Saturday I went to the Slow Food Nation expo in San Francisco, courtesy of Foodbuzz, the food blogger portal that I am affiliated with. I had a fantastic time, eating lots of great food and meeting the swell folks from Foodbuzz (why did I never put it together that "RyanTheGirl" is actually Ryan, the Managing Editor?), as well as some other food bloggers. In fact, the highlight of my trip was, of course, a visit to the CHEEEEEEESE pavilion, where I met Stephanie of The Grub Report. In my little Internet-centric corner of the world, that's like meeting a celebrity - she wrote recaps for TWOP once upon a time. She's got my dream life: a freelance writer, trained at culinary school, and she works in the best CHEEEEEEEESE shop in the world. Where, presumably, she gets to sample the wares all day long. Lucky, lucky woman. How she stays so thin, I have no idea.
Here's my quick recap of the Food Pavilions at the Slow Food Nation event (please excuse my sad iPhone camera skilz):
First up - cheese!
Of course, the cheese was glorious. That yellow cheese was STRONG - I can't remember what it was (and they didn't have a sticker), but it wouldn't be first on my list of cheeses to take to a desert island. The Northern Lights Blue was fantastic though, as was the fresh goat cheese crottin from Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery.
Next, I went to the wine pavilion. I don't have any pictures of the wine, but I had a lovely Stag's Leap Petite Syrah. Yum! I then headed for the fish pavilion, where they were serving (from bottom to top) calamari in a lemony vinaigrette, a sardine on a toasted baguette with sauteed onions and lemon, and albacore tuna with baby greens (I *think* it was arugula). Delish!
Then I went over to the charcuterie pavilion, where I had some amazing jerky made in Berkeley, a slice of salami, cotta, and a little bit of toast with "cured" lard with rosemary and garlic.
Next I wandered over to the pickles & chutney pavilion, but didn't stay for a taste of everything because me + pickles = ewww.
I decided instead to mosey on over to the beer pavilion, where I tried a Jamaican Red brew that was a bit hoppy for my tastes, but still quite yummy.
Then it was off to try some bread! Yummy, warm naan from the Indian side of the bread pavilion (there was also an Italian side, with brick-fired slices of pizza, but I was all about the naan on Saturday).
I wasn't too enamored of the potato-stuffed naan (it was actually too spicy for me, which is really saying something), but the other two were amazing. And the green dipping sauce was wonderful - verdant and spicy and fresh tasting all at once.
It was getting pretty late, so I decided to have a bit of dessert and tea, and head out. I stopped off at the honey & preserves pavilion and got this little bite of deliciousness: a honey mini-cupcake with rose-scented royal icing, topped with a half a pistachio. I'm sorry, but this is the best photo I got with my phone. You'll just have to trust me that it was beautiful and luscious.
And then it was over to the ice cream pavilion for one of the highlights of my day. I got to try salted caramel ice cream! And it was unbelievably good. It wasn't salty, but the salt brought out a kind of tang or something in the caramel that made it richer and fuller, somehow. I'm not even sure how to describe it, other than by saying that it was damn good, and if you ever get a chance to try salted caramel ice cream from BiRite Creamery, you should NOT pass it up. The other two ice cream flavors in my bowl were "Mr Espresso" and something called "Foresta Noci" or something like that. The coffee ice cream was good, but nothing earth-shattering, and the other one was just kind of odd, with these little crunchy bits of *something* in them. (Again, horrible photo, I apologize...)
Lastly, I visited the tea pavilion, which was lovely, but took a crazy-long time to go through, because each "tasting" is actually a 15-minute tea ceremony with a tea guide. The tea was good, but not something I'd probably drink on a regular basis, as it had very strong tannins. However, I did learn that your cup of tea is only as good as the water you use, and that mineral water is best to bring out all the flavor elements in your tea.
And that wraps it up! I headed for home full of new ideas and flavors, and happy to have been a part of this amazing food movement.