Thursday, December 4, 2014

Kosherfest 2014

Hello All!  For the past six months or so I have had the privilege of writing for the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent.  When they approached me to write for them I was super excited - I mean, YES!!! addition to my articles and recipes that you find here you can also find some new, fabulous ones at!  

Today, the Jewish Exponent published my article on Kosherfest 2014 (which was incredibly fun!) but due to space limitations they were only able to publish a limited version of the article (which you can fine here) and sadly wasn't able to list all the vendors and their products I wrote about, and publish all the cool and exciting pictures.  Those are the breaks of newspaper print.  The good part is that I get to give you the WHOLE ARTICLE here on my blog.  I really want to acknowledge all the vendors who spent time and energy speaking with me and giving me all kinds of samples. is the article in full, but please make sure to go to the Jewish Exponent and like my article there.  Thanks!!!

Kosherfest 2014 was SO MUCH FUN!!!

Imagine a bigger than a football field Willy Wonka's Chocolate factory, where instead of chocolate...there is every kind of Kosher food imaginable.  Welcome to the world of Kosherfest 2014!  Kosherfest is a Kosher food wonderland that takes place every year around the beginning of November.  The past few years Kosherfest has taken place at the Meadowlands Convention Center in New Jersey, with vendors from all over the world coming to show the Kosher (and non-kosher) consumer their new (and some not so new) exciting Kosher products.  There were wines from Argentina, plantains from Costa Rica, Zelda's caramel corn from Chicago, truffle pate' from Italy, Gus' famous Kosher Pickles from the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and Bamba snacks from Israel. There were even a few vendors from Philadelphia!  Nearly every exhibitor has a sample table so you have to come prepared to spend an entire two days eating.  There is SO much food that I, like many others, split the sampling into a "dairy" day and a "meat" day so that I wouldn't miss a single sample.  When it was over I was stuffed!

The plantains were really good!
Who knew???
In addition to food exhibits there were also famous Kosher Cookbook authors introducing and signing their new books, like Leah Schapira with  "Secret Restaurant Recipes from the World's Top Kosher Restaurants", Estee Kara with “Cooking Inspired”, and Chicagoan Lynn Shapiro with her book “Food, Family, and Tradition: Hungarian Kosher Family Recipes and Rememberances”, to name a few. If you needed a break from the sampling there were lectures about Kosher food, Kosher food marketing, and even an "Iron Chef" type competition with Paula Shoyer (“The Kosher Baker”, “The Holiday Baker”) as MC, and Naomi Nachman (The Aussie Gourmet), Jack (from Jack's Sausage) and Center for Kosher Culinary Arts pastry expert Chef Phileppe Kaemmerle, as the judges and famous Kosher Chefs as the contestants.  It was exciting to watch the chefs dish up fragrant lamb dishes, sides with Jack's famous "Facon" (a kosher beef bacon), and other unique ingredients. The food they prepared smelled incredible! 
The "Iron Chef" Judges...they don't
look too intimidating!

My personal method for going through Kosherfest is to go up and down each row talking to each vendor, finding out about the unique attributes of each product, and getting a  feel for what makes each sample special. There was a general theme of healthier, better-for-you products.  This Kosherfest featured a significant number of gluten-free products, great for the GFE (Gluten Free Eater). Many of the vendors that generally prepare products for the Passover market have come to realize that there is a huge demand for gluten-free foods and have started to make their goods available year round.  Some have developed gluten-free baking products like coconut and sesame flours, and flour mixes that are touted to work better as a one to one substitute for wheat flour.  All better alternatives for the GFE consumer.

There were some definite winners and some products that warrant an honorable mention.  I'm happy to share my top picks with you.

Burning Bush Hot Sauce - Neil D. Wenick President: This hot sauce is awesome on it’s own as a dip, or added into your favorite foods like soups, pizza, hummus, eggs, burgers, chicken wings, or even hot chocolate!

RC Fine Foods Soup Bases & Mixes - Steve Byruch Director of Sales & Marketing: Delicious Kosher soup bases that you don’t have to be hesitant to use.  Why?  Because they are gluten, egg, dairy, and msg free...but not flavor free!

