Product Reviews, Restaurant Reviews and Recipes: All GLUTEN FREE!
I enjoy attending GLUTEN FREE Events, as they’re a great opportunity to try new and exciting GLUTEN FREE Foods and products, as well as understanding what’s happening in our very competitive sector. On my blog I have covered the Europe’s largest Allergy & Free From Show in London and it’s sister show in Liverpool, as well as BBC Good Food and the Salon Du Chocolat, and even the Speciality & Fine Food Show, (and coming soon: 2015’s BBC Good Food Show, Food Matters LIVE and Ideal Christmas Show) but to visit an Overseas Fair is rather exciting: if only to compare and contrast what is happening within the International GLUTEN FREE world.
The Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest is organised by the Magazine “Gluten Free and More” (formerly known as “Living Without”) and is a showcase for GLUTEN FREE food producers, products and providers which tours the USA. This started in 2014 and this year (2015), the show has been seen in San Diego in May, Indianapolis in August, and Portland in September with the last event being in Stamford, CT. (A friend saw a 2-for-1 offer with Groupon, so we had “cheap” tickets which were definitely good value-for-money) given the breadth of products, the freebies and the joy of seeing GLUTEN FREE everywhere! For a full listing of exhibitors at Stamford, CT, click here.
From Queens, NYC, it;s just a 35 minute drive across the border into Connecticut and onto Stamford. Held at the Hilton Hotel, after paying $5 to park, we entered the hotel and easily found the upstairs venue with plenty signage. After registration, you’re handed a large “freebie” bag which already contained your first items of GLUTEN FREE delight and useful, as many of the stall holders had many more freebies to give away (as well as plenty of good special offers). A really big Fest with front stalls, just after registration before entering the main rooms (with three rows to wander) and a side room (with two further rows of exhibitors). In addition, they hosted seminars and talks in another series of seminar rooms. So who was there? What did I notice being a foreign visitor to the USA’s GLUTEN FREE Fest?
Spiked Seltzer: A strange fizz drink which tasted like a similarly named medical drink with a hint of fruit flavour. I wasn’t convinced by the taste!
Clean Kangen Water: A strange stall which attracted quite a crowd as he had several branded water bottles and demonstrated the Acid – Akaline contents of the waters. Very visual and very exciting although the point of it was missed on me: but they did give away a bottle of water.
Mikaela’s: They were showing off Biscotti cookie biscuits: which were amazingly tasty: I especially liked the Chocolate Mint, which had a real menthol kick and was rather warming. I also tried their Lemon and Chocolate Chip Biscottis.
Glutino: A good stable of the USA GLUTEN FREE Range, and they had a huge stand with lots of bowls of their products for trying. I enjoyed the pretzels (sesame rings, honey mustard and buffalo style) as well as pretzels covered with yogurt (strange!) and Chocolate (interesting: as the pretzel and chocolate go rather well!).
Earth Balance: Another snack producer and I tried Aged White Cheddar GF Puffs: which tasted like Popcorn without the kernels and flavoured rather well with cheesy cheese. Another product which I will check out in the UK (at Wholefoods).
UDIS: One of several Bread providers on show: Interesting that GLUTEN FREE Bread appears (still) to be the Holy Grail of GF Food. It is such a basic stable and yet so many competing brands and providers. They had a toasted sandwich on offer to try, but by the time I had found this stall, I had eaten too much already! But I do love their bagels!
Lovely GLUTEN FREE People that I met:
Erin Smith: Who writes a really interesting Travel blog: Gluten Free Globetrotter. As well as hosting a stand, she presented a Seminar on “Travel Tips” which was well attended. She shared some useful tips from her experience and travels which was really interesting. She runs a NYC Coeliac Group and it is her I thank for sharing information about the GF Oktoberfest (New York’s first, which I also attended and shared on my blog). Lovely to meet a fellow blogger.
Diane “Dee” Kittle of Dee’s One Smart Cookie: She was there in person and offering a wide selection of Cup Cakes and sweet treats. Indeed, her cakes were miniture versions which were just big enough for my mouth! Lovely to see her cheeky face on her business card and on her branding!
Emilie from Emilie’s Kitchen: serving up lovely crackers in three key flavours: Original, Savory and Dipping. These were DF, GF, WF and EF, and very tasty.
And from Living Now: one of the Chefs making Quinoa Pasta: made without Corn (the usual pasta substitute) GF DF and EF: interesting as it stays together (even after over-cooking) and had a firm al dente texture.
A special mention has to be to Boars Head, a “famous” all-American Ham, which I was advised, is available in many Delis and is a brand-name Ham. They also offered up some amazing DF Cheeses which were amazing as well as a good selection of cold meats (salamis),and of course I tried them and loved them.
A special mention to Dr Schar who were bread tasting and in the “freebies” goody bag, a two-slice packet (not for retail sale) was given away. This packet found its way onto my hand-baggage on my flight home, and was just the right size to enjoy at breakfast (making a wholesome sandwich with my GF bread!).
So was it worth it? It was great to have a wander around another Nation’s GLUTEN FREE Fair, and notice NEW and different products; which reflects how much further the USA is along from the UK as well as reflecting the tastes and flavours of the home country (amazed by the breadth of GF pretzels in a multitude of flavours and toppings), and in terms of GLUTEN FREE brands and products. It was refreshing to see different types of biscuits (Biscoitti) and snacking options (Chinese Dim Sum) which I am sure, over time, will head over the Pond to the UK and Europe, and reassuring that the frustrations and “holy grail” of GLUTEN FREE bread is still a highly competitive and prized goal for so many companies. (We share several of the big brands and baked goods still dominate many GF shows and events: perhaps reflecting a main stable of the Western diet, for better or worse).
Whilst I am not sure I would plan a whole trip on just attending a GF Fair, it was so exciting to see NEW products, NEW providers and taste NEW dishes; all GLUTEN FREE.
Maybe I’ll head to Berlin, Germany for their NEW Allergy & Free-From Show, which launches in April 2016?!