I attended the 2017 National Restaurant Association Tradeshow in Chicago at McCormick Place this past week looking for the latest and greatest in Italian foods and trends. I asked over 30 Italian food chefs/producers/manufacturer/distributors/importers the same question:
"What are the new trends in Italian Food".
The answer was unanimous - Italian food is not about trends. It is about simple, high-quality ingredients artistically prepared. Well OK, I completely agree with that.
But there must be some new things from the 2017 NRAShow to share with my fellow foodies. So here is my Top 5 Italian Food Finds worth telling you about. I limited my list only to products that could be purchased by consumers either in a major grocery store chain or online. Since this was a business-to-business trade show many of the wonderful products I tried were available only to restaurants in bulk purchase.
1. SMOKED BURRATA CHEESE by La Mozzarella
Smoked Burrata by La Mozzarella was an absolute joy to discover. Burrata (meaning "buttery" in Italian) is essentially mozzarella strips that have been marinated in cream and stuffed into "pouches" made from mozzarella. When cut, a soft, creamy center is exposed. Burrata was first created by making use of leftover mozzarella strands from the cheesing making process. Italians never waste good food, hence burrata was born.
Smoked Burrata takes cheese to a whole new level - adding a distinctive sweet and smoky flavor. You can purchase La Mozzarella Smoked Burrata at Eataly Chicago, or online at the distributor's website, LaMozzarella, when it is available. La Mozzarella's Smoked Burrata is hand-smoked with hay and never uses liquid smoke! Their Classic Burrata is one of the best I've ever tried. I can't wait to play around with more recipe ideas involving Smoked Burrata, arugula, smoked pepperoni, and peppadew peppers. One of the best Italian restaurants in Chicago, Trattoria 10, has a Smoked Burrata Salad with baby spinach, frisée, shaved radishes, sliced Bartlett pears, crispy shiitake mushrooms, and a sour orange vinaigrette on the menu that sounds divine.
2. BASIL PESTO BY GIOVANNI RANA
Basil Pesto from Rana is made from 100% Basilico Genovese DOP from Liguiria, Italy. This unique mountain region next to the Mediterranean Sea creates the purest flavor. Rana preserves the Genovese Basil by packing it with oil and sea salt, the same way Romans did 2,000 years ago. This process also prevents oxidation. The bright green color and intense flavor of Basil Pesto by Giovanni Rana is amazing and addicting to eat. Pesto is more than just a pasta sauce. It is a great appetizer just served Italian bread or sliced veggies. Basil Pesto also freezes very well. Here is my video on how to preserve harvested basil to make your own homemade Basil Pesto. However, I love that you can have this outstanding and authentic Basil Pesto from Rana at home year round. You can purchase a 7 ounce tub at most major grocery stores in the refrigerated section.
3. SWEET PISTACHIO SPREAD by Villa Reale
One taste of Villa Reale Supreme Sweet Pistachio Spread by Campo D'Oro and I was hooked. It is thick and creamy like a good nut butter, and yet sweet enough to balance the earthiness of the pistachios. I imagined it on slice of buttered Italian toast in place of jam, or as a creamy center in a dark chocolate cup. This is another wonderful product that inspires me to play around with recipe ideas. Villa Reale uses only the finest Sicilian Pistachios. You can purchase it online at Amazon or at select grocery stores. I found it at my local Jewel in the jams and jelly section.
4. ORGANIC APPLE CIDER VINEGAR by Acetum
I gulped the Organic Apple Cider Vineger with the "Mother" by Acetum straight from a tasting cup. I let it swirl and run down my throat for the full affect. The crisp taste of apples hits like no other AVC. You can buy a 16 ounce bottle online at Amazon. You can buy a larger size at Walmart and Costco. Acteum also offers an organic ACV with honey & ginger already mixed in, or the very popular combo of ACV with lemon and cayenne pepper. One of the most popular posts on my blog is the Daily Detox Drink with Apple Cider Vinegar, Lemon Juice, Cranberry Juice drink that many of my friends swear by for weight loss and overall health improvements. I am switching from Bragg's to Acteum Organic Apple Cider Vinegar because of its great taste. Acetum, the largest producer of Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PGI, is imported by ModenaFineFoods.
5. COLD BREW FILTER BAGS by Aii, INC.
This Deep Rich Cold Brew Coffee Filter Bags by Aii, Inc. were one of the best finds at the show. The uniquely roasted and ground espresso coffee taste is perfect for cold coffee over ice. Steeping coffee in filtered water is an excellent way to achieve that strong coffee flavor without the bitterness. Deep Rich Cold Brew Filter Bags are filled with 100% fresh roasted Espresso coffee. Each 3 oz filter bag makes 1 quart of Cold Brew Coffee. You can buy Deep Rich Cold Brew Filter Bags online here and online at Amazon very soon. I love drinking cold coffee drinks in the summer and pre-filled filter bags is the easiest and best way to make it. You can also use cold brewed coffee for frappuccino-type drinks.
Look for recipes using my Top 5 Italian Food Finds in future blogs.