Gourmet Food and Wine Expo 2011 Review

Thanks to Lisa from Turn the Record Over, I won tickets to opening night of the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo.

I went for the food since I’m not much of a wine-o. How the expo works is there is an entrance ticket (which I won) and you must purchase sample tickets to try things. From what I saw yeseterday, tastings of food and wine cost anything from 1-8 tickets. Tickets are worth $1 each. Between me and Nash we had $40 worth, which was more than enough to get full off food and have enough for a couple of drinks.

Whenever we go to any sort of food thing, we have a system where we eat half of everything so that we can end up trying a larger variety of things. We started off the night by doing a walk through to see everything, although for some reason we sort of missed an entire side of food until the very end. So for future reference for anyone, the Food is not just in the back it’s along the sides as well in a sort of L shape.

We started off the night with a 5 ticket Pulled Pork on a Bun from Taste of Elios:

The meat was pretty juicy, but whenever I think of pulled pork, I think of the delicious BBQ sauce that usually comes with it. This was just a pile of meat on a bun, still pretty good though.

Our next item was a 3 ticket crab cake from the dudes at Texas Tourism.

This was pretty moist and delicious, and I loved the blue cheese dressing that was on top.
The next thing we had was a Taco of some sort from a place I forgot the name of. When it comes to food sometimes I get distracted and forget where it comes from.

It had a tender meat, sort of like a pulled pork, but spiced much differently. The ingredients were bright and colourful. My first initial bite reaction was “It tasted like flowers.”. It was a really strange thing to say, but for some reason Nash knew what I meant. But there was a little bit of a kick of heat at the end.

Even though we said we weren’t going to drink, we sort of needed something after the taco. We arrived at the Island Originals booth.


They were 3 tickets each and I had the Strawberry Colada and Nash had the Lime. It was lovely and refreshing. The box of drink mix only costed 4 tickets if you wanted to take it home. Later on we also found some free bottles of San Pallegrino sparkling water. I don’t like sparkling water normally, but I actually enjoyed this one. It literally tasted like bubbly bottled water, without that weird after taste found in Perrier.

Next up we had the Kobe Beef Burger (8 tickets) from Edo Sushi.

I always wanted to know what the difference was between Kobe beef and regular beef. The burger was like a tender version of a normal burger. There was a hint of soy in the burger which was different, but nice. We also had an Asahi beer from here that came with Edamame. I’ve had it before, but it was a new thing for Nash. It’s kind of like a Molson that doesn’t suck.

As we were eating the burger, we sat in the Food Network Stage area. We happened to catch Art on a Plate featuring executive chef Lan Hoang and his sous chef from the restaurant the 3s’s. There was also a tenor singer that came with them, who was so good I thought he was a recording at first.

I have to be honest, I didn’t pay that much attention to the show, but I had their food. It was sweet bread on apple pancakes with a blueberry gastriche. If you don’t know what sweet bread is, it’s a nice way to say pancreas or various other weird glands of animal (or sometimes heart, belly, or thymus). There were two variations served during the show, and I tried both.

The first one had a smaller portion of sweet bread it was kind of chewy and strange. It was probably some sort of muscley part of the animal. The idea of this on a pancake was pretty odd.


The second one was a softer sweet bread. It almost tasted sort of like chicken liver, but not as intense as liver. Again, a strange thing on a pancake. I ate the pancake though, the sweet bread was a little too much for me, but now I can say I’ve tried it.

Our next stop was a Spanish Sausage on a bun from a Tapas place.

Nash described this as “It tasted exactly like how you’d expect it to taste.” and he was right. There wasn’t anything particularly special about the sausage, it was okay. There was a tiny bit too much bread. After this, I was pretty full, since we ate a ton of things on buns.

Back to the Food Network stage we went where Vivien Reimbelli from Bachi Chocolate in Italy was talking about tempering chocolate.

He was a pretty entertaining dude that had some obnoxious pronunciation to things like SHOCOLAT! There were a ton of people seated in seats and on the floor all too eager to taste some chocolate. There were a few spazzy people who took multiples before everyone even had one.

The first was a chocolate strawberry paired with a red wine. Nash thought the wine ruined the chocolate strawberry but I thought differently. We both ate it differently though. I took a bite of the chocolate strawberry and then took the tiniest sip of wine and found it a pleasant pairing. Although, I wish I could just eat 100 of these chocolate strawberries.


The second was a hazel nut bacio (kiss in Italian). It reminded me of the center of a Ferro Rocher (my favourite chocolate ever btw). If there weren’t so many people around, I’d probably have tried to take more than one.

So as I said in the beginning, we sort of missed a whole side of food until the very end but I’m glad we found it because we had a delicious desert panini.

From what I remember the panini had a mixture of Cinnamon, hazelnut and some other things in it and it was served with a chocolate mousse that I probably would have tried to dig my fingers into if it weren’t a public place.

All in all, it was a lovely night. There were a ton of people, even though the tickets were more expensive on first night. Man, the next few days would probably at capacity than. I recommend going on the opening night, because at least you’d probably have the opportunity to try what you wanted, food and beverage wise. $20 of tickets is enough if you just do food, but if you are into the alcohol tasting, it would probably be double. The portion sizes were decent and there were many things to try. I didn’t see it until we left, but next time, I want to try the Pulled Pork Parfait!

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