S. Worthen (owlfish) wrote,
S. Worthen

Gourmet Food and Wine Show: Orientation

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from my first Gourmet Food and Wine show. I learned it existed from targeted marketing flyers in the LCBO (Ontario's provincial monopoly alcohol store), which included the added allure of a $3 off coupon. From the website, I knew there would be cooking shows and sommelier-guided wine tastings. I knew there would be 160 someodd vendors, a Vintages store (an LCBO spinoff devoted to wine), and a free wine glass. I knew that tasting tickets were 50 cents each, and that the recommended quantity of them to buy was $20 worth.

I envisioned that the event would be dominated by small-scale produced grocery products, cheeses, sausages, salad dressings, chocolates and the like, and that one sample ticket would equal one sample. I was pretty well wrong on both counts.

The show opened at 2 pm on Friday, and I arrived not long after, attempting to space out the two shows in my weekend as much as possible. The building was relatively quiet, which meant I had few examples of other people doing the show from which to model my own explorations of it. The wine glass table sat right by the entrance to the show, unlabeled, but full of wine glasses. It seemed wrong to just take it, so I set out to explore what the show had to offer, to orient myself aisle by aisle.

To my surprise, the Food and Wine show was more a wine show than a food one. Approximately two-thirds of the show was devoted to various sorts of alcohol, primarily wine. This year's theme was California, so there was an area of the show featuring numerous Californian wineries. Plenty of Niagara one were represented too, but the advertised alcohol wandered off in all sorts of directions from there. Goldschlager, Mort subite, Chimay, and Glenfiddich each had a booth - or part of a booth - dedicated to their advertisement.

Of the remaining third of the booths, most of those advertised local restaurants, featuring miniature sample dishes prepared on-the-spot with garnishes and beauty. Several of them offered leather sofas to sit down and enjoy their mini-repast instead of standing at some of the few, but useful, tables provided by the show.

Perhaps ten of the booths were devoted to cheese, sausage, salad dressings or chocolates, plus two advertising cookware. With the exception of the alcohol and the Vintages store, there was very little in the way of take-home products from the show.

It quickly became apparently from wandering around that picking up one of those wine glasses back at the beginning was necessary in order to sample any of the alcohol, for there were no other sampling glasses available. A few water fountains had been converted for rinsing out wine glasses between uses, but they were hidden away in a back corner of the show.

So back I went to the beginning, picked up my cheaply manufactured, show-logo embossed, 1 and 2 ounce-marked wine glass and set out to eat and drink my afternoon away.
Tags: eating in toronto, food, food event

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