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Monday, November 10, 2008

Getting Buzzed at the Fabulous Food Festival

Saturday, we attended the first annual Fabulous Food Festival in San Francisco's Concourse Exhibition Center.  As in our TomatoFest experience, we got to go as "foodie correspondents" for FoodBuzz.  The Fab Food Fest was a craft foodie's showcase, with over 120 vendors featuring gourmet chocolates, sauces, baked goods, utensils, and other treats.

Fabulous Food Festival in San Francisco

Fabulous Food Festival in San Francisco

As you can see, the place was pretty packed with people sampling all the different foods at each vendor's booth.  That was probably the most unpleasant thing about this whole event. The aisles were just a bit too claustrophobic for our tastes.  There was lots of jostling and elbowing going around in the traffic bottlenecks, especially surrounding the savory food booths like Aidell's Sausage and Spring Hill Jersey Cheese.

Sold on Sjaak's

Along the outer edges of the exhibition, however, things were much quieter and more relaxed.  There, we found the Sjaak's (pronounced "shawk" - I hope I got that right!) Organic Chocolates booth.  All of their chocolates are certified organic AND fair trade, which means it's not only good for the body, but good for the Earth and good for the farmer as well!  They even have a line of vegan chocolates which do not contain milk, butter, eggs or gelatin.

Sjaak's Organic Chocolate Truffles

Sjaak's Organic Chocolate Truffles

Besides these assorted truffles, they also have chocolate bars as well as "bites".  We sampled their dark chocolate peanut butter cup which was AMAZING.  The peanut butter had just the right saltiness to balance against the chocolate, and the slightly bitter dark chocolate had a nice, lingering finish.  We were sold!

Sjaak's Organic Chocolate Bars

 Sjaak's Organic Chocolate Bars

One other thing to note is that they sell a line of "Nepalese" boxed chocolate sets. When I asked Jessica, the salesperson, why they were called "Nepalese" boxes, she explained that the boxes are actually made by a women's fair trade cooperative in Nepal.  The material they use is not tree bark but bark from the lokta bush, a sustainable tree-free fiber.  Very cool.

(Order online thru November 30, 2008 and get 15% off your order when you use coupon code Fab15!)

More Cool Stuff

We walked up and down the aisles, sampling as we went, and finding lots of interesting as well as not-so-interesting items.  Here's one that I haven't seen in stores before: mushroom powder from Oregon Mushrooms. At $13.00 for a 4 ounce bottle, that's a pretty expensive seasoning. But I imagine that a little goes a long way.

Chanterelle and Lobster Mushroom Powder

 Chanterelle and Lobster Mushroom Powder

Another item that made us pause was this peanut butter-filled, chocolate-dipped pretzel that was rolled in toffee chips from Marin Chef in Novato.  We popped them in our mouth and went, "WOW!"  These were seriously good snacks.

(Get 20% off your order of $40 or more when you order tins online and use coupon code BOXTINPROMO!)

CJ's Stix: Chocolate-Dipped Pretzels, Hand-Rolled in Toffee Chips

 CJ's Stix: Chocolate-Dipped Pretzels, Hand-Rolled in Toffee Chips

Sniffing Out the Spice Hound

Our main reason for coming to the Fabulous Food Festival, though, was because we were invited by our friend and fellow Malaysian ex-pat, Tammy Tan of Spice Hound.  We met Tammy at the Los Altos Farmer's Market, and struck up a conversation. She's a great person - fun, engaging, and passionate about spices.  She has a wide selection of fresh, whole spices as well as spice blends that she makes herself:

Spice Hound's Spice Blends

Spice Hound's Spice Blends

What really sets her apart, though, is her vast assortment of sea salts.  She doesn't just have the standard fleur de sel from France. Her collection of finishing salts span the globe, from Hawaii to Japan, Australia, and the Mediterranean.

Aguni Japanese Sea Salt, Murray River Pink Flake Salt, Cyprus Mediterranean Flake Sea Salt

Aguni Japanese Sea Salt, Murray River Pink Flake Salt, Cyprus Mediterranean Flake Sea Salt

The one Annie was most interested in, though, was the large slab of Himalayan pink salt. It looked like beautiful, translucent, pink marble. You can heat it up in the oven or on a grill, and the slab will retain enough heat to cook whatever you lay on top of it. The slab will impart a slight saltiness to the food.  Me want!

Unfortunately, these slabs are quite expensive.  A large slab will set you back $60.  We would like to boost the economy, but $60 for a salty, pink rock is too rich for me.  We did, however, contribute to the economy somewhat by buying up a load of Sjaak's chocolate, three finishing salts, and a neato ceramic grater from the Garlic Grater booth.

Ceramic Grater, Spice Hound Finishing Salts, and Sjaak's Chocolate Bites

Ceramic Grater, Spice Hound Finishing Salts, and Sjaak's Chocolate Bites

After an afternoon spent eating all this fancy food, we needed something less...fancy.  So we headed over to Oakland Chinatown for some good, homey, Chinese food.  But that's for another post...

Aloha,  Nate

Hungry for more festivals?  Click here:

Gizdich Ranch Apple Butter Festival (Watsonville)

Getting Buzzed at TomatoFest

Getting Buzzed at TomatoFest, Part 2

The Difference Between "Made in Hawaii" and "Hawaii-Made"

14 Comments:

Robert said...

Well, Sjaaks, one of my guilty pleasures from up Humboldt way, been hammering those bon bons and bars for years, very smooth and tasty. Great adventure.

Reeni said...

Looks like a lot of fun! I would like one of those big pink rocks to cook on too, how cool! Thanks for sharing.

Carolyn Jung said...

Glad you discovered the Spice Hound. She's got an amazing array of salts and spices, and is the nicest person around. I'm glad I can find her stand at my local South Bay farmers markets.

CUMI & CIKI said...

wow! wish i was there.. excellent shots - great write up

CUMI & CIKI said...

wow! sounds like our kinda place! we love the jostle and crowd, if it means good food is near... call us crazy but you guys are so lucky to be there:D

Pete said...

Looks like a fun food festival!

Food For Tots said...

Wow! What a great food event! So many cool stuffs!

mimid3vils said...

This festival open for public? How nice.... can eat all u can, hehe ^.^

Jenster said...

I'm intrigued by your description of the big slab of pink salt. I wonder how many uses you can get out of it? Can you cook with it over and over again?

Nate-n-Annie said...

@all - thanks for your comments!

@jenster - you can get many, many uses from this slab.

bunchesmcginty said...

The Murray River Pink Sea Salt is divine. I'm from Australia and they're usually around nine dollars for 250g. It is used to clear up the Salinity problem in the river.

lengslog said...

Thanks for adding me on FoodBuzz! Great site and amazing picture!

Piee and JSBanana said...

My sister and I were planning to go to the FabFoodFest, but things came up. ): The CJ's Stix look good. >.<"

--JSB

Nate-n-Annie said...

@bunchesmcginty - I didn't know that. How interesting!

@lenslog - thanks for being my friend, and for the compliments!

@Piee and JSBanana - sorry you missed it. Hope you get to attend other food festivals in the future!