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NY Restaurant Show: dispatches from the front

Jeri Woodhouse, owner of A Taste of the

Jeri Woodhouse, owner of A Taste of the North Fork, and Earl Fultz, creator of cHarissa, offer samples at the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York on March 1, 2014. Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus

It was Old Home week at the Restaurant Show at Manhattan’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center Sunday. One of the things I love about the annual trade show (official name: International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York) is the chance to catch up with folks and learn what new products they’ve got coming down the pike.

The show is aimed at the restaurant trade, and the 500 exhibitors sell everything a restaurant could possibly need: ovens, chairs, computer systems, stemware, pest control, cutlery, takeout containers as well as food items that obviate the need for the restaurant’s kitchen to make its own soups, stocks, pastries, gelato mix, etc.

But at the “Pride of New York Marketplace” within the show, small, local producers give out samples of wares that appeal to the consumer as well as the food service business. That’s where I caught up with Earl Fultz, creator of cHarissa Moroccan condiment and his business partner, Jeri Woodhouse, owner of Southold’s A Taste of the North Fork. Fultz and Woodhouse were hoping to interest restaurants in the haunting, versatile pepper-cumin spread and were also launching a new product, a mix for making Moroccan flatbread. We’ll keep you informed on that one.

Nick Voulgaris III and Danna Abrams, owner and baker, respectively, of Kerber's Farm in Huntington, were hawking a new line of fruit preserves. I tasted the cherry and the fig — both delicious — but I was distracted by the tiny pastry “leaves” they were served on. Abrams continues to make some of the best piecrust on Long Island.

I sidled up to the Catskill Provisions booth hoping to cadge some of the chocolate-honey truffles featured in the Newsday holiday gift guide. Instead I was treated to a taste of honey-infused whiskey that, hopefully, will be available on Long Island before too long.

On the main exhibition floor, I made my yearly visit to Koppert Cress, Cutchogue-based purveyors of microgreens. Koppert Cress’s culinary mastermind, Nicolas Mazard, is always positioned front and center of his booth, using a pair of long tweezers to give out samples of leaves and springs that taste uncannily unlike leaves or sprigs: leaves that are sweeter than sugar, leaves that taste like oysters, leaves that taste like a combination of mushrooms and garlic and onions, leaves that taste like green apples.

Have you recently been served sushi on a bed of ice that concealed a flashing blue light? (We’ve seen them at Aji 53 Smithtown and Bay Shore, Kiraku in Glen Head and MoCA Asian Bistro in Woodbury.) Well, I happened upon a company, Norex, manufacturers of SafeLite, the “rechargeable water-submersible LED candles” that make that possible. Thank you, Norex.

Of course the show was awash in gluten-free products, but here was a new one on me: Ovation paper takeout containers (from Green Wave Environmentally Friendly Tableware) that are both sugar-cane- and gluten-free. Go know.

The International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York runs through March 4 at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, 655 W. 34th St., New York,