On May 21st, I had the chance to wander the GFAF Expo in Chicago. I’m going to admit to my newbie blogger mistake and state that I did not get a lot of pictures of the food. I’m a people person and love people in pictures, so I am going to give you a LOT of those. And promise that I will try to remember to take product photos in the future!
Since I am not much of a morning person, ESPECIALLY on the weekends, it a minor miracle that I got to the Expo by 9:30am. My first mission was to say “Hey Girl” to Kyra Bussanich of Crave Bakeshop. I met Kyra last year when she was giving a baking class while I was the head expediter, and it is always a joy to catch up with this two-time CUPCAKE WARS champion. This year Kyra was promoting her new line of cupcake mixes and I snagged the last box of Snickerdoodle mix while picking up my own Crave Bakeshop tee:
Gotta admit, I love that the only part of my Star Wars tee you can see is the “Ta” as the Crave tee is VERY ta-ta friendly!
To the left of Kyra’s booth were the fabulous people from Rudi’s Bakery. During the morning they were grilling up pieces of their cinnamon raisin bread (yum) and in the afternoon they were dishing up grilled cheese. I am so mad I did not get the name of the ladies representing the company, as they were fabulous and I am so excited to try the wraps they gave me to sample. Review on those coming later!
On the other side of Crave Bakeshop were the wonderful people from Taste Guru. This is something that I am going to try soon because for $25-ish dollars, you get a box of GF goodies sent to your house every month. And y’all know that $25 does not get you a box of goodies in a store. Plus, it is a great way to try out new things! Hi to Laura and Heather who were rocking the booth! (and Andrew?? This is when I stink with names)
One product I am excited to try out is the GF Harvest (aka Canyon Oats) instant oatmeal. The cups totally remind me of the Quaker instant oatmeal cups my co-worker has for lunch every day that smell SOOO GOOD! I have a feeling that the GF Harvest cups are going to be delicious. This family has 3 generations of Celiacs, so they know the importance of avoiding cross-contamination and clean oats. Forrest Smith started this company while he was in high school(!), and he is someone who fits right into this geeks sphere, as we had a long talk on Star Wars and the Avengers.
I did have a mission this expo: GET MORE RED APPLE LIPSTICK!!! Last year I had a quick moment to talk with Jay and Andrea about how hard it is to find a good red, they helped me find the perfect shade (ironically enough named: Red!) and I got a cool shimmery lipgloss. This year I was on a mission to get more lip color and pick up some eye shadows out of their new (in the past year) eye shadow line. The goal was to get there early, before they got swamped because all day Saturday their booth looked a bit like this, if not worse:
I ended up making my largest purchase of the expo here: 2 lipsticks, a Rallye Balm, one new gloss, 2 eyeshadows, and an eyeshadow case. Added bonus: the bags they put everything in are super cute and will help with makeup and/or jewelry storage!
After this, the expo started to look a bit like this:
Needless to say, I started to be a bit choosy with where I visited, which means I missed some great products, but here are some of my “Best of.”
Kiki’s Simply Awesome Greek SpinichFeta Pocket. One word — YUM! I kept coming back for more samples of these because I could not get over how light and flaky the crust is. Sadly, my sweet tooth was burnt out, so I did not try the dessert she had, but my love affair was with that pocket. Right now these can be found in a couple of resturaunts in the greater Chicago Area, but I hope she expands into retail soon.
Something I almost passed by because I have been burned by pizza too many times was the Smart Flour booth. In fact, I probably walked past it a half dozen times before finally stopping to talk to them. I am so glad I did because if I had not I would have missed out on a delicious gluten-free freezer pizza hitting market in June. In talking with one of the gentlemen at the booth, I found out that these pizzas had actually been made about 6 months out and were sitting in a freezer in an attempt to give the consumer a similar experience to what they would have when they hit the market. To avoid some of the “cracker-like” crispness so many frozen (and non) pizzas have, they removed the rice flour. Good crust, great taste, the slices of pizza did not last long on the expo floor, and I do not think they will last long on shelves either.
Another love was Outrageous Baking out of Boulder. I have a long standing love affair with banana bread, pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, pretty much any sweet bread out there. I am just a lousy (sometimes lazy) cook who does not want to whip up a big loaf that I would devour. But that did not stop me from purchasing a loaf of their gluten, dairy, and soy free pumpkin loaf and cinnamon spice bread from these ladies. The lemon poppyseed and chocolate zucchini are also pretty tasty, but a girl has to draw the line somewhere, right?
One of the things that EVERYONE told me I needed to try were the Glutenfreeda “Hot Pockets.” I have been in love with their cranberry cinnamon oatmeal for about a year now, so seeing that they were also coming out with an “instant bowl” made me happy, but I was very distracted by the hot pockets. While the crust was a bit, well, grey, the flavor of it all was pretty amazing. I made it a point to try them all, but forgot to take note on the different flavors. All I know is that when these hit stores, I will be there to purchase for the occasional lunch treat.
So, you know how I mentioned forgetting to take pictures every once in a while? Well, one of my biggest lapses came about with my favorite free of the top 8 allergen cookies on the market: Cybele’s Free to Eat. I will admit that I only tried the Chocolate Chip because it was so tasty and reminded me of an extra crispy Toll House.
Another item I failed to get pictures of are the Enjoy Life Decadent Bars. I tried all 4 flavors (S’mores, Cinnamon Bun, Chocolate Sunbutter, and Cherry Cobbler) and they are all pretty amazing, but the Cherry is my favorite. So good. And the ladies at the booth were super awesome and knowledgable.
If you got their early enough (ie before 1pm) you could take the New Planet Beer tour. Peter and Sarah would talk you through each of the 5 flavors available while giving you a pour to try. I am not much of a beer person, but when I have the beer craving I will reach for the New Planet Raspberry or Blonde.
Holy crow, this is getting long! A couple more finds to wrap things up:
Ian’s has a new French Bread pizza that is pretty tasty.
Keeki Pure & Simple is a line of Gluten Free nail polishes, chap sticks, body washes and sunscreens. I ended up purchasing 2 nail polishes and a root beer float scented chap stick. I promise I will publish a review!
Schar, oh Schar. How I love thee. On top of the new Ciabatta rolls that are delicious, they have 2 new wafer cookies that rock my socks. The first is a chocolate covered hazelnut that reminds me a bit of a giant Kit Kat bar. The second is a Lemon wafer that has so much lemon flavor it ought to be illegal. DELICOUS!
Enzymedica has an enzyme supplement that helps when you accidentally ingest gluten. I am now carrying in my purse to have at the ready when I have an accidental glutening!
Freedom Foods is an Australian cereal (at least here in the States) company. I purchased a box of their Maple Crunch and will review it later.
Van’s, maker of the toaster waffles everyone seems to love, has a new breakfast cereal on the market. I am excited to try it, especially since I discovered my beloved Cinnamon Chex contain GMO ingredients. The people at Van’s gave me a box of their Cinnamon Heaven to try out and I will report back on that as well.
I think those are the bulk of my highlights. I am sure someone or something got missed in here and I will probably just do a photo blog of some more of the photos I took at the Expo.
Until next time!