Friday, March 05, 2010

Interesting and weird products at the International Restaurant Show

The Japanese Canned Bread

Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup

The famous Japanese "yams" or Nagaimo

"Pizza" from Japan

The International Restaurant and Foodservice Show ended last Tuesday at 4pm. It opened its doors on Sunday morning with plenty of foodservice industry experts, press, buyers and consumers visiting - creating a buzzy atmosphere and crowded aisles and lines in front of popular foods!

Definitely smaller than the Fancy Food Show (which is more of specialty foods show), this one focuses on restaurants and foodservice professionals and on Japanese Food and Beverages. Interesting events are the Ultimate Barista Challenge, the famous US pastry competition and the New York Pizza showcase.

What were the most impressive and maybe, weird items?

The weirdest and probably the most unique is the Canned Bread. It comes from Japan, is not yet available in the US market, and their manufacturer claims that the bread can "live" in the can for over 3 years with enormous potential! The company - Akimoto Confectionery- says that the "can" has flown in the space shuttle, was donated to 100,000 cans to hungry and disaster victims and was taken on expeditions.

Another product that is definitely unique is the Wild Hibiscus Flowers in syrup . It tastes like a spoonful sweet from Greece and it is, indeed, very different.

I also tasted the interesting combination of the cocoa and cinnamon chili from the Manhattan Chili Company. Their Numero Uno (medium hot) Cup or Bowl contains all natural coarse ground beef, kidney beans, plum tomatoes, cinnamon, cocoa & toasted cumin. It is a little sweet and a little hot.

A new beverage that will soon enter the US market is the Fresh Ginger Giner, in three flavors. I tasted, it passed the test and it is very ginger-y!

Other interesting, at least for Western foodies, are the Japanese Okonomi Yaki, a "pizza" or rather a pancake from Japan. Peanuts coated with miso, peanut miso and pickled melon were a few others that deserve to be announced here.

Overall, this year, I observed the following:

1. Proliferation of bakeries and pastry exhibitors. Bread seems to be very popular. Despite the buzz, there was only one gluten-free bread shown (I counted 18 exhibitors - bakeries and pastries combined)

2. Abundance of ice cream vendors and pre-gel dessert products

3. MANY coffee companies with the cookie dough frappe (from Enlightened Beverages) the being my favorite. I love iced coffee!

And surprisingly enough, there was no popcorn or chips exhibitors. How come?