First of all, many thanks to Ken Zuckerman,Heirloom Events & Promotion Manager for Pete & Gerry’s Organic Eggs for the invite to Food Fete – really eye-opening, fun and informative.
I had been to the Helen Mills space before for my wife’s boss’s birthday party. Very different setup, but as soon as I checked in, I received a cute tote from the pair at the front desk, grabbed my complimentary Dessert Professional, and I was off to check out the scene. A total of 15 vendors were represented ranging from savory to sweet foods, adult beverages and food-related items. Unfortunately, I did not make it to a few though I am sure that plenty of others enjoyed them. I went ahead and linked to the related sites via each stop heading for easy browsing.
I bumped into Matt Hall of the Gotham Imbiber, who was promoting the 7th Williamsburg Cask Ale Festival (I hope I will be able to make one of the days). I also bumped into Andrew Kaplan of BeverageWorld and had a great conversation about some fellow writers and bloggers as well as the burgeoning state of the national and local craft beer scenes. I personally love when I get to bump into fellow craft beer advocates at these events – it really shows that the other food companies and media events are giving us beer guys/gals equal footing with great wine, sake, spirits and cocktails.
Now, on to the provisions!
Stop #1: Emmi
For those of you not in the know, I love cheese. I also work with it day-in and day-out, so I am obviously familiar with this brand and its Gruyere. Had a bit of a Swiss herb-rubbed cheese, which had a unique-looking rind and a fairly approachable flavor profile. I also could not pass on the fondue – Gruyere/Emmenthal is the classic combo here. Interesting fact: their fondue mix does in fact contain the white wine and brandy used in quintessential recipes, but don’t worry – this totally cooks off when you make it.
Stop #2: Pujol’s Kitchen
I love when food joins forces to help people. Profits from product sales are donated to families in poverty, which in turn allows them to cook and continue to put food on the table. The cookware set is only $279, which is totally affordable for those of you who might be in the market. Since Deirdre was a former ergonomist, the handles really stood out to me on the design along with the Latin flair.
Stop #3: Onion Crunch
Witty anecdote about my childhood: I LOVED onions. So much so that I apparently ate raw onions as fruit. My desire to have onions in dishes has not changed, be it raw or cooked. Enter Onion Crunch with a couple flavors to boot. I tried some of the offerings there, but the BBQ on the turkey dog totally took the prize. It turns out that Nathan’s has and will feature Onion Crunch in a number of its offerings and recipes (they totally read my mind on this).
Stop #4: Heavy Seas (I came back again, but I will lump the notes together)
I knew Loose Cannon would be here, so of course I had to have it. There are only a handful of beers that are appreciated across my family, but that’s one of them (Lil Sumpin’ Sumpin’ is another). Ken made a great comment about it – it’s like “the East Coast Racer 5”, which is pretty true on a balance perspective. From there I continued on to more limited edition brews, including the Letter of Marque 2012: Tripel Wit, The Great Pumpkin, Plank II Doppelbock, Cabernet Barrel-Aged Below Decks and of course, Siren Noire. I thought the notes from the Poplar and Eucalyptus on the Doppelbock were really different and more intriguing than many other standard barrel-aging. That being said, the Below Decks was tasting amazing after its extended time in the bottle, and I even saw a wine drinker really enjoying his sample. I also had a great time meeting and speaking with founder Hugh Sisson about the strength of their portfolio and some of my favorite memories including the recent featuring of Heavy Storm at a Craft Beer and Artisanal Cheese tasting at work. What can I say, I am a total fan.
Stop #5: Kettle Brand
@sherv @scottyj and @tbonesullivan know I have an unhealthy appetite for Salt and Black Pepper Kettle Chips, so it was no surprise that I went to this station after having some awesome brews. They were offering tastes of two of their now 26 flavors: Maple Bacon and Sweet ‘n’ Salty. Both were quite delicious and made feel nostalgic for a good old-fashioned breakfast and some kettle corn. I think the Maple Bacon will totally sell like hot cakes – and many more can enjoy (it’s VEGETARIAN).
Stop #6: Snikiddy
To continue my snacking mood post-brews, I dropped by the Snikiddy table. There were Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Grilled Cheese Puffs, a couple flavors of Baked Fries, and Veggie Chips. While all were pretty tasty, the vegetable chips had a unique level of crisp that was above a standard potato or tortilla chip and less than a well done samosa dough.
Stop #7: Edy’s
If I didn’t stop here, Sheryl would totally have a cow (pun intended). They had three flavors on hand: Birthday Cake, German Chocolate, and my fave Salted Caramel and Pretzel. I kind of wanted to go back for more later, but I couldn’t take home any for fear of the melting factor.
Stop #8: Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods
Yes, I have had hemp beer and worked with hemp rope, but I have never had hemp seeds. While this raw food is usually put into raw recipes, you can encrust entrees or simply put on your salad. Hemp seeds are high in folate and omega 3’s, so I definitely want to see how I can incorporate them into future recipes.
Stop #9: Niman Ranch
Another brand whose reputation precedes them – their small farm cooperative (I feel) is unparalleled in their commitment to raising livestock humanely, traditionally and sustainably. The taste is equally beyond compare. They have a number of accessible items and dishes sure to please any palate. I will be bringing in some to work to share with the other fans of the brand and their mission.
Stop #10: KitchenAid
Did not get to try out the machines at all, but I got a great tip about a vegetable grinder attachment for our existing stand mixer. It is always good to sneak a peek at some other “Cadillac-like” models.
Stop #11: Cake Boss Cakes
I thought this table was representing the new cafe, but to my surprise Buddy’s desserts are and will be available in many supermarkets and wholesale clubs. “It’s My Party”, “Oh My Ganache!”, and “Whole Lotta Carrots” were the featured cakes tonight. While the Ganache (aka chocolate) was my fave, the Carrot Cake had a really excellent blend of nuts with the moist cake and a well-balanced frosting to boot.
Overall, I had a great opportunity to revisit some brands that I regularly or not so regularly enjoy while also learning a lot about the history and development of the vendors. Feel free to visit the embedded links to check out or support if you are so inclined. Many thanks again to everyone who put the extra effort into this event and especially to Jeff Davis for founding and continuing to produce Food Fete.