When I first arrived I was completely overwhelmed by the immensity of the event. I grabbed a program and made my way into the hall, only to be greeted by the hustle and bustle of thousands of people maneuvering their way from booth to booth, grabbing samples and chatting it up with the friendly exhibitors. Everyone seemed eager and ready to share their products with the passersby, and I was admittedly excited about all the free samples. Two hours and 1,300 booths later, I managed to pick a few favorites. Drum roll please…
Image courtesy of CookieZen.
Cookies & Corks
The ladies over at CookieZen are innovative to say the least. As a Napa Valley native, I was drawn to their "Cookies & Corks" table because they were one of few exhibitors doing wine tastings (hellllllo), and the attraction only grew once I learned that cookies were involved. The concept behind Cookies & Corks is simple—they’ve paired three types of cookies with three varietals of wine: red, white and sparkling. My personal favorite was the sparkling pairing, which contains iced-lemon and sea salt chocolate oatmeal cookies alongside parmesan thyme cookies for a savory spin. The best part is you can mix and match to your heart's content, and they'd be the perfect appetizers for your next cocktail party or girls-night-in. Visit their site here.
Image courtesy of Skillet Street Food.
Yup. You heard me. Bacon jam. I kid you not fellow bacon lovers, this is for real. The geniuses over at Skillet Street Food came up with a bacon jam that tastes delicious when spread on a little cracker with some brie, a combination that I was lucky enough to try. One can also imagine it would pair well with a piping hot baked potato or a juicy, succulent burger. Oh, the possibilities! Spreadable bacon not sounding that great to you? Don't knock it till you try it—you may be pleasantly surprised. They've even been written up in Esquire magazine as of late May 2010. Visit their site here.
Image courtesy of Republic of Tea.
The Republic of Tea
The Republic of Tea had quite the set up, with hundreds of teas displayed and a line that spanned the length of three booths for their sample table. I tried the Honey-Ginseng tea, which was to die for. They even sent me home with a nifty all-in-one portable tea press/mug that's the perfect size for a quick run to class. Other teas on my "to-try" list would be their Red Velvet Chocolate and Strawberry Chocolate varietals. Who can say no to zero-calorie dessert in a cup? Not I, not I. You can try these and more of their delicious teas by visiting their website here.
I knew I had to mention this exhibitor when I was welcomed to their table with a plate of all-natural chocolate chip cookies and a friendly comment about how "BARE Magazine" (emblazoned on my press pass) must mean we're into "all natural" products. After a quick explanation of our fashion publication status, I was then pointed to their "fashionable" donut display, mini-donuts decorated with bright, springy pastel frosting stacked neatly atop one another, looking almost too pretty to touch. Almost. After trying one, I learned that you can make them at home yourself with their handy-dandy Sof'ella Donut mix along with their mini-donut pan, all of which you can find at their website here.
And did I mention that the Barefoot Contessa herself was there in the flesh? For all of you Food Network addicts out there, here's a quick snapshot I managed to snag mid-autograph:
The author's quick reflexes paid off: it's Barefoot Contessa herself.
Over all the day was great. Definitely got my fill of food porn for the month. That is...until the next drool-worthy experience comes my way.