I meant to save a bit of the brownie for my husband, but I had eaten the whole thing before I realized. Before I had even eaten breakfast. I tried to rationalize it was okay to give in to my chocolate craving because these were made with black beans and cocoa. Made by Pure Genius—a small Brooklyn-based company that just became certified kosher by the Orthodox Union late Monday afternoon—I had been craving the Deep Chocolate Brownie and its sister product Chocolate Chunk Blondies (made from chickpeas and maple syrup) since I sampled them the day before at this year’s Kosherfest.
After my kids were asleep, I excitedly dumped a bag of sample products on my kitchen table last night—ever so carefully sorting through my new edible treasures. It was just how I imagined a child comes home with nosh from the candy man at shul or trick-or-treaters exploring their sugary collectibles.
I came home with cheesecake, salad dressing, vitamins, gefilte fish, cookies, beverages (some fermented, some not), nuts, tea, fruit snacks, caramels, baked goods, granola, Passover macaroons, yogurt, tuna fish, chocolate—whoa. And there were so many varieties of food I tasted that day that I couldn’t bring home with me. Yet.
See, some of the exhibitions presented at Kosherfest were small companies looking for distributors for their products—so while they tasted delicious, I anxiously await being able to find them on store shelves. Others were well-known names displaying a new addition to their brand.
Kosher foods were featured from around the world—England, Spain, Indonesia, Korea, Argentina, Canada, France, Italy—in addition to the United States and Israel.
Kosher foodies unite!
That’s how I felt attending this year’s Kosherfest, the annual kosher food trade show held this week at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in New Jersey. And while I attended as a professional on assignment from the Orthodox Union, I experienced each stand through my personal interests—as a nursing mom, as a kosher foodie, as a meal host, as a consumer, as a friend.
It may have been the most fun day on the job I have ever had.
And so ladies and gentlemen, I wish to introduce ten interesting Orthodox Union-certified products featured at Kosherfest 2015:
1. BBQ Pulled Beef Brisket, by Jack’s Gourmet
The largest crowds in the entire exhibition center seemed to hover by Jack’s. The Pulled BBQ Beef Brisket won Kosherfest 2015 Best in Show for Packaged Meat and I ate three servings of it—it is just so good. The product comes sealed in a bag with the company’s signature BBQ sauce and can be ready to eat by placing in boiling water for 20 minutes or a few minutes in the microwave. This seems like a great product to simplify otherwise patchke recipes for Shabbat and Yom Tov.
2. Hazelnut Chocolate Macaroon, by Manischewitz Company
Immediately after Passover finishes, Manischewitz is already experimenting with new products and flavors for the next season. “This product tested off the charters with consumers,” shared David Sugarman, company president and CEO, who considers this flavor combination the best macaroon Manischewitz has ever made. It won Kosherfest 2015 Best in Show for a Kosher for Passover product.
3. Briannas Kosher Line of Salad Dressing, by Briannas Fine Salad Dressing
This Texas-based 34-year-old company became OU Kosher certified about a year ago and was awarded Kosherfest 2015 Best in Show for Condiments, Sauces, Dressings & Marinades. It is the best-selling specialty dressing in the country, I’m told by Scott Harding, whose marketing firm represents the line on the East Coast. I tried the Poppy Seed dressing and Ranch dressing—both were creamy and light.
4. Chocolates, by Gaspard & Laurette
As CEO Daniel Mimoun displayed samples of his French chocolate varieties, I asked him which his favorite is. “Taste,” he encouraged me, knowing his samples—a piece of heaven–can sell themselves. He doesn’t sell a pure chocolate. “It’s chocolate filled with pomegranate, orange, coconut, rice crispies… it’s a new taste with new flavors,” he described. I was sold on the pomegranate dark chocolate.
They might flaunt the name chocolate but these are all about the beans. Black beans and chickpeas are the base to these amazing treats.
6. E-Z Prep Gefilte Fish, by The Heimishe Fisherman
As a mother, I am intrigued by anything that claims to save me time and energy. This product is a role of gefilte fish that comes pre-seasoned and only needs to be boiled for 45 minutes. Before I left, I asked for a loaf to take home (thankfully I had a short drive home). I am a fan and I hope someone is smart enough to pick up the product for distribution.
7. Double Ale Cheddar Cheese, by The Cheese Guy
I accidentally interrupted Brent Delman in a business conversation someone from a wine company. His face lit up when he spoke about his cheese. There were multiple company displays whose staff exuded passion for their product and it made me excited to try the product. Winner of Kosherfest 2015 Best in Show for Cheese, he had some stiff competition. It’s cheddar cheese made by soaking in two forms of beer.
8. Heirloom Vermont Apple and Maple Syrup Butter, by The Cheese Guy
Brent spent quite a bit of time in Vermont working on cheese where he met up with a small jam-crafter with whom he decided to team up to create jams to compliment his line of cheeses. It’s a good shidduch for his award-winning Double Ale Cheddar Cheese because this product wonKosherfest 2015 Best in Show for Jams, Preserves & Dried Fruit.
9. Crispy Crumbs Baked Topping, by Black Bag
Frustrated with a lack of high quality dairy-free chocolate chips, chocolate chunks, and other baking-related items in the stores, mother and chef Estee Kafra took on the challenge. The crispy crumb topping is an already made streusel topping with whole pecans in it—as a busy mom this spoke to me as another product to make my life easier (thumbs up!). Perfect for fruit crisps, parfaits, as an ice cream topping,etc.
10. Date and Apple Spread, by Oxygen Imports
Originally sold as Passover charoset, the company realized sales could improve if consumers didn’t pigeon-hole it for only that holiday season—and so the name was changed for consumers to realize they could enjoy the spread year-round.
By Batya Rosner
Batya Rosner is staff writer for the Orthodox Union.