Foodbuzz Festival Taste Pavilion
As I discussed in my previous post, this weekend I attended the Second Annual Foodbuzz Festival in San Francisco. After a night of street fare food and alcohol, the festival’s activities started bright and early on Saturday morning, with a couple of “breakout sessions.”
These sessions were educational sessions for food bloggers, and we got to register ahead of time to choose the classes we wanted to attend. After three breakout sessions, I was more than ready to eat. For the next three hours, we would be eating at the Taste Pavilion. Located in the City View of the Metreon, the City View room offers a gorgeous view of the city skyline.
Here, various sponsors of the Foodbuzz Festival were offering samples of their products. Many of the companies were local companies specializing in artisan foods. A lot of the companies, especially the smaller ones, were using this event to boost their business as well, getting business cards from bloggers to include them in a mailing list about their products or send them free products to review and blog about. I initially was a little wary of this process, but after talking to some of the companies and tasting the foods, there were many that I enjoyed and would have no problem recommending. And while the process was a bit commercialized, it is understandable, since Foodbuzz was hosting this event for free for about 350 bloggers.
While it seemed like the amount of food samples was endless, 3 hours was plenty of time to try everything, get seconds or thirds, and be completely “fooded out” way before the event ended.
As we stepped in, we were each given a wine glass, since many of the stations were wineries. As I mentioned in the street fare food post, wine was very prevalent at this event. The City Room is large and it takes a while to walk from one end to the other. There was only one station that served non-alcoholic drinks, and it was all the way at the beginning of the Pavilion. I never thought it would be so hard to find water at a food event.
We started out with a group of other bloggers, but we soon spread out as people wanted to sample different things. I spent most of the time hanging out with The Catty Critic, and luckily we have a lot of similar tastes.
We started out sampling some wine by Jaqk Cellars.
From Tulocay and Co. we sampled a squash soup with a piece of shortbread.
The Mission Minis were again being filmed at this event by the Food Network, for an upcoming episode of Cupcake Wars. A tower of mini cupcakes with various flavors greeted the bloggers. This stand was constantly being restocked, and with different flavors! I couldn’t get over how cute these minis were, and of course I had to try all the flavors they kept putting out. I have no self control when it comes to sweets. I have to admit, I stopped by this station quite a few times during my time in the Taste Pavilion. And I may have eaten quite a few of these things… I’m ashamed to admit how many. Seeing these cute cupcakes have inspired me to make my own minis. They are the perfect bite sized treats. Some of the flavors being offered included pumpkin, ginger, chocolate, red velvet, cinnamon horcetta, vanilla.
Ghiradelli offered some chocolate bars and some homemade smores. I haven’t had a proper smore in years, and this treat really took me back. The marshmallow was melted and gooey just as a Smore should be.
Inna jam offered a jalapeno jam and a raspberry jam.
Madecasse offered various chocolates with different percentages of cocoa.
Pop candy offered different flavors of brittle. I love brittle, so this was one of the highlights for me. Their brittle came in all sorts of flavors, even some spicy ones.
Annie the Baker offered a cookie that tastes like cookie dough. I’ve never been a cookie dough lover, so I found these morsels way too sweet, but I can see the appeal for cookie dough lovers out there.
One of the restaurants offered a mushroom soup that was delicious. I loved how they garnished the station with mushrooms. The soup was extremely rich with a light layer of froth. A perfect soup for mushroom lovers.
Another restaurant offered this shrimp cocktail appetizer.
We tasted sausages from one station, again I forgot the name.
Then I found myself at Saag’s, which I had recognized as one of the companies that provided us with some salami and sausages in the Foodbuzz bag of free swag. At the Pavilion, they offered fresh bread from Nature’s Pride, turkey cold cuts, ham cold cuts, some various sausages and pastrami, and grilled chicken fennel sausages. I loved the cooked fennel sausages. I also really liked the turkey cold cuts. I’ve pretty much stopped eating packaged cold cuts as I often find them to be too salty. But these cold cuts were light with a great flavor. My turkey sandwich on a slice of fresh, soft. multigrain bread was very satisfying.
479 Popcorn offered a variety of unique popcorn flavors, including their very popular black truffle popcorn which was delicious. I was also a fan of their ginger sesame popcorn as I’ve really gotten into the taste of ginger flavored foods lately.
We also sampled organic ice cream from Three Twins. I didn’t think the ice cream was creamy enough.
From Kikkoman, they offered us coffee flavored soy drinks. They tasted just like ice coffee. I couldn’t even tell it was soy milk.
Frog’s Hollow Farm gave everyone a bag containing a very sweet, ripe pear, a bag of dried peaches, and a bag of homemade granola. I really enjoyed the dried peaches, because they were naturally sweet without the additional sugar added. They also had platters of cheese, figs, and pears.
Royal Hawaiian honey offered three types of raw honey. You can buy their honey online, and it comes from Hawaii. I love using raw honey because it is so versatile. You can spread it, melt it, bake with it, etc. The first two honeys I tasted didn’t taste very special to me, but the third one I sampled, the flavors really popped and I enjoyed it tremendously. Now I just need to find out the name of the honey I liked so much…
Alexia was doing a tasting challenge on its various fries, and had us sample about six different ones. I thought they were all a bit soggy though and I forgot which ones were which.
The biggest draw at the Taste Pavilion were the fish tacos. Earlier in the day, Chef Sue Milliken, co-owner of a chain of the Bordergrill restaurants in LA, demonstrated making fish tacos . At the pavilion, they had a whole fish taco bar set up where you build your own fish tacos. There were two kinds of tacos being offered: salmon and hallibut.
Despite all the toppings, I wasn’t really a fan of the fish tacos. The tortillas were really soggy and I kept remembering the breakout session where the tacos were demoed and Chef Milliken said that she always put a piece of lettuce in between the fish and the tortilla to soak up the juices so you don’t have a soggy tortilla. Where was our piece of lettuce? Both the salmon and cod tasted a little dry to me and lacked seasoning.
While waiting in line, we were able to sample some wine from Jacob’s Creek. After our fish tacos, we sampled some smoothie concoctions from Moovision. The award winning one was an avocado smoothie. I thought it was way too thick to be called a drink and had trouble getting it to flow out from the cup. I also sampled a pumpkin banana one which tasted only of banana.
By this time, we were pretty much fooded out, but there still remained over half an hour. I noticed that many people had left, but we stuck around, walking around and exploring some more.
We had initially had plans to do all sorts of exploring during the three hour break between the pavilion and dinner, but we were pretty exhausted by the time the Taste Pavilion ended.