I just got back from a long day at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. Did I enjoy it? Let's just say it's a good thing I wore my fat pants.
The Fancy Food Show is a trade show with several million exhibitors that covers several thousand acres in San Francisco. Ok, I exaggerate, but only slightly. I think the real tally is (let me check my show directory) 1,100 exhibitors and 80,000 products.
My friends Chef Shirley and Not-Quite-a-Chef-But-Damn-Near-Indespensable-to-a-Very-Fine-Restaurant-Anyway Stacy and I paid our $35, put on our comfy shoes, and hit the show, ready to see all the fancy food world held for us.
The first question we had to answer was "What makes food 'fancy'"? It seems that fancy food is that which you are more likely to find when you are on vacation at the quaint little tourist gourmet shop that at the Safeway, but even that definition could be stretched.
The show is open to the trade only, by which they mean anyone who will pay the entry fee. No, I am sure the requirements are stricter than that. Or not. Let's just say I didn't see many people getting stopped at the door and quizzed about their culinary credentials.
There are samples of everything, which, in my mind, puts this in the pantheon of trade shows. It sure beats the hell out of those printing trade shows I used to attend, where you would end up with a goody bag full of pens that quit working after two weeks and beautiful posters that said things like "The Next Wave in Kiss-Cut Labels!" on them. No, here you could sample wines, cheeses, caviar, prosciutto, tea, chocolate, jam, olives, and on and on.
To narrow down the field, I tried to stick to sampling only chocolate, coffee, olives and cheese, but even that was overwhelming. I wanted to sample everything, but by hour five was wearing out. You know when you pass the Valrhona chocolate samples and say "Eh, I don't feel like it," that it is probably time to head home.
In coming days I will post information about some of my favorite finds. I can't wait to get my hands on some of the chocolates and cheeses I tried. Until I can place orders online, I will be stuffing my face with the samples I brought home.
There are Fancy Foods shows coming up in Chicago in May and in NYC in July. Mark your calendars and invest in some loose-fitting clothing. You're going to need it.