Red Maca the “It” Superfood

Red Maca Roots (photo by The Maca Team)
Red Maca Roots (photo by The Maca Team)

Red Maca is a Peruvian root known for its health properties and it’s the “it” superfood emerging. Yellow/Cream Maca and Black Maca are also other varieties of the root.  All are used in food and medicine and are said to help enhance strength, endurance, and fertility. According to WebMD, it has an odor similar to butterscotch.  Until recently it was most commonly used in health supplements, but now maca is popping up in natural and raw foods.

Navitas Naturals offers Maca Maple Cashews, which are made with maca powder, raw cashews and maple syrup while Maca Chocolate by Vega combines “4,000 mg of organic gelatinized maca with 70% cocoa dark chocolate.” Cinnamon Red Maca Almond Butter by Jem Sprouted Nut Spreads is a unique application; it’s artisanal nut butter.

Better get your hands on some maca soon because there’s a global shortage due to Chinese buyers.

Candy On Tap

beer-foam
Beer on tap trickling into candy flavors

Trend Alert – seems like beer is the newest flavor to trickle into candy. Jelly Belly debuted a non alcoholic Draft Beer Jelly Bean while ChocOBeer in Europe introduced a line of nine chocolates filled with different Belgium beers. They are cleverly packaged in small shaped beer bottles.

The beer and chocolate combination is not new and has been emerging as craft brewers experiment with a variety of ingredients. February is a popular month to launch these seasonal, limited edition chocolate flavors. This year Woodchuck Hard Cider launched the Cellar Series Chocolate and it is crafted with McIntosh and Northern Spy apples and crushed cocao beans. Foothills Brewing is offering it’s Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout that is infused with cocao and is described as having a “big chocolate aroma with notes of espresso, blackstrap molasses, dark sweet toffee and dark fruit.”  For those who are not beer drinkers, there’s ChocolatRouge, which features three chocolate flavors blended with red wine – Milk Chocolate, Dark Red, and Sweet Red.

Watch as beer spills into other unexpected categories.

A Touch Of Earl Grey

Earl Grey Tea (photo by Sebastian Stabinger)
Earl Grey Tea (photo by Sebastian Stabinger)

I recently had a cup of cold brewed Earl Grey iced tea from Kee’s Chocolates. Besides the fact that I am caffeine sensitive and was up all night, it inspired me to think about how many recent products are using Earl Grey as a flavor. Infused ice cream and desserts seem to be the most popular applications.

Bergamot is a main component of Earl Grey and it is also often used in fine fragrances.  I happen to like it as a flavor and fragrance ingredient, but for those that don’t, it’s because Bergamot is often described as “perfumey.”

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream offers Earl Grey Tea Ice Cream while Handsome Dan’s hand crafts Earl Grey Snowcones. Little Baby’s Ice Cream, which sources its dairy products from Trickling Springs Creamery, mixes the flavor up and features an Earl Grey Sriracha ice cream.

TC Paris Bakery bakes Milk Chocolate & Earl Grey Tea French Macarons and Brooklyn’s Dough is known to feature a seasonal Earl Grey Chocolate Doughnut. Chocolate Earl Grey cupcakes are one of Seattle’s The Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co. 200+ flavors and similarly Decadent Desserts & Confections in British Columbia makes Chocolate Cupcakes with Earl Grey Buttercream.

Earl Grey is trickling into spirits, lollipops and even pancakes. EG – Windsor is a spirit that “captures the tart and tangy caffeinated notes of the bergamot and orange that have been masterfully coaxed from organic, aged Earl Grey black tea blended with freshly harvested organic California sage.” Pandora’s Pop has a Fifty Shades of Earl Grey (black tea and bergamot) lollipop under its Aphrodisiac Lollipops range, which the company claims is made to “Spice Up Your Love Life!” LA’s JiST Café offers Earl Grey Crème Pancakes.

What unique Earl Grey flavor combinations have you seen lately?

Sensory Gems in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

A Day in Williamsburg Scent by Takasago
A Day in Williamsburg Scent by Takasago (photo by Dan D’Errico)

As a board member of Women in Flavor & Fragrance Commerce (WFFC), I recently organized our sixth annual sensory trend excursion with my colleague Jeanine Pedersen of Takasago. We chose Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In my industry career, this by far was the most challenging tour to design. The biggest obstacle was finding local retailers to participate. For more details, read my recent Fuhgeddaboudit! post.

However, the five retailers that did participate are gems! Without a doubt, add them to your must do list when visiting Williamsburg.

