I’m recently back from a trip to New York City where I attended this summer's Fancy Food Show. For the past 50 years, the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade has sponsored these events to show off what’s hot and new in the specialty food marketplace. After walking what must have been miles of aisles at the show for two days, I was able to sample just a small percentage of the approximately 180,000 specialty foods on display by some 2,000 exhibitors! (There is a limit to one’s capacity for tasting. Even small bites add up quickly, so judicious pacing is key to a good experience.) One of the things that caught my eye (and my palate) was the fact that producers are finding ever more innovative ways of making sweet food and drink interesting to the discerning consumer. The following products make clear that you don't have to give in to overly syrupy or sugary concoctions to get that sweet fix. Special Note: I did not vet the products listed to make sure that they are available in all of our stores. Most likely, some are and some aren’t.
Soda Pop for Mom and PopSaw quite a few interesting sodas for adult palates, including:
- Dry Soda Co.’s delicately flavored barely sweet sodas in sophisticated aromas like lemongrass, lavender and rhubarb intrigue the curious kid in all of us. New flavors coming out this fall include juniper and vanilla.
- Fentimans botanically brewed beverages in old-fashioned flavors such as dandelion & burdock and Victorian lemonade offer novel tastes for the adventurous drinker.
- The Simple Kitchen’s line of organic honey-sweetened fruit sparklers refresh the palate with a hint of fruit juice and honey.
- Grown-up Soda (GuS) appeals to the adult palate with flavors like extra dry ginger ale, dry Meyer lemon and dry cola.
Sugar Pie, Agave PieQuite a few vendors were increasing their use of alternative sweeteners:
- Organic Nectars offers a wide range of raw organic agave-sweetened dessert sauces and gelatos.
- Q Tonic sweetens their boutique tonic water with organic agave for a lower-calorie, lower-glycemic-index-rated beverage.
- Naturally light tonic water from Fever-Tree takes its subtle sweetness from natural fruit sugars.
- Agave-sweetened whole wheat pan forte crostini from Rustic Bakery are packed with dried fruits, nuts and seeds for a lightly sweet complement to a cheese plate.
Did Somebody Spike the Jam?Chefs everywhere know this truth: When in doubt, add a splash of wine…to sauces, jams, condiments and sodas.
- Decadent bellini, kir royale, and mimosa jams from Stonewall Kitchen adds festive flair to morning toast or scones.
- A spoonful of Robert Lambert’s dark cherries in merlot brings deep, rich flavor to both sweet and savory dishes.
- A drizzle of strawberry balsamic zinfandel glaze or cherry chianti balsamic glaze from Delicae Gourmet goes a long way—whether over grilled meats or fruits, pound cake, ice cream or rich cheeses.
- Vignette Wine Country Sodas are sweetened with the juice of California-grown Pinot Noir or Chardonnay grapes.