I confess: I've got a thing for entrepreneurs.
There's just something so awe-inspiring as creating a business from scratch, to take the road less taken and most of all, to believe in an idea so much that an entrepreneur would do everything in his/her power to rally a team of a few (or hundreds) to bring said idea to fruition.
To me, meeting Martha Stewart trumps over the biggest movie star du jour any day. Having met Tom Ford and other notable entrepreneurs, I feel they are down-to-earth and often ready to share a wealth of information.
So, imagine my delight in attending the 2011 Fancy Food Show in San Francisco for work. Not only was there to be 3 days of tasting galore, there was also the chance to meet with food entrepreneurs, one of which was Barefoot Contessa, the easy-going personality of Food Network.
Alas, a friendly on-screen personality doesn't always translate to real life. It was evident as an artisan cheese maker in line earnestly praised Contessa and presented her with a wheel of his best cheese only to be thanked in a bored sigh and with directions to place the wheel away from the display.
I fared no better, as my request for a photo was met with explicit directions to stand at least a few feet away. Sadness.
The Ace of Cakes booth was even more disappointing. They had roped off the entire booth and only a few buyers were invited in the space. When did TV personalities had bigger egos than their actor counterparts?
Fortunately, Chef Paul Prudhomme was a more welcoming figure (not to mention a legend), chatting and joking with passerby's.
The food also didn't disappoint. From cured hams from Italy, cheeses from around the world and enough sweets to satisfy the most formidable sweet tooth, I felt like a kid in a stadium-size candy shop.
After tasting (and re-tasting) at most of the 1,300 booths, here is my report on 2011's food trends.
1. Black truffle "caviar"
Taking the latest molecular gastronomy techniques, Tartuflanghe disguises concentrated black winter truffle juice in caviar form through spherification. Served on top of toast with smoke salmon and mild cheese, the truffle perlage samples were in such demand that the server had trouble keeping it in stock. I alone had more than a handful. Each day.
2. Duck Proscuitto
Hudson Valley may be known best for their foie gras, but their myriad of delectable duck products stole the show. There were duck salami, smoked duck breast and duck proscuitto. Sweeter than their ubiquitous porky cousin, it was smoky, silky and addicting. Lesson learned? It's great during breakfast, lunch and dinner!
3. Flavorless Water
It seems water has come a full circle. With the carbonated, vitamin infused and fruity flavored water now considered passe, the hot new water are ones that are flavorless so they can better hydrate and cleanse the palate. Claims made by such are SanTasti and Blk… I think marketers are running out of things to promote!
All in all, a wonderfully delicious show!
Photos courtesy of Rachel