11 Jul

Nicoise vs Gaeta at Fancy Food competition

Time out for World Cup at Fancy Food competition

By Erika Markuys,

The results of the 2006 Fancy Food Show product competition won’t be announced until tonight, but the real star of the show became apparent at 4:4l yesterday afternoon when Italy won the World Cup.

France and Italy, who squared off in the title game, are the dominant international exhibitors at the annual specialty-food trade show, now in its 52nd year. At Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Convention Center, aisles upon aisles are devoted to cheese (Gruyere vs. Parmesan), ham (Bayonne vs. prosciutto) and olives (Nicoise vs. Gaeta).

At 2 p.m. yesterday, as the final game began, scores of exhibitors abandoned their posts and filed into the convention center’s lobbies to watch the game on public flat-screen TVs. And when Fabio Grosso scored the winning goal, pandemonium erupted among the Italians.

Perhaps because the French and Italians were otherwise engaged, products from non-Romance-language-speaking countries came to the fore. The enterprising British Wholesale Imports is bringing frozen traditional English foods into the United States, and representatives beckoned passersby to stop and try Aunt Bessie’s bubble and squeak (potato and cabbage kugel) and Cole’s spotted dick (steamed bread pudding with raisins). Both were excellent.

As usual, condiments were king of the Fancy Food Show, with all manner of salsas, dressings, marinades and preserves offered. Making its first appearance at the show was Harvest Song, a Great Neck-based importer of artisanal products from Armenia. Harvest Song’s apricot preserve is a finalist in the Outstanding Jam, Preserve, Spread and Topping category.

If tea seemed slightly less in evidence than it was last year, water was there with a vengeance – purified, fortified, flavored and always smartly packaged.

San Faustino, a flavored water “from a unique mountain spring in the heart of Italy,” was touting a super-high calcium content: “Stronger bones for better posture. Now in four new flavors.” O Water, available in seven flavors, is subjected to reverse osmosis, distillation and ozonation, “allowing your body to hydrate faster and easier.”

Well, as long as it washes down the bubble and squeak, ham, olives, cheese and preserves, no problem there.

The Fancy Food Show runs through tomorrow afternoon. This year’s 2,200 exhibitors represent a 10 percent increase since 2004, and 24,000 attendees are expected over the show’s three-day run.

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