Fabiane's Homemade Yucca Cake & Iced Tea (photo by Dan D'Errico)
Fabiane’s Homemade Yucca Cake & Iced Tea (photo by Dan D’Errico)

For our first stop, 29 attendees gathered outside Fabiane’s Cafe & Pastry. Fabiane greeted us as we delighted in an iced coffee or tea and homemade Yucca cake, a gluten free pastry made with Yucca, coconut milk, milk, sugar, eggs, and coconut flakes. Fabiane addressed each guest and discussed her Brazilian background with her French culinary training and gave a little background about her cafe. Additionally she surprised us with a bag of granola as a parting gift, which took her 10 years to perfect the recipe.

Juice Press Samples - Almond Butter Cup Smoothie, Watermelon Super Cleanser, and Mother Earth (photo by Dan D'Errico)
Juice Press Samples – Almond Butter Cup Smoothie, Watermelon Super Cleanser, and Mother Earth (photo by Dan D’Errico)

We mosied on over to Juice Press, a growing chain of cold-pressed juice bars; this location was brand spanking new, it opened in May. Liz shared the company’s history and explained the cold-pressed process. Then we sampled the Watermelon Super Cleanser, Mother Earth, Dr. Green, and Almond Butter Cup Smoothie, all which only contain “organic calories.” The Watermelon was the group’s darling and my personal favorite. It tasted just like you placed a straw in a fresh watermelon. The Almond Butter Cup Smoothie was tasty with a creamy, nutty banana flavor and hint of cinnamon, but some couldn’t get past the gritty texture. The two green drinks were more of an acquired taste, a bit bitter and astringent, but nonetheless fresh, flavorful and healthful.

Exploring Woodley & Bunny (photo by Dan D'Errico)
Exploring Woodley & Bunny (photo by Dan D’Errico)

Moving to the fragrance side, our third destination was Woodley & Bunny. If you like niche, hard to find beauty products, look no further. Devon, Zeek, and Summer graciously hosted us as we explored, smelled and tried a variety of fragrances, skin care, bath and body care, and hair care products as well as candles. An aside, I often read and write about indie brands, but because of limited distribution I don’t always get to experience them. I’ve never seen so many products that I’ve read about or written about in one place. It was like a curated, indie beauty emporium.

WFFCAllswell Menu
WFFC Allswell Menu (photo by Dan D’Errico)
Flatbread with kale fried egg
House-made Sourdough Flatbread with Ricotta, Kale & Fried Egg (photo by Dan D’Errico)

By now our group had worked up an appetite, so we headed to Allswell restaurant. Based on the farm to table concept, the menu changes daily and is dependent on what’s in season and locally available. If you’re looking for a quaint, comfortable and warm restaurant with fresh food you’ve come to the right place. We started with a Ginless Wonder mocktail crafted with fresh squeezed lime, honey syrup, ginger syrup, club soda, cucumber, fresh strawberries and Oro Blanco. I learned that Oro Blanco (white gold) is a type of grapefruit. Let’s see if this becomes a trend. For a starter, we feasted on homemade olive bread with house-made Ricotta cheese and a crisp, hearty beet salad. For lunch I had their signature crispy chicken sandwich. Others enjoyed their proprietary burger made with Vermont Quality Meat or their homemade sourdough flatbread with Ricotta, kale, and fried egg. As if we weren’t full enough, we concluded our meal with a strawberry rhubarb slab pie with fresh whipped cream. Delicious!

Mast Brothers Chocolate (photo by Dan D'Errico)
Mast Brothers Chocolate (photo by Dan D’Errico)

The perfect finish to our sensory excursion was a final stop at Mast Brothers Chocolate. The overwhelming, raw smell of chocolate wafts through your nostrils as you approach and enter the artisan shop. Meghan explained that the shop only uses two ingredients – cocoa and cane sugar; hence the wide array of dark chocolates. We sampled the limited edition Vanilla Smoke and Maple Cream bars as well as other flavors such as Olive & Sinclair Sea Salt, Stumptown Coffee and Chile Pepper. I’m a sweet, cheap chocolate fan (Oh Henry candy bars are my favorite) and my palette is not sophisticated enough to get past the bitterness of the dark chocolate to taste and appreciate the subtle sweetness nor the smoke of the vanilla and maple flavors. My personal favorite was the sea salt. That combination worked for me because the salt alleviated some of the bitter flavor. Regardless of my preferences, for chocolate fans, this shop is a no-brainer.

Our WFFC guests experienced a truly unique sensory trend excursion in North Williamsburg where their senses were engaged and tickled as they left full and satiated.

A very big thank you to all of the retailers who participated! I look forward to returning; I know I’ll be back and I’m pretty sure others will too.