Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fancy Food Show 2010 Continued

The first night I was in NY, my friend Ruth (she makes fabulous jams and wanted to go to the Fancy Food Show to learn about selling them on a larger scale) joined me and we went to Junior's for cheesecake.  Look at this beauty:

Oh yes, that's cheesecake with chocolate cake, amazing chocolate frosting and chocolate chips and chocolate shavings.  It was absolutely fresh, moist and delicious.  And HUGE!

We also hit Hershey's Time Square store (as I mentioned) and I found these:

Macadamia nut Kisses!  I love how the paper tag says Aloha!  These are wickedly addictive.  I haven't seen them anywhere else, but I highly recommend them.  I ate almost a whole bag one night in my hotel room.  It was the nuts - crunchy, delish.

Here we are at the show (see how big it all is?):

You weren't supposed to take any pictures, but my buddies at Walkers let me.  Look at this amazing booth:

Rich wood, thick carpet - and it was packed the whole show.  The gang was doing some SERIOUS business.  This is the booth right before the award celebration:

They gave the guests these great Walker's goodies:

I love the paragraph on the back of the gorgeous black tin - Walkers is still owned by the founding family.  And they do make some simply amazing shortbread:

And eight cookies were packed in there!

We'll be reviewing them in upcoming posts = sooooo good!!

Now, since one of my readers (thanks, Perry!) recommended these, I had to try some:

These cookies contains real bits of ginger:

Now, here's the deal - if you like ginger - these are amazing!  I think real ginger tastes weird, so I am not crazy about these.  My heart belongs to shortbread.

It was so fun to be part of the Walkers' celebration!  And to play in NYC!  More to come!!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Fancy Food Show 2010 Update

Greetings from New Yawk City!  After two full days at the Fancy Food Show I can say I need to spend some serious time at the gym.  Dear God.  I have literally eaten my way around the world.  Some facts:

2,400 exhibiting companies
331,000 square feet (makes Candy Expo look tiny)
24,000 attendees

There were companies and attendees from all over the world.  I've spent time with the folks from Belgium at the Leonidas booth - where they told me in Belgium there are more Leonidas chocolate shops per person than there are Starbucks per person in the US.  After I had one of their hazelnut praline chocolates, I could see why.  I want to move to Belgium.

Last night the crew at Walkers Shortbread had a lovely champagne reception to celebrate winning their fourth Queen's Award for Enterprise for International Trade.  A pretty big deal and I was THRILLED to be invited to celebrate with them.  I can't tell you how great the team at Walkers is - Steve - thank you for a wonderful time!!  Maybe I should move to Scotland - I do love shortbread.  And that whole kilt thing is pretty cool.....

Today I spent time with the crew at Seattle Chocolates (my new BFFs!).  It's so awesome to meet people who are passionate and creative - and some of their latest creations are amazing!  I want to move to Seattle.

There were lots of other great people I met and fabulous chocolate I tasted - but there were some challenges too.  The vast majority of the samples were tasting samples - meaning there's not much you can take home.  (It's not packaged and usually is just a piece of something.)  This means no photos for the blog - I wasn't allowed to take pictures in the exhibit area.  A real challenge for doing reviews.  Several of the vendors said they would mail things, so we'll see how that goes. 

Another challenge is New York City in the summer.  I forgot how much I hate NYC in the summer.  Temp in the 100s, high humidity, a bizillion tourists, and the stench of garbage everywhere.  GLACK!!!  I do NOT want to move to New York.

I didn't visit any high end chocolate shops because whatever I bought would have melted.   Did go to Macy's (the bus stopped me from going in in Chicago, but I made a comeback) and found some great deals.  Also visited M & M World - so packed with people I wanted to gouge my own eyes out.  And had to hit Hershey's Times Square store where I found macadamia nut Kisses!  How exciting - I had no idea!  Review to come.

