Monday, February 27, 2017

Boston Wine Expo: Food Finds

As I mentioned previously, the Boston Wine Expo had numerous food exhibitors, many offering free samples of their products. This was beneficial with all of the wine offered in the Grand Tasting as you had a way to refresh your palate, and help soak up the alcohol. You also possessed the opportunity to try some food & wine pairings. Some wines, especially the more tannic ones, taste better when consumed with food. In addition, you could find some new food products that you'll want to later buy and eat at home, take to a party, or share with family & friends.

I'm certainly interested in finding new food products so my wanders through the Grand Tasting Hall always include checking out the various culinary booths. I'm going to highlight some of my favorite food finds from the Expo, and would like to hear about your own favorites too.

Wine & cheese can be an excellent pairing and there were plenty of cheese samples at the Expo. I wandered from Yancey's Fancy New York Artisan Cheese (pictured above) to Cabot Creamery, from Finlandia to Kerry Gold. Each vendor offered several different varieties and flavors of cheese, allowing you to play more with various potential wine pairings.

Several restaurants had booths at the Expo, sampling out one of their dishes. For example, The Living Room offered Momos, a South Asian dumpling, native to Tibet and Nepal. You could get a Vegetable or Beef Momo, and then add your choice of sauce, from Soy-Sake to Sweet Chili. I enjoyed the meaty Beef Momo, and stopped by the booth multiple times.

McCrea's Candies, which regularly has a booth at the Expo, produces a diverse variety of tasty caramels and I've been a fan of their caramels for about five years. Some of their flavors include the following: Black Lava Sea Salt, Single Malt Scotch, Rosemary Truffle Sea Salt, and Ginger Fusion. I'm also pleased that this is a local company, another reason for my support. These caramels can pair well with some dessert wines, such as Cream Sherry, or even sparkling wines. I would like to do a taste test, pairing some of these caramels with hard cider.

Another local producer is Top Shelf Cookies, which makes a variety of fresh cookies from a kitchen in Dorchester. Owner Heather Yunger, a huge Boston Bruins fan, began with her Black & Golds, a chewy dark chocolate cookie studded with peanut butter chips. She makes around 17 different types of cookies, such as the Cocoverdose, a chocolate lover's dream with its three kinds of cocoa and three kinds of chocolate chips. The Fluffernutter is a very local cookie, using peanut butter from Everett and Marshmallow Fluff from Somerville.

Primizie Thick Cut Crispbreads gave away plenty of sample bags of their various flavors. I'll be talking more about Primizie in its own post in the near future, but in short, these are thick, tasty chips, perfect for using with dips.

I was impressed with the crunchy cheese bites from Umland's Pure Dry, a Midwest family-owned company which was just founded last year. They use "100% natural kosher Wisconsin cheese", as well as gluten free, which is vacuum dried into tiny crunchy pieces. There are three flavors: Crunchy Cheddar, Gouda and Pepper Jack. When you look at the back of the package, and look at the ingredients, all you will see is a single ingredient, Cheese! I found these to be nearly addictive, and it's very easy to devour a bag of these crunchy cheese snacks. Though my favorite flavor was the Gouda, the other two were tasty as well. I like the crunchy texture of these snacks, and would like to use these atop a salad or in some other dish.

The local producers continue! Yummy Yammy, based in New England, makes 100% sweet potato salsas which use no tomatoes. You can find three different varieties, including Moroccan, Tuscan, and Mexican (which comes in three heat levels). My favorite was the Moroccan Salsa (medium heat), which is made with Curry, Lentil & Kale. It has a strong and delicious curry flavor and is an excellent dip, though I could easily see that as an ingredient in a variety of dishes. It only has a mild spicy kick and I would like to see another version of this Salsa with more heat. The Tuscan Salsa (medium heat) is made with roasted red pepper, white bean and basil. It is a thicker salsa, with rich flavors, and a mild spicy kick. The Medium Mexican Salsa, which is made with corn, black bean, lime juice, and chipotle, was also rich in flavor and has a different, but compelling, flavor from usual tomato salsa.

What were your favorite food finds at the Expo?

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