All that and some fancy-ass chips
The New York Fancy Food may be a misnomer in its estimation of the foo-foo-ness of the merchandise on display, but it sure doesn't skim on the sheer quantity of edibles. Every summer, New York City's Javits Center is packed to the brim with vendors and food producers—over 2400 of them—from lands near and far seeking press attention, sales distribution, and general awareness of the foods and drinks they have to offer to the world. A trio of Extra Crispy editors gorged ourselves on your behalf to suss out some of the best.
Extreme mixtures of high-brow and low-brow food culture can yield delicious things, or at least deliciously weird things. Before trying one of UK-based brand Savoursmiths’ Champers & Serrano Chili Crisps, I would have told you that champagne was not a flavor that could translate that well to snacks. But it turns out that it really does, especially paired with serrano chilis on good, crispy potato chips. The champagne powder gives the chips a kind of fizzy flavor, which pairs especially nicely with the bite of the chili. I also loved the brand’s Parmesan and Port chips, another combination I would not have expected to do well in chip form, but here we have it. Up until this year, this extremely good chips were only available in the UK. Luckily, they’ll be coming stateside soon, and so you can catch me eating a lot more champagne chips.
Willie’s claims they invented a whole new type of alcohol. I was like blah blah blah, it’s fermented fruit and sugar cane in sparkling water so it’s basically like all the other boozy seltzers out there, right? Right, Willie? I don’t think Willie’s a real person, but if he were he’d grab me by the collar and say “Hell no” in a thick Rhode Island accent. (Willie’s is based in Pawtucket.) This singular drink is like a sparkling cider and ginger beer mashup. It comes in two flavors, lemon ginger and pomegranate acai, and neither are too sweet. It doesn’t give you that “did-I-just-drink-penny-water?” feeling that you get after sipping some boozy seltzers, and with a 4.5% ABV you can enjoy a few and not ruin your life. If you’re not feeling rosé or chilled red or beer or prosecco or a margarita this summer, and you live in Rhode Island or Massachusetts (they’re looking into expanding their reach), try a Willie’s.
I didn't want to eat the cake, but the woman at the booth kept insisting. I've been to the Fancy Food Show a gazillion times, and somehow made a rookie mistake by making eye contact. Words like "vegan, unbaked, super food, adaptogens, raw" and the like tend to bum me the heck out—especially when I could be saving stomach space to dive face-first into the utterly boggling array of chips, chocolates, and cheese within eyeshot, but I felt awkward enough that hey, why not? And then I asked for another little sliver and made my colleagues jump in, too. The cake is free of gluten, grains, soy, refined sugar, honey or agave, but somehow moist, dense as the sun, and delicious on a level that I genuinely did not expect. As a person with a bazillion food restrictions that have rendered me cakeless for the past year, this was a genuine revelation and didn't feel the least like a consolation prize. LoveLove cake is not a lie.
Le Bon Magot is a company that takes preserves very seriously, and has a whole collection of Sofi Awards to show for it. They take flavors from the Middle East, West Africa, and South Asia and infuse them into jams, chutneys, and marmalades. The results are across the board delicious, an easy way to up your toast game in the morning or add sophistication to your meat and cheese platter at a party. Everything of theirs that I tried was delicious, but the one I kept coming back to was the spiced raisin marmalata with ras el hanout and smoked cinnamon. It was earthy, spicy, and slightly sweet, incredibly delicious on a bit of sliced salami and miles away from your standard jar of jam.
Cold brew is cold brew is cold brew, right? Sorta sludgy with a backnote of battery acid if you're taking it straight, which is how I tend to. I'm not even saying this is a bad thing, but who the heck knew it could be better? Mojo, that's who. New Orleans is home to some serious coffee culture (and no, not just that chicory folderol) so anything bearing the city's signature fleur de lis had better represent. Not only does the unsweetened, unlightened Black Magic shine through on the flavor front, but it seriously smooths the edges of the finish that tend to jab me in the gut an hour after. Even in the versions that contain milk or sugar, there are no added stabilizers or modifiers—just 190 milligrams of caffeine to keep the good times rolling.
As much as I love American chips, I have to admit that UK chip culture is way more advanced. Glens is based in Antrim County, Northern Ireland. They’ve been around for three years, and I hope that one day they expand their distribution to the US because these chips are outrageously good. The roast beef and mustard chip is super rich, and each one is just like a small bite of homemade Sunday roast in chip form. Their sweet potato chips are simpler and easily the best packaged sweet potato chips I’ve ever had. Glens of Antrim aren’t kettle cooked or covered in too much flavoring powder or salt like what you tend to get from fancy chips in the US. They’re not even notably crispy—it’s not about the crispiness here but rather the high-quality everything that goes into these chips. I don’t have much more to say other than I love these chips so much and long for the day that they’ll be available at my local corner store and not only at a trade show booth.