Granted, it's tough to justify the $212.50 ticket price for the Grand Tasting Tent if expecting to get the food value equivalent, but if you're willing to pay the price for an experience and an all-out tasting orgy, you got it.
Now we weren't able to try every last morsel and sip, but we made it through from the start to the end, masticating and swallowing all the while to bring you the highlights and lowlights.
Here were some standouts:
1) Plugra's Orange Honey Ginger Butter
"Butter? Seriously? Hmmph. Why the hell are these people even here?" I wondered. But dang - -one bite of this silky stuff on a slice of bread had my head reeling. Must. Have. More. Now. Pity is, though the chief smearer promised I could find it at Publix or Whole Foods, stops at both stores that evening left me with only the traditional flavor (AKA plain). A visit to the website provided the answer I sought yet didn't want to know: I would have to make the flavor myself by following a recipe
2) Jelly Belly's Honey-Dipped Apple combo
Here's a tasty snack that's easy to make wherever you are: Shove a honey-flavored Jelly Belly and a red-apple-flavored bean in your mouth and chew. Tastes just like a Rosh Hashanah
3) VeeV's Spa Cooler Cocktail
The recipe will appear in a later Clean Plate Charlie blog, but suffice it to say this cocktail, starring the acai spirit VeeV
, tasted like a massage, facial, mani/pedi, and scrub all in one, uh, glass.
Found this gem at the Whole Foods area. Not only were little samples given out but they were also pouring huge plastic cups of it, a blessing for those of who had eaten our share of salty foods. I can't think of a more refreshing beverage and one that is sure to please the masses. The only unfortunate part is that this stuff isn't bottled. It has to come handmade from someone at Whole Foods. Sigh.
5) Fage Greek Yogurt (with cherry)
Their marketing campaign gave me a giggle: "Ridiculously thick. Ridiculously hard to pronounce." Seriously? Would anyone ask the stock boy for some "faggy" yogurt? Anyhow "fa-yeh" alone can be a bit sour and flavorless, making one yearn for the old reliable Dannon or Yoplait. But once the demo gals poured cherry goo on top -- yowza! -- it was delish. Already bought me all four varieties
with sweet stuff at the supermarket last night.
And, of course, there were these disappointments (I'll leave the company names off to protect the innocent):
1) Florida Gator Tail Picadillo
Now, I've eaten my share of gator, but never had I ever tasted it so... well, frankly, it reminded me of spicy dishwater. And judging by the nearby trash can filled with barely touched sample cups of the stuff, many tent visitors agreed.
2) Flying Fish
It was interesting to learn that the flying fish is indigenous to Barbados, and I just loved the enthusiasm of the cooks and P.R. people there to help dole out a taste, but the fishy, piquant sample they doled out left lots to be desired.
3) Kale Salad
I happen to be a fan of kale -- in small doses -- but I'm willing to bet 99 percent of the attendees were less than amused to gnaw on a tahini-coated deep-green leafy veggie that tickles the tongue (even if it was probably the healthiest thing there).
4) Popular Overpriced Miami Chinese Restaurant's Chicken Satay
Say what you will, foodies, but unless this dish is served piping hot, it's totally unsavory.
5) Canned Spanish Seafood
I don't want to slam the company since I'm just not a fan of pickled, brined, or canned seafood, but dang -- is there really a huge market out there for calamari swimming in ink?
So there you have it. Now... pass the Pepto, please!