THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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GOURMET TRAVEL: Great American Beer Festival

The doors open on Thursday, October 11, 5:30 p.m., and until Saturday at 10 p.m. (not nonstop, of course); attendees at the 2007 Great American Beer Festival will have 1,884 beers available to sample. A total of 2,832 beers will be judged over three days by more than 100 judges. There are some new styles among this year’s 75 beer categories, including Pumpkin Beer, Other Low Strength Ale or Lager, Gluten Free Beer, American-Style Sour Ale, Wood and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer and American-Style Imperial Stout.   Beer Festival
Attendees can sample beer by state, visit educational booth areas, attend food and beer seminars from an A-list of chefs and food experts and listen to live interviews with the rock stars of the brewing industry. New this year, the festival has gone green with the goal of recycling all possible packaging and festival programs. Craft beer has never been hotter. According to data from Information Resources Inc., supermarket sales increased a whopping 17.8% increase in 2006—more growth than any other alcohol beverage category in the supermarket channel. In the past three years, craft beer sales have grown by an astounding 31.5%. Visit GreatAmericanBeerFestival.com for tickets and event information.

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TREND: Organic Growth

Verb Good Belly   Last week we attended the Natural Products Expo East (ExpoEast.com), the largest natural and organic products trade show and conference on the east coast (its sister show, Expo West in Anaheim, is even larger). Among the 25,000 other attendees and 1,790 exhibits, just 25% or so of the exhibitors are in the food industry, but much of the food there is healthy and exciting (the rest of the products are dietary supplements,
organic personal and household care products, clothing and home furnishings). According to The Natural Foods Merchandiser’s 2007 Market Overview, the natural and organic products industry is growing at 9.7%, with more than $56 billion in consumer sales (the food segment is growing at about 15%, and topped $15 billion in sales). What’s happening in natural foods? The energy bar was ubiquitous: So many bars, so little time! So many beverages, too: In one burgeoning category, fruit juices, it seemed as if the different brands of pomegranate and açaí juices could stretch from coast to coast. The organic baby food category has grown even more, too. This year, many more products targeted to older kids were evident, from Wild Waters vitamin-enhanced waters to Can Do Kids nutrition/energy bars. People with gluten allergies can eat better now too, thanks to a large variety of really delicious bread products made from flaxseed and other flours. While people with celiac disease can’t eat spelt, some people who have simpler wheat allergies can—and so can the rest of us. Spelt is truly delicious—the next time you see spelt bread or burger rolls, try them! What we love about this show is that we nibble from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and never get, well, ill, because all of the food is so good for you. Try that at any other food show—by noon you’re begging for mercy and by 2 p.m. you can’t eat another bite. The newest of new ideas was a probiotic juice from Next Foods called Verb: Good Belly. Get 20 million probiotic bacteria in every serving of organic fruit juice (VerbDaily.com). The patented probiotics are proven to help with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. You’ll read about what we loved in the November issue of THE NIBBLE, and we’ll be reviewing our favorites in our January “healthy gourmet” issue.

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CONTEST: Win Some Great Cooking

One Grand Prize winner will attend the 2008 Taste Of EBONY, a culinary extravaganza. The 2008 event honors the accomplishments of prominent African-American chefs. Guests will sample delectable dishes prepared by the featured chefs and restaurants. The prize includes a 3-day/2-night trip for the winner and a guest to attend the event in Chicago, including hotel accommodations, air and ground transportation and a $500 check. Enter by November 7 at EbonyJet.com. This year’s event, on October 17, honors top African-American restaurants. Co-chairs are Marcus Samuelsson, executive chef/owner of Aquavit in New York City; G. Garvin, executive chef/TV Host of Turn Up the Heat—TV One, Los Angeles; and Jeff Henderson, author and/executive chef, Bellagio Las Vegas.   Marcus Samuelsson
Featured participants include Leon Baker, pastry chef, Farrah Olivia Restaurant, Alexandria, VA; Warren Brown, Food Network host of Sugar Rush and owner, CakeLove and Love Café, Washington, D.C. and Silver Spring, MD; Sterling Burpee, chief culinary officer, Culinary Training Academy, Las Vegas; Jacqueline Cholmondeley, executive chef, Always Accolades Catering, New York; Timothy Dean, executive chef/owner, Timothy Dean Bistro, Baltimore; Brian Duncan, co-owner, Bin 36, Chicago; Robert Gadsby, executive chef/owner, Bedford Star Group, Houston; Steven McAfee, executive chef, Parrot Cage, Chicago; Andre Mack, corporate sommelier, The Fireman Hospitality Group, New York; Morou Ouattara, executive chef/owner, Farrah Olivia Restaurant, Alexandria, VA; Darryl Petty, owner, Blu 47, Chicago; Cliff Rome, Chef, Parkway Ballroom, Chicago; Connie Rousseau, executive chef, Connie Cooks, Fort Lee, NJ; Allan Vernon, owner, Vernon’s Jerk Paradise, New York; Tre Wilcox, executive chef, Bravo TV’s Top Chef contestant, Cuisine of Abacus restaurant, Dallas; Melba Wilson, proprietor, Melba’s Restaurant, New York; and Marvin Woods, executive chef/TV host, Home Plate, Atlanta.

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NEWS: Tea Garden In Oakland

Numi Tea Garden   Numi, the leading producer of organic teas, is opening its first teahouse in Oakland, California on October 12. Located at 2230 Livingston Street in the Embarcadero Cove in Oakland’s Jingle Town district, the Numi Tea Garden includes a retail showroom, tea tasting and training facility that includes a lounge for community and music events. Patrons can taste Numi’s full selection of loose teas. Visit NumiTea.com for a full schedule of events. Oakland is becoming its own gourmet food center, and worth planning an expedition when in the Bay area. Don’t forget to visit one of our favorite chocolatiers, Michael Mischer Chocolate.

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NEWS: Business Gushing At Water Store

  While we don’t yet know of a water store in the U.S., we’ve heard of one in New Zealand, and now one in Toronto, where the first store devoted to water has opened despite the growing environmental backlash over plastic recycling. According to Canada’s National Post, The Water Shoppe in fashionable Greektown has had an overflow of consumer business as well as response from business to small restaurants to large hotels. The store, which opened on July 7, carries 47 brands from health-oriented brands to stylish bottles to impress at the dinner table. Water is imported from countries as far away as South Africa and Japan, and as close as the U.S. (Bling H20, $65, which comes in a wine-shaped bottle studded with Swarovski crystals). The majority of the products are in glass; the store reminds people to recycle and there’s a recycling bin in the store. To further enforce a green message, cups at the drink bar are made from recyclable corn-based resin. Still, Franz Hartmann, executive director for the Toronto Environmental Alliance, says that the city’s tap water is clean, and the most environmentally friendly water comes from the tap. Recycling is better but it’s an unnecessary container. The owners argue that bottled waters have different tastes and may offer some health benefits. Some customers are requesting water with a higher pH, claiming this keeps the body more alkaline to ward off disease. One customer buys Fiji Water and washes his face with it, since the higher content of silica in that brand is said to improve the condition of skin, nails and hair. See THE NIBBLE’s Water Section for bottled water brand we think are worth it.

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