Monday, June 25, 2012

To Poland, Mexico, & Austria ... in Just Two Days: Getting International at the Summer Fancy Foods Show

As soon as you're granted press credentials for the Fancy Food Show, the offers start rolling in: Come visit booth X! Please make sure to sample [insert cracker company here] when you are at the show! Whatever you do, don't miss the [newest, hottest, trendiest] chocolate innovation! And then there are the invitations to the after show events: dinners, cocktail parties, tastings. It's a bit overwhelming.

I am not complaining, mind you, but there is a strategy to the whole thing. You don't want to say "yes" too soon, because what if something better comes along and you're already committed to something else? I know - such problems to have. Fortunately, my decision this year was pretty easy: I was invited to events pertinent to three countries I have recently visited, and loved: Poland, Mexico, and Austria. Done, done, and done.

The first event, as you can see above, was called "The Taste of European Tradition."  Sponsored by "the Union of Producers and Employers of Meat Industry (UPEMI)" the event began with a  press conference to discuss the ins and outs of Polish trade with the U.S., particularly as it applies to agriculture and food. The conference was attended by dignitaries including the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland and the Minister of Agriculture.
The fabulous ladies of Polish government and industry! 
Following the press conference was the main event: a banquet of Polish meats! Who in their right mind would say no to that?
Pork neck stew, left; herby potatoes, right
Tenderloin in a velvety mushroom gravy (I love the sauces in Polish meat dishes), left; Vegetables, right. Yes, vegetables!
Carving the main attraction

The chef is Spanish, and his sauce had a very interesting Mediterranean flair
The next day we were double booked: A cocktail party at Jose Andres' restaurant, Oyamel, sponsored by Tazo chocolate, and a food tasting and party held by the Austrian Trade Commission at L2 Lounge in Georgetown. No problem! We made both. But before I get to Oyamel, I must share this with you - it's a photo of Patricia Jinich of the PBS show Pati's Mexican Table. She was cooking up delicious Mexican food at the show and I am a fan and so I kind of stalked her. She was so sweet about it!

New best friends?
On to Oyamel. We got there early and ordered a cocktail - it felt odd to actually pay for something. It was a margarita with "salt air" and I am afraid it was rather a failure of molecular gastronomy. Salt air, in retrospect, tastes exactly as it sounds. Salty. Airy. Yuk. Much better was the cocktail at the actual party, with notes of chamomile and citrus and a little square of Tazo chocolate:
They certainly kept the food coming here:
Steamed chayote with hibiscus vinaigrette and peanuts

Fresh guacamole
Fruit salad with queso fresco
Pibil taco, left; Mole, right
Is there a better party favor than Mexican chocolate? No, I didn't think so.
But there was no rest for the weary (and full). Popa Trix and I  had to dash off to Georgetown for the Austrian party. Do not pity us, I beg you!

Somehow my inexplicably still hungry husband managed to snag a nibble that I didn't even see (right), but luckily nothing can keep me from a lovely crisp glass of Gruner Veltliner, which was thankfully available in abundance (left):
We had a lovely time chatting about the Naschmarkt, the Wienerwold, heuriger, and so much more with Franz Ernstbrunner, project manager of international trade fairs with Advantage Austria:
Austrians really know how to enjoy themselves!
There was of course much fine Austrian cheese available, as well as sausage and something that I believe could only pass for a cocktail snack in Austria: schnitzel with a side of potato salad. Full as I was, I had to have some, and it was delicious!

The Austrian ambassador was in attendance, and it's a shame that we were so tired after such a long couple of days that for some reason we didn't end up seeking him out to chat. As it turns out, Mother-in-Law Trix knows him, thanks to her many years of service as a diplomat in the Austrian consulate in NYC.

Hello, Ambassador! (left); A schnitzel snack, right
Alas, we both had to work the next day and so we had to dash before the party was over. How very un-Austrian of us, no?

(Note: Poppa Trix just reminded me to mention that all of this craziness is what we did to celebrate our anniversary. Four years married, 14 together. It occurs to me that we might be a bit odd? Oh well. We loved it!)


  1. Wow - the offers I get for conferences are along the lines of "visit XYZ trucking company's booth" or "come see what WRT railroad is doing". Totally jealous :-)

    P.S. That blue dress is great...

  2. You had me at Polish meat. Poppa's photos are really spectacular! Lucky you! Molecular gastronomy as a food trend is completely lost on me.

  3. Wow you both have sure had some awesome places to eat this year and foods! This one is amazing you both look fantastic too!

  4. Ola...what an awesome place to visit. I would probably ended up eating every single one of them. haha....
    Hope you're having a great week ahead.

  5. Green with envy! Looks like a great event.

  6. Sounds like a great time. And Oyamel is one of my favorite DC restaurants. And you how out of it I am that I didn't even know this even was happening until I read about it on the blogs... Ah well!

    PS: The way you describe your invitation strategy reminds me of a high school prom. ;=)

  7. I so want your job:) If you can't make it next year I'll be happy to fill in for you. Happy anniversary!! Frankly this is what my husband and I would have loved to do on our anniversary. Everything looks so delicious.

    fruit with queso fresco rocks!

  8. No, Spicie Foodie, I want her job. I'm oldest, so you'll have to wait. Great to see Pork Neck Soup on the menu. I did a solar version earlier this year and have had nonstop hits on it! Don't know why so many Americans run from it. What a way to celebrate an anniversary. I hope you have another four decades of gastronomic blessings. Come visit when you can.