It was great to connect with so many people who are passionate about chocolate and food.  I ate a lot, laughed a lot, learned a lot, and lived a lot.  Life is too short to spend it any other way.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Coconut (and Chocolate) Cookies

Since we ended with Almond Joy Pieces last time, let's open with Almond Joy Cookies in this entry:

These are a chocolate cookie base with a layer of coconut cream - a few almonds are tossed on top and the whole thing is enrobed in chocolate.  Not a bad idea.  Not a great cookie.  The Almond Joy bar is better.  But a great effort at making a cookie out of a candy bar.  If you feel it's important to to that.

Check out these festive summer cookies offered by Pepperidge Farm!  Tahiti Coconut:

They remind me of Milanos - which I love with all my heart and soul. But these were no good.  I found them very, very dry and with little taste of coconut.  Disappointing - usually Pepperidge Farm rocks!  These are terrible.

Target's store brand Archer Farms made these:

They are wafer thin and are pretty good.  The coconut is more for decoration than for taste.  The dark chocolate overpowers everything else.I like chocolate covered Moravian cookies better.  But these are not dried out and if you want a light, dark chocolately cookie - these are very good.

And look at this coconut entry by Little Debbie:

Titled German Chocolate and subtitled "cookie rings with caramel and coconut," I had to wonder about these.  I mean, really - Germany and coconut?  Does that makes sense?  Well, according to Wikipedia (yeah, yeah, I know, not always right) the whole German Chocolate cake (with the coconut and caramel and all) came from a recipe submitted by a Dallas housewife in 1957.  It was called German Chocolate cake because the chocolate she used to make it was Baker's German Sweet Chocolate.  I gotta say this concoction seems more Dallas circa 1957 than Germany.  What does your gut tell you?

Anyway, these are not bad.  I don't think they hold a candle to those Samoas the Girl Scouts sell (better cookie - these need more cookie).  And I'm thinking the Pacific Islands seem a better fit for coconut than Germany.  But, hey, what do I know?  Tahiti, Samoa.....

I've never tried coconut macaroons before.  This one by Godiva was my favorite.  But I can't tell if it's just because of the chocolate:

Gotta love the chocolate base with the Godiva name stamped in:

This had a cakey texture that I liked better than the other macaroons:

I usually love Archway cookies:

And these looked great!  I think, for coconut macaroons, they probably are great.  These just aren't my favorite.  With chocolate, they are amazing.  Without chocolate, not so much.

These were made in my hometown of Macon, GA by Crown Candy Corporation. 

And they were drier than dry.  Ugh.  Archway was at least moist and chewy.  These were el yucko.  I'm so glad I got out of Macon.

I have to start reviewing some of that shortbread I have!!  And would you believe I found some coconut shortbread?

Eh.  Kind of dry.  What is it about these coconut things that makes them dry?  I expect coconut to be moist!  This shortbread didn't do anything for me and I ADORE shortbread!

Here's some vanilla shortbread from my friends at Walker's:

This has a really good flavor. Sometimes shortbread can be a bit bland, but this has a great, but not overpowering flavor.  Delish!

Harry and David also has some vanilla shortbread:

And I have to say, I love the thickness and the texture of this shortbread.  For the most part, I really love Harry & David's baked goods.  And I like the granulated sugar on top.  (As usual, nothing like the picture on the box.) BUT the flavor of Walker's is better.  The texture of Harry and David's is better, but I gotta go with Walker's.  So yummy!

Okay, gang - more shortbread and coconut and loads of other good stuff to come!!  But I might be MIA for a few days - I'm heading to New Yawk City for the Fancy Food Show!  Don't worry, I'll look both ways before crossing the street.  But I WILL be taking candy from strangers. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Coconut, Summer and S'mores!

One of the very cool things about going to Candy Expo as a blogger is that you are considered "press".  And the press get a great big bag full of candy.  This was one of the things in there:

Atkinson's (makers of the Chick-O-Stick) also makes these.  I saw a booth that sold ONLY these in all the colors of the rainbow.

