This week, the food gods aligned yet again: Food Fete, the Winter Fancy Food Show 2010, and a last minute trip to the East Coast coincided all at once! It’s safe to say that I’m feeling stuffed and looking forward to a week of leafy greens and light broths to get back to feeling normal!

The week started off with Food Fete, a media event featuring new and delicious products to sample. Some of my favorites included the blue cheese stuffed figs from the California Fig Advisory Board, the frozen quinoa from Village Harvest and Sweetwater Spice Co.‘s fajita bath, an incredible meat marinade. But I will say that the hugest surprise were the various sausages and products from the Field Roast Grain Meat company, which, being a vegan meatless product made of grains (alas, not gluten free) were perhaps the tastiest meatless products I have ever eaten. I was honestly shocked!

After a lovely evening, I went home to prime my stomach for day two, a full day at the Winter Fancy Food Show. The Fancy Food Show is the ultimate food discovery event – over 1300 vendors show up to share their products. Even pacing myself, I’d say that I may have had about 75-100 samples over the course of the day, but these were some of my favorites:

Happy Goat – Goat Milk Caramels. A smash hit. These caramels are made in tiny batches in the Bay Area, out of goat milk, organic sugar, and vanilla. Pop one in your mouth and you experience what I like to refer to as “SQUEE!!!!” : becoming completely unable to focus on anything other than how wonderful these are. And if say, you happen to have a morning caffeine habit, these taste absolutely delicious when stirred into coffee.

Cowgirl, Bellwether Farms, and Cyprus Grove Cheeses: it’s safe to say that these bay area favorites are some of the best cheeses around. I was excited to try Cowgirl’s new Devil’s Gulch cheese, which is only available for the next few months (it’s in a test phase). Bellwether’s sheep milk ricotta is always delightful, and Cyprus Grove’s Humboldt Fog is one of my favorites.

Secret Stash Salt: Having good salt is an invaluable part of any kitchen. I’m a big fan of Maldon Sea Salt, various coarse sea salts, but was completely wowed by the incredible flavors of Secret Stash – particularly the lavender, and the truffle salts.

Sam Adams Utopias: I’ve been trying to get a taste of Utopias for years, and was overjoyed to get my sip after asking coyly if they were still sampling it (there were no bottles left when I got there) – but the kind rep pulled out an unopened one and poured it for me! This stuff is touted as the strongest beer (at 27% alcohol), but tastes more like a fine liquor than a beer. In the future, when I can throw around mass sums of cash without worry, I’ll keep this in stock in my liquor cabinet. Smooth, potent, and delicious.

Black Garlic (see photo at top) – Black garlic, a fermented garlic product which tastes sweet is delicious! The fermentation process adds extra health benefits, and mellows the garlic flavor, producing a sweet product, almost like dried fruit. I’m thinking spread on some warm toast, this would be delicious.

Fentiman’s ShandyFentiman’s brand of fermented natural sodas are truly spectacular. They have them at Il Cane Rosso in the Ferry Building in San Francisco, but come originally from the UK. I was psyched to finally try the Shandy – a beer and lemony soda mix which is refreshing and delicious.

Kodiak Cakes – After seeing Jenna from Eat, Live, Run feature these regularly on her blog, I was excited to try some of their pancakes. Normally I’m a “from scratch” type of gal, but this mix is going to become a regular staple in my household – and I’m looking forward to trying more of their products. As I’m also particularly interested in the business of entrepreneurial food companies,  Joel from Kodiak was really kind to  give me a copy of the ‘History of Kodiak Cakes’ which I’ve been making my way through.

Barney ButterI stir nut butter into my oatmeal, on toast, and even into savory soba noodle salad. Recently I switched from peanut butter to almond butter, which is slightly more nutritious and in my opinion more filling. Barney Butter is a brand of almond butter which I find particularly tasty, and was happy to see that they were at the show, and sporting a cute new look.

Stonehouse 27 Spice Co: While I’m most likely to make my own cooking sauces when creating Indian dishes, I was completely impressed by these flavorful sauces created by a sweetheart entrepreneur named Sharon Fernandes. The sauces are salt-free and bursting with flavor. I tried as many as I could, my favorite being the cashew cream. These are definitely going to be in my cabinet.

Nutmeric – Turmeric is a staple in my kitchen, and I was excited to see this nut butter product with turmeric at the show – nutmeric was developed by a chemistry professor, which touches at my heartstrings, and made me chuckle. There is a huge* crossover between science people and food people…(I heart all my former science profs!)

Other favorites included Kikkoman’s new yuzu ponzu sauce, yuzu being a delicate citrus, which they served with tempura shrimp and avocado. I’m looking forward to seeing this product on the market. Yuzu also showed up with Yuzusco – a liquid spice… And I also quite enjoyed my Hudson Valley Foie Gras, the savory macarons by Fabrique Delices, and some delicious Nueske’s bacon.

Finally, I was happy to see some hometown favorites from New England, including Stonewall Kitchen, Lollipop Tree, Stoneyfield Oikos yogurt to name a few.