At the Gourmet Show last week at the Los Angeles Convention Center, small appliances, utensils and decorative accessories took up more space than food products. However, the food section included some new and interesting edibles along with the usual sweets and fancy sauces.
Crisp "chips" made from pea pods, carrots, sweet potatoes and pineapple were exhibited by Foremost Western International, a San Francisco import-export firm. Called Garden Crunchies, the vegetables and fruit are not dehydrated but are cooked in soybean oil, then doused with rice syrup, which adds slight sweetening and preserves the color. Blue Lake green beans, green peppers, kiwi and mango are due to join the line, which is carried by Safeway stores in Northern California and Hawaii and is bidding for distribution in Los Angeles.
La Paloma of Fresno showed three salsas, including an unusual salsa de oro (golden salsa) that combines peaches with tomatoes and jalapenos. This fruity combination is akin to the mango and papaya salsas that have entrenched themselves in contemporary California cuisine. It should do well at summer barbecues. Others in the line are an onion salsa and a tomato-chile salsa casera. Not yet distributed in Los Angeles, the salsas are available at Wilson Richardson's in Newbury Park. The suggested retail price is $3.99.
The line-up of treats displayed by Bette's Brittle of Redondo Beach included an irresistible maple-almond brittle. This company also makes Kahlua-pecan, chocolate-amaretto and peanut brittles. In July, white chocolate-hazelnut brittle goes on the market. Bette Fraser developed the candies in her kitchen and left a job investing retirement funds for an oil company to start the business. Packed in eight- and 16-ounce containers, the brittles sell for $6 to $16, depending upon flavor and size. They're available at Bristol Farms and Irvine Ranch Farmers Market.
Milkjam USA of Anaheim served little squares of cake topped with rosettes of Don Alberto Dulce de Leche (cream of caramel). This thick, creamy caramel spread is being promoted by Albert and Monica Diedrich, who brought the formula from their native Buenos Aires. Made by cooking milk with sugar until thick and concentrated, dulce de leche is a popular sweet in Latin America. Some brands are imported, but the Don Alberto brand is manufactured here by Jeltec Foods of Ontario. The 1-pound jars are priced at $3.49. You can find them at Mercado Buenos Aires in Van Nuys, Food Bag Market in North Hollywood, Gildo's in Norwalk and Center Market in Hawthorne.
Indonesia took several spaces to advertise its wares, which included ramen- style noodle packets, palm sugar and shiitake mushrooms grown in Java. The Indo Mie noodle packets come in chicken, shrimp and beef flavors and sell for 25 cents to 35 cents each at 99 Ranch, Albertsons and Boys markets.
Beverages included Incognito, a coffee alternative marketed by a Venice company. This beverage is brewed coffee-style from roasted soybeans and has a nutty flavor. There are two styles: straight soy and a 50/50 blend of soy and Costa Rican coffee. In the works are Incognito treated with coffee, vanilla and mocha flavorings. Straight Incognito sells for $5.49 a pound, the coffee blend for $6.49 to $7.49. This product is in natural food shops such as Erewhon in Los Angeles, One Life Natural Foods in Santa Monica and Passport to Health in Santa Monica.