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You Never Know What You’ll Find at The Fancy Food Show

August 30, 2010

By Pat Tanner

With every year that I attend the Summer Fancy Food Show – held at the Javits Center at the end of June – I become more strategic about how to troll the endless aisles. According to the show’s organizers, this year those aisles were laden with 180,000 products divided among 2,500 exhibitors from 81 countries. In advance I prepare a list, arranged by booth number, of the companies and products that sound particularly interesting.

And every year I stray from my appointed rounds, an occurrence that is, in reality, a big part of the fun. That is how this June I came upon such unexpected finds as salt water taffy made with water from the Great Salt Lake (, which I regret to say is far superior in taste and texture to the standard Jersey Shore variety; delicious caramel candy guaranteed not to stick to your teeth (; and frozen latkes that really do taste as good as fresh-made home versions (

New to the show this year, if I’m correct, was an entire aisle of traditional products and foodstuffs from family businesses in the Palestine, including Canaan Fair Trade olives from ancient trees, packages of dried couscous, and spices, including sumac and zaatar.  I was particularly impressed by Al’Ard Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which can be ordered directly from the website,, and costs $15 for a 500 ml bottle or $19 for 750 mls. I came away from the Palestinian display with a handful of recipes, including the one for the olive dip (or spread), below, which has since become a go-to recipe for when I’m entertaining.

Maazat Zaytoon (Green Olive Dip)

2 cups green olives, pitted and rinsed

4 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small tomato, diced

Place olives and next five ingredients (olives through red pepper) in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Spread on a serving platter, drizzle olive oil on top, and garnish with tomato. Serve with pita bread.

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