The first thing we tasted at the 2015 Fancy Food Show was at the World’s Best Cheeses booth: a beautiful Basque-style butter loaded with that region’s signature pepper, piment d’espelette. The spice was warm and the butter was rich and silky. And that was just the beginning.
We saw butter everywhere at the Javits Center last weekend: classic high-butterfat cow’s milk butters from France and Germany, as well as domestic products inspired by their European counterparts, like cultured butter with sea salt from Vermont Creamery and also from Arethusa Farm & Dairy in Connecticut. There was sheep’s milk butter from California, along with other uniquely American products, like ghee from grass-fed cows made by California’s Tava Life Provisions and a line of flavored butters (Maine blueberry, vanilla creme brûlée, and more) from Slate Roof Creamery in Pennsylvania.
In fact, all good-quality fats (read: from happy, grass-fed animals) were front-and-center at the show. We sampled our way around dense, satisfying full-fat dairy products like flavored crème fraîche and quark. (One of our favorites was a tangy yogurt with za’atar sprinkled on top from New York’s buzzy Sohha Savory Yogurt.)
The Paleo movement means that more people are embracing animal fats and proteins, too. Meat bars—think of them like jerky 2.0—featured a range of meats, from beef and bison to turkey and lamb, blended with herbs, spices, dehydrated veggies, and in some cases nuts and dried fruit. Bars from Bricks and Epic were among the ones we tried.
Another trend? Truffles for days! We tasted more than one truffle-spiked burrata, a young cheddar with truffles from Grafton Village Cheese, and a new bloomy-rind goat’s milk wheel called Hudson Valley Truffle from Coach Farm (to mark the creamery’s 30th anniversary)—enough to wonder if truffled cheese is less of a trend than the new normal in the artisan cheese world.
But we couldn’t subsist on dairy alone, so we were happy to see small-batch confections using fruit, herbs, and spices in fresh new ways. Kansas candy maker Salt & Flint caught our attention with orange-saffron caramel sauce and bee pollen caramels, and goat’s milk caramels from Vermont’s Big Picture Farm were flavored with ingredients gathered near the farm—the rhubarb-raspberry version was a standout (it won a sofi for Outstanding New Product at the show!).
But really, it was all about the butter. It’s only a matter of time until that espelette-spiced stick hits our local cheese shop… we’ll be waiting.
Feature Photo Credit: Specialty Food Association