Natural Products ExpoWest 2012

Natural Products ExpoWest 2012

. 4 min read

I spent last weekend at the Natural Products ExpoWest 2012 in Anaheim, California. In you’re not familiar, ExpoWest is the largest organic and natural food conference in the world.

My fellow blogger, Kelly the Kitchen Kop joined me. We pretty much worked the ENTIRE time. If you’ve never been to ExpoWest, it is HUGE. We walked from 10 am to 6 pm for two solid days and we still didn’t get to all the booths we wanted to hit.

Although we didn’t have time to visit beach or even take a gander at the hotel pool, much less put our feet in, we did manage to squeeze in a couple of nice dinners. We indulged in foie gras (twice), sweetbreads, escargot dumplings, hamachi with caviar, steak, duck fat fries, and plenty of vino. (Next year I am proposing a 6- or 7-day trip instead of just 4 days — it was too short and we had no downtime.)

We met so many wonderful people, learned so much and tasted so much delicious food at ExpoWest. I want to share it all with you guys.

I really can’t fit it all into one post, so I’m doing a whole series. So for the next seven days, I’ll be highlighting all of my favorite things from ExpoWest. Check back tomorrow for the next post.

In this post, I will share with you some of the delicious food we had after hours, and some of the friends we saw.

Our Dinners Out

Our feet hurt from all the walking, our shoulders ached from the heavy bags of samples, and we were just plain wiped out at the end of each day.

Our solution: therapy in the form of fine dining.

Course by course, one by one
‘Til you shout, “Enough! I’m done!”
Then we’ll sing you off to sleep as you digest
Tonight you’ll prop your feet up
But for now, let’s eat up
Be our guest!
Be our guest!
Be our guest!
— “Be Our Guest,” Beauty & the Beast
Foie Gras
Foie gras

Foie gras at Charlie Palmer South Coast Plaza.

Kelly the Kitchen Kop at Charlie Palmer's South Coast Plaza
Kelly photographing the corn soup amuse-bouche at Charlie Palmer's South Coast Plaza
Sweetbreads at Charlie Palmer's South Coast Plaza

Sweetbreads on a bed of kimchi (Korean pickled cabbage) with a fried egg on top. Sweetbreads are the thymus gland or pancreas. They taste a lot like pork.

Ann Marie of CHEESESLAVE at ExpoWest
Me, trying to decide what to order at Pinot in Costa Mesa

On Sunday night we were so exhausted, we decided to dine at Pinot, the restaurant at our hotel. A good choice — turns out it was voted Best French Restaurant in Orange County.

Hanger Steak, Duck Fat Fries and Haricots Verts
Steak, duck fat fries, and haricots verts

Delicious hanger steak, duck fat fries, and haricots verts (French green beans) at Pinot in Costa Mesa.

Kelly the Kitchen Kop at ExpoWest
Kelly the Kitchen Kop enjoying a glass of Prosecco after a long weekend

Hannah from Kombucha Kamp

We ran into our friend, Hannah Crum from Kombucha Kamp on Friday. Hannah is a passionate advocate of kombucha and is doing everything she can to spread word about kombucha around the world.

Hannah of Kombucha Kamp
Hannah Krum of Kombucha Kamp

She was walking around with this uber cool Flip Cam.

It had an extra lens, a microphone, and even a little tripod thing you could use to hold it. I totally have to trick out my Flip Cam!

Check it out — it’s like a cyborg camera from Blade Runner:

Fancy Flip Cam

Here’s Hannah explaining all the bits and bobs to Kelly:

Geeking out

Bloggers Sarah Wu and Mud Baron

On Saturday evening there was a little “Bloggerati Forum” cocktail party. We hung out with fellow bloggers, Mud Baron and Sarah Wu.

Sarah Wu ate school lunch every day in 2010 to raise awareness about school food and blogged about it on Fed up With Lunch. She has a new book out called Fed Up with Lunch: The School Lunch Project: How One Anonymous Teacher Revealed the Truth About School Lunches –And How We Can Change Them!

Bloggers/writers, Mud Baron and Sarah Wu

When I met Mud Baron, I didn’t know who he was but I knew he was somebody. A mover and shaker, as it were.

Turns out I knew him as @Cocoxochitl (ancient Aztec for dahlia) on Twitter. I’ve probably had dozens of conversations with him over the years — and now I could finally put a face and a name to a Twitter handle. (See, Twitter really does make you feel more connected to people, and forges relationships faster. I feel like Mud’s an old friend now that I know he’s been my Twitter buddy all this time.)

Mud, based in LA, is the King of School Gardens (Alice Waters is the Queen, of course).

Check Back Tomorrow for Part 2

Tomorrow I’ll start posting about the food and other products we saw at the show. Check back for another post!