Gourmet Food and Wine Expo – the eats!

On Saturday November 21st, I attended the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo as part of the Foodbuzz Foodie Correspondent program for Featured Publishers. In exchange for a Media Pass, I am writing a couple of posts about my experience – it was a lot of fun, so thanks, Foodbuzz!

According to the Expo website, the annual Gourmet Food & Wine Expo offers 35,000 guests an unparalleled opportunity to sample over 1,200 fine wines, spirits and beers from around the globe.

To be honest, I thought this year there was much more a focus on the wine than the food which was a little disappointing for a foodie like myself but you, know, in the interests of the blog, I soldiered on. As you do. This post will focus on the “eats” and there will be another post later in the week about the drinks.

The first place we headed was the Fine Wine Tasting Lounge. And very chic it was too.

According to the Expo website, VINES Magazine presented an exclusive tasting of premium wines at the Fine Wine Tasting Lounge. Guests sampled rare premium consignment, vintages and private order wines in a casual, yet truly distinctive setting.

The first stand we happened upon was Brix Chocolate – Chocolate for Wine. Intriguing slogan, no?

According to their website Dr. Nick Proia, an Ohio pulmonologist, developed Brix when it became obvious to him that no chocolate on the market paired well with wine. Nick and his colleagues would get together monthly to share a few great bottles and friends would usually bring an appropriate cheese to enjoy with their favorite red. It seemed foolish to Dr. Proia to eat these fat-laden cheeses, after dinner, while trying to benefit from the health effects of wines. Instead, Dr. Proia decided to try out the pairing of dark chocolate with wine and after trying all different varieties and “strengths”, he could find no happy medium. Either the chocolate was too much like eating candy or it was so bitter and complex that it would dominate a fine wine.

Of course we had to try some… (info below from the Brix website)

Brix Milk Chocolate is a chocolate designed for the lighter reds and dessert wines. The addition of high quality milk chocolate to the single origin Ghanaian product results in a milk chocolate like no other, both creamy and spicy.

This was creamy and very Lindt-like.

Brix Dark Chocolate is the most versatile of the Brix blends. While its cocoa content is high, it remains sedate enough to enhance the fruit forward wines it was designed to accompany. While its suggested pairings are on the label, it easily stretches upward to the lighter cabs and downward to the heavier pinots.

I liked this a lot. Just dark enough for me.

Brix Extra Dark is specifically formulated to pair with the deepest red wines. Having a very high cocoa content, this Brix blend can stand up to the massive tannins found in these wines. While the label suggests Barolo, Cabernet and Bordeaux, Very Dark goes well with the heavier, peppery Zinfandels and Syrahs as well.

This was surprisingly not bitter at all, which I love for a chocolate with such a high cocoa content.

Some Brix chocolate may be making a special appearance in some more bacon chocolate one of these days….

Next, we hit up the Windsor Arms stand where Neil couldn’t go past this:

and up close:

For $5 this was a bargain…

Edie and I were enticed by the lamb sliders with blue cheese sauce at the Splendido booth:

OMG – a little mouthful of heaven right there…

I was excited to see Première Moisson bakery there:

My favourite?

That you can buy at our local Metro supermarkets apparently – score!!!

A little cheese plate from The Cheese Emporium was totally necessary:

Loved the aged cheddar!

There was so much cheese at the Expo:

We bought a blue brie but had to stop at that, since we were already carrying around (ahem!) tons of stuff and a bunch of chocolate and umm… a chocolate cutting board and knife. As you do.

Neil was excited to see this:

A cheese “cone” from Tête de Moine cheese. When I was Googling a site to link to, look what I found:

They look like they’re vaguely up to no good, huh? 😉

Neil and Edie sampled some delights from the sea:

(the breaded, deep-fried sardines on the right – Portugal was the “host country” this year)


Oysters from Rodney‘s. With all the fixins:

And then Neil spotted these:

Loved the presentation in the cabbage leaf – to “save on plates and not litter”. From The Chef Upstairs.

But then, look what I spied:

OMG, OMG, OMG!!!!! Edie and I made a beeline over to Ruelo Patisserie’s stall:

And check out the choice:

I was a purist and went for the Fleur de Sel Caramel:

Verdict? Well, let’s put it this way, I could have eaten about 20 of these…

Ok then, handily next door to the macarons, there were some healthy snacks:

Ok, palates cleansed, we moved along:

I managed to bypass these delicious looking chorizos…

But not these:

Mmm – Sassafraz‘s famous brownies.

Just down the aisle, we were caught off guard by what looked like a small fire…

Nope – just a bit of molecular gastronomy going on by Touchstone on Lake Muskoka.

And we got to watch the chef making the “Mr Nitrate” Egg-nog infusion with liquid nitrogen ice-cream:

But sadly no picture… Those little spoons of frozen perfection went straight into our mouths with no time for a picture. I have to laugh though since all three of us said “it’s a really large spoonful” yet had NO ISSUES finishing it! Ha!

Edie and Neil ended with some sushi from the ever-reliable Edo Sushi:

Neil proclaimed that this was “just what he needed” – not sure about that considering all the alcohol mix that was sloshing around our bellies at this point… (though Neil was spitting out and not finishing his tastes, ahem – unlike me and Edie!!).

I realise that this makes us look like total gluttons at this point but actually all the serves were pretty small, bites rather than plates. (they WERE!!!!) And I am glad I took pictures because my memory of the event was that the food was disappointing in comparison to previous years when it’s been more food-centric. I guess the pictures prove otherwise! Stick around for a “drinks” post later this week featuring the unforgettable wines of China. And not in a good way.

