I mentioned before how I got to go to the Winter Fancy Food Show in January. It was great fun and the number of vegan options was astounding. So many delicious options and I got to talk to people that work with some of my favorite vegan foods. But being introduced to new foods not yet available in Omaha was the best. I was so excited that several people offered me additional samples to share with friends and others still offered to send perishables. In return, I promised to host a tasting party and collect opinions from my friends. We had such fun and were totally stuffed.
The evening began with non-perishable grab-and-go foods.
Kettlepop Kettle Corn – Everyone tasted the salty sweet they expected. One friend felt that each kernel had its own salt or sweet. He said he would eat one kernel and be surprised by its salt and then another to verify and surprised by its sweet. This corn must need to be eaten two kernels at a time and my friend was happy to do so. Another friend felt it had a nice crisp mouth feel. Others noted the wholesome ingredients as a plus. I found it salty and soggy. Just goes to show how important it is to try things for yourself.
Way Better Snacks – I have enjoyed this brand for at least a year now, but they have crackers coming out that I enjoyed at the show. The person I spoke with sent me home with two of the corn chips I had not yet tried, siracha and sweet potato. Everyone expected more spice from the siracha chips. The flavor was there, but mild and sweet then faded quickly. I liked the mild and felt the mild allowed me to eat several chips. Everyone else wanted more spice. The sweet potato was a winner. Friends loved the crunch and flavor, not too sweet potato.
Two Moms In The Raw Gojiberry – These are wonderfully nutty. They are sweet, but not overly so. One friend noted a bit of salt and cinnamon that balanced the sweet. Another friend felt this was a winner for the night in the snack section of noshing.
Kunachia Chia Shot – No one really understood this product. When I received the sample I asked what I was supposed to do with it. Eat it from the package? The right size for a smoothie? The representative said it could be eaten from the package or used as desired, with the benefit of a smaller package. I was surprised since my favorite Chia needs refrigeration and I don’t eat it straight. We all tried it like this and most people found the chia not worth eating. The seeds got stuck in teeth and lost in the folds of hands. The package held too much to be the perfect size for a smoothie.
Zouq – Puffed lentils with seasoning. Everyone loved the Golden Lentils and started to think how they wanted to use them. One person wanted to mix with vegan marshmallows and make a crisped lentil treat. Another friend wanted to add them to all her salads for a crunchy texture. The high protein content was also a winner. The Jubilee Mix was less popular, but several people liked it and compared the flavor mixture to a Chex Mix.
Bare Coconut Chips – These were a big hit. The crunchy texture with a subtle sweet, not too coconut, flavor was something everyone wanted more of. I feel the sweetness made them more of a dessert than a snack, but others were happy with the idea of the chips as a snack.
Setton Farms Pistachio Chewy Bites – I felt these were too heavy on the pistachio flavor and too sweet, but others really liked it. Two friends noted the bar is very sticky and could not be eaten on the go. Several noted the cranberry was a nice touch to the overall flavor.
California Pistachios – These tasted like pistachios. Nothing special to them except in a 100 calorie serving. One friend was surprised how many pistachios made 100 calories.
Sea’s Gift Roasted Seaweed Snack – Several friends would not try this. I usually enjoy dried seaweed snacks, but found this one not as crisp as I like and very salty. Hubby really enjoyed it and ate the entire thing when no one else would.
The next course was foods that needed some preparation.
Made In Nature – These come in ready to heat packages intended as side dishes to larger meals. The packaging even offers pairing options. We got to try two different ones.
Moroccan Bazaar was determined to be bland. The name got everyone excited for a more flavorful side dish and then let us down. One friend felt the calorie content was especially high for a side dish. I liked the grains the dish utilized and could see it easily used as a base for a really spicy seitan.
Cuban Mojo was voted more flavorful and less obvious as “healthy.” But, the flavor was still considered mild.
