Sunday, August 31, 2008

Slow Food Nation: First Conference

The hallowed Cowgirl Creamery cheese station.

This past Sunday I volunteered at the Mecca for California foodies. Between 11am and 3pm, I could be found at the end of a receiving line at Slow Food Nation, holding a plate of Perbacco salame behind another volunteer carrying a tray of smoked Virginia Berkshire ham, trying not to drool in front of the guests.

Fatted Calf Mortadella.

It was an amazing event. The space, the sustainable design, the coffee booth, the cheese, the honey, the organic Iowa prosciutto, the number of working bathrooms without lines,.... sigh. Sure there were slight hangups here and there, but only enough to make attendees question whether it was Slow Food's fifth or sixth year of organizing hundreds employees, thousands of volunteers, attendees, bio-designers, farms, exhibits, and hundreds of food samples, not the first.

Just to give an idea of some treasures to be found at Slow Food Nation to readers who weren't able to make the conference because they slept in, had to work their day jobs in Ohio or Seattle, or were in the middle of a "No Reservations" episode marathon and couldn't get away, I'm sharing some photos. Some shots are of exhibits, and some are of employees and volunteers. People were given the choice of answering one of two questions: "What is one of your favorite food and wine/alcohol pairings, experienced at the event or elsewhere," or, "What has been one of your favorite parts of Slow Food Nation?"

Anyone curious about the ideology and Slow Food movement, read up here .

Marissa Guggiana, who organized the larger than life Slow Food charcuterie station, had her perfect event pairing in mind, "Well, I love pork and rosé together, like a super dry or sparkling rose with prosciutto. Prosciutto in particular is so great with rosé because it's so creamy and pure and there aren't a lot of different spices. It's just about the meat and the wine."

Cowgirl Creamery's all-star speaker line up. Cheese pedigree.

Michaela King of Bix addressed some of her favorite parts of the convention, "The cheese booth had an awesome cheese plate. Their Teleme was amazing, and they served a Fleure de Teche that was so good, and then they had a cheddar that tasted like Harvarti. Then, I loved the charcuterie station [although, let's be honest, it was how I placed the salame on the plate that stunned]. The La Quercia organic prosciutto from Iowa was fantastic, and the salames from Perbacco are, of course, always good. The Perbacco blood salami was great, and the Tricola was perfectly balanced."

Gary Monelli, who worked with me in the charcuterie station, said that his favorite pairing is when he eats charcuterie he makes himself at home. "I love salami, and I've been making a lot of coppa at home recently. We serve it with olives that we put up and tomatoes that we grow, and we eat them all together, with our daughter and our neighbors. Plus, my daughter was a wine sales representative, so we often had open half bottles of wine at home. I'm going to miss that last part" Monelli also advised anyone interested in making coppa at home to google "curing coppa."

Sam Edwards, a third generation ham-maker from Surry, Virgina, found time to speak briefly to his favorite Surry ham pairings and event highlights between slicing his Berkshire beauties and trying to keep children's fingers away from the unusual child magnet (the Italian meat slicer).

Edwards favorite pairing was his Berkshire smoked ham, with Bud light. Once in a while, he goes with Stella. Edwards had the following the say about the event, "it was a lot bigger and well-attended than I ever expected. It's amazing, quite an ocassion, and it looks like it's been done by about 99% volunteers."

Lee Coker, Ariana Kanwit, and Ashlee Cloud were chocolate volunteers. Ariana's favorite pairing was "a Pinot Noir and a really dark chocolate. My favorite here today is DeVries's Costa Rican chocolate, from Denver. Ashlee commented on her favorite part of the event, "I really like the attitude of everyone- they're really laid back. And, I like this chocolate. It's Amono's and it's from Venenzuela."

Michaela King and Colin Dewey of Bix explained Dewey's favorite pairings.
"You love Lambruscos and charcuterie," said King.
"I do," agreed Dewey.
"And you love Barolos and Barberescos with rustic, Italian cuisine...."
"Oh yeah, I really do. I love lamb or Italian style meats with a Barolo or Barberesco that's been opened for like 45 minutes."
"What if it was opened for 43 minutes," I asked, "would it still be as enjoyable?"
"No," explained Dewey, "You have to taste it the whole time. Watch the wine open up, change from an unsure adolescent to a blooming adult."

Said Nicole Gray, "I had a lot of favorite parts of the event. I loved the fish display, it was beautiful. I also loved the honey and the preserves area, but who doesn't love honey, right?"

Event attendees taking advantage of the freshly-laid grass and accompanying lawn chairs in the Honeybee and Preserves exhibit.

My favorite part of the event was the cheese. And the good deals on wine. And the charcuterie. And the seafood trio plate from Bix, A Coté and _____ restaurant. And finding deserted Slow Food Dough outside of the ladies bathroom.

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Dot! said...

the slow food event looks abso deliciouso!

Anonymous said...

Good blog! Besides the volume of folks at the slow food 08 event I am also amazed at the genuine interest they have of artisan foods.

Thanks a million for your help.


Samuel W. Edwards III

Surry Farms

Kirstin said...

It was absolutely delicious, and I can't wait for next year!

linnhe said...

I sooooo wanted to go to this. Maybe next year...I think that as our population ages, we will see a lot more boomers get back to the basics of nutrition (for the long haul) and realize how slow food is much more palateable and economical.

We Are Never Full said...

just stumbled upon this post... and my mouth is now watering. the mortadella pictures - whoa. thanks for a good write up! we were in SF the week before Slow Food conference and was sad we couldn't stay to go!

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