My husband and I have fond memories of the first Food Show we attended pre-children. We went with an old friend who was there mainly for the wine and beer and we acted as the drivers/ free food samplers. It was a great day - we were there nearly all day (doing four laps of the stadium from memory) and left laden with samples and purchased products. It probably helped that we knew some of the food demonstrators and were there all afternoon on the last day when the demonstrators took to giving away product so they wouldn't have to carry it home. My husband also reminded me that our friend had a near-heated conversation with an Australian cheese producer enquiring as to why they were not using local milk.
I'm surprised the car was able to carry all the stuff we left with.
Over the next few years children and pregnancy interfered with attendance. There is no point going to a Food Show when you can't try any of the samples and strong food smells make you vomit. The last time I went the Sweetheart was the Poppet's current age, and my friend and I worked out that taking a pram to The Food Show worked well if you were purchasing bottles of wine! Generally though it can be rather a painful place to take a pram unless you are dropped off. We have noticed over time (and I guess the recession is part of this) that the samples have become less generous but that the associated programme of masterclasses/ shows has improved.
Today we arrived early with modest spending ambitions and a desire to do just one lap. It was good to go at the start of the day. For starters you couldn't walk ten metres without running into a celebrity chef or cooking show contestant. I wanted to approach them and say fawning things like 'Richard Tull I love your Sunday Star-Times recipes' or 'Laurine Jacobs I enjoy your writing.' I restrained myself but kind of wish I'd spoken to Richard. Ray McVinnie was being stopped constantly and was very polite and gracious.
We enjoyed sampling our way around. Feijoa chocolate (Donovans) delicious. Feijoa jelly (Te Horo) - feijoa nearly undetectable. Cactus juice was very fragrant - but only contained 1.5% cactus juice. My usual pact not to buy anything marketed by people wearing headsets and talking quickly held (I hate miracle product aggressive marketers). There were some non-food or drink stalls which confused me - Lush and The Body Shop seemed like odd inclusions. I normally like to visit their stores, but didn't bother visiting them today as I couldn't work out why they were there. We declined to sign up for as many competitions and mailing lists as we had in prior years (if anyone knows how to get off the Cherry Tree mailing list please let me know). One stall was particularly aggressive in getting my details - I could have just walked away but decided to thank their aggressive tactics by using my fake name email account (a handy thing to have for trade shows or marketing - it keeps the crap out of your real email).
We had a lovely time. I'm not sure that there were all that many new products this year - a lot of well known brands adding more flavours to their ranges but not so much completely new stuff. I was quite taken aback with the number of new products on previous visits so seeing a lot of stuff that I'm familiar with (and of course very pleased to sample) was a little less interesting.
My husband liked the Nescafe stand - they had the cutest plastic cups that he got last year - the perfect size for children. We both dislike coffee so it was quite a mission getting through those samples!
Mostly, apart from the Feijoa chocolate and Gu Puddings (we are weak) we only purchased stuff that we would have otherwise purchased, albeit from different suppliers.
My show favourites:
- Cream cheese with lots of cracked black pepper.
- Turks chicken rissoles - I'm not much for pre made meat balls but these rissoles were delicious
- Celeb chef spotting
- New Mad Millie preserving pan (I've been wanting one for awhile and there was a good show special)
- Intriguing marketing approaches ('like our FB page on your smartphone and show us straight away and you get this show special).
- Conversation in the queue to get cash out ("there should be in-queue entertainment.")
- I mentioned this feedback when I filled in a survey on a previous visit - there should be better information for people hoping to arrive with prams or wheelchairs in the car park. Unless you feel like a 6-700metre round trip you have to carry those prams up a lot of stairs to get to the stadium.
- Queue jumpers!