The International Restaurant and Foodservice Show of New York hosted by the Javits Center, featured emerging and established restaurants from various states and countries. Each booth presented samples of their new flavors and products while chefs made their debut hosting cooking shows and the U.S Pastry competition. There were also informational panels hosted by entrepreneurs, chefs, and other professionals in the culinary arts. From March 8-10, 2015, this three day event is full of frenzy for food enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, and anyone who loves international cuisine.
This year’s theme was healthy eating and organic products. In the exhibition hall, over 550 vendors showcased their new products and flavors. Bruce Cost Ginger Ale is one of the many organic drink producers that uses all natural ingredients for their healthy soft drinks. At the expo, they gave samples of their new flavor bloody orange with a mix of citrus and tangerine flavors. Not too sweet, refreshing, and with the taste of real fruit, Bruce Cost Ginger Ale is a healthy delicious alternative to the usual soda.
For those who aren’t a fan of soda, Lacas Coffee, Co, made an appearance with their hand picked organic coffee. I sampled the popular French Roast blend. Unlike the usual rush hour coffee, it has a pleasant aroma, soft taste without a bitter aftertaste. The company has coffee specialist, who take great care in selecting local farms in within their respective regions to grow the coffee naturally with their district flavors. Fresh coffee beans are delivered to the United States at a daily basis to maintain the high quality of the coffee beans. They are also well-versed in various roasting techniques to ensure that the coffee retains its nutritional benefits and keeps its pleasant taste.
With delicious coffee, there’s plenty of pastries to choose from. John W.M Macy’s Cheesesticks was one of the many bakeries that made an appearance in this year’s expo. Specializing in baking cheese sticks in a variety of flavors such as spicy paprika and garlic basil, they make appetizing entrees for any occasion. They also create sweet flavored breadsticks such as chocolate raspberry and honey cinnamon. These delectable treats are freshly baked everyday with a beautiful braid pattern. The glaze gives it a shiny gloss and makes it all the more appetizing perfect entrees to go with dinners or deserts.
Saratoga Natural Spring Water provided refreshing samples of their all natural sparkling water. With it’s humble beginnings at Geyser Lake in Saratoga Springs NY, it became a world phenomena in the 1930’s and in present day, continue to be the lead Premium American exporter of all natural spring water. They also have a new product line of all natural fruit flavors sparkling water including lemon lime, orange tangerine and wild berry with no added flavors, sugars, and zero calories. Saratoga Natural Spring Water also offers non-flavored sparkling water and all natural spring water.
Apart from healthy drinks, there was also all natural meats and seafood. One of the various meat vendors present at the expo was Esposito’ s Finest Quality Sausage. Specializing in sausages, the Esposito family since the 1930′s have been famed for thief high quality meat and specialty in various flavors. I sampled the popular Chicken Sweet Italian Sausage. The meat is soft and juicy, with a nice blend of herbs such as oregano and spices like paprika with a tinge of sweetness, it’s a sausage suitable for any occasion. Other popular flavors include Chicken Apple Sausage, Chorizo, Bracciole, and Sweet Italian Sausage.
At The JRO Umami Pavilion, there was a showcase of new Japanese products and treats from different regions in Japan. The exhibition was separated into different sections featuring Japanese rice, sake, wagu, ramen, soba, Japanese green tea and sweets.
I personally sampled the Gyokuro powdered green tea from Kyoto. Served in milk, it was sweet, soft and soothing with a slight bitter aftertaste that green tea usually has. I also sampled the roasted Nukaya Ichiban Roasted Green Tea. It’s an interesting flavour, because it has an extra earthy taste and doesn’t leave a bitter aftertaste.
In the sake section, they had samples of various sakes including the Muromachi Shuzo plum sake, Celeble non alcoholic sparkling wine, Sakuramuromachi Junmai-Ginjo Bizen-Maboroshi rice sake, and Sakuramuromachi Nihonsyude-Tuketa Umesyu plum sake.
At the noodle section, there were samples of the Karamushi noodle created organically with soy flour. It’s thick and soft that can be blend with any dish flavor. Other noodles displayed were the Gluten-Free Noodle ramen and Gluten Free Noodle Fettuccine.
At the seafood section, Izakaya “Azuma” provided samples of their fresh seafood imports including tuna liver, fresh japanese marinated salmon roe. The roe tasted similar to caviar. It doesn’t have a strong fish flavor, it’s easy to chew and has a bit of salt. The tuna liver is fresh and tender without a strong aftertaste as most fish tend to have.
At the pavilion there was also cooking demonstrations featuring the ingredient umami. Umami has been part of Asian culinary art for thousands of years enhancing the aroma and flavour of the cuisine. This creates a mouth watering savoury effect of this special ingredient is what makes Asian cuisine appetizing with it’s all natural wholesome ingredients. Chef Arnold, owner of the Aldea Portuguese restaurant, used umami in his cooking demonstration of Shittake mushrooms with fried scallops and yuzu chili sauce.
First, he prepared a mushroom flavored broth with pickled mushrooms. He then drained the mushroom broth into a separate pot with vinegar, soy sauce, and a dash of sugar to the broth. He then fried the scallops with lemon juice and yuzu chili sauce. The final product was a savory dish with the fresh taste of scallops, a light broth with a earthy flavor and a touch of citrus.
Chef Takamura, the lead chef of Restaurant Nippon, demonstrated how to prepare a nutritious snack with his own instant soba noodles. In comparison to other instant noodles, his noodles are made with high quality buckwheat, maintain their nutritional benefit, and are low in calories. He demonstrated how quickly the soba noodles were cooked in four seconds, placed in boiling water. He then transfers the cooked noodles to bowl with icy water to cool. Once they are ready, he dips the noodles in carrot dressing and mixes them into a romaine lettuce salad. The soba noodle salad is a delicious quick snack to prepare. The noodles are thick with the whole grain flavor and with a taste of citrus and watery lettuce.
Chef Mori demonstrated how to cook the high quality wakkyuu (Kobe) beef. He fried thin cutlets of the beef with soy sauce, umami, and diced scallions. He also prepared the dish with thin peelings of carrot and beet and a spicy ginger with lemon juice. The meat cut is especially soft, juicy and well done with the spicy ginger and sweet onion, it is a nice mix of flavors that stimulates the tastebuds.
Last but not least, I sampled the popular Mercer’s wine ice cream. Mixed with a variety of popular Italian grape wines into a creamy sweet ice cream, this is a popular treat to have in cocktail parties but please remember not to binge eat this ice cream.
The event was exhilarating savoring different flavors from different places all in one expo. Apart from all the delicious samples, I’ve met interesting people and gained a whole new perspective on the expanse of the culinary world.