Fancy Foods & Smoky Tins

Events the past few days have launched yet another nomadic period. But I'm hoping that this one leads me to a slightly more stable spot. Sometimes strange things happen in your life that you don't completely understand, but they do so for a reason. I don't want to completely give in to the adage that everything happens for a reason because sometimes things are just too painful and seem unnecessary, and then the question pops up of why we're here in the first place. And with that, maybe the answer is better left unsaid. But a recent event woke me up and helped me realize what I do need in my life, and what I don't. So now it's time to figure out how to get it. Yes, even during these recessive times. But life is heading in a decent direction. Or at least that's what my Facebook tarot card quiz is telling me. Oy, Facebook.

I worked last Sunday and Monday at the Fancy Food Show. Waking up at 7am on a Sunday morning at first seemed sacrilegious. But once I arrived and remembered how much fun it was to be there, my initial grouchiness turned into the wonder of a  hungry little child. I was working with Foods from Spain though, unfortunately, I don't speak Spanish. Listening to seminars on Serrano ham, Spanish cheeses, tapas, and olive oils (in English… whew) was incredibly informative and beautiful. And the tastings were pretty spectacular too making me want to run off and dive headfirst into a Torta del Casar and splash myself off with a bottle of 2002 Ribera del Duero – Gomellano. Mmmmmm…

I wasn't able to roam around too much, but did gather up a few favorites:

Claudio Corallo (of course, some of the best chocolate I've ever tasted) has had some great press, but needs more. It's amazing stuff, and the company should be celebrated for their practices and delicious natural flavors.

Vermont Butter & Cheese has some delicious cultured butter with sea salt reminiscent of that which I may have thickly spread on my biscuits salés croustillants while living in Paris at some occasion (or many). Another that I'd always wanted to try, and that did not disappoint, was Plugrá's salted butter. Keep in mind that both are made in the U.S. Don't let the "European Style" label fool you into thinking it actually came from Europe. In any case, they're both yummy and can be found at Whole Foods.

Another dairy delight I found is Cypress Grove Chevre from Arcata, California. I only tried one of their cheeses, but I was sold. Also available at Whole Foods, check out the Truffle Tremor, which won the Cheese Oscar at the Fancy Food Show. Soft, savory, earthy, and delish!

Too many booths to choose from, and way too many looking for distribution, one I fell in love with was Frinsa. I'm a sucker for little tins of Spanish smoked oysters, clams, mussels, octopus and sardines, etc. One of the questions someone asked me while at the Show was 'how come tins of seafood coming from Spain are so much better than coming from anywhere else?' Well, I asked José Nuñez of Frinsa, and he said it was because of the waters, the freshness (many of them coming directly from Galicia), the olive oil, the spices, etc. Of course. They are spectacular, and we need more of those delicious little tins on this side of the Atlantic. For more information, contact José at Grupo Frinsa.

Speaking of tins, my friend Henry and I met up at Hotel Delmano in Williamsburg, Brooklyn last weekend to check out all the hype. Delicious cocktails, beautiful, earthy European décor, and superb snacks give this cozy spot on N. 9th & Berry a definite go-to thumbs-up in my book. Rabbit pâté, sopresatta, and tins of smoked oysters with crackers make up a few of the available apps. I didn't check if the oysters were from Spain, but they were still really good.

Another cute spot I recently went to with Nina is Five Leaves in Greenpoint. Cute waitstaff, sweet & savory Devils on Horseback (dates wrapped in bacon & served with dijon mustard), Baked White Bean & White Anchovy Brandade (with parmesan & crusty bread), Beetroot Ravioli, and their grass-fed beef burger were all great deals in this nautical-themed spot. Word on the street is that it was created by funding from Heath Ledger's estate as it was originally one of his planned projects.

Off to see what else is going on out there before I head off to the next life adventure. Will keep you posted. Mmmmm… I smell barbecue. Happy 4th & bon appétit!

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