This year's International Food & Drink Event (IFE) will feature more than 1,100 exhibitors from around the world all under one roof at London's ExCel on 13-16 March.
They will be arranged in 12 product sectors: General Food, Bakery & Confectionery, Cheese & Dairy, Drinks, Frozen Food, Health & Wellbeing, Ingredients, Meat & Poultry, Organic, Regional & Speciality Food from Britain, Seafood and Walk the World, with pavilions from Morocco, France, Germany, Italy, USA, Argentina, Greece, Austria, Canada, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Jamaica and Poland.
New show features include the New Product Zone, which will showcase a range of specially selected products from the 12 categories, and the English Regional Kitchen, a pavilion organised by the Regional Food Alliance devoted entirely to English food and drink products, with demonstrations of regional recipes.
The Skillery makes a return and will feature live cooking demonstrations from inspirational chefs including Hrishikesh Desai, head chef at the Brasserie restaurant at Lucknam Park hotel in Wiltshire and winner of the 2010 National Chef of the Year competition.
Here, Desai tastes and reviews a selection of products being launched at the show.
1. Joe's Cider Sorbet (Purbeck Ice cream) - Stand N1202
Joe's Cider Sorbet is new to the Purbeck Ice Cream portfolio for 2011, made using cider brewed on the company's farm. The Dorset apples are collected from September each year and are pressed for use in cider or juice or, as is the case this year, cider sorbet.
Chef's comments "This is a very good product with a nice smooth texture. The flavour is delicate and for me it is a little light to be a palate cleanser, but it would go really well as a pre-dessert with caramelised apples or as an accompaniment to fruit salad, washed down with a glass of organic cider or a good dash of aged Calvados."
2. Skinny VANILLA NEW YORK New York cheesecake (English Cheesecake Company) - Stand S4554
The new Skinny Vanilla New York New York baked cheesecake from the English Cheesecake Company has half the amount of fat per slice compared to the company's other varieties and is made with Madagascan vanilla beans, premium low-fat cream cheese, low-fat double cream and a thick, crunchy digestive biscuit base.
Chef's comments "The cheesecake had a perfect flavour, good soft texture and a nice crispy base adding to the bite. I would be keen to see it served with griottine cherries, raspberry and cardamom salad, poached rhubarb in vanilla or poached strawberries, olive and Parmesan. Overall it has great potential to appear on a dessert trolley or counter in brasseries and gastro-pubs."
3. Madagascan Bourbon Vanilla Powder (Vanilla Bazaar) - Stand N1032d
Madagascan Bourbon Vanilla powder contains nothing but pure vanilla, crushed to produce a fine powder. The product contains about 12 pods of grade A vanilla, meaning only a small quantity is required to add enough taste without the need for infusion. In addition, there are no artificial colourings, flavourings, preservatives or carriers.
Chef's comments "There are lots of vanilla products out there, but this is definitely up there with the best of them when it comes to quality and value for money. I used the vanilla powder to make some shortbread and it certainly did not disappoint. In addition to using it as an ingredient, it could also be sprinkled on a cake just before serving or used to garnish a finished dessert."
4. Fresco (Z Limited) - Stand S4922
Fresco is a new mixer for red wine which has its origins in the Mediterranean. Not as sharp as lemonade, yet with more depth than sparkling water, Fresco mixed with red wine results in the aptly named end product, Vino Fresco.
Chef's comments "It was such a pleasure to drink this sparkling drink and quench my thirst after a hard day in the kitchen. I think the producers have got the recipe just right - it's the perfect combination of sweet and sparkling - which isn't an easy job given the fact that it's not something known in the UK. In addition to mixing with our Shiraz house wine, I also made an iced tea, which worked really well. This would definitely make a perfect refreshing summer beverage to serve in the hotel."
5. Goats' cheese canapés (Bradbury & Son) - Stand N1728
The ready-to-eat goats' cheese canapés are produced by Valcrest, suppliers to Bradbury & Sons. Served in trays, the products come in five varieties; Fine Herbs (a mixture of aromatic herbs and spices), Italian Style (a mixture of tomato, garlic, red pepper, oregano, coriander and turmeric), Mixed Almond and White Pepper, Bruschetta (tomato, onion and red pepper) and Chilli Pepper.
Chef's comments "These were delicious. The smooth crumbliness of the cheese is perfectly complemented by the flavours in the different coatings. Somehow they taste very different to other similar canapés that I have tried in the past - in a good way. The packaging is great and the products really stand out."
6. Pink Himalayan Salt (The Salt Seller) - Stand N1928
Pink Himalayan Salt is just that - pink salt from the Himalayas. Unlike all table salt, cooking salt and many sea salts, this salt is in its completely natural, unrefined state. It hasn't even been washed - as it is without the grit and soil which occurs in most rock salt and is whole as nature created it - only granulated for ease of use.
