I met Hansen Shieh in the “new” products aisle at the Fancy Food NYC. He was first in a long line of new vendors and the Earthy. Spicy. Tingly. did it’s job. It drew me right in and had me asking for more. That more was a couple spoonful of Hansen’s truly deep sauces. Incredible flavors on their own, how he can bottle them that way is even more impressive. Typically the jar of sauce looses something from mom’s kitchen to co-packer. Aside from the sauce Hansen knows his stuff, tells a great story and is super gracious. Closing deals is a big part of the show and not being a buyer, I sometimes have trouble focusing purveyors to talk beyond the sale. Not the case with Hansen. Since that talk, we’ve had some Earthy Spicy Tingly in the pantry at all times.
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I was drawn in by their packaging and hooked by Isabel Freed’s California vibes. I didn’t even need to taste the mustard selection but I’m glad I did. Horseradish has the tendency to blow out your mouth. Most of the condiments containing this potent root are strong enough to make your sandwich all spread, overshadowing everything else except maybe the bread. The difference with Wilder Horseradish Mustard is that it’s as mellow as a california drive up the coast. In food speak, that’s referred to as balanced. Which makes a huge difference when you want to taste all those carefully chosen layers of your Saturday afternoon hoagie. If the sting of horseradish isn’t your game they also produce a classic mustard and a honey jalapeño version. Both of of them complete with the same California vibes mixed through each jar.
I ate my first bug in Vietnam. It was a cricket.Legs and all. I followed that with tree grubs, grasshoppers, ants and beetles. None of those insects tasted particularly terrible but the texture was the palette killer, especially the cricket legs. As we run out of viable protein sources with the rapidly increasing world population, using insects to supplement traditional forms of protein is going to be a necessary move. The first step in that is hurdling the psychological obstacle course. Exo Cricket Flour Protein Bars takes the first big leap in the direction of the finish line. The key, get rid of the cricket legs. They do it by turning crickets into a fine “flour” and then making their bars from the fine grain. That leaves you with a virtually indistinguishable protein bar that’s not only tasty and effective but sustainable in the best way possible.
Farraday had the quintessential British welcome when I approached his booth at last month’s Fancy Food Show. With a mix of excitement and proper malaise he asked if i had ever tasted wasabi mayo as I starred at what looked like a bunch of interesting chutneys. Pre-occupied I sort of blew off the question with a yes which triggered Farraday to turn up the volume and swear I had never tasted anything as smooth and balanced as his. Focused in now on his Surinamese chutney, his increased decibels punched me into attention. I did try the unique and satisfying Surinamese chutney but the Wasabi & Mango Mayo was the show stopper. He was right about the balance and texture being the best I’ve ever tasted. The wasabi levels were just right. So perfect just some dipped veggies is the way to consume this killer product. Sad news is he doesn’t have US distribution yet so a pop over the pond is the only way to get his treats right now.
Impossible to drop into Montreal without some David McMillan and Frédéric Morin touchpoint. This trip, it was snacks and drinks at their newish wine bar Le Vin Papillon and some Joe Beef Butcher’s Blend. This souvenir was acquired at a local market in the Westmount proving that the Joe Beef dynasty reaches far from the humble, pioneering roots of Little Burgundy into even the shishiest of Anglo-Quebec ‘hoods. As it should.