As I sit down to write this, I loosen the button on my pants to accommodate a burgeoning belly. My throatâs soreâhopefully from four days of talking and not an impending cold. I want nothing more than to climb into my hotel bed, nurse my blistered feet and hibernate awhileâmaybe until Expo West rolls around again next year. Even with all of this, if asked to do it all again the answer would be a resounding HELL YES. I canât paint a picture of what this experience is like (especially for a first-timer like myself) but if I could, Iâd say itâs something like a first kissâkind of awkward, a bit uncomfortable yet completely enthralling. As NFMâs food editor, oh how Iâve fallen in love. Here are a few favorite finds still lingering on my lips.
Anything from Navitas Naturals. Acai is soo forever ago. Using fruits like mulberries, goldenberries, camu camu and lucuma, this companyâs product line is totally next level and tastes amazing. Not only that, but their packaging is just plain cool. Simple, colorful and engaging. Check out their organic superfood chocolate kit to make, infuse and serve your own creations in fun, exotic shapes. I know what Iâm bringing to my next party.
Mt. Vikos appetizer spreads. I probably visited this booth two or three times in the course of an hour. Clean, simple ingredients make these dips delectable. I loved their roasted eggplant with subtle spices, red wine vinegar and garlic, but you really canât go wrong with any of the five spreadsâI tried them all (twice).
John WM Macyâs Wheat Sticks. Gluten free is hot. Itâs by far the product claim I most often saw emblazoned on new packages on the floor. That out of the way, I couldnât get over these cheese sticks, which (Iâm sorry) are gluten laden but oh, so delicious. Finally, a way to get my breadstick fix without the guilt. These award-winning cheese sticks are made from thin layers of whole-wheat sourdough and aged cheese. Perfect for dipping in hummus or just snacking on plain. I thought I had scored a box for the plane ride home until my colleagues devoured them in our press room. Shucks.
Pure Maple Sugar. Alternative sugars seemed to be around every corner. A fan of pure maple syrup myself, I was pleased to see this new product from Coombs Family Farmsâmaple syrup in flake form. I donât know how they did it and I really donât care. This product tastes great and can be used just like sugar (with the same measurement ratio) in cakes, cookies, pies and anywhere else sugar is normally found.
Rosario truffle oil. A drop of truffle oil can make a box of mac ân cheese dinner-party worthy. What I didnât know, until visiting Rosario, is that most of these oils are artificially flavored. Rosario produces one of the only U.S. Department of Agriculture certified-organic oils on the shelf. Whatâs also cool is the company's white truffle savory season salts, which are perfect for adding that finishing touch on special dishes or everyday favorites.
Itâd be impossible to list all the awesome products I discovered during my week in Anaheim. Stay tuned for more in future issues of NFM.