Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Fancy Food Show 2009
I got this letter in my e mail from a reader....
PLEASE answer this online and not via e mail.
Do you use Crisco for frying?
Do raisins belong in a chicken salad?
Which mayo is better Dukes or Hellman's?
While I could certainly give an answer to the first two I had never heard of Dukes, until today at the Fancy Food Show in NY.
So reader stay tuned til the end of this column and I will address your questions, but first a few Fancy Food Show paragraphs.
I think it is time to change the name of this show, Fancy is no longer what it is about. In the past the introduction of new products was often an exotic show. To be able to get things from around the world was awesome, and sometimes it still is, but the majority of crap at this show is neither fancy, nor terribly good.
Do we need another potato chip? Puffed or otherwise?
Do we need 100 new jams that all taste of either corn syrup or too much sugar?
Do we need yet another BBQ sauce that tastes like Kraft?
Do we need another soft drink?
The answer is no, we don't. This show has become more about junk food than products used by Chefs. In order to find the gems I had to work the show for 3 days and at times I felt like a pig pursuing truffles. There were so few for all the sniffing around I did.
There are however some good things out there, and those I want to tell you about.
I have had a lot of truffle oil over the years but the best I have tasted was made by FungusAmongus the flavor is light but true and used as a finishing oil for a risotto...you are talking great food. Actually everything in the product line I tasted was top quality.
Speaking of truffles I rolled my eyes at Susan Rice truffled popcorn, but my eye roll was premature.
This is one of the most perfect snacks I have ever had, a perfect pairing, if you see it in an upscale market, grab it.
I love my friends at Aux Delices and both their white and black truffle butter are absolutely hands down the best. The won best of show last year and they deserved it. I tried a lot of truffle butter and some of it was very good, but no one can beat them.
I had some fun with the ladies at Nueske's today, Wisconsin ladies can be a hoot. Their bacon took an award this year and it was well deserved. It is hands down some of the best bacon I have ever had in my life. Apple wood smoked and just the right balance of fat and lean.
After 3 days I had Fancy Food Fatigue and did not want to taste further, but I am glad I did. Redwood Hill Farm is making an awesome Raw Milk Feta, it is aged for 60 days so it is a much mellower taste than the fresh feta. This is perfect grated onto a bit of toasted bread that has been rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil and served with figs and Malbec. I can state this with assurance because that was my dinner tonight along with a nice big salad. I am a happy camper now.
And onto the questions.....
I would use Crisco for nothing. Not a product I like. The taste can ruin delicate foods and make fried ones greasy. I like peanut oil for frying, but the truth is I very rarely fry food, so something better could be out there. Many southern cooks and grandmothers like bacon fat, and it can be pretty good. For potatoes nothing beats duck or goose fat.
As far as raisins in a chicken salad, I suppose if you like raisins then you should put them in your chicken salad. It was all the rage for a very short time when I was in Minneapolis as a youth. Someone put raisins in her chicken salad at a church pot luck, and then my friend Scott's mother used them. Back then grapes were not available year round and among the pot luck set this was considered 'very creative'. Personally I don't like them in much of anything and think that outside of Moroccan food they should never be inflicted upon guests.
Duke's is what ties this whole thing together. Before the e mail I had never heard of it. I tend to make my own for most foods, certainly when I cater I make it. Though they have no distributor yet Duke's was at the food show. Duke's beats the hell out of Hellman's. Hellman's contains sugar and you can taste it, it gives it that slight miracle whip thing. Duke's has no sugar and a bit more tang. If I were just using it on a sandwich or something at home...Duke's.