Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Food and Wine Show

I do some volunteer work for a really cool initiative in the beer category, and one of the perks was getting to do some pouring at the Food and Wine show last weekend. I'd never been before, but know that people make a big stink (OK, not a good food term) about it every winter. Since I was technically an exhibitor I was able to get in early and really walk around the place before the crowds arrived. There were a staggering number of vendors there touching almost every food and beverage category including beer, wine, restaurants, catering, kitchen furnishings and an expansive group of dairy farmers (shout out to Burnett county) to name just a few.

Before I knew it the Convention Center was filled with the sweet smells of cooking. The guys from Zhatar were grilling little Kobe sliders and a few folks were roasting some pork. You could catch a hint of fresh oyster as you strutted by the Stella's booth, and the folks over at Thousand Hills always had something good going - I tried their weenies for the first time and will have to pick some franks up this grilling season. Soon the whole place was filled with the aromas of peace coffee, BBQ and just about anything else you could imagine. All the folks that were setting up seemed to be in great spirits. We exchanged a few beer samples for a nosh here and there, and everyone seemed more than willing to take care of each other. There were a lot of demos starting to get set up and I would have loved to observed, but I knew we were about to get started I quickly made my way back to the FINNEGANS booth.

All of a sudden the doors opened and the masses flooded in. Before I knew it, people were flying around with their glasses out and were lining up to try a little sample of everything. It all seemed a bit odd as I feel that food is something to be appreciated in a nice setting with good conversation. This event was seemingly more conducive to eating while on a run amongst thousands of your closest strangers, which I didn't really care for. The lines to sample became quite long and I could tell this event required an odd juxtaposition of patience and urgency that seemed really unappealing. I couldn't believe how long the line was at Qdoba when there were so many other great vendors there to enjoy. The whole vibe was a bit commercial, and I quickly realized that I was glad I was there to volunteer and help out vs. shelling out some serious coin to graze with the masses - especially on fare that was essentially being cooked on little grills or hot plates - it all seemed very rushed. I think I'd rather take the $65 or so and cruise to a nice Saturday or Sunday meal with a small group instead of flinging myself to the hoards in hopes of grabbing a few bites here and there. I'm down for family style eating, but if I'm going to do that, I'd rather do it in a bit more intimate environment.

Hope everyone is enjoying restaurant week.

Happy Eating,


1 comment:

kat said...

Yeah, I went to this years ago here & to the one is SF & really its not worth the money. The one in Sf was a charity for food shelves so at least you felt like you were paying for more than the samples. Though some of the seminars & the cooking contest would have been interesting

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