Thursday, May 21, 2009

It's Showtime!

Have you ever seen exhausted-looking pasta? Depressed macaroni and cheese? I saw them both and more at the recent DPI Western Division Food Show at the Convention Center. Luan Schooler of Foster & Dobbs had invited me to join her, promising we'd be in and out before I lost my way among the freeze-dried packages and vacuum-packed snacks.

Her one warning from her vast prior experience? Don't eat anything unless you're sure you want it. Heeding that sage advice, I found there were beacons of light amid the depressing displays of baked goods that never grow old, cupcakes frosted like watermelons and something called InnovAsian Cuisine that describes itself as "a proponent of frozen Asian component meals, appetizers and side dishes." (Component meals? Really?)

Bright spots like Allison Hooper of Vermont Butter & Cheese Company, whose Coupole is a dense yet creamy cheese with a bright goat tang. And Amy Turnbull and Stephen Hueffed of Willapa Hills Farmstead Cheese whom I'd met last September at the Provvista Open House when their creamery was just getting started and who are now well on their way to cheese greatness.

Then there was Alberto Solis (right) of Fermin, who was more than happy to carve off generous slices from the leg of Iberico de Bellota in its custom engineered holder with the solid granite base. After all, he said, for what people pay for this very special ham (around $100 a pound) it deserves a very special holder, no? (Gear-heads please note: It can rotate back and forth as well as around.)

And because its fat has many of the same beneficial health qualities that are attributed to good olive oil, he said, people in Spain call it an olive tree with legs. I just kept nodding and snatching slices out of his hand as long as he would carve them.

After our two hours in the land of cheese-on-a-stick and microwavable samosas, it was good to adjourn to Peet's for a well-deserved coffee and some fresh spring air and sunshine. It was not a place I'd want to spend much time in, and thankfully don't have to.

No comments: