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Dreams of World Travel

June 18, 2012

There are so many major food events all over the world it’s impossible to attend them all. However, there are surely some professionals involved in the food industry who do better than most.

And much like I used to gripe about business travel, I wonder if they feel the same way.

I mean, it must be exhausting. Plus you have to spend time away from your family. And when you are working, you are still working, even if your work involves eating and drinking some of the tastiest things on earth. Still, my kids keep getting older and older. And as they grow they require less and less of me. So perhaps I can dare to dream.

This, mind you, assumes that in the future I can find some professional reason to attend the World Barista Championship, which just ended on June 15 in Vienna (though its location changes every year). Two days after this event ended the summer Fancy Food Show commenced in Washington D.C., and it is still going on now.

I missed both of these events, but had I gone, all my CSA veggies would have rotted. You probably missed them too. And if you didn’t tune into the WBC live, the suspense is probably killing you.

We lost.

Not only did we lose, we didn’t even make it into the finals. This year the best barista in the world comes from Guatemala. The next five runner-ups come from Mexico, Ireland, Japan, Greece, and the United Kingdom respectively. It’s a bummer for me, as well as for the U.S. entrant Katie Carguilo. Congratulations to this year’s winners.

Now I have to say that I didn’t watch the events unfold live. I haven’t even caught up on my backlog of video from the competition. It causes me no embarrassment to say that I really love watching skilled baristas ply their trade and craft three rounds of espresso-based drinks for a panel of judges.

I just wish I could put this in my Hulu queue.

But you can still watch video from this year’s competition. And from what I can tell based on Katie Carguilo’s twitter feed, she had a little bit of drama going into the event thanks to the TSA. It’s probably been a long time since I’ve obsessed about espresso. But the grinder is a key piece of the espresso puzzle. The shiny silver espresso machine is the front-man who gets all the glory. But it’s rendered meaningless if the grinder is on the fritz.

Her friend and colleague Peter Giuliano posted a story entitled, Why Katie Carguilo’s WBC Routine Was Important, and I think that’s also worth a read. I’m sure she is an amazing talent, and it’s a shame it did not work out better for her in Vienna.

If I had my dream gig where I would be flown around the world eating my heart out, I would have consoled myself about the loss in Washington D.C. at the Fancy Food Show.

Albany Jane had talked about making it down there this year. I’m not sure if she did. But I don’t think so, mostly because she didn’t mention it at our mega lunch at Taiwan Noodle on Saturday. I didn’t think I could pull off leaving town again after eleven days in California, but Mrs. Fussy has been very accommodating of my schedule lately. Maybe I could have swung it.

The last time I was at one of these was about ten years ago in San Francisco. That is where the annual winter show is held in January. And it’s a big deal.

Thousands of specialty food producers, distributors and importers are there displaying their wares to potential buyers. And there are samples everywhere. The samples are the sexy part. But it’s also really interesting to meet the producers and talk to them about what they do and how they came to be doing it.

Way back when, I chatted with the couple who were bringing in black rice from China and selling it as Forbidden Rice under the Lotus Foods brand. Even at the time it seemed like a pretty major specialty brand. It was carried in all the gourmet markets where I shopped, the packaging was well designed, and it had been around for a while.

Imagine my surprise when I found out it was just the two of them. They would get a semi-regular cargo container full of the rice that they first discovered on a vacation to China.

But it was also at the Fancy Food Show when I tasted one of the most delicious things I’ve ever put in my mouth: Pamplie butter, AKA the butter that eats like a cheese.

Still, it’s an exhausting show. You end up walking miles and miles of convention floor amid a throbbing sea of humanity. It’s loud. And it’s totally work. Although I have to imagine that if I went to the show, I’d easily have a month’s worth of blog posts about delicious things to eat.

Maybe next year. But first I’d love to find a sponsor to pay for it all. Any takers?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 18, 2012 11:33 am

    Well, although it no longer exists as well as its magazine Gourmet, my son and I attended the Gourmet Institute in NYC two years in a row. Expensive, yes, limited attendence, yes…worth it definately. The food, people, alcohol and dinners were amazing. Having conversations with the TOP folks at Gourmet was a hoot and meeting some of the top chefs was great, Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Eric Ripert, Sara Moulton, Mario Batali, Cesare Casella and on and on….

  2. June 18, 2012 5:47 pm

    I’m going to pass on the Summer FFS and wait for it to come back to Javits next year in NYC. Then I’ll sponsor your registration fee as long as you’ll pay mine….

  3. June 18, 2012 8:28 pm

    I’ll be at the Cheesemonger Invitational this Saturday. I be back at Fancy Food Show next year in NYC. (As a member I think you get more than one badge.) I can’t wait to go back, but with the farmers market and trying to get the store open, The Cheesemonger Invitational will be like FFS lite.

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