19 Responses to Gourmet Food and Wine Expo – the eats!

  1. Fresh Local and Best November 25, 2009 at 14:31 #

    This looks like an amazing event! Sorry that the food was not as stellar as previous years, I still would have been so distracted by sipping wines that I wouldn't have noticed.

  2. Susan 'Charles' Grant November 25, 2009 at 14:35 #

    Thanks for commenting on my blog! You did a way more comprehensive post than I did, great job… but I'm more of a wine beast than a foodie. You're right, there was a much bigger focus on the wine. I have so many notes that I still need to organize. Love your photos and now I'm bummed I didn't try the lamb sliders from Splendido!

  3. Evelyne@Cheap Ethnic Eatz November 25, 2009 at 15:04 #

    Wow…so lucky. Hope something like that comes to Montreal soon. Love the wine chocolate pairing.

  4. Kelly @ EvilShenanigans November 25, 2009 at 16:00 #

    That looks like an AMAZING time!! Lucky girl!

  5. Jhonny walker November 25, 2009 at 17:30 #

    You go the best foodie places ever..makes me so so jealous 🙂 🙂

    I am not crying becos of the focus on wine and the chocolates… I am a nerdy fan of both of these!! your pictures are great and so is the commentary. Keep em' comin
    🙂 🙂 🙂

  6. jen laceda November 25, 2009 at 18:07 #

    Argh…I lost my first comment. So here goes again.

    I'm totally bummed that I missed the food & wine expo last weekend. I was in Quebec City for an adventure drive sponsored by GM. And while I am supremely jealous of your feast at the expo, I am very happy that you and Neil had such great tastings! Thanks for sharing this visual food extravaganza! Most of the vendors I know, but glad to find some new ones. Everything looks tantalizing. Especially those macarons! And you know how I feel about those morsels!

  7. oldwaystable November 25, 2009 at 18:57 #

    That's so cool about the Foodbuzz Foodie Correspondent program for Featured Publishers, I had never heard about that until your post!

    – Alison

  8. Simply Life November 25, 2009 at 21:09 #

    Yum yum and yum! I'm not sure which photo I just drooled over more! If there was a foodie I could follow for a day, you'd win that award 🙂

  9. and this blog November 25, 2009 at 21:29 #

    ohhhhhh the french macaroons!!! my fav… wasabi grapefruit sounds really interesting!!! and here, I thought fig flavor was pretty unique….

  10. TheGourmetGirl November 25, 2009 at 22:28 #

    One of our most memorable dining experiences was at Striped Bass that was on Market Street.
    We have a special place in our heart for Philadelphia. (RE your post about Philly)
    I greatly appreciate what you shared about the Food Expo, sharing all things cuisine with other food lovers/geek/foodies is my mantra!
    Thanks for your comment about Lamson and GoodNow, I can only hope that others serious about quality food preparation products realize that our tools are an investment! Love chatting with you on Twitter.
    This is a great article, thank you for sharing. If you want more on cheese, please accept my personal invitation to visit Homage to Fromage in our magazine!
    So glad that we have connected.

  11. Divina Pe November 26, 2009 at 01:16 #

    Amazing. Just look at the different selections of macaroons. I would love to have those chocolates. I miss going to the Expo. There's so much inspiration you can find there.

  12. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite November 26, 2009 at 01:53 #

    Fresh Local – errr, yes there was a little bit of that (being distracted by the wine!)

    Susan – yuo're welcome – glad I found your blog! And oh, there is a wine/ drinks post to come!

    Evelyne – I am surprised Montreal does not have anything like that!

    Kelly – it's hard work but someone has to do it!

    Jhonny – nerdy is good!

    Jen – well a weekend in Quebec City doesn't sound too bad… And yeah, the macarons were amazing!

    Alison – you should check it out…

    Simply Life – thanks!

    and this blog – yes the fig was intriguing…

    Elaine – thanks for commenting and I am glad we connected too

    Divina – Yup – it was pretty fun!

  13. Jessica November 26, 2009 at 02:33 #

    That food fest looks incredible! Wine and chocolate? Right up my alley! The macaron looks delicious, too.

  14. K a b l o o e y November 26, 2009 at 02:47 #

    Oh. My. Goddd. That looks incredible. Top to bottom. Yum. I would have loved to do this. And you were tasting in the interest of journalism! Even better. I want to try the dark chocolate with wine pairings, then have the cheese, then have the second (third? twentieth?) dessert be sushi. Perfecto.

  15. 5 Star Foodie November 26, 2009 at 05:21 #

    Sounds like such a fun event! I would have loved to taste all of those cheeses!

  16. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite November 26, 2009 at 16:13 #

    Jessica – it was ALL good!

    Kablooey – Can you imagine if you had been there too??? Danger, Will Robinson, danger!

    5 star – Mmmmm cheese!

  17. penny aka jeroxie November 26, 2009 at 21:21 #

    Oh Gosh! You are so fortunate! I wish I could be there too!

  18. Conor @ HoldtheBeef November 29, 2009 at 13:39 #

    Next time someone tells me I'm eating too much chocolate I'm going to say my pulmonologist told me it was ok.

  19. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite November 29, 2009 at 16:08 #

    Penny – if you were there it would have been so much fun but I don't think the vendors would have known what hit them with both of us there!

    Conor – LOL!

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