Every summer, the Fancy Food Show brings 2,400 makers from around the world to the vast floors of Manhattan’s Javits Center, offering over 180,000 products from soup to nuts and every specialty food in between. But the day before, at the comparably cozy Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint, there is the Good Food Mercantile, a much more intimate “un-trade show,” and for many grocers, distributors and chefs, that’s where the real action is.
The Mercantile is a traveling showcase for independently made craft foods that have won Good Food Awards and have met the organization’s criteria for being both incredibly delicious and responsibly produced. Back in June, 125 crafters came to Brooklyn to spread the word about their products; here are the five locally made treats you shouldn’t miss.
White Moustache Probiotic Pops
Whey is a natural by-product of creating yogurt; it’s the tangy, probiotic-packed, calcium-rich, no-fat liquid that’s left after yogurt has been strained. White Moustache has been selling their electric yellow-green whey in bottles for some time now, and this summer they’ve integrated whey into a fruit-filled nostalgic treat: Probiotic Pops. These frozen fruit pops come in plastic sleeves that you snip at the end, then slowly suck down for icy refreshment. Sweetened entirely with fruit juice, the addition of whey adds a tangy creaminess that makes the vegan pops taste like frozen yogurt—without the yogurt. In juicy flavors like cantaloupe, mango, Persian cucumber, pineapple and ginger, watermelon and sour cherry, they’re the best frozen treat to cool you off this summer.
Blank Slate Szechuan Chili Oil
Hot sauce has always been a point of obsession for a certain heat-seeking population, but the tingling, mouth-numbing spice of Szechuan peppercorns hasn’t been in the spotlight until recently. These days, you can find an abundance of New York restaurants (both Chinese and not) incorporating these aromatic peppercorns into savory and sweet dishes. Chef Alex Sorenson, the man behind Blank Slate Kitchen, is on a mission to help home cooks enliven their daily meals by creating condiments that are packed with flavor, and for his newest product he’s jarred up his Szechuan Chili Oil. Paying careful attention to the balance of heat and spice, flavor and fragrance, the ruby red oil has chili for heat, ginger, garlic and shallot for depth of flavor, and of course, Szechuan peppercorns for their trademark “ma la” tingle. A few drops elevate everything from fried eggs to vanilla ice cream, and while it’s not the hottest sauce out there, it’s not for the faint of heart, either.
Hungry Bird Eats Crackers
Tina Diep started making crackers for her son when, at one year old, she learned he was allergic to nuts and soy. Diep is from Denmark, and her crackers are similar to the traditional Nordic knækbrød: packed with seeds like chia, flax, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame, they’re nutty, savory, and dense with good-for-you natural fats. Her Hungry Bird Eats crackers are rolled and cut by hand, which creates charmingly irregular shapes, and come in two flavors: a gluten-free brown rice flour and buckwheat flour crisp flavored with oregano, and a rye flour crisp topped with sea salt. Unlike some other seedy crackers, Diep’s have none of the bitterness you often find; instead, her crispy, crunchy bites have a pure nuttiness and are just as good on a cheese plate as they are straight from the bag.
The mission of Ziba Foods is threefold: to educate and financially empower women in Afghanistan, to support independent Afghan farmers and to preserve traditional crops by creating a wider market for Afghanistan’s heirloom nuts and fruits. By employing a majority female workforce and sourcing their sustainably raised fruits and nuts from rural growers and co-ops, the American businessmen behind Ziba have not only managed to make good on all three goals, but the heritage foods that they’re helping to produce are being used at some of New York’s top restaurants, like Daniel Boulud’s Michelin-starred Daniel. All of their treats—sweet roasted apricot kernels, tart air-dried mulberries, fragrant roasted almonds and rich sun-dried figs—have refined, delicate flavors; the mulberries are sweet without being sugary, the almonds are nutty without any bitterness, and the apricot kernels are a snacking revelation.
Eat Chic Chocolates Nut Butter Cups
While living in London and working in fashion marketing, Lotta Andonian began making homemade peanut butter cups for friends and colleagues; she roasted the nuts to make her own peanut butter and hand-poured every nostalgic cup. As popularity grew she began focusing on her PB cups full time, and she moved to Brooklyn in 2016 to launch Eat Chic Chocolates. Today, Andonian makes nearly 20 varieties of her gorgeous vegan, gluten-free, soy-free confections in perfectly balanced flavors like cherry chai dark chocolate and almond butter, black sesame-orange and tahini, matcha white chocolate and cashew butter, and banana peanut butter cups—and she still makes all her nut butters by hand and hand-mixes all of her chocolates, for confections that make an ideal gift… if you don’t eat them all yourself.
Written by Sarah Whitman-Salkin is an editor and writer and the founder of the online bookshop Classics Cookbooks.