La Pasta Vegan Cheese Ravioli – La Pasta shipped these overnight for our tasting and we were thrilled. The raviolis were a big winner of the evening. One friend said, “my kids would eat these!” Everyone wanted to know where to buy these and get more. The texture was perfect and the filling mild. Notes left by friends included the different sauces they wanted to have with the raviolis, like pesto or garlic and olive oil. I felt these were much better than the vegan raviolis I have had access too thus far and that the cheesy flavor reminded me of some of the earlier vegan cheese flavors, but would be difficult to determine as soon as a sauce was added. We all definitely want these in Omaha!
The Chia Company Blueberry and Lemon Oats – This is an instant oatmeal with chia. Certainly the healthiest instant oatmeal I have ever tried. The lemon was strong and the chia absolutely changed the oatmeal texture. One friend compared the texture to cream of wheat another said it was gummy and gelatinous. She also wrote, “the lemon and blueberry combo is great up front, but the flavor dies into a bland oatmeal taste.” I would agree, but others really liked the flavor and texture.
The penultimate course was desserts eaten at room temperature.
Divvies – We got to try two different chocolate bars and a brownie, all of which were big hits.
Benjamint Crunch is definitely minty with a nice crunch. It was a big winner in the chocolate category. People liked how it melted in the mouth.
Crispy Rice Crunch was also enjoyed, but one person felt a bit chalky.
Chocolate Brownie was tasty, if not quite what I expected from a brownie. One friend wrote, “it doesn’t taste packaged.” Another wrote, “I would eat it for breakfast.”
Two Moms in the Raw Cayenne Cacao Truffle – One friend felt this was perfect for a snack attack. One friend felt this was more Lara Bar than truffle because she expects truffles to melt in her mouth. Another friend loved the simple ingredient list. I described it as a nutty, chewy, mound and I liked the flavor.
Taza Chocolate – I reviewed Taza once in the past and did not like it. At the show I asked if the chocolate has an expiration date and we talked about how Taza is a stone ground chocolate. So it delivers a different texture experience that could be described as gritty. On top of that, the chocolate I tried they no longer make because it could not deliver on the flavor they wanted. Due to the poor review, they asked me to try their chocolates again and offered three flavors. I shared this story with my friends to prepare them for the different experience. They loved the chocolate for the flavor and unique texture. Knowing the texture would be different helped overall enjoyment.
Salted Almond delivered on the salted and friends loved it for that.
Raspberry Nib Crunch has a strong raspberry flavor and was described as rich.
Cinnamon was noted as pairing well with the chocolate. I felt it has a banana flavor.
Chocolate and Love is a brand that is not yet available in the United States. They would like to be and so would my friends. These chocolates were the winners of the chocolates. Everyone loved the rich texture and flavor. We tried Orange and Filthy Rich. One friend wrote, “it hurts so good.”
The final course was four pints of ice cream from DF Mavens. DF Mavens also shipped the ice cream overnight for our tasting and everyone was in heaven. DF Mavens is not yet available in Omaha and everyone was sad for this fact. Overall, the texture was a wonderful surprise for everyone. Creamy like the ice cream they remember.
Key Lime Cream made with coconut is a little tart and that complements the coconut base nicely. “Fresh and light” was noted by one friend and another loved that the graham cracker crust is in the ice cream.
Peanut Butter Fudge Mash made with soy has a taste of actual peanuts. Friends wanted more fudge in the mix, but really liked the subtle flavors.
Mint Almond Cookie was my personal favorite. The mint is strong and the chocolate pieces are soft and chewy. Two other friends voted this their favorite too.
Del Lago Chocolate made with coconut has a very subtle coconut flavor and instead is just a creamy chocolate that everyone loved. “Best chocolate ice cream ever” was noted by one friend.
We had such a fun night trying everything. I am incredibly grateful to all the representatives that went out of their way to help us try new things: DF Mavens, La Pasta, Made in Nature, Two Moms in the Raw, Taza Chocolate, Divvies, and Chocolate and Love. I still have several foods to try and will be scheduling a second tasting soon. Keep your eyes open for more group inspired reviews.