Earlier this year we visited the National Retail Federation BIG Show, so this month we wanted to see what was cooking in a similar space, the restaurant/food-service sector. Needless to say, there’s a show for that too, so we put on our bib and tucker and went foraging for news (and other tasty tidbits).
There were plenty of similarities. In both cases attendance was up briskly from 2009; up a full 26% at the International Restaurant and Food Service Show. There were over 550 exhibitors and over 15,000 attendees. Also, as with the NRF show, one visiting nationality stood out especially. This time it was the Japanese, who had a dedicated pavilion with almost 100 companies exhibiting, and special exhibits for each of the prefectures. The pavilion was packed the entire day we were there, and we learned from the shows organizers that they already had a commitment to participate in strength at next year’s show.
There were samples galore of seafoods, green teas, and sakes. Sadly, we had to dutifully forgo the sake-tasting, being our own designated driver; but the green teas were among the best we ever tasted, including a Genmai Cha from Sugimoto America that recently won the Best Blended Green Tea a the World Tea Championship (its blended with roasted rice, an absolutely delightful combination)
But the absolute best tea, in fact the best green tea I have EVER tasted, was a Fukamushi (deep-steamed) premium first-picked Sencha from Ohkuraen from Kakegawa in Shizouka prefecture. Deep, yet delicate, with an amazing finish. I think I went back three times for more , but often couldn’t get to the samples because too many other attendees had made the same discovery. If you don’t think you like green tea, it’s probably because you’ve never really HAD green tea, not like this. Outstanding.
Also saw many delights for other senses, including hand-crafted cutlery made with the same methods and skill as the best samurai swords, candles with special wicks of washi and tatami reed, beautiful chopsticks that were machine washable for re-use (the tea wasn’t the only thing green), and beautiful place-mats, also made of washi paper by Artec, that are trendy in Japan but not yet adopted here in the USA. We predict they will be; remember you heard it here first.
And seafood like you wouldn’t believe. We were especially impressed with the umi-no-ohkan, prime amberjack from Tarumizu Fishermen’s Cooperative out of Kagoshima Bay, and the Chirimen (baby sardines) from Hiramtsu Seafood Company.
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