Minnesota Monthly Food & Wine Show, Day 1

So, we survived day 1 of the Food & Wine Experience at the Minneapolis Convention Center. We didn’t win the Czar of Cakes Challenge, but it was an honorable loss – as predicted, Gateaux won, hands down, no contest!

I’ll post more about the cake end of things tonight or tomorrow, but I wanted to post some “head’s up” type messages on products that *really* stood out to us from yesterday’s show. If you’re going, make *sure* to stop by these booths. If you’re not, by all means, check out their websites, because they’re truly fabulous!

Driving Force Energy Co. is based in Woodbury, and makes really amazing energy bars. Almost like a granola bar, but soft and SO ridiculously good. Particularly loved the PB & J flavor. Nom! Also, they had some interesting caramel popcorn – including peanut butter caramel, and sweet jalapeno caramel popcorn. Wow! Both truly amazing. Hubby asked if they sell it by the garbage bag, and I honestly don’t think they realized that he was serious.

Kayak Kitchens in Stillwater was showcasing their “Haute Habanero Paste”. I’m looking at the sheet of recipes they provided for their paste, and already thinking of the ways I’d love to use and abuse it. It’s a gorgeous orange paste with a flavor and fruityness that is *not* overpowered by heat. Really good!

Annona Gourmet was a booth that Robin from Gateaux kinda strongarmed us into visiting. Not that we hadn’t planned to check everything out, but in her opinion, we were NOT to leave without checking them out. They were hawking olive oils and balsamic vinegars. While Robin was completely sold on the traditional 18 year aged balsamic (which really was terrific!), my husband and I both immediately fell in love with their “sweet peach” balsamic. Completely over the top fabulous.

Passport Beverage was on hand to sample their Dry Soda & Q Tonic waters. I am NOT a huge fan of carbonated waters, and really, truly hate tonic water – it always tastes like baking soda to me. It blew me away that not only did I tolerate their Q Tonic, but fell in love with it. None of that horrible baking soda taste, it was light and refreshing and had a really nice flavor to it. I could see drinking it straight. Additionally, their Dry Soda was really nice. We did not get a chance to try the lavender flavor (which sounded really interesting!), but the Rhubarb, Kumquat, and Cucumber flavors were all winners with us.

Uncle Pete’s Mustard was a big surprise to us. I’m a mustard nerd, and 90% of what’s out there is really bland, boring, and/or unbalanced tasting to me. They only offer 1 flavor, a sweet & hot mustard… god was it ever good. BIG thumbs up from me!

Thousand Hills Cattle Company featured some of the most delicious grass fed ground beef I’ve ever had (and I’m a big carnivore!). Also of note was their summer sausage, which was amazing.

I should probably get ready to head out, but definitely wanted to post these not only for all you guys, but for my own scatterbrainedness. Good to have the favs all in one place! More to come!

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