by Anneli Rufus
The National Association for the Specialty Food Trade has announced the winners of its 37th annual sofi Awards, and many East Bay companies are among them.
Deliberately spelled in lower-case letters, "sofi" stands for "specialty outstanding food innovation." The judges' panel, comprising retailers and food-service professionals, included Linda Sikorski of Oakland's The Pasta Shop.
Scoring a gold medal for "outstanding frozen savory" is a line of samosas with chutney from Hayward-based Sukhi's Gourmet Indian Foods. Founder Sukhi Singh launched her first products at the Berkeley Bowl in 1992.
East Bay contenders raked in the silver medals. Sukhi's won one of these too -- for its Lean Fare Chicken Tikka Masala in the "outstanding diet and lifestyle product" category. Scoring a silver for "outstanding oil" is La Tourangelle Roasted Peanut Oil, milled in Woodland but sold from a Richmond office. "For "outstanding pasta, rice, or grain," it's organic Jade Pearl rice from El Cerrito-based Lotus Foods. For "outstanding cold beverage," it's Fentiman's Ginger Beer, made "with only the finest ingredients, such as premium ginger root from the bazaars of Shanghai, with choice juniper and yarrow extracts from around the globe" by a hundred-year-old UK-based company whose US headquarters is in Danville.
Contenders from neighboring counties also excelled. A gold medal for "outstanding snack food" went to Anette's Chocolates of Napa, whose Triple Nut Kentucky Bourbon Brittle includes almonds, pistachios, and pecans. Scoring silver medals for "outstanding chocolate" were TWO local companies: San Francisco's Poco Dolce for its Double Shot Espresso Toffee Squares and American Canyon's Rimann Associates for its Green Earl Grey Dark Chocolate bar. Sonoma's Sonoma Syrup Company won silver for its Acai Black Current Superfruit Syrup in the "outstanding new product 2009" category. Eat local!