Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Post-Turkey Blog Post

Hopefully, everyone had a Tryptophan-ridden, traffic-free Thanksgiving! We enjoyed 70 degree weather in Southeastern VA, where we celebrated the day with our extended family. Since dinner wasn't at our house this year, we did substantially less cooking than we would normally do. I did manage to bake some homemade lemon sugar cookies with my 7-year old cousin and they were a hit! She's a natural in the kitchen.

While I was in town, I also stopped by to say hello to the owner and staff of one of our retailers, Bon Vivant at Governor's Pointe. The store is beautifully laid out, and has a fantastic selection of wine and beer, not to mention a variety of specialty foods. On certain days, the store also hosts beer and wine tastings. I was excited to find out that you can buy individual bottles of beer and ended up creating a sampler six-pack, with the help of a friendly Bon Vivant family member, who provided some great suggestions. The two brews I am most looking forward to trying are:

Young's Double Chocolate Stout- Yes, chocolate beer! Made by Britain's oldest brewery and flavored naturally
Abita Brewing Company Pecan Harvest Ale- Made with real Louisiana pecans

I have to say that I am not much of a beer drinker, but I always jump at the opportunity to try new and unusual foods or beverages. And, I figure it doesn't hurt to develop my palette for beer.

This has been one of the unexpected pluses of starting our business. I'm constantly doing research on specialty foods, and food and nutrition in general. Recently, I've taken to gravitating towards any store I encounter that contains the words "natural," "health" or "wholesome" in its name. I love perusing the aisles to see what new products are on the shelves and I try to figure out what the current trends are- for instance, that Goji berries may be this year's pomegranates. And it doesn't just stop at observational research. I've found that I enjoy reading articles about eating habits, health and new medical discoveries related to nutrition.

Currently, I'm reading the Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan. I'm only a couple chapters in, but what I love about the book is that it takes a scientific, economic, political and social approach in examining what and how we eat. So far, I have found it thought-provoking, controversial and informative- all things I identify with a really good read. I recommend picking up a copy if you get a chance.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Eating and Drinking Our Way Through The Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show

Earlier this month, we went down to Washington D.C. to attend The Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show at the D.C. Convention Center. The two day event featured specialty food companies, caterers, personal chefs and a variety of other epicurious things, such as workshops, demonstrations and an appearance by one, Paula Deen!

I'm going to go off on a bit of a tangent here, because I think Paula Deen is delightful. Yes, I feel like I've gained 10 pounds every time I watch an episode of her show on the Food Network, but you can tell that she puts lots of love into everything that she makes. I also respect the fact that she doesn't skimp on any ingredients- that really takes gusto. She was doing several presentations while we were at the show, but we opted not to attend, since you need to purchase additional tickets and admission was a little out of our range for the weekend. Someday, when I make it to Savannah, I am determined to dine at Lady & Sons, the restaurant that she owns and operates with her sons. I love to eat healthy, but there is nothing wrong with enjoying some hearty comfort food from time to time: fried chicken, mashed potatoes, meatloaf, apple pie- I'll have all of the above, please.

The show was a great opportunity to see what a food trade show is really like. We are planning on participating as an exhibitor in at least one tradeshow next year, so in the meantime, we are trying to gather as many ideas and do as much preparation as possible. While this show was open to the public, some shows are reserved only for members of the food and beverage industry, such as retail buyers, distributors and food writers. When you stop to think about it, there are lots of logistics involved in being an exhibitor. A couple of the main things we are currently thinking about: the layout of our display, signage, sampling and collateral marketing material, such as brochures.

The show was also a great opportunity to try some of the newest food and beverage products currently on the market. A couple of the highlights:

The Kitchen Table Bakers- Parmesan wafer crisps
Sunland Peanut Butter- savory and sweet flavors like onion and chive or Cranberry
Sonoma Syrup Co- infused simple syrups with flavors such as lavendar and pomegranate
Red Rocker Candy- handmade toffees and brittles