Saturday, January 31, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Views from our apartment
SAN FRANCISCO ADVENTURES
I have wanted to attend the Fancy Food show for several years, but didn't have the opportunity before. Hubby Ron broke his leg just before Christmas and couldn't walk, so I asked my foodie friend Janet to go along. The added bonus was her sister has an apartment on the Embarcadero and it was available for us to use. What could be better than that?
Friday Jan.16—Janet and I started the day at Safeway which was on the street level of the apartment building. We bought fresh fruit from the Deli and a bagel and walked across the street and ate in the park, enjoying the wonderful warm weather. We walked to the BART station on Market and bought roundtrip tickets to Millbrae, which is closest to the Guittard plant. Train ride was fun but uneventful. Got a cab to Guittard. Mark Spini talked to us in his office then took us on a tour of the plant. They don’t have public tours, but take customers through when they come to town. The tour was fascinating. We saw and smelled the chocolate at different stages. It took about 3 hours to tour the plant. Afterwards, Mark introduced us to Gary Guittard. It was a very informative and fun day. I asked for and received a tin pan that they used to form the 10# blocks of chocolate in years ago. Now, they use polycarbonate molds. Not sure what I will do with it, but it is very nostalgic to me as my mother used Guittard chocolate her whole life.
After the tour, we went over to the Ferry Building. Bought Rechutti chocolates and PDF’s and ate at Out the Door. It was very good until Janet ate a whole chili. I thought she was going to stop breathing right then. We bought sourdough bread and took it back to the apartment. Janet wanted to go to Fisherman’s Wharf to get something she had seen on her last trip. We got a cab because I was tired of walking. She told the driver pier 49. I wasn’t sure where she was headed, so for once, kept my mouth closed. He took us to Ghirardelli Square. Janet says this doesn’t look right, but gets out of the cab!! We start walking because she keeps telling me it is real close. Right!! She meant pier 39, not 49!!!! We walked the entire length of the wharf!! I am not happy at this point. That is why we took the cab so we wouldn’t have to walk!! We eventually get there and Janet goes off to buy her trinkets. We ate our one restaurant meal on the wharf at the Fog Harbor. We both had fish and chips and it was very good with a very nice waiter. We grabbed the street car back.
Saturday was another great day. We started at the Ferry Building and the Farmers market. The produce was amazing.
A lot of citrus and winter veggies. It was a fun atmosphere with street musicians playing and people walking their dogs (not allowed in the market area). Janet got a salmon BLT sandwich which she always looks forward to when in San Francisco. We sampled our way through the market and bought some olive oil direct from the producer. We also bought a stalk of brussel sprouts for a joke I’ll tell you about later. We took everything back to the apartment, put the sprouts in water and left again. I wanted to go to the Moscone center to get our credentials to avoid the rush on Sunday. We got them, walked over to the Westfall mall and shopped at Nordstrom, buying a couple of shirts and a pair of shoes. We got a cab to drive us to a button and bead store that Janet was interested in. After a bit of wondering on his part (the cabbie) we eventually found ourselves at this interesting place. It was in an alley, door and windows covered with beads like out of the 60’s. It was about 4 in the afternoon and the store had a few customers in it, so we felt sort of safe. We went upstairs and Janet was in heaven. They had vintage buttons. I found a nice spot with a table and chairs and sat down and marked out the booths I was interested in for the food show. 2 hours later, Janet has her treasures in hand. It was dark and we were not about to leave this place without the cab sitting there. Did I tell you this was a little bit scary? The cab finally comes and we climb in. We were pretty tired after our adventures, so we went back to the apartment and watched TV.
Sunday morning was another great day. The skies were clear and temperature mild. We got a cab and went to the Moscone center about 9. The show didn’t open until 10, but we thought we might be able to see something. As it turned out, they weren’t watching the doors and we were able to get in early and look around. It is amazingly huge!! 1500 vendors all wanting your attention. Food was what it was all about.
Samples of everything were offered in two different centers. The North building had the smaller companies and packaging. We methodically went up and down each aisle so as not to miss anything. Even doing that, we missed some. Visited with Tim from Beehive cheese. He had a booth and was working. Talked with Art Pollard of Amano chocolate. His booth seemed to be busy most of the time. Visited the two high school kids that started Brandini toffee. They are high school seniors now. They said their parents were doing the marketing and such. The fun part of the show, was that you got to visit with the “real” people behind the label. I talked with Ina Garten in her Barefoot Contessa booth.
