Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Re-cap: Fancy Food Show

Few times in our lifetime can we walk from Italy to Morocco, from China to England, and from India to New Jersey (have you seen Jersey Shore? They’re definitely their own country down there!), all the while experiencing and tasting delicious, rare, and gourmet foods. Yet the pavilions and booths set up at this summer’s NASFT’s Fancy Food Show allowed food-lovers, enthusiasts, and critics to do just that: explore both national and international cuisine.
I have to admit that out of the 2,400 exhibitors at the Show this summer, I wasn’t able to see or speak to everyone. At times I was running up and down the long aisles trying to strategically meet with food vendors I had targeted prior to the event, all the while dodging other food enthusiasts. On that note, I wasn’t able to sample all 180,000 products on display, either. While I can proudly down pasta and pizza like a garbage truck (I’m a poor college student, what do you expect?), I unfortunately didn’t have the appetite to taste everything. 
Throughout my experience at the Show, though, I uncovered some very good foods from vendors around the world: New England Cranberry’s cranberry and orange garnish and sauce challenged my mom’s incredibly version of the same food; Cypress Grove Chevre’s Purple Haze cheese was one of the finest goat cheeses I’ve ever tasted; and Bagel Spice, a new company that takes all the seasonings from an Everything bagel, and combines it into homemade salads, was innovative, delicious, and tangy. 
Yet three vendors separated themselves because of their absolute and utter deliciousness. Rufus Teague, a barbeque sauce and meat rub label from Kansas City made perhaps the finest BBQ sauce I’ve ever had. When I sampled the Touch O’ Heat brand, I noticed goosebumps forming on my arms. The sauce was incredible: just the right amount of heat, as the brand advertised, but it wasn’t underwhelming. In addition, it wasn’t too thick and creamy as some barbeque sauces come, and it wasn’t too runny: Mr. John McCone, the founder of Rufus Teague, certainly knows his barbeque arts. I’m very excited to taste more Rufus Teague products not only because of the authenticity of the product, but also because of how it sets the bar for other barbeque sauces.

The second outstanding product I sampled was the Sicilian Gravy from Paesana. I admit I was spoiled growing up in Italian food-rich New Jersey and New York. Washington certainly has its top Italian joints, but there is nothing like real, genuine Italian food from New York. That is why Paesana stands out so much: it is not only a family business, now in its fourth generation, but it produces the highest quality sauces, peppers, pasta, etc., around. What I loved about the Sicilian Gravy was its deep flavor. There was no hiding the authentic and homemade olive oil, and the fresh basil and garlic. This Gravy was the real deal.
The final vendor that I will laud is Priyagold, an Indian food manufacturer that features delicious snacks. Yes, snacks. I was amazed that this booth didn’t offer the enticing foods like basmati rice or different Indian spices on chicken, but I was blown away by the flavor of the snacks. Specifically, the Kids Cream cookie was more crisp than an Oreo, but didn’t have the chocolate overload that we as cookie connoisseurs are accustomed. Instead, different flavors were featured in the cookie, which separates it from classic American cookies. For example, the strawberry cookie had a hint of strawberry and cream, and the overall experience was delightful. 
This summer’s NASFT’s Fancy Food Show was undoubtedly a success. I had an incredible time speaking to food vendors from around the world, listening to their stories of how they became involved in the food business. The foods I tasted were incredible, and I loved every minute of it.
By:  Eric Wilkens

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