Gus' Pickles “Imitated But Never Duplicated” - This old timer is one of my all time favorites.  It brings back memories of buying Gus’ pickles straight out of the barrel on the Lower East Side of NY.  It’s the first booth I always stop at, there’s nothing like a super sour pickle for breakfast to start your day!

Aromaville Iced Cappuccino - The indisputable winner for the nicest vendors. Somehow I found myself magically in front of the Aromaville Iced Cappuccino sample machine, and every time I just had to have another sample of the awesome Aromaville sugar-free iced coffee.  If you don’t have the Aromaville Iced Cappuccino in your local store make sure to ask for it - I did and now my local store will be carrying my new beverage of choice!

De La Rosa Products “Bringing the ‘Soul’ back into food” - One of best “healthy” vendors, I was so impressed by the quality of De La Rosa toasted oil varieties, traditional and black hummus, sesame flours, coconut products, juices, and vinegars that I became the food writer waiting for samples at the end of the show.  I wasn’t disappointed!  Stay tuned for some exciting sesame flour & black hummus recipes!

Chocolate Chips -  With the “demise” of high quality, easy to find pareve chocolate chips on the market several vendors came out with some excellent options.  Califonia Gourmet premium quality 45% cocoa chocolate chips and Best Ingredients for Best Results - Five Star Foods made from 100% Barry Callebaut chocolate.  Wait for these to arrive on your local shelves...they will be worth the wait!

Cheese:   It’s hard not to be a fan of my local Chicago “landsmen” Oneg & Shtark Cheese company.  Fabulous smoked and spicy cheese blends were my favorites.  Kosher cheese used to be limited to your yellow or white American Cheese.  Fresh Mozzarella Cheese and other gourmet cheeses were prevalent at the convention.  A new company Milano’s Isaac’s is a taste straight from Italy!  It has no fillers, is gluten free and delicioso!  

Manischewitz Company It used to be that Manischewitz meant matzo and gefilte fish.  Not any more!  The winner of the best new Kosher for Passover product (Carrot Cake Macaroons) and Best new Pasta, Rice & Grain (Gluten Free Matzoh Ball Mix) the company is a leader in gluten free products. I expected the gluten free brownies to taste like the old, dry, tasteless, passover brownie mixes we all remember.  These were not your grandmothers passover brownie mix...they were moist and chewy! Although not gluten free, Manishewitz even has a “Chanukah House” kit for fun with kids of all ages!

Empire Family Farm Raised Poultry Company Another company keeping up with the times is Empire, socially responsible dedicated to the principles of sustainable farming, antibiotic free, with truly natural products.  Empire is not just a chicken roaster and turkey company anymore.  You can find tasty, speedy-to-use marinated chicken and turkey products, and awesome chicken sausage. My favorites were the Gourmet Mild Italian Chicken Sausage and the Honey Barbecue Chicken Thighs.

Gevina Farms Greek Yogurt - Rich and creamy you would never guess that the 100 calorie version was only 100 calories.  The company also makes a fruit on the bottom Yo Pri that is made with real fruit and no artificial colors in “9 ridiculously delicious flavors”.

Zelda's Sweet Shop Caramel Corn - Winner of the Best New Sweet Snack, Cookie or Cracker.  Zelda’s, based in Chicago, run by my friend Linda Neiman, makes the best caramel corn anywhere on the planet.  Guests often will bring me a tub when invited for a Shabbat meal, and my family knows I don’t share the caramel corn!  Get your own tub!

Blends by Orly Gluten Free flour mixes - Winner of the Best New Mix.  Orly is a professionally trained pastry chef and has developed a line of specialty gluten-free flour mixes to suit every type of baking need at a one to one ratio to regular flour.  I have my package of London blend which is perfect for cookies etc.  It actually stood up to my chocolate chip cookie test!  Now my gluten-free cookies will “Taste as good as they look!”

