Posted in Events, Food, San Francisco

Tasty Trends from the Fancy Food Show

The Holidays may be a time for feasting, but January is time for the annual Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. Foodies both rejoice and have to control themselves. It was like Disneyland for me and over 12,000 of the event’s attendees. I mean, where else could you see a rendition of Van Gogh’s Starry Night done in jelly beans?

This is where food trends are born. Remember sun-dried tomatoes? Or jalapeno flavored everything? How about when all the foods you bought seemed to be “antioxidant-rich”? Before they hit a supermarket shelf, they made their debut here.

There were over 1200 specialty, name brand, international, and local food makers and manufacturers all vying for your attention.

This year, it felt like the economy affected the trends. There wasn’t anything outrageous or attention grabbing, but that’s perfectly okay. It was trendy this year to take what already worked and give it a newer spin.

A few things did definitely show up more than a few times, though.

Chinese, Japanese and Thai food aren’t new, but Indian and Korean foods seemed to be the big trend. Items like marinades, frozen entrees and meal kits made a push for space on the American dinner table.

I also saw a lot of snacks that are popular in foreign countries, like China, Japan and South America, being highlighted as something “new” for the American market. Things like rice crackers, freeze dried Asian pears, crispy garlic flavored plantain chips, and black sesame candies all showed up on the expo floor.

Coffee and energy drinks took a backseat to teas. How does Honey Apricot sound? Or Milk Oolong? How about Blackcurrant and Cardamom? There were a lot of herby, fruity, and intriguing fusions making their debuts.

Candy, in general, is a perennial favorite food, but there’s always something new in the sweets world. This year, many of them had herbs, energy boosting power, or even health benefits. I tried Ginger, Yuzu and Lemon flavored gummy bears, pumpkin seed candies covered in dark chocolate, and even “Sport Beans” which are jelly beans that give you a quick pick-me-up.

Regardless of what interesting items showed up at the event, it’s still up to the American public to decide which of these trends gets to stay and which go. Besides, I’m sure there will be a whole new crop tasty trends for next year.

Posted in Dinner, Food, For Kids/Parent, Lunch, Peninsula, South Bay

Going to Town

The peninsula has a shortage of higher-end, hip, sophisticated eateries.  It’s just the nature of suburbia, and a trek to San Francisco is less than 30 minutes away.

That’s why Town Restaurant on Laurel Street in San Carlos is the hippest place to be on a Friday or Saturday night.  They do a good job of combining family-friendly eatery (good kids menu and service) with hot nightspot and bar (after 8pm the noise level is overwhelming with all the crowding around the centralized bar).  If you have kids, you’re only safe from 5:30-8pm.

That being said, I’ve never had a bad meal at Town.  If you love a hearty meat and potatoes meal, this is the place for you.  Portions are large, prices are equal to a joint in the city, and the cocktails are tasty.  You should definitely go with one of their suggested martinis (love the pear flavored one w/Gray Goose vodka).

I’ve had the Chicken and Ribs, Meatloaf, and their Pork Chop on previous visits.  But this time around, I had the newly added Bourbon Glazed Flank Steak.  It was cooked a perfect medium rare and had a delicious sweet yet tangy glaze with bourbon and brown sugar.  It was the best steak I’ve had in a long time.  Juicy and tender, there was a great balance of flavors and it didn’t mask the flavor of a quality piece of beef.  (My husband makes a MEAN steak so I don’t compare restaurant steaks to his :).)

If that wasn’t enough for you, the meal came with two hugely portioned sides.  You can choose from a laundry list of enticing sides, which is half the dilemma when ordering, like heirloom tomatoes with bleu cheese, broccoli bernaise, garlic mashed potatoes or a fully loaded baked potato.

I went with the fresh buttered corn and the mac and cheese.  Man, these sides were good!  This is my kind of meal.  The kind you’ll regret when you get home but it’s damn good going down.  This is like “last meal on earth” good.  I love how the corn was fresh off the cob, tender, still slightly crisp, and full of good buttery goodness.  And the mac and cheese is now my favorite on the peninsula: creamy and gooey, but enough baked breadcrumbs on top to give it texture.  LOVE IT!

It’s great to have a spot to go to where the food is always reliably fantastic and the scene is definitely hipper than the usual hole in the wall. 

Sometimes suburbia needs a touch of the city life.

Town: Chops, Steak & Seafood on Urbanspoon