Tag food trends

Silicon Valley Beer Week Celebrates Changing Tastes

Beer on the BarSilicon Valley Beer Week is already underway! Having started on Sunday, July 28th, this festival highlights the best craft beers in the region. Delicious brews and bites can be found through Saturday, August 3rd. Can’t you already hear the contented sighs? Actually, craft beer is becoming quite the hot commodity. In recent years, beer sales have been dropping as craft beer and hard cider sales are steadily growing. This consumer trend suggests that more drinkers are willing to pay a little more for higher better quality booze. The New Yorker published an article and an interactive craft beer map last month about the amazing country-wide boom in the craft beer industry. Although California (particularly Northern Ca) boasts the number one spot for craft beer production, other regions are beginning to jump on board.

What does this mean for the beer drinkers? Time Magazine claims that the dramatic increase in craft brewers is stimulating variety and competition. Hello, better beer. The brews that make big it have to be good because the consumer is now too knowledgeable to accept anything mediocre. New brewers have to explore new tastes and varieties, and we get to be the lucky tasters!

So what about those who don’t like beer — craft or otherwise? Interestingly, the growth in craft beer sales is lumped with cider sales. As if they were the same thing… Ha! It seems like cider may be the next big drink in the US. In 2005, CC Mangers cider debuted in European markets and kick-started the demand for premium alcohol like “craft beer” and ciders. Reuters suggests that the tiny cider industry may soon be a contender for even the wine industry —  world-wide! Although rather small at the moment, the cider industry is having a profound effect with various flavors that range from dry to sweet, clean to peaty. Depending on what you like, there is likely a cider for you. This range makes it a great option when out at a bar with a bunch of beer drinkers. Also, as cider frequently contains no gluten, it is a great alternative to beer for those with a gluten intolerance.

BeerHaving spent the last six months in the British Isles, I can safely say that cider is one of the top drinks of choice. Almost every pub I went into had at least two varieties of cider on tap. Personally, I prefer the Irish Bulmer’s or Swedish Rekorderlig varieties. The crisp dry flavor of a Bulmer’s Original does not hint at the idea of  ‘grown-up’ apple juice. This is a drink for an adult despite its popularity among the younger crowd. It is much harder to find these brands here, though the US has a number of cider brewers carving out their place in the cider market. Food and Wine highlights a number of the top cider crafters in the states.

Also exciting to note is the emergence of cider bars. If you happen to be in Seattle this weekend, check out Capitol Cider, the newest cider bar.  What do you think, are craft beer and cider just fads, or are they here to stay? If craft beer isn’t your thing, go out and try a cider this weekend. Otherwise, bring on Silicon Valley Beer Week!

San Francisco Event Recap: Winter Fancy Food Show 2011

Today was the last day for the Winter Fancy Food Show. Held in San Francisco’s Moscone Center, exhibitors came from all over the world to display their latest and greatest food products, though only National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT) members can do so. The show takes place over 4 days, with educational and informational events for those in the food industry scattered throughout.

With more than 1,300 exhibitors and 17,000 retailers, distributors and food service pros attending, over stimulation comes easily. This was my first year attending the Fancy Food Show, and I must say, it pays to have a seasoned guide! Fortunately, maps of the floor plan are available for those who like to have a plan of attack (and don’t mind looking like a tourist/ high school freshman). Thanks to these tips, we made it through the entire arena in less than 4 hours!

Don’t eat breakfast. Doors open at 10am, and many exhibitors are already waiting with samples.
Be picky. There are so many food samples calling your name that one must learn to discriminate quickly. You wouldn’t want to find yourself too full to try the ONE thing you’ve always wanted to try!
Keep moving. Breaks are great, and sometimes necessary, but you’ll lose quite a bit of time waiting to get a picture with
Ina Garten
or Duff Goldman.
Drink water. Take advantage of the strategically placed water stations. Yes, there are countless samples of every kind of thirst quencher, but water guarantees that you won’t be dehydrated!

Cheeses, cured meats, teas and CHOCOLATES are expected. Surprisingly delicious items included Plush Puffs gourmet maple-bacon marshmallows, Julian’s Recipe Belgian waffles, and any kind of goat’s milk ice cream I could get my hands on (no surprise there).

Miso mac n cheese, A Tavola Together’s 5 Minute Focaccia Mix and Tabasco’s Spicy Chocolates all stirred up quite a crowd. One noticeable trend was coconut and aloe waters. I left with more than just a couple samples of exotic water.

Though I may have been drawn to the guilt-inducing foods, there was an abundance of health-oriented products this year. Gluten-free items, organic foods and low calorie snacks were everywhere!  This progression reflects the world’s increasing demand for health-conscious food options –definitely a good thing. I cannot wait to see which products make it big in 2011!