I needed to be in San Francisco for a continuing education course, the hubs needed to be there for a convention and my friend, the lovely Lara from Thinspired Blog just moved to the bay area from the UK. Sweet.
Like the last time we met in October in the UK, Lara and I got a double dose of each other...trust me, this is a good thing. One meeting is just not enough. A lot of jabbering needs to be accomplished and at least this time the hubses (plural for hubs, right?) knew what to expect. Last time during a rare moment of silence between sentences, Derek turned to Matthew and said, "Wow, it's bad enough with just ONE of them." Thanks Luvie! :-?
The first night we went to a fabo restaurant in the SOMA part of the city called Bacar. Luckily the hubses really get along well and we closed the place down after 3+ hours of constant chattering over a bottle of wine and amazing food (see Lara's blog for the food deets). Incidentally, Spellcheck informs me that "hubses" is not a real word. Spellcheck also informs me that "spellcheck" is not a real word. Now you know.
The next day was almost too exciting for words. I'm still just a bit awestruck. Derek was attending the Fancy Food show, as he is in the packaging/marketing business. He scored us tickets to go as well. But the catch was that we had to "work it" and establish contacts for him. OK, we figured that we could do that. HA!
Heaven help us- look at all this bounty!
Well, send two food-lovers/bloggers into a room with an obscene amount of gourmet food products and tasting samples and all bets are off. We kept getting sidetracked scoring single serving packages (UH, DID I DIE AND GO TO HEAVEN!?) and nibbling amazing noshes. Every 10 minutes, we kept having to firmly repeat aloud to each other and ourselves... "RE-FOCUS, RE-GROUP... We are here to "work it." We are here to "work it."
Luckily both Lara and I ate our breakfasts late so that we wouldn't be ravenous when we walked in the halls. Good thing we did. Feast your eyes on the following photos (doh, sorry!)
I love how they tell you how many "steps" you'll take for each aisle. Sadly, 948 steps burns a mere 38 calories. Sigh. On top of that, for every 15 steps you stop and ingest 200 calories in samples. I'm NOT liking the math here.
Eye candy for the tummy
The world's tiniest ice cream cone....WITH SPRINKLES!! You are witnessing one happy girl!
Life-sized football cake- see my dainty hand for size comparison (hey, where was my phone when I needed it?)
Gelato- the tiramisu taster rocked my face off
Frozen Yogurt- Lara got the berry flavor. I got vanilla. I spoke at length to the woman about "stabilizers" and gums...expect to see some new experimentation in the SmoothieGirl kitchen!!!
Yup, even Oikos was giving out it's not-yet-released Chocolate and Caramel flavors. Good thing we brought a cooler bags!
I think I developed Adult-onset Diabetes just looking at all the chocolate. Ok I may have tasted some too.
Bob's heaven. No samples though...booo! Apparently they were going to give away much of what you see the next day-gahh!
At first we were so overwhelmed by the enormity of it all that I kept saying that I think I need to curl up in the fetal position and just quiver in the corner while I processed everything. However, after a while, the old "repeated exposure therapy" set in and we were no longer audibly gasping at tables full of high-end gourmet olives, hummus, cheese, chocolate, crackers, cookies, muffins, greek yogurt, frozen yogurt, ice cream, cakes, granola etc. With that sort of culinary bounty, it soon became easy to take just a tiny bite or share a single sample.
However we did 'lose our cool' whenever we hit nut butter producers, and our experience at Justin's Nut Butters was very memorable. When I saw the Justin's stand, I began jumping up and down like a little girl and taking photos like a crazed fan. Eventually a big, hunky rep realized that we weren't just there 'for business' (no one in the food business gets THAT excited over nut butters). Lara then told him that we are huge fans and food bloggers. He immediately dove into his private stash and pulled out two HUUUUGGGGGEEE jars of almond butter for us. MAYJUH SCORE!
We were so excited about the lifetime-supply jar (well, ok... two weeks' supply), that we asked if we could have our photo taken with him. He graciously obliged. Then we asked him how long he'd been with the company and he began to tell us how he started making his own nut butters in his garage because he wanted to get more protein to fuel his mountain biking. Lara immediately replied "Really? You sure look like you get enough protein!" (eyelashes batting wildly). At that moment, the penny dropped and we exclaimed "Wait, you mean, YOU ARE......... JUSTIN!!???" He confirmed that yes, he is in fact Justin and we felt mildly stupid for not seeing the huge name tag around his neck. He was a total sweetheart and I believe that he was somewhat amused to see that he has fans out there. He then gave us more individual sized samples (yessss!), including a not-yet-released HAZELNUT CHOCOLATE butter. Uh, quick announcement: Lara and I are running away with Justin. Sorry, hubses.
On second thought, three's a crowd- buh bye Lara, it's been real!
I like the fact that it says "Knead and Squeeze" in huge letters behind us :-) Hee hee. I'll just leave it at that.
Rather than have a "proper" meal, we just grazed and nibbled and probably didn't do any worse caloric damage than we would have done at a sit-down lunch. It was sheer heaven on earth and after about 5 hours, we completely pooped out. And we had only covered about half of the "regular" Gourmet wing and half of the Organic wing of the show! Amazing. We even forgot to hit the Torani stand! That's how overwhelmed we were-gah!
At the end of the show, Derek met us and dropped the thermonuclear bomb that we were not allowed to take any samples out of the halls! WHAT!!?? Why on earth would they give away all those samples if they didn't expect you to take them HOME! Nobody could possibly eat that much food in one day!
And this is no lie: Lara and I each had about 8 pounds of food in our bags. So we furiously repacked all of our most coveted samples to the very bottoms of our purses underneath used snotty tissues, wet umbrellas and half-eaten apples. This was done under the assumption that the Sample-Police would be too disgusted to dig underneath all the muck.
We were both prepared for battle, however. The phrase "over our dead bodies" came up in conversation more than once. When we finally left the exhibition halls we held our collective breath and thankfully, nobody checked our bags. I will readily admit that I lost a few years of my life and sprouted a few gray hairs over that panic attack.
We walked back to our hotel and Lara picked up some items she left in our room. After she left, I got a text from her saying that our new friend Justin was schmoozing in the bar! Hee hee!
As if the weekend with Lara was not already fabulous, I came home to find THIS from her and Matthew...waiting for me on my doorstep for my (25th) birthday on Wednesday ;-) ......
Silly Samantha- may I remind you that you are a cat and you do NOT like chocolate-covered strawberries?
Thanks to Lara for many of the wonderful photos above, for driving in the pouring rain twice to spend time with us over the course of a weekend and for being a terrific friend!
To see Lara's wonderful recap, click here.
Q: How do you approach situations where you know you'll be sampling much food? Do you eat a light meal beforehand so that you're not ravenous, or do you save up all of your calories and dive in head-first?