Vanessa Gordon

After I experienced a true treat attending my second Summer Fancy Food Show, I dove deep into learning all about the specialty food industry. Did you know that specialty food, defined as unique and high-value foodstuff  made in small quantities from high-quality ingredients, is a rapidly growing market and yields over 100 billion dollars annually? According to The State of the Specialty Food Industry 2015, the fastest growing categories include pasta, pasta sauces, nut butters, and ready-to-drink tea and coffee.

I am looking forward to attending the 2016 show in Manhattan to discover even more food brands and innovative approaches to culinary products. In the mean time, let’s jump back to 2015 to read about my ten favorite Specialty Food items.

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The Chequit Inn

The Chequit has made its statement as one of the finest places to stay while visiting Shelter Island. This charming, luxurious hotel has only been open under new ownership (and after extensive renovations) since the beginning of the summer season. I have strongly considered taking a “staycation” with my husband and what better destination than tranquility of Shelter Island? Lovingly restored and offering guests a plethora of memories and relaxation even before exploring the rest of the island.

The Chequit, part of Salt Hotels, a group of boutique hotels owned by David Bowd and Kevin O’Shea, boasts thirty-seven guest room with its downstairs lobby evoking a Victorian-era opulence with a fireplace, candles, and cheerful sunflower cornices, and curtains.

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Red Maple The Chequit

Fresh off its debut this past summer, Red Maple at The Chequit Inn offers a new autumn menu, making it a perfect spot for relishing in relaxing cuisine and conversation. Open year round, Red Maple is set in the heart of Shelter Island and within walking distance of the North Ferry.

For me, visiting Shelter Island is a peaceful, country getaway. For this particular trip, it was made extra special with dinner with my husband and daughter at this new American restaurant featuring seasonally-inspired dishes reflecting the warm and robust flavors of fall’s bounty on the East End presented by Chef Robert Sawyer. Open year-round, Red Maple was conceived by owners David Bowd and Kevin O’Shea.
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CocoRau recently introduced Raw Cacao Power Bites are an ambrosial and unique assortment of raw cocoa bite-sized morsels you will look forward to enjoying almost on a daily basis. These velvety, superfood bites include a plethora of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that are equally calming and revitalizing. The bites are vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free, and no processed sugar. This is huge for me as I am trying to steer away from sugar. The company was founded by professional makeup artist Konstanze Zeller

The four raw, organic cacao power bites I tried were: Turiya (Espresso), Samadhi (Orange Bliss), So Hum (Lavender), and Lakshmi (Matcha Tea). Turiya is made with raw almonds, raw cacao paste and butter, raw coconut sugar, and espresso. Samadhi is a blend of raw almonds hazelnuts and almonds, raw cacao paste, raw honey, raw coconut oil, and essential orange oil. So Hum is made with organic lavender essence. Lakshmi’s ingredients include raw pistachios, raw coconut, matcha, and vanilla powder. Each piece of cacao is 1 oz.

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Stars Café is located in the heart of Shelter Island close to the North Ferry route. As I have heard from locals and visitors alike, this café is a must for homemade muffins, croissants, scones, rugelach, assorted pastries, and Mexican-inspired cuisine paired with magnificent views of Grand Avenue and North Ferry Road. This is a great location to stop at after a long bike ride or stroll across town. There is a generous amount of seating inside and there are a few tables outside.

My husband and I, along with our daughter, came here after looking around determined to find a place to eat. We were disappointed to find that no other restaurant was open for lunch that had outdoor seating available, so we were lucky to learn about Stars Café. We wanted a place where we could sit and relax for a while without feeling rushed. This country chic cafe was perfect for just that. View Post

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