I was a little dismayed when I arrived Saturday morning at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show and found a line stretching around the building. Were there really this many Paula Deen fans?
Well, maybe, as I later found out during her one-hour session, but this particular queue happened to be for hopefuls auditioning for “America’s Got Talent.” It did appear that many of the cranky, stressed-out performers needed a snack. Or six.
Still, it was with no small amount of determination that I fought my way through the other hungry masses to sample what the vendors at the cooking show had to offer. Some common themes emerged: Fruity spreads, olive oil, chocolate and kitchen tools promoted by microphone-headset-wearing salesmen.
I did learn, however, that an in with the Fancy Food Show isn’t the only way to discover innovative, quality edibles. Here are my favorites from the show:
• Sonoma Syrup Co.: This line of infused syrups offers an ingenious collection of Pixy Stix-lookalike “drizzlers” with flavors including mint, meyer lemon and acai black currant. The individual portions make them perfect for squirting into a cup of tea or a cocktail. The California-based company also sells larger bottles of its syrups, in addition to extracts, of which the almond is a must-have for any fan of the nut.
• Emily G’s: Sure, these jams from Georgia would be great on a classic PB&J. But grown-up flavors such as cranberry port and rhubarb marmalade beg for a spot on, say, a warm orb of brie at your next dinner party. The jalapeno raspberry had a kick that left my mouth smarting well after I’d walked away from the booth, meaning I had to get a jar to satiate my grilled cheese obsession.
• Angelina Vagabonda: Apparently this delightfully named New York-based company specializes in wearable luxuries along the lines of leather and cashmere, but at the cooking show it was dishing out samples of its crema di caponata. The eggplant spread had a pleasing oniony sweetness that would be right at home atop crostini or pasta.
• Angeli Gourmet: Gaithersburg’s Athens Grill sells bottles of its Greek Dressing Marinade Dip, which, as the name indicates, would be a versatile addition to your pantry. It’s got a pretty potent garlic flavor. For me that’s a good thing, and I’d be happy to simply sop the dressing up with some crusty bread.
Did you try anything that you loved at the show this weekend?