Muffins or a sharpened toothbrush?

January 19, 2010

I had a great time at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco Jan. 18.  The highlight of the show for me was a hilarious bit of cognitive dissonance when I found a particularly cute — I would even call it “precious” — booth.

This booth apparently belonged to a Florida-based maker of food, um, stuff. I don’t know how to describe what they do, because I could look at a pantry full of their products and not see a single thing to eat. Lots of dips and mixes and things that probably end up being passed off in charity raffle baskets or something. But whatever. If they make money, then good for them.

What got me was that the company at this booth with cheery colors and charming little displays shares a name with a maximum-security California state prison notorious for housing inmates too violent and depraved to be allowed to mix with the gentler souls filling the bunks at other state prisons.

I don’t think anyone had told them about the prison, but when I saw the booth I laughed out loud.

So if someone mentions Pelican Bay, be sure to ask if they mean the outfit specializing in charming gingerbread cookie mixes, or the place where you go if you shank a prison guard in the neck.

By the by, I looked for my favorite captain’s cap-wearing company rep from last year’s show to no avail.

Follow Tom Prete on Twitter.


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Collected morsels from the Fancy Food Show 2009

January 20, 2009

Didn’t get a chance to do more than Tweet in between walking and eating at the Fancy Food Show on Monday, but in case you missed the Tweets from twitter.com/tomprete directly, here they are all together — plus a couple of corrections of my fat-thumb typing.

Heading out for Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. Tweets and liveblog at pretepress.wordpress.com as wireless connections from inside allow. The wireless reception in Moscone Center was flawless.

NextBus on inbound L Taraval wildly inaccurate. Said next train in 17 mins, but actual time was 3 mins. Thanx, NextBus.

Fancy Food Show: Serrano ham, blood oranges. They’ll need a stick to get me away from this section.

Fancy Food Show: OK, mezzeMarin has lured me from the serrano ham with these great little spears of olives, anchivies and peppers. That’s MezzeMarin.

And MezzeMarin’s anchovy fillets are fantastic.

Fancy food show: nice to see a booth of Potuguese stuff, including from Sao George, but naught from Terciera, alas. That’s Portuguese and Sao Jorge.

Fancy food show: Oh, no – Van Vooren foie gras. I’m a goner.

Fancy food show: Fresca Italia gets the beauty prize so far, for its cheeses. Like art.

Fancy food show: This convention is great, but what an environmental downer. Millions of tiny plastic spoons, cups, plates, etc.
… And why does Moscone Center only have hot-water faucets in the restrooms, and only the kind that don’t automatically turn off? The restrooms in the halls were like this, but the restroom in between the two halls of the show did have auto-off faucets.

Fancy food show: wow, Patti LaBelle has a spice mix brand?

Fancy food show: The green/sustainability angle is big, of course, but Gidi is the only booth so far the uses compostable spoons. Kudos. Green themes were trumpteted by a lot of booths, and some of them didn’t have any samples or giveaways at all, so they didn’t use any packaging. But I only found one other booth that used compostable service, and the woman at that booth complained that San Francisco is the only place where people are bothered by the use of so much plastic.

Just met Reno Rossi, owner of Marin Cheese Co., who knows my wife. Guy has no personality whatsoever. (Hah!)

Fancy food show: we’re counting houndstooth sportcoats. 27 so far.

27 houndstooth sport coats. I think we’re done.

Fancy food show: Just passed Mario Batali. I’m not getting paid so I decided not to throw elbows to get through the throng for a pic. If you count seeing the back of his head and the side of his face, then sure, I saw Mario. I think I caught a glimpse of the clogs, too.

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Fancy Food Show, here I come

January 19, 2009

I’m spending the day at the Fancy Food Show at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. Look for short posts from the show today, plus tweets at http://twitter.com/tomprete.

Wireless connections are a bit spotty in Moscone Center and no cameras are allowed in the show, but I’ll post what I can, when I can.


It’s sweet deception, honey

December 30, 2008

That honey you stir into your tea or drizzle on your toast may not be the pure and natural product you think it is. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports today that in spite of the sweetness-and-light image most people have of honey, the industrial honey trade is rife with contaminated products, faulty safeguards, organized crime and deliberately disguised products. This a great piece of journalism from the P-I, well worth the long read through the main story by Andrew Schneider.

Honeys path from hive to market can take many turns, including some that disguise its true origin.

Honey's path from hive to market can take many turns, including some that disguise its true origin.

According to the P-I, honey from China often is rerouted through other countries that have little to no native honey industry. Among the other disturbing findings in the article is that when American honey packers do find that the honey they buy is contaminated, the honey goes back to the producer. (Any guesses as to what a producer willing to ship bad honey once is going to do with this returned product?) None of this is helped by the fact that there is no federal definition of honey. The P-I follows up with at least one more story tomorrow: “Experts say there’s no such thing as ‘organic’ honey made in America, but that hasn’t stopped the industry from putting it on the market.”

Honey laundering: A sticky trail of intrigue and crime

Antibiotic use could taint honey’s reputation as a miracle drug

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