Sunday, April 30, 2006

sample 'til you explode

I spent Saturday out by the airport for the annual Good Food Festival. Early afternoon was a wise choice, as I never had to wait long for samples, unless the folks behind the booth were prepping a fresh batch. I spent two-and-a-half hours making the rounds, until I was too stuffed to try any more juices, curries or ice creams.
As with any show, there were hits and misses.

HITS
Most of the items at the Irie booth. I dropped most of my cash here, walking away with a bottle of coconut curry sauce, a jar of pineapple jam and two free packs of garlic pepper & herbs seasonings.

Lots of pepper jellies this year, all tasty. Highest thumbs-up to Simply Awesome Red Pepper Wine Jelly. Heavenly, but with a heavenly price tag (though I suspect it would have been worth it).

From agricultural producers, the beef farmer's BBQ sliced beef was good, as was the Purple Sweeties sweet potato soup. Lots of egg products - I was surprised how good the microwavable Omelette Express was, with no off-taste or weird green colour.

Diabetic-friendly banana bread made with xylitol had no hint of artificial taste. The tablet samples would be a good substitute for the ting-a-lings dumped into pillowcases and buckets at Halloween.

Smoothies made from Pete's Tofu were refreshing again this year. Their caramel tofu was undetectable when blended into a Betty Crocker chocolate cake mix.

Most Thai or Indian-based products made my tummy happy, though it was hard to single out any in particular.

MISSES
Overall, most items from the giant conglomerates were disappointing or looked too awful to try. More proof that people should buy products from mom n' pop vendors and distributors. I resisted trying anything at the Schneider's booth - they were making a Lunchable-type pizza (Smartlunch) that looked anything but appetizing. Swanson express microwave pastas made me crave a Stouffer's lasagne.

Other duds: Chris and Tal's Better Burger was a beef-soy hybrid that combined the worst of both worlds: the mushy texture of a bad veggie burger with the blandness of a generic frozen hamburger. An Indonesian laksa was inedible, which may have been due to a small spoonful of shrimp paste I added. Yoso Soy Yogurt reminded me of an old Simpsons joke: "soy pops - now with gag suppressant" (though their soy sundried tomato spread and soy fruit smoothies were tasty).

***

I brought my camera along, but decided it would get in the way of grabbing samples. So, dear readers, you are sadly denied any pictures of parchment paper pitchmen or poses with Mr. Peanut.

The camera came in handy later on. Since it was a beautiful day, I decided to go on a short country drive...that ended in Orillia. I decided to wander as long as the sun was out, so I explored new territory, the shoreline of Lake Simcoe between Barrie and Orillia. Maybe I had the area in the back of my mind after hearing friends trade Barrie stories Friday night.

Found a great shot opportunity east of Hawkestone. 

Road of Trees
Lakeshore Rd E, between Oro-Medonte Line 13 and Line 14, Apr 29/06

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