Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Fancy Food Show-NASFT

I've been having a lot of trouble with library DVDs lately. They would just display “skipping damaged parts” for a while, then eject. Or would fail to start the DVD player at all and eject themselves. Cleaning the disks didn't help. The internet wasn't much help. There is advice to clean the slot drive with a business card wrapped in a lens-cleaning cloth. That scares me. The sales associate at Target assured me that the non-brush slot drive cleaner that Maxell advertises doesn't exist. (?!) Then I accidentally discovered that I wasn't pressing hard enough on the disk with the DVD/lens cleaning cloth. Latest DVD (Thurgood) went from not engaging the drive to playing perfectly. Problem solved. I hope. So, I was very happy when two exhibitors at the Fancy Food Show presented me with lens cleaning cloths soon after I entered the north hall. I was hoping that this meant lens cleaning cloths were the new trinket of choice, especially since I promptly lost one of them. Alas, this was not the case. All the press kits were on flash drives (the one from Walker's Shortbread looks like a little cookie and the one from the Republic of Tea has a wood-grain pattern), but there wasn't another lens-cleaning cloth at the show. There were several silicone bracelets being offered, but those are so over. Nobody is even wearing the Lance Armstrong wristband, which started the whole fad, any more.

Okay. Will Gordon moment is over. The Fancy Food Show is a surreal experience. After receiving a couple of samples outside from vendors who couldn't afford to be exhibitors, I entered the halls. Both halls at Moscone—north and south—were packed with aisle after aisle of exhibitors. I was walking past booth after booth of Japanese treats when I suddenly found my self in a chocolate section, in front of the Scharffen Berger booth. What a juxtaposition! And no matter how many times I walked an aisle, there was always something new that I had previously missed.

Everyone is incredibly generous with food samples. Even the Hudson Valley Foie Gras people pretended not to notice how much of their product I scarfed down. After an hour of little nibbles, I was stuffed, and looking for little packets of things I could take home with me and think about later. I kept thinking I could take one bite and discard the rest of each sample, but really, it was all so good that I was quickly looking at an empty plate. Or empty cracker. I have a limited capacity, so I didn't want to fill up on crackers, even though most of them were premium crackers.

Something that really surprised me was food sales at Cafe Savor inside the show. I don't know how anyone could want a meal after being plied with all those samples of excellent treats. Carlene and Rich LeFevre, frequent winners on the competitive eating circuit, often go for dessert after a competition, but they're the only competitive eaters who are still hungry after a competition. And you would have to be a competitive eater to to sample all the tasty treats offered at this show.

Another surprise was that the plastic bags provided for those who didn't have a tote bag for all the literature offered by the exhibitors weren't immediately snapped up by San Francisco residents who have to pay ten cents per bag, none of which are plastic, as plastic is politically incorrect and not allowed.

International Glacé, Inc., which unfortunately is wholesale only, has the quality of crystalized ginger that Trader Joe's used to have. They are willing to sell to individuals, but unfortunately the minimum order for crystalized ginger is 44 pounds. Their equally amazing glacé fruits have have a 20 pound minimum, though.

Sukhi's Street Food Cart gave me a little combination plate that was a meal in itself.

And for dessert, a 9-second microwave s'more from Shakespeare Chocolate, which sells a kit for making these.

This is a sculpture commissioned by Redwood Hill Farm to celebrate its 45th anniversary year. Created by Sarah Nep from 80 pounds (!) of the company's delicious Goat Milk Cheddar Cheese, this sculpture is very impressive.

JETRO, the Japan External Trade Organization, featured several demonstrations. This one is a mentaiko caviar canape. After watching the chef assemble these, everybody watching was treated to one.

Le Chef Bakery had the best-looking booth at the show!

Brand Castle makes adorable baking kits that will delight the children in your life. I asked for a flyer, so I could show the Cookie Cutter Collectors the product range, and it came with this adorable ninja cookie cutter attached.

Tea. Many brands of high quality tea, all vying for your attention.

Pistachios. Many brands of premium nuts, especially pistachios, which seem to be the latest thing. Have you seen this SuperBowl ad? Pistachios are certainly a lot more attractive now that the manufacturers have stopped dying them.

Walker's Shortbread. Made from butter, sugar, flour and salt. And nothing else, except occasional inclusions like chocolate chips.

Kitchen Table Bakers. This outfit makes cracker-like crisps entirely out of cheese. Well, some of them have flavorings, but no flour, sugar, etc. So they can be eaten by themselves or used for a cheese-on-cheese experience. Or layered with anything you might serve with cheese. And perfect for the low-carb diet.

Maple Bacon Lollypops from Melville Candy Company

The show wasn't all about food, though. 

Relm West Labels & Packaging demonstrated their packaging by providing packaged treats.

And Thermosafe was there with several sizes of PolarPack, a blue ice-type product that stays frozen longer than anything else I've tried and works better than dry ice for shipping perishables. There was a large display of insulated carriers that would be good for caterers, containers for many different kinds of food and drink, and fancy tins that were custom made for various products.