2012 sofi Awards: More Trends
More of what's cooking in popular flavor profiles.user rating
As day 4 draws to a close, 25 categories—nearly 1,500 products—have been examined, tasted, contemplated and critiqued to determine a select few that will go on to become sofi Silver Finalists and have the chance to win sofi Gold at the 2012 sofi Awards ceremony, on June 18 at the Summer Fancy Food Show in Washington, D.C.
Not only are these products vying for recognition among the already exemplary realm of specialty foods, they reflect—and sometimes set—the trends that trickle down to the rest of the food industry. Here are a few more ingredients we’ve seen popping up across categories this week.
The Pumpkin King
No longer relegated to fall and winter months, the autumnal profile of pumpkin—in seed and spice form—is warming up an array of products. Some producers are pairing the squash with sweets, such as a pumpkin-caramel sauce and pumpkin spice creamed honey, while other are giving it an ethnic touch, such as a thai coconut pumpkin sauce and Israeli couscous with chunks of pumpkin. Snacks are scooping up the flavor too, in such products as pumpkin-spice seasoned nuts and seasoned popcorn, pumpkin seed tortilla chips and cranberry–pumpkin seed pita chips.
The irony is palpable in a year marked by a mild winter that may result in a maple-producing shortage in the months to come, but guess what? The sweet stuff is everywhere among sofi entries: spiking bread-and-butter pickles with bourbon, smoking salmon with pepper, and infusing duck sausage alongside cranberry. We’ve seen the syrup in fudge, cookies, crackers, relish and (in a nod to the pumpkin trend) spiced pumpkin dip. This versatile syrup gets around, but its closest companion is, without a doubt, bacon. The duo shows up in a salted caramel, whipped mustard and even—to top it all off—in a bottle of ale.
A bevy of less-than-popular, or at least, uncommon, ingredients seem to be getting a second chance, maybe thanks to the advent of locavorism and the restaurant industry’s affair with farm-to-table dining. Among them are beets—pickled, sweetened with cranberries, spiced with ginger; fennel—in tapenade, pasta sauce, shortbread and even teaming up with beets in a pickling mix; and horseradish—in seasonings, pickled, spicing up a cheese spread and infusing condiments galore. So if you’ve scorned these unique ingredients in the past, go on—give them another try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.—Eva Meszaros