Food, in all its lusty glory, was on display last weekend at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco -- an immense marketplace of hedonistic gluttony that showcased more than 80,000 products from 35 countries, in every edible and drinkable ilk imaginable.
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The yearly trade show, which attracts more than 17,000 ardent gastronauts who prowl the halls of the Mascone Convention Center, spotlights a seemingly endless spread of temptations, and for someone like me, whose life revolves around food, it's a shameless guilty dreamland.
It's also a specialty food showcase for emerging trends, and if what I saw -- and sampled -- is any indication of what we can expect to taste in restaurant kitchens (and behind the bar) this year, then be on the lookout for ghost chiles (in everything from chocolate to cupcakes); coconut water (here, there and everywhere); beer-laced jams, preserves and jellies; pickling and preserving fruits and vegetables; savory, herb-infused non-alcoholic beverages, including juices and teas; flavor-bombed oils, syrups and vinegars; and salts, salt blocks, salt cutting and displays boards and even salt shot glasses.
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I spent countless hours roaming the aisles, dallying wherever there was cheese (blue is big) and salumi (still going strong) and snapping photos of all the seductions. Herewith, a food porn recap of the guilty pleasures.