I don't know if it was exhaustion from carrying two duffle bags full of specialty products through the streets of NYC, the fact that I'd been up since 5:30 am, or the glass of Unwind relaxation beverage that I tried, but about 20 minutes after I got home last night I fell fast asleep. It was only 8pm. I got up about an hour later.
The women manning the Unwind booth at the annual Food Fête event warned me that the drink's natural calming ingredients could have this affect. It seems the Valerian Root, Melatonin and Passion Flower "providing a low calorie antidote for a stressful day," did the trick. They said only to drink half a can and not to drive after drinking (I took the bus).
The Food Fête event is designed to create memorable experiences like these between food and lifestyle editors and specialty products that are new to the market, in a smaller, more digestible number than is offered at the Fancy Food Show. Most of the participants in this evening event also exhibit at the show. Companies like Barbara's Bakery, Dagoba Organic Chocolate and even mainstream suppliers like French's and Duncan Hines were on hand.
My colleague Bob Vosburgh and I learned about and tasted several new products. One of the more unique was a chocolate bar from John & Kiras made from ingredients grown in an urban garden called the Common Good City Farm in Washington, D.C. Marketed as an "Urban Garden Bar" it combines milk chocolate with dried orange peel and freshly-picked rosemary and offers the opportunity to "commune (through the palate) with the urban gardeners and family farmers who grow the ingredients."
A portion of the profits are sent back to the gardens.
There was also a sunflower butter milk chocolate candy called Sun Cups and Organic Valley Pasture Butter. The seasonal spread is produced in small batches with milk collected at the height of pasture season from May through September. The result is higher levels of antioxidants, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), and Omega-3 and-6 fatty acids.
Innovative packaging was also highlighted. Pacific Natural Foods is introducing all natural soups like Vegetable Lentil & Roasted Red Pepper in aseptic packaging made from renewable resources. Lucini 100% Natural Tomato Sauces is packaging its handcrafted in small batches product in a new standup microwavable bag that includes three servings. While nut free Sun Cups come in compostable packaging.