In the North hall, there were a lot of flavored waters and teas. Always, a lot of chocolate. Also visited with some packagers to get some new ideas. Mid afternoon, we wandered over to the South building. This is where the “big boys” were. The big slick displays and long time participants. Either there wasn’t as much excitement down here, or we were getting burned-out, but it wasn’t as exciting as the North.
We visited with the guys from Guittard, Fran and Dylan Bigelow from Fran’s chocolates. I met them in Montreal in March. We were in the same class at Callebaut. It was good to see them again. Janet signed up for the class of gift baskets. I wandered the show a bit while she was in class. We left the center at about 5:30. We had sampled bits of food all day, but mostly chocolate. We were just wanting some real food of some kind. Being tired and having already been to most the places we were interested in, we walked over to the Ferry Building and got a hamburger at Taylors. Back to the apartment. We planned out our last day.
Monday we would pack and clean the apartment. We needed to do the laundry and clean up after ourselves. Bill, whose apartment we were staying in, was gone the whole time we were in town. He loves Brussels sprouts. When I say love, I really mean it. He thinks they are great. His wife doesn’t care for them at all. Well, Bill lives in the apartment during the week and then flies home on the weekends. That is why the apartment was available to us. At the Farmer’s market we bought this stock of Brussel sprouts about 18” tall. The farmer told us to put the cut end in water and it would last for weeks and you just pulled off what you wanted to eat. We thought this would be a great thank you gift for him. After we cleaned the apartment, we left him a thank you note, and brussel sprouts and a bottle of lemon olive oil as well as my chocolates. We hope he enjoys them all, because we certainly enjoyed his apartment. Janet with our Thank you gifts.
We got to the show about 11, bags in tow. We checked them in the luggage/coat check area along with hundreds of others with the same idea. Janet found another button store not too far away so she went there while I walked the show one more time. I found that with a new day, I was more enthusiastic about what the South area offered. I found some vendors I had missed on the first day. I roamed, snacked and visited both the North and South areas. While I was sitting in the lounge area waiting for Janet, I looked over and saw Mark Spini visiting with a couple. I didn’t think much about it when I saw Mark motioning to me. I walked over and he wanted to introduce me to Andrew Shotts . I couldn’t believe it! He is younger and taller than I would have thought. He was very gracious. I asked him about g pectin and how could I know how much calcium was in the fruit. He told me to email him and he would send me some pectin and a basic recipe formula. He said that Chef Rubber was not making the pectin to his specifications and that he had someone else making it for him. I got a picture with him. Me and Drew Shotts.
I was feeling pretty proud of myself for that one when Janet arrived. She had gotten there earlier and was walking the floor again. It was about time to leave for the airport when she casually mentioned that Norman Love had a green box about the same color as mine. I told her I knew that but I had mine before I had seen his. I then asked her how she knew what his box was like. She said because she just stopped at his booth!!! Well, you have to understand that Norman Love is the ultimate in beautiful and tasty bon bons. He is the master of wonderful chocolates. I told her that he wasn’t at the show and looked again at the listing. She assured me his chocolates were there. She told me where to find them. I literally ran down because we were running out of time. I found the booth, but there was a gentleman running it and no Norman. It was in the Italian import section and not listed under his name. I looked further, and there he was talking on a cell phone. I snapped a picture fast with my cell phone. Norman looking at a crazy women taking his picture wondering what she is up to.
When he finished, I took the opportunity to visit with him for a few minutes. He is truly a nice guy. He said he is planning on teaching a class in LA for Guittard some time this year. He told me he really likes Guittard chocolate. He was really humble. When I told him I thought his chocolates were so beautiful as well as tasty, he said it was because he had a lot of good people working for him. As I turned to leave, Gary Guittard was there waiting to talk with him and Drew Shotts was heading down the aisle. What a great end to a perfect weekend.
In 4 days, we did about everything we wanted, walked our legs off, talked to many wonderful people, got new ideas, ate many foods, and had a great time. The weather couldn’t have been better. I tried to notice trends in products, but I guess I was on over-load. There were a lot of teas, teas and chocolate, flavored waters and chocolate. I saw more cheese than I have ever seen in one place before. Natural and organic was tossed around. Other than that, I didn't notice too many trends.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Next week I am going to SFO to the Fancy Food show. Never been but people tell me to wear comfortable shoes and go hungry. I want to get some new ideas for packaging toffee and popcorn. Packaging takes way too much time the way I do it. I'll try to take pictures and post on my return.