Some people might consider the endless aisles at San Francisco's Winter Fancy Food Show a shopper's paradiseespecially if they want their paradise filled with rain forest teas, sea salts from around the globe and colorful silicone-coated gadgets like rolling pins and honey drippers. F&W discovered some trends that are worth following (stylishly packaged Australian artisanal foods) and some that are not (wasabi-flavored cheese). The following are our favorite finds; look for them at specialty food stores or online.
ORIGINE ALL-NATURAL VINAIGRETTES When Origine came across a collection of winning entries from a salad-dressing contest that took place over a hundred years ago in a small town in Alsace, the company became inspired. The result: a line of vibrant, fresh-tasting condiments in cool swing-top bottles. Flavors include classics like red wine vinegar with garlic, and more modern combinations like lime and cilantro ($7 for 9 oz at Wild Oats).
PALAPA AZUL SORBETS AND ICE CREAMS Traditional Mexican recipes and top-notch ingredients make this fun new line from Los Angeles-based Palapa Azul so good. The cinnamon-laced Mexican chocolate and the creamy sweet corn ice creams are standouts; also terrific are the sorbets, which range from pineapple to hibiscus flower ($4 for 1 pint at Whole Foods Markets).
TINY TRAPEZE SIMPLY VANILLA MARSHMALLOW CREME Packed in whimsical blue-and-white tubs from Boston-based Tiny Trapeze, this sweet, fluffy cream is wonderful when dolloped on hot cocoa, mixed into fudge or spread on peanut butter sandwiches for updated fluffernutters ($5 for 7 oz; 800-844-8469 or tinytrapeze.com).
PETER HOWARD SELECTION Spurred on by his country's fascination with barbecues and South Asian flavors, popular Australian chef Peter Howard developed a great line of relishes and sauces like a wickedly hot red curry as well as a supertangy and smoky hickory barbecue relish (from $6 for 8 ozat Whole Foods Markets).
BIG ISLAND COOKIES Excellent local ingredients like macadamia nuts make the difference in these outrageously buttery, crisp shortbreads from Hilo, Hawaii-based Big Island Candies. The new mocha shortbreads include another island staple, Kona coffee ($16 for 20 oz; 800-935-5510 or bigislandcandies.com).
BELLATA GOLD PASTAS Made by a family-owned company in Australia's New South Wales (in a region known as the golden durum-wheat triangle), these high-protein egg pastas have a wonderfully delicate, homemade texture ($7 for 13 oz; 970-920-6916 or sinfullyaustralian.com).
MARIEBELLE AZTEC HOT CHOCOLATE BARS Based on Maribel Lieberman's fabulous single-origin Venezuelan hot chocolate mixes, these intense polka dot-imprinted bars are made for eating rather than drinking. Flavors include spicy and mocha ($7 for 4 oz; 866-925-8800 or mariebelle.com).