Over the past 10 years I have attended quite a number of Kosherfests – the annual kosher food show produced by Menachem Lubinsky and his staff at IMC. It’s always an enjoyable experience, exhausting but always fun. The opportunity to catch up with old friends, meet new faces and try the latest in kosher food is a thrilling one.

Some highlights:

Campbell’s Soup: For those of you who don’t yet know, Campbell’s Vegetable Vegetarian Soup is now kosher, certified by the OU. Our family tried the soup for the first time about a month ago and it has now become a staple item in our pantry. The combination of small
chunks of vegetables and alphabet noodles will make this a family favorite in your home too.

The Chocolate Fountain: This was just amazing. It is exactly as it sounds – a fountain of chocolate in which you can dip all kinds of candy and fruit. The chocolate stays warm, so it’s constantly flowing – it looks great, smells great and would be a hit at all sorts of parties and

Liquid Smoke: This stuck out in my mind because of the Kosher by Design cookbook. There is a recipe in there that I wanted to try but it called for liquid smoke and I didn’t know where to get it with a hechsher. Now I do: Colgin Company makes four different flavors, all certified kosher-parve by Dallas Kosher.

Omega – 3: This very important fish oil is now kosher, certified by the Kof-K and the Manchester Bais Din. It is produced by Nordic Naturals and is available in most local health stores.

Fresh and Go: Developed in Israel, this product is perfect for those of us on the go. It’s a toothbrush with toothpaste in the handle. All you need to do to is turn the knob and anti-cavity mint toothpaste makes its way up to your brush.

Liquid Besamim: Produced in Israel by a company called Bottle Tree, this delicious smelling product is a bottle with citrus fruit and blossoms. It is designed to give off the smell of a citrus grove. They have specially designed gifts sets for many occasions, including a special set for Havdalah.

Pereg Mix for Rice: a new product by a third-generation company. Based in Israel, Pereg is renowned for its incredible spices. This product is specifically made to enhance the flavor of rice and mashed potatoes. A mixture of nuts, raisins, berries and fried onions, it makes a delightful addition to any kind of plain rice dish.

Wine Nuts: a great new snack item by our old friends at Ford’s Fancy Fruits, the makers of the incredible Bone Sucking Sauces. These extra-large peanuts are dipped in wine ? leaving a nice, rich roasted flavor with a hint of the wine taste. They are available in Chardonnay, Merlot and Margarita.

Wraps: our old friends at Wrap Ole’ showed off the newest addition to their extensive line – Challah Aloha wrap now available in 6.5″ retail size. This is a unique wrap that tastes like challah. My family loved it when we tried it slightly heated with cream cheese.

Gluten Free: a good number of products at the show were perfect for those people on a gluten-free diet. We tried cookies and bread from Ener-G Foods, wheat-free beer from Ramapo Valley Brewery, and a full line of frozen foods from S’ Better Farms.

Cookies and Snacks: We tried chocolate-covered gingerbread cookies made by Confectionery Producers in Poland, cookies you can make from a mix by My Gourmet Oven and Gefen. We tasted over 25 flavors of jellybeans by Gimbals candy (okay, we didn’t taste all of them) and stopped to see some old friends by Maccabeans, the legendary jelly bean for Chanukah. We saw old favorites like Bamba, Bissli, and Doritos from Israel and new favorites like licorice in tons of different flavors. My favorite, though, was the 25 flavors of gourmet popcorn made in Chicago by Poppy Chocky Wocky Doodah.

Sauces, Dips and Appetizers: There is tremendous variety in the number of companies and products that fall into this category. First, the sauces. We stopped at the L&S Packing Company to give our compliments for a great sesame teriyaki sauce they produce under the
Milkee label. In our house we use it almost always on salmon. However, after speaking with one of their chefs we tried it in a whole new way. The other day I prepared omelets for breakfast and instead of adding salsa we poured this sauce straight into the eggs – add some
browned onions and saut?ed peppers – your tastebuds will thank you all day. For appetizers, there is a great line by Pikante Corp. out of Israel that includes at least five different salads with eggplant alone, with an absolutely delightful taste.

We stopped to visit our friends at Maccabee and had zesty mozzarella pizza sticks. We tried salmon and herring at so many different booths they flow together in my mind. We also tried cheeses from Israel, from Holland, from Denmark and from Poland. I have to say the one that most impressed me was a blue cheese being imported by Ahava – the taste was very mild and not at all overwhelming.

Another booth we spent some time at was Classic Cooking. Their Healthy Delights Butternut Squash kugel is part of our Shabbos meals. We also thanked them for the great line of salads and soups.

I had my ring cleaned by a Steam-Magic machine and watched others get theirs done by Northern Labs, producers of Goddards Silver Polish.

We were entertained with card tricks and great conversation at the booth belonging to Golding Farm Foods, producers of an incredible roasted garlic salad dressing, and had a wonderful dessert wine by Tzali’s Foods out of Los Angeles.

But the exhibit that impressed me most was the one produced by the American Jewish Legacy. They put together an exhibit showcasing over 350 years of kosher in America. Did you know that there was a special kosher food table set up at the parade held when
Pennsylvania ratified the Bill of Rights? Well, I didn’t. And there was lots of information displayed that many of us may not know. There was a panel for each state and section of the country listing prominent Jewish figures from early American history, and small anecdotes and
stories about the struggles traditional Jews faced as this country grew.

The last section of the exhibit was a display of advertisements placed in Yiddish newspapers for products we still use today. The earliest ad was from 1912 – it was an advertisement for Macy’s Passover Store. We also saw ads from Crisco, Gold Medal Flour, Palmolive and Coca Cola. For more information on the exhibit you can visit their website at www.ajlegacy.org

That’s it for now – more regular reviews to follow next month.