From bagels to salsa, chicken soup to saké, the 13th annual Kosherfest gave the food industry an exciting and comprehensive look at the world of kosher food. Despite apprehension following the events of September 11th, this year's show had its largest number of exhibitors (450) and highest attendance (12,000 visitors) to date.
The two-day exposition held at the Meadowlands in Secaucus, New Jersey November 6-7, featured food companies old and new, large and small, with products to please the palates of all ages.
According to Menachem Lubinsky, the show's organizer, “Today kosher is not just for kosher consumers. The industry produces new, interesting and quality products that are of interest to any consumer.”
This year's show had an unprecedented array of products to choose from with more than 5,000 products featured. Among them were 500 brand new product entries, many representing totally new categories for the kosher market.
As the show exhibited, kosher consumers can now choose from a universe of ethnic and regional choices. This includes Chinese soba udon noodles, Thai curry samosa, tri-color tortellini, pre-cooked breaded plaintains, Indian-spiced edamame, vege-beef tamales, French foie gras, hot tomatillo with corn sauce, fortune cookies in 49 different themes, and tortilla wraps in more than 20 flavors. To complement each entrée are a wide variety of new kosher wines and beers ranging from $5.00- $300 a bottle, as well as saké.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. This year's trend at Kosherfest emphasized organic and natural fare as well as soy products, low fat and health food items. Coming to grocery shelves soon will be organic English muffins, Krispy and Crunchy lowfat and organic corn chips in four flavors, Ahava's fat-free soy chocolate pudding, spinach tofu wontons from Twin Marquis, Guiltless Gourmet snack chips in brand new flavors, soy “cheese” pizza, and Klein's soy-based pistachio almond and cookies 'n cream ice cream.
Kosher, as Kosherfest showed, has also gone gourmet. Some of the finest gourmet products on the market have recently sought kosher certification, including great chocolates and desserts just in time for Chanukah. This includes Scharffen Berger fine chocolates and natural cocoa powder, La Fleur De Lis Madeline French cakes (which took first place in the new products bakery category at Kosherfest), Shabtai Gourmet Ring Things (an award-winning Kosher for Passover dessert), Gladders gourmet cookies, and Barton's chocolates. (The name once synonymous with kosher candy has returned with old-favorites and some new, chocolaty delights as well.)
For kids, there's also plenty new to choose from. Now moms can find kosher packaged meals for school children called Kosherables, which include pre-made bagels, salami, peanut butter and jelly, and turkey sandwiches. Kids may want to try Bloom's new saltwater taffy that fits into a plastic “cell phone,” Paskesz's “fizz” sugar crystals that pop in your mouth, the newly kosher certified Keebler brand of cookies and crackers and Kellogg's Eggo waffles and “wafuls.”
For cheese lovers, the number and variety of kosher cheeses available covers all bases. From Two Tribes look for a line of Cholov Yisroel cheeses with whimsical names including A Bisil Swiss'l, Yetta's Chedar, Hava-Na-Varti, and Muenster Mench. Their other regular line of cheeses, under the name Yosef's Farm will offer mozzarella, gorgonzola and feta beginning in February 2002. From Anderson International, there will be Les Petitie Fermires brand of Canadian brie and camembert made with non-animal rennet. Most of their cheeses are soaked in brine, which gives cheese its flavor (a process often skipped by manufacturers).
Hi-tech has entered the world of kosher food from a small manufacturer, La Briut of Lakewood, New Jersey. Their “on the go” kosher meat meals require no refrigeration, and no microwave or oven preparation. A water-based heating device (which comes in the packaging) heats the meal in about 14 minutes while the box serves as the “oven.” This is targeted towards the military and camping markets.
For those who like the traditional gefilte fish, matzoh balls, or pastrami on rye with pickles, it's all still available – although instead of mustard, it can now be topped off with Gold's new kosher Wasabi sauce instead. Hearty Appetite!