So as I was drafting this blog post, I soon realized that it might be too long for one post. So I decided to break it down into three smaller posts – to make it easier for you – the reader. So without any further delay…
About two weeks ago, I received an email from a contact I made back in 2012. This contact had sent me a coupon code for free admission to the Expo this year. I had received free admission to last year’s Expo – but I hadn’t gone because I was still in training at my current job. So when I was presented this great opportunity – I took it quick!
(A quick and HUGE shout out to Greg Mulligan from RATIONAL for the hook-up!)
Since I live in Temecula, I knew that my commute to the LA Convention Center would be a bit long. It was roughly 90 miles away and only took about an hour and a half. Traffic wasn’t too bad (thankfully!) for a Monday.
I left my place in Temecula around 11am and arrived at the West Parking garage around 12:35pm. Once I found a parking spot, I ventured into the Convention Center.
Once in the lobby, I went to get my badge. Easy process and quick. Less than five minutes and I was all set! I was excited to see EVERYTHING!
As I stepped on the Expo floor, I was overwhelmed with so many vendors showcasing their products! I stopped by a ton of booths and took a lot of photos and videos!
(If you don’t follow my SnapChat, here’s your chance! Username is “socalchef79”).
I’ll try to show you everything I saw – through photos and videos. I will also give quick reviews of everything. If there are any vendors you are interested in, I’ll get you in touch with them.
Part 1: Food!
First up, Fresh Origins. This company is based in San Marcos, California and has a wide variety of edible flowers, microgreens, and crystallized flowers. Fresh local delivery. To contact them, Click Here!
Moving on, I walked around the expo floor – taking peeks and looks at some gorgeous equipment. Lots of vendors and lots of people!
Then I proceeded to the area of the Expo floor where there were samples galore!
I tried Tajin. Even got three small sample packs to take home!
And Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning! (Yes, I have a few samples that I grabbed!) Did you know that they make a bloody mary mix too?
Most of you are familiar with the King’s Hawaiian brand. They had a booth at the Expo with chefs creating small delicious bites using their soft and sweet bread rolls.
Gelato. Who doesn’t LOVE gelato?! Well I certainly DO and was able to taste three different brands! All of them were incredible and perfect in every way.
Gelati Celesti was the first gelato vendor. They are based in Redondo Beach, California and have a wide variety of flavors and products. I tasted their pomegranate sorbet. OMG it was devine! They have a complete listing of flavors on their site. One of the guys in the booth even offered me a small portion of the ice cream cookies! Hell yeah! But take a look at the spumoni ice cream cake!
The second gelato vendor I tried was Villa Dolce Gelato Italiano. They are in Reseda, California. Of course theirs was just as good! So rich and creamy and deep deep flavors! I tried the banana caramel.
But perhaps my favorite sample was from Mami’s Gelato Vegan Gelato. I had the privilege of speaking with the creator and owner for a few minutes.
Her two daughters are involved with the business. One designs the graphics and the other does the photography. Such a great team. They are based in Bloomington, Indiana – so not local here in SoCal. Check out their Facebook Page and give them a LIKE.
I tried their vanilla gelato and their Matcha green tea flavors. The vanilla had hints of coconut – which is from the coconut cream they use (to make it vegan). It’s light and airy and devilishly sweet. The Matcha green tea was a different taste. If you love Matcha, you’ll love this gelato. Nice earthy flavor.
“Matcha is finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea. It is special in two aspects of farming and processing: The green tea plants for matcha are shade-grown for about three weeks before harvest, and the stems and veins are removed in processing. During shaded growth, the plant Camellia Sinensis grows more theanine as well as caffeine. Theanine together with caffeine is considered to account for the calm energy people might feel from drinking matcha. Matcha as in the powder form is consumed differently compared to tea leaves or tea bags. It is to be dissolved with some form of liquid, typically water or milk.”
I can’t wait to try more samples of their product line. Once I receive them, I’ll be posting a new post with a review. Stay tuned!
I also found a booth that was serving fresh shaved ice! They have a variety of flavors – I had their Honeydew flavor. Watch the video below – they even have specially designed machines to shave the ice blocks.
More sweets are coming! I stopped by this booth by Plush Puffs who was sampling hand-crafted marshmallows. Based in Burbank, these square marshmallows were great right from the bag and toasted over a flame. I got to try the Chocolate Chipetta and Pepi-Mint. The Chipetta tasted like a cup of hot chocolate! And the Pepi-Mint was reminiscent of those soft minty holiday candies! These brought me back to my childhood days in the 80’s in Upstate New York. My grandma would always have those minty candies during the holidays.
The last “dessert” type of sample I tried was from Yummy Baking Company (from Irvine, California). They make these “cake cups” are quite versatile. Fill them with fresh fruit. Or a custard. Or whipped cream and strawberries. The possibilities are endless!
The next three were savory delights!
Josephs Gourmet Pasta: I had their pumpkin marscapone ravioli! To die for!
Monterey Mushrooms: 100% vegetarian ‘meatballs’ and ‘burgers’. 50% mushrooms. So savory and tasty, you’d never know it wasn’t meat.
Zetlian Bakery: Falafel and breadsticks. The falafel meatballs were perfect. Savory and piping hot. Rich robust flavors envelop your mouth with each bite. The breadsticks were good as well. Typical taste and texture. Amazingly great fresh out of the oven!
The Hummus Guy! His hummus was great! 100% vegan and savory! I tried the roasted bell pepper hummus with some crackers. AMAZING!
Continue to Part 2: Beverages!
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