2012 New England Food Show & International Boston Seafood Show

It was that time of year again! Swarms of people excitedly took over the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center for the 2012 New England Food Show and the International Boston Seafood Show. Who wouldn’t be excited for the two largest food events of the region? With a boundless array of American and international exhibitors, this was something everyone was looking forward to; distributors, restaurateurs, manufacturers, marketing agencies… and of course, the food lovers. Not only did it provide opportunities for businesses seeking to expand with new products and innovative machinery, but there were plenty of samples. We’re talking pâté, beer, cheeses, cured meats, candy smoked salmon, scallops, imitation scallops, Barramundi, and 24 ice cream flavors that can all be extracted from one handle. How did they fit all of that, into that? You should’ve been there, man.

Although I’m blown away by the food and seafood shows each year, there were some very memorable exhibits, specifically this year.

Behold! The highlights of the 2012 New England Food Show and the International Boston Seafood Show.

Meet Francisco Carrasco, aka Franco, the president of Ham-Cheese-Wine. He has been cutting cured hams like these beauties from Cinco Jotas for over 15 years. Saul Sola, the VP of Sales from Osborne, explained exactly why one pound of this cured ham costs a retail price of $150. The ham comes from pure-bread Iberian pigs, black pigs, from the woodlands of Spain which allows them to be in an open range. Their unbeatable flavor comes from an acorn diet during their fattening period. Depending on which part of the pig is used, the curing process takes an astonishing 24-36 months.

Cinco Jotas is pretty expensive and takes a very long time to cure, but flavors never lie. It is worth every dollar and second.

The art of cutting ham is something I have not conquered yet. Franco looked pretty disappointed with my monstrously, uneven, severed piece of meat. Look how happy my expression is and then look at his appalled face. I will be better next year, I promise!

Have you ever had an unforgettable apple salsa? Or a confusingly sweet, unsweetened apple butter? Meet Rick Card and C. Waite Maclin. Waite is the founder of Pastor Chuck Orchards in Portland, Maine. In 2009, Waite was awarded Maine’s “Food Producer of the Year” for his phenomenal involvement with the Maine Food Producers Alliance who work together to better their state’s food production and manufacturing industry. With plenty of natural, gluten-free and sugar-free products, Pastor Chuck Orchards has worked hard to successfully make its way to Whole Foods Markets.

The apple butter was one of my favorites at the show. It is for the health conscious, naturally delicious loving and folks that enjoy simply great tasting food. It was an absolute pleasure meeting you, Waite and Rick!

High protein gelato? That’s a first. One serving of Forte has 15 grams of protein with only 2.5 grams of fat. And to top it off, it is all-natural. By Figo Brands, I was very surprised with the smooth, thick and creamy texture of their chocolate gelato. This is a delicious source of nutrition for children, seniors, athletes, and many others. You don’t even have to be health-conscious driven to enjoy this.

There is nothing more sad than a soufflé struggling to rise. Fortunately, Chef Yves Bainier has the recipe to an authentic soufflé that comes in sweet and savory flavors like dulce de leche and cheese with broccoli and onions. I’m not sure if the secret ingredient is his French accent or his impressive culinary expertise, but if it means that I only have to go to a Whole Foods Market and put a few frozen soufflés in the oven for 20 minutes, count me in. Who can debate with a beautifully cooked soufflé with such impressive height? Most of all, less work for me. Thanks, Chef Y Bainier!

And this is some darn good Bixby Bar. By an up-and-coming company, Bixby & Co., some very creative ideas are brought to real, tasty life. How would you like to try To The Nines? It’s a bar dipped in white chocolate, filled with Goji Berries, pistachios, almonds and cardamom. A very interesting combination of ingredients that somehow work together in a harmoniously balanced way. Other bars include intriguing ingredients like chipotle and Telicherry black pepper. I can’t wait to get my hands on those! I think they would be great gifts for people that appreciate unique eats.

And ending all of this with the Black Cherry ice cream, one of the 24 flavors extracted from one machine…

The 2012 New England Food Show and the International Boston Seafood Show were a big hit once again. Plenty of parking lots overflowed with cars, valet parking was full, and people even had to take shuttles to get to an available lot from far away (that took forever!) So next year, I will come early and prepared - so should you, exhibitors! Like the Chairman of Iron Chef always says, “a la cuisine!”

