Fancy Food Show
Date and Hours: January 15, 2012 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., January 16, 2012 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and January 17 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Register online via www.specialtyfood.com
Price: $45 per person through January 13, 2012; $60
The ”fancy” in the Winter Fancy Food Show doesn’t mean every pinky will be up this January 15 – 17, 2012 in San Francisco’s Moscone Center. Rather, West Coast’s largest specialty food and beverage event is much more inclusive than exclusive, bringing together the finest and fanciest delicacies and culinary practices from 35 countries, displaying more than 260,000 innovative foods.
The 37th gathering of foodies and gastronomes in the Bay Area is put on by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT), a not-for-profit whose sole purpose is to promote and support the specialty food industry. As such, the experience is tailored to restaurateurs, retailers and distributors for the education and exposition of the latest industry trends and equipment. However, it also is the perfect escape for the avid kitchen hound to network with the pros and get a taste what’s hot in restaurants around the country. Here are three ways you can get the best fill of 2012’s Fancy Food Show without having to open up your own restaurant.
Discover how good education tastes
From bus tours to information on how to boost profits with recipe costing, the education seminars are one of the most popular attractions at the show. Programs start at $45 for NASFT members and $90 for non-members, and usually tend to fill up early, especially the tastings.
This year, the Tasting Trios keep it simple, yet are likely to challenge even the most sophisticated palate. American Artisan Cheese, moderated by Sheana Davis of Epicurean Connection, will delight cheeseheads of all levels an in array of artisan cheeses from across America. Attendees will also be engaging in conversation of cheese trends and best practices in serving. Salt & Pepper: Not So Black and White is a guided tour of different salts and capsicum peppers, discovering the nuances of our most common yet most powerful spices. Lastly, New World Olive Oil is a tasting of extra virgin olive oils from new world regions from Australia to Argentina, giving all EVOO addicts their fix with the support of an expert moderator and panel.
Pig out at the pavilions
Making even the most extraordinary supermarket free samples look tawdry, vendors and restaurants from almost all 50 states are represented along with 35 countries in special pavilions on the trade show floor. Carve out some extra time to wander, explore and nibble. To get you started with something sweet, Bequet Confections of Bozeman, MT at Booth 1746 is offering 10 varieties of its award-winning gourmet caramel, including the 2011 sofi finalist, Butterscotch Caramel. The Mississippi Cheese Straw Factory, Inc. at Booth 337 will delight you with cheese straws of about any flavor imaginable, from Cinnamon Pecan Straws to Key Lime Straws. Or if you are looking for something a little more savory, Domo Foods, out of Las Condes, Santiago, Chile will be showcasing its 100% natural Risotto line with gluten-free goodness in several flavors, including mushroom and chicken.
There are literally hundreds of vendors, almost all worth a peek. You can make your plan of attack by diving into the vendor list here.
The Oscars of food
A great way to close things out, the sofi Awards recognize the best of the best in 33 different categories of specialty foods and beverages. You can discover what products, people and brands have reached the top of the food chain this past year, and if you’re lucky, even snag a sample or two. Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, a homegrown San Francisco original, won for Best Cheese or Dairy Product and will be on hand, so make sure to stop by to show some Bay Area love.
Nicolette Glade is a freelance writer and photographer, food nut, dive bar hound, and has travelled from South America to Asia searching for her foodie fix. A Jersey native, she now calls the Bay Area her home and has found plenty of gastronomic toys to play with right in her own backyard. You can read more of her culinary adventures on Examiner.com.