary areas, which were initiated in last year’s show, added a unique touch. Interestingly, this year, numerous exhibitors opted for a multi-booth presence to showcase their diverse offerings.
From olive oil to tomatoes, caviar to cheese, the wide array of products was simply astonishing. A noticeable trend was the exponential growth in the U.S. olive oil market, with more producers showcasing their products than ever before. Tomatoes too, were omnipresent in many forms, with Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Morocco leading the representation.
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Despite a relatively scarce number of individual buyers looking to buy caviar at the show, the opulent Ossetra stole the limelight. The precious roe — harvested from wild sturgeon — demands a hefty price that reflects its rarity and exceptional flavor.
The retail price for a kilo of average-quality wild-caught Ossetra reached a whopping $850. The exclusive offering attracted a select group of institutional buyers, such as restaurant and catering company representatives, but individual buyers were less prevalent given the steep pricing.
Adding to the luxurious spectrum of caviar was the wild-caught Beluga variant, retailing between $5,000 and $10,000 per kilo. The Special Reserve Kaluga from Petrossian, revered for its exquisite taste, was a significant draw, commanding an astounding price of $16,000 a kilo.
Despite the strikingly high retail price of caviar, a steady presence was observed from institutional buyers for restaurants and catering companies. The caviar market displayed a broad spectrum of offerings — both wild-caught and farmed — from different parts of the globe.
Cheese for days
On the cheese front, a variety of offerings were seen from all the expected cheese-producing regions. Even plant-based cheese substitutes made an appearance, though their taste left something to be desired. The classic cheeses from France, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal, and Austria remained the most enjoyable.
I noted a wave of vegetable-based foods posing as meat, fish, or dairy products. Unfortunately, these did not meet my taste expectations.
Among the unique offerings, the Casas de Hualdo, an extra virgin olive oil from Toledo, stood out. Ideal for salads and as a finishing touch for vegetable dishes, it left a lasting impression. Their Manchego cheeses were equally delightful.
I was particularly impressed with the Noor Fès line of monovarietal Olive Oils from Morocco. Their exceptional taste, especially suitable for salads, was a revelation.
Preserved meat products were aplenty, with a range of Prosciutto, Jamón Iberico, and sausages on display. Fresh farmed fish from Greece, Spain, Norway, Turkey, and Chile was another highlight, destined for both supermarket shelves and restaurant kitchens.
Among the variety of tomato products, Spesya, a Turkish producer, showcased a pleasant line of pickles, olives, eggplant, stuffed vine leaves, and sauces. Tukas, another Turkish brand, presented an exceptional hot pepper sauce and jars of roasted eggplant meat, along with a commendable variety of olive offerings.
Intercomm Foods from Greece, under the Delphi brand, offered an expansive range of pickled olives, preserved fruits, and compotes. There was an abundant presence of jams, preserves, and spoon sweets, a traditional welcome offering in Eastern Mediterranean cultures.
The Foods and Wines from Spain stage showcased an array of canned fish and seafood appetizers, curated by Chefs Antonio Ortuño and Varin Keokitvon. However, their interpretation of tapas, though innovative, fell short of the authentic, salty tidbits meant to drive wine consumption.
Regrettably, due to time constraints, my visit was restricted to one day. Nevertheless, I was able to witness an extensive display of culinary treasures — making this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show an unforgettable experience.
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