Normally I spend all three days of this annual event eating and drinking my way to oblivion, but since I’m leaving town tomorrow I only had one day to power-taste my way through 80,000 specialty food and drink products. I started at 10:00 am and waddled out seven hours later with my stomach as full as that California woman was before she gave birth to octuplets.
Some general trends this years were: gluten-free products were on the rise (the most delicious example was the line of The No Bake Cookies that were loaded with chewy oats, peanut butter and chocolaty chew,) superb cheeses from everywhere– but the USA is now holding its own with the best of them. Bacon is the new culinary black, with the flavor popping up in popcorn, mayonnaise, and dessert (Vosage Chocolates highlights the piggy not only in its Applewood bacon + milk chocolate candy bar but also in its Bacon-Toffee ice cream.) Superfoods keep getting super-er, with antioxidants, probiotics and larger amounts of vitamins and minerals added to all sorts of nonsensical products.
Here are some standouts from today’s marathon:
* Hot Lips Soda made from freshly picked fruits and berries. All the flavor and pulp without the seeds. Like berry pie in a bottle.
* Activate Drinks The patented cap on top of this line of vitamin and energy drinks keeps the vitamins “hid in the lid”. For full potency, simply twist, shake and activate.
*One “don’t knock it till you try it” newbie came from charcuterie king, Fabrique Delices, who introduced America to the latest rage in Europe: Savoury Macarons–sweet almond confectionery shells that are filled with either goat cheese, porcini or truffles.
* There’s never a shortage of chili condiments on show but one standout was the unique Chili Crunch Condiment loaded with crunchy garlic, onion and the slightly smoky heat of chile de arbol.