While it looks festive, I thought the taste was pretty lame.  Kind of dry and tasteless.  And no chocolate involved.  Bleech.

This one from Candy Farm  (a division of Dayton Nut Specialties) was actually a lot better:

It was thicker and the coconut was much less dry.  But this is still a boring candy to me.  They come in different flavors - I liked the chocolate flavor here, but much prefer a real chocolate coating over my coconut.  Coconut lovers - what do you think of these?  They must be popular, I saw a few companies making them.  Anybody have some thoughts?

For 320 calories a slice (these are called coconut slices, BTW), they just aren't that good.

Since I've been planning to blog about coconut, I had to snag these in A Southern Season (my favorite, but oh so expensive food store in Chapel Hill, NC):

They are handmade toasted coconut marshmallows:

And they are pretty darn amazing!  You can see the shredded coconut all over the top.  They also contain almond  and vanilla extract - the almond gives them an awesome taste.  And the marshmallow is so soft and fresh - wow!  I'm not the world's biggest coconut or marshmallow fan, so this is really saying something!

When I got them to the register, they told me there was a BOGO (buy one get one free) sale, so I HAD to get another bag.  I opted for Vanilla Bean (lavender marshmallow just sounded too gross):

These were just average to me.  They would probably be AMAZING toasted, but I'm not going to all that trouble.  I'm happy they were free.

Speaking of toasting marshmallows, I was at a conference last week where the dessert was served outside by a big fire pit where we made s'mores.  (How cool is that?  Go Embassy Suites, Concord, NC!) The hotel had a great set-up, but they were using DARK chocolate disks.  Dark chocolate disks don't melt.  Classy, but we really needed milk chocolate.  So, if you're going to make s'mores this summer - use milk chocolate.

One cool thing they did was add a swipe of cream cheese to the graham cracker.  Never had that before - it was really good!  So experiment - have fun!

If you don't want to make your own s'mores, you could get these:

They really are mini - a little bigger than a penny:

And, as usual, they don't really look like the picture on the box.  Verdict?  Please.  How can this even be compared to a s'more?  They taste like little cheap cookies.  Not even very graham crackery. Definitely not marshmallowy.  In fact, I'd say these taste nothing like s'mores.  Either go real or don't go at all. (Goldfish S'mores - covered in another entry - are better.)

I found these at Candy Expo - they are made by the GudFud company (  And, in concept, they are great:

Little prepackaged chocolate filled marshmallows.  They also some in fruit flavors which I didn't try.

They are horrible.  Think stale, flattened marshmallow filled with some chocolate-like substance.  YUCK!

Their company tagline is "the best thing to ever happen to a marshmallow."  No, it's not. 

But THIS might be!

These are soooo cute!  And at 10 calories a piece, you can't beat them!  Would make great decorations (cakes, cupcakes, etc.) and they taste good too.  Instead of having that weird powdery coating, these have one that's more like granulated sugar, but very fine.  From Harry and David - YUM!

This bar is also from Candy Expo and is billed as a "feel great super food" - which usually means "tastes like crap":

I have it here because it is called an "exotic COCONUT almond bar":

While it looks good, it tastes pretty boring.  I'd rather have a handful of almonds.  I couldn't even taste the coconut.  But it's all organic!  Kumbaya!  You'll live forever eating these, but you won't want to.

While these have been out for a while now, Hershey was pushing them hard at Candy Expo:

And I gotta tell you, these are good!! They taste coconutty and I swear there are little chunks of coconut in there.  I think they blow the coconut M & M's away.  The M & M's taste more chocolately - not very coconutty.  These are like little Almond Joys.  Well done, Hershey!!!

Since I had the coconut M & M's to compare with these, I tried Sarah Silverman's M & M trick. (38 seconds in the microwave)  Holy God!  She is right!!!  Try, it, try it, try it - it's awesome!!!!!!

Try something new - microwave your M & M's, make some s'mores with different ingredients - it's summer!  Celebrate food and fun!