It was time for the most popular event at the FoodBuzz Blogger Festival: The Taste Pavilion.
When my husband and I headed upstairs to an exhibition hall at the Metreon, people were already lined up to get in. One line for official convention attendees. Another for registered guests, and for people buying tickets at the door. Everyone had to show photo ID’s, to prove they were of drinking age. Tight security. It was a fairly young crowd, as I had expected, with more women than men.
Once inside, we discovered that the Pavilion was just a single large room, with vendors arranged in a big circle on the periphery. At that early point in the afternoon, it was not crowded.
We made our way around the circuit, sampling and accepting various giveaways. The vendors were mostly young—and friendly. Many were eager to send products to bloggers, in exchange for the promotional opportunities.
It felt like Halloween for the adult foodie.
It wasn’t exactly a farmer’s market, although we did get offered a nice package of fresh endive. There was certainly a local flavor to the products—and to the businesses. Many of them were small scale, do-it-yourself affairs. Most of the food was of the prepared-and-packaged variety, even if it was designed with the health-conscious consumer in mind. Many, if not most, of the brands were already familiar to us, from local stores and farmers’ markets.
I did have one pleasant exchange with a woman who makes an achingly sweet New Zealand dessert called malva pudding. I recalled sampling it several months earlier, at the cheese-and-chocolate store in our Berkeley neighborhood. We shared our impressions of the store’s owner, a sweet Vietnamese-American woman. We exchanged contact information. “I’ll have to get back there again,” the vendor said.
There were packages of nut-and-fruit snacks. Granola bars. Samples of organic juices, olive oil, and yogurt. No shortage of sweets. Several kinds of biscotti and cookies. Shortbread that bore little resemblance to the Scottish family recipe I make every Christmas. A multi-tied pedestal of tiny cupcakes, in various assorted exotic flavor combinations. Plenty of chocolates. An ice cream vendor. Some nice wines to taste, which appealed to my husband, who is something of a connoisseur.
A few fresh foods were being prepared on the spot, including little pulled pork sandwiches and some tasty red beans and rice from a caterer who specializes in southern foods. There was fresh salmon, if you wanted to sample it.
I won’t deny it: A smorgasbord of artisanal food products, heavy on the sweets, is pretty seductive to me. My husband found it less appealing. But after a little over an hour, even I had my fill.
Next stop: Our hotel getaway. It was the other side of town, in San Francisco’s Sunset District. Fortunately, we had plenty of time, before the evening gala at the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. Or so we thought.
The story continues here.
Causes Blair Kilpatrick Supports
Louisiana Folk Roots, National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, Habitat for Humanity/Musician's Village New Orleans, Doctors Without Borders