Chef's comments "I was really taken with the smoky hints and deep flavour of this most unusual salt. It would be delicious sprinkled over foie gras parfait, crêpes and brioche. However, I could also see myself using it as a flavour enhancer for red meat. Not only that, as it is such an intriguing colour, it could be served in attractive jars on the table for customers to use as seasoning for their food."
7. Tillmans of Sweden Organic Rhubarb Cordial (Swedish Juice Ltd) - Stand N3011
The rhubarb for this organic cordial is grown outdoors in Sweden. It is pressed, released and then cold-filtered several times to leave the liquid clear, then pasteurised to 80°C and hot-bottled immediately as cordial. The water used comes from 200m boreholes in some of Europe's oldest rock and no artificial preservatives, colours, sweeteners or flavours have been added. One bottle yields three litres of juice with 34% added sugar. An unopened bottle has a long ambient shelf life, while a mixed jug will keep in a fridge for three to four days and an opened refrigerated bottle for three weeks.
Chef's comments "The cordial has a deep strong rhubarb flavour with a perfect sweet-acidic balance. As per the directions, I diluted the cordial with some White Hole sparkling water and the resulting drink was an absolute pleasure - so refreshing. I also experimented with this cordial in a rhubarb compote which went very well - the colour was great and the flavour just as delicious."
8. Earl Grey & Darjeeling Green Tea Wands (Thorpe & Sons) - Stand S2458
The "Premier's Tea" Silver Magic Tea Wand contains leaf tea inside a foil tube infuser which, when drained, does not drip like an ordinary tea bag. The wands are available in a wide range of blends, flavours and pure teas including specialist single estate teas of premium quality.
Chef's comments "The tea wands are a great idea. I tasted the English Breakfast, Darjeeling Green and Earl Grey teas and all were good. There is definitely a place for these products in B&Bs and other hotels where there are tea and coffee making facilities in the room - they are easy, safe and clean to use with no mess or trickles like other tea bags."
9. Dark Chocolate Real Mint Thins [Sciolti Chocolates] - Stand N1332
Sciolti Chocolates' Real Mint Thins are a different take on premium after-dinner mints. The mint thins contain real mint leaves and are available in 60% Belgian Dark Chocolate and Belgian White Chocolate. During consumption, mint oil is released which leaves the palette refreshed and cleansed.
Chef's comments "For me, the flavour was great and the mint really well balanced with the chocolate, providing the perfect accompaniment to tea or coffee after a meal."
10. Rudolph potatoes (Fenmarc) - Stand N1332
New potato variety, Rudolph, is visually striking with a vibrant red skin and contrasting snowy white flesh. Rudolph's eating qualities are also distinctive - the variety is naturally sweet, with a texture so rich, smooth and creamy that tasters say there is no need to add butter.
Chef's comments "I hadn't heard of these potatoes before so they were a really pleasant surprise. The colour is a really deep rich red and the texture is extremely juicy with lots of starch, just as it should be. I tried the potatoes out in a dish of Fillet of Gilt Head Bream, Fenmarc Rudolph potato, root vegetable minestrone and Brixham crab and was delighted with the results."
IFE is taking place on 13-16 March at London's ExCel Centre. For more information contact the IFE hotline on +44 0844 557 2878. To register for free entry, visit www.ife.co.uk/register
Mission Foods (Stand S4646) will launch a Moroccan-style flatbread suitable for mezze platters and a breakfast bread made with cranberry pieces and infused with orange oil, while chefs will demonstrate serving ideas for the company's products.
Délifrance UK (Stand S4446) will unveil 35 new products including indulgent breads and viennoiserie, and "fuller for longer" high in fibre breads and seeded croissants.
The show is Erlenbacher's (Stand S4445) first in the UK and its latest products for food service have a strong emphasis on fresh fruit, with the cup range seeing new flavours throughout the year to reflect the seasons.
A Mad Hatter's Tea Party will be in full swing courtesy of the Mad Hatter Tea Company (Stand S2209) which also plans to unveil the Flowering Tea Bloom, made with silver needle tea leaves and dried flowers in a miniature hand-sewn bouquet.
Super 5 Fruit Ice and Yeti Mountain are two new stick products being launched by New Forest Ice Cream (Stand S4402) and aimed at the lucrative children's market.
Aulds Delicious Desserts (Stand S4537) will showcase new food service desserts including three hand-decorated cheesecakes and a range of gluten-free items comprising a torte, a cheesecake and a brownie.
Pidy UK (Stand S4406) will present its new Filo pastry shells and introduce the concept of "Drunch" (dinner and lunch), which involves bite-sized and small portions of starters, main course and dessert dishes all on one plate, as an alternative to weekend Brunch.
Sodebo (Stand S2325) is bringing its PastaBox to the UK. It's a chilled single-serve fresh pasta meal designed to be eaten from its microwaveable pot with the fork provided and comes in four varieties.
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