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Monday, November 10, 2008

Saturday Afternoon: Fabulous Food Fest

Posted By on Mon, Nov 10, 2008 at 8:47 AM

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1st Annual Fabulous Food Festival

Concourse Exhibition Center

November 8-9

Notes and Photos by Tamara Palmer

Visions of sugarplums danced in my head on the way to the Fabulous Food Festival. I think I was picturing a miniature version of the annual trade exhibition known as the Fancy Food Show, which is a glutton's paradise of appetizers, condiments, alcohol and sweets.

Well, this wasn't quite on that same scale, but there were still some fun things to taste as jazz singer Hale Baskin provided the ambience.

Most of the displays looked like something you've seen before, with a few notable exceptions.

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Jade Chocolates is a relative newcomer to San Francisco, and makes beautiful orchids out of dried fruits and chocolate as well as bars infused with ingredients such as exotic teas and chili. They offered a special show-only treat of chocolate peppermint nib bark, which really should be an official item. It was also good to see Berkeley's Xocolate Bar with their beautiful chocolate sculptures and Titty Titty Bon Bons, proceeds of which go towards the fight against breast cancer.

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Raw food restaurant Alive! had a number of interesting items to sample, and I flipped for the raw cheesecake with persimmon and the raw pumpkin lasagna. Owner Leland Jung has a talent for making the most artful and substantive bites out of his ingredients.

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Despite a few nice new discoveries, this could've been a more exciting event overall. The space was too large for the amount of participating vendors, which made the crowd seem thin and hurt chances to build the room into some buzzing energy. And while these are usually "pay to play" situations, the promoters might have offered some gratis spots to achieve a better balance and some critical mass.

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Critic's Notebook

Personal bias: I get to go to a fair amount of great food festivals, so my standards are high.

Random detail: There sure were a lot of purveyors of olive oil, so much so that it could have easily been called the Olive Oil Fest.

By the way: My even more critical friend said that the best thing he tasted there was the rice—and that would be the plain, steamed white Mahatma being portioned out into little cups.

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Tamara Palmer

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