Setton Farms pistachio bites and chocolate covered pistachios.  Yum.  Just Yum.

Mikee We all love Mikee’s vast selection of sauces and now there’s a new one to love, Srirachanaise, Sriracha spicy mayo hot sauce.  I begged a bottle to take home to put on sushi, and everything else!  Vegan & non-dairy.

These guys were having a blast!
Sushi baby!
Maztola  “The trail mix of the exodus” - You’d think that Mazto granola would taste like, well, matzo.  Matzola is unexpected and a great crunchy snack...even when it’s not Passover!

Maccabee Italian Breaded Mozzarella Sticks - so simple but OMG, they are SO good!!!  Crunchy on the outside, gooey on the inside.

This just says it all!
Allies GF Goodies Gluten free cakes and pastries.  Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake Brownie. Nothing else needs to be said.  

DeeBee’s Tea Pops - Winner Best Overall New Product and Best New Frozen Dessert. 100% Natural, made from tea, organic, non gmo, and naturally non-caffeinated these popsicles taste fresh and gourmet.  Made with the best ingredients they are low in calories too ranging from only 25 to 50 calories, with enticing flavors like Tropical Mango (my favorite!) and Southern Iced Tea.

Azuma Gourmet Seaweed Salad - Never.  Not in one hundred million years did I ever expect that I would eat seaweed.  And like it!  Azuma Gourmet makes several beautiful, super unique and interesting salads that taste great.  I especially liked the hijikiquinoa and seaweed salads, really.

Chocla-Taschen “A Sweet Twist on a Classic Treat” Save yourself the time and effort of baking hamentashen this year!  Chocla-Taschen chocolate hamentashen are nut free, gluten free, soy free, non-gmo, rich and creamy goodness.  They come caramel filled milk or caramel filled dark chocolate.  Hamentashen never tasted so good!

Marzipan Rogelach - Straight from the back of Machaneh Yehuda in Israel, the famous best-in-the-world Marzipan Rogelach are now available here in the U.S.!!  That’s a relief, now I don’t have to bring an extra suitcase with me the next time I go to Israel to bring back kilos of Marzipan Rogelach!

Osem Gratify Gluten Free Cookies & chocolate covered pretzels.  For the Gluten Free Nosher, these simple snacks are the perfect grab-and-go, or tea and coffee accompaniment.  The chocolate covered pretzels were crazy good.

*Toffuti ravioli, pizza & lasagna - I even got to see the “cutie car”

*Quick Lemon Pure not-from-concentrate lemon juice
*Tofurky products

*Shay's Chocolate Old Fashioned Soft Caramels
*Smokinlicious Gourmet Wood Products Smokin' Dust

Use it in your smoker box on your grill!
*Jack's Gourmet Beef Merguez

*Dr. Praeger's Kale Veggie Burgers

*Chilla Beverage Co - Smoothies, Frappes, Coffees, Lattes, and Belgian Waffle Mix
*Connecticut Coconut Sugar
*Dodilly Elegant Desserts

SO pretty I brought it home and
am using it this Shabbat!

I told you Kosherfest 2014 was FUN!!!
My new favorite wine...sweet!
Awesome liqueurs!  My favorite was the Dulce De Leche...right
after the pickles (HA!)
Hot Dog!
Black Mushroom Truffle Paste.  Holy Cow! This is a
mushroom lover's fantasy.
In case you wondered why they called it a truffle PIG!
Kosher Everyday is dedicated to the memory of my father
Dr. Theodore Saltzberg - Tuvia Ben Nachum Z”L
May his memory be for a blessing - Yihi zichro baruch.

Look for additional information about Edible Experience Kosher Everyday at,,, Mishpacha Magazine’s Kosher Inspired Magazine,
The Chicago Tribune Syndication,
 or on Facebook at Edible Experience by Sharon Matten.

These recipes are for sole, personal use of visitors to Sharon Matten -Edible Experience Kosher Everyday. Edible Experience Kosher Everyday recipes are for your enjoyment but are not to be posted or reprinted without express permission from Sharon Matten. Thank you!!

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