See everyone again in 2013!

Thai Moon

If you are lucky enough to live around Arlington, I highly recommend dining at Thai Moon. It is one of the better Thai restaurants I’ve encountered who stand out from the vast sea of competitors in its area. Although other similar restaurants in the vicinity are very good, there are a two reasons why Thai Moon is better.

Shrimp Bags - $5.95

Steamed Mussels - $5.95

Chicken Satay - $5.95

Beef Satay - $6.50

Thai Pancake $5.95

Firstly, Thai Moon has quick, inviting and friendly service. You’ll notice that your water glass is always filled, waiters and waitresses ask how your meal is without being overbearing, and the night I dined here, there were only two waitresses running the whole restaurant all night smoothly and gracefully, all with a smile on their faces.

Secondly, the food is absolutely scrumptious and affordable. There has been a poor pattern of tasting an absurd amount of sugar and MSG in Asian cuisine for a long time, but no, not here. All the dishes were seasoned nicely without being overwhelmed with sweet and salty sensations. The portions were sized nicely as well. For $5.95 – $6.50 each, we ordered five appetizers: Shrimp Bags, Steamed Mussels, Chicken Satay, Beef Satay, and Thai Pancakes. The pancakes and shrimp bags were both cooked to crispy perfection. Made with rice flour and stuffed with scallions, the pancakes were unlike Korean pancakes or Chinese scallion pancakes because inside the crunchy exterior is a soft and savory consistency. Great combination of textures. The shrimp and mussels were plump, juicy and tender. For $5.95, a hot pot of steamed mussels? Score!

Crispy Duck - $15.95

Chili Fish - $14.95

Pad C-U with Vegetables - $9.50

Lemongrass Chicken - $10.95

Pad Thai with Seafood - $10.95

Pineapple Fried Rice - $9.50

Before you assume anything negative about me, the dinner was for 8 people. Now that’s out the way, onto my favorite part- the entrees! I’ve been a long time fan of Brown Sugar Cafe’s Country Style Pad Thai, but now I can add another one onto my noodle list. The pad thai here is so good! The spicy pad thai is even better! It’s delightfully chewy, with just the right amount of the sour tamarind sauce and peanut flavor. I’m also happy that they added a good amount of seafood, squid, shrimp and mussels, which is only about $1 more than the price without seafood. What a steal! The Lemongrass Chicken was also a great dish; tender, bursting with lovely lemongrass flavor with a nice hint of sweetness. All of the other dishes were delicious as well, but the most memorable ones were the pad thai and lemongrass chicken. The duck entree was nice with the yummy slices of gamy meat laying on a bed of fried yellow noodles. Good, but I didn’t experience much of a wow factor when I took my first bite, so I’ll be trying another duck dish the next time. The Pad C-U was seasoned with the perfect amount of sauce and would be a dish I would order again as well. The fish entree was slightly overdone, but the smooth, sweet and sour-like chili sauce made up for its dryness.

Fried Ice Cream with Raspberry Wine Sauce - $5.95

Sweet Sticky Rice with Thai Custard - $5.95

Fried Banana - $3.95

And ending the dinner were desserts that could happily satisfy any sweet tooth. We ordered 2 fried ice creams, 2 fried bananas and 1 sweet sticky rice with custard. Da-da-damn! I personally loved the sweet sticky rice and custard, however, other diners said that rice for dessert was a bit strange to them. Very understandable. The fried ice cream dish was refreshing because it was served with an interesting sauce instead of red bean or honey like usual. Raspberries and wine… tangy, sweet, a bit sour and a really nice contrast to the vanilla ice cream. The fried bananas were simple and tasty too. Wrapped and fried in phyllo dough, topped with light, sugary syrup and sesame seeds, I could pop these little things in my mouth like chips. Danger!

This was my future brother-in-law’s birthday dinner, and the food definitely made him a happy camper. Great restaurant call, Quan! We all hope you had a very happy birthday and a wonderful time as we celebrate you being another year younger!

Be ready for a massive amount of take-out orders from me, Thai Moon. May God speed.
Total Meal: $135.00
Servings: 8 people

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