Although there’s thousands of free samples for the taking, it’s tough covering the New York Fancy Food Show each year. The corporate giants are always there, and finding a new product with an interesting story and a distinctive taste is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Plus, I’m saving the really good products for work, so I can’t share everything here. But I bet Gourmet‘s not interested in these foods. (No offense to these guys, but they just have a niche audience.)
I Swear it Tastes Better Than it Sounds
Raw Revolution is similar to Larabar, except with more interesting flavors and textures. Both brands pack their energy bars with ground nuts and puréed dates, but Raw Revolution leaves some nuts whole, so you’re not left with uniform, nubby bits. Raw Revolution also has a spirulina flavor, but I swear it doesn’t taste “green.” As a bonus, there’s flax seeds, which are high in omega-3s.
It’s a shame that Raw Revolution hasn’t caught on like Larabar. I suspect it’s the packaging, which has an anarchist-type feel. If you’ve ever opened a Nutrigrain bar and felt cheated by the tiny bar inside the big wrapper, you’re in for the same effect here. As an organic company, you’d think they’d cut down on wasteful packaging.
Another warning: That bar has as many calories as a small meal, but it’s nutrient-dense too. ($1.99 for a 2.2-oz bar)
BranTreats and Flaxmax sound more like bird food than desserts, but these are delicious. A hybrid between biscotti and crackers, these cookies’ only source of fat is the almonds. Delicate and crisp, you don’t need to soften them in a cup of coffee, although they certainly go together. If you still don’t believe me, Almondina, the parent brand, swept four awards at past Fancy Food Shows. ($4.49 for a 4-oz bag)
But it’s Just…
Photo: Fox & Obel
Granola-Kingslake & Crane has chunky clusters with an astoundingly light texture. Normally, nuts are an afterthought in granola, but these ones are perfectly toasted and fresh-tasting. There’s also tart cherries to complement the brown sugar-covered oats. This was so tasty that I assumed it was soaked in oil. Surprise, it was dry toasted. Although oats are dirt cheap, I don’t think you can replicate this recipe at home.
I make my own granola, and I’ve never been able to get those coveted clusters, toasted flavor, and light texture without adding oil. The best taste comes from Alton Brown’s recipe, but it has 1/4 cup oil. Deborah Madison‘s no-fat-added, apple juice granola is tough and bland, and The Traveler’s Lunchbox’s granola is light, but I’m not fond of the flavor. Maybe if I combine all three recipes, I’ll come close to Kingslake & Crane. ($9.95 for a 1-lb bag)
Peanut butter-Sunland/Peanut Better makes all their peanut butters from Valencias, which are naturally sweet. The sweetness is disconcerting for the plain butters, but they’re perfect for their chocolate and praline butters. Too bad they don’t make hazelnut butter, because they could outdo Nutella. ($5 for 10 oz)
Where Have You Been All my Life?
Bonnat is not new, nor does it have a flashy backstory, but their Chuao bar is amazing. Normally, Venezuelan chocolate has notes of soil and raisin, but this chocolate is different. Sadly, I don’t remember what it actually tastes like, because it was one of the last things I ate at the show, and my taste buds were spent. ($8.25 for a 3.5 oz bar)
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