Scooter at the Mid-Atlantic Food Show

by Scooter Holt

Well, its convention season, and what a way to kick it off; the Mid-Atlantic Expo for food, beverage and lodging at the Baltimore Convention Center.  Celeste Corsaro, marketing director and all-around girl-about-town, in her infinite wisdom, snatched me up and brought me along.  Now…

The idea was to help her set up, meet-and-greet potential customers, talk about the magazine, and to help introduce the newly expanded website, but I had better ideas.  Too many food and liquor tables, too little time.  I have to say, though, this article wouldn’t have EVEN been possible, live from the convention, without the help of my boys from Techmark, Dan Youngblood and Matt Eveleth, who happened to have a table here at the convention, representing Restaurant Manager.  That CAT-5 cable went a loooooooong way!

Rule number one?  Your ship can’t sail without ballast, so it was off to Astra Food’s Philly cheese-steak demo, where I gorged down one sample, and SWORE to the sales rep that the second sample would make it to Celeste.  “Yeah, right, we’ve been hearing that one all day,” griped the rep.

How right he was.  I stuffed those down the ‘ol cake-hole, then proceeded directly to the Flying Dog and Clipper City Brewery table.  After all, as the old adage goes, beer before liquor.  (But I think that’s followed by “Never sicker.”  … Whatever.)  After a  greet with the boys, I quaffed down a Clipper City Loose Cannon Hop Ale, surprisingly light on its toes.  I gave it a 9.7, but that Romania only gave it a 9.2.  Yeah, they really screw us at the Olympics, too.

Then it was on to Flying Dog Brewery’s “Gonzo” Imperial Porter.  Now, I’m not usually one for porters, as I’m not fond of having to churn my beer like a damn keg of mud, but this one was well worth it.  Heavy in color, light yet complex in taste.  Kudos. 

Next was the Republic National table for a lil’ sampling of the Hangar One flavors, the Kaffir Lime always being one of my favorites.  I arm-wrestled them into dropping some rocks in my cup and then two-stepped right on over to the McCormick Spice table for some shrimp dipped in smoked paprika aioli.  FAN-tastic.  Clearly, the liquor/ food ratio was already out of balance, and I was doing a piss-poor job of correcting it.  Liquor always wins.

Like a drunken Keno ball, I bounced right on over to the Three Olives Vodka booth for a little “bubble” vodka shooter with Redbull.  Now, I love “bubble” vodka shooters as much as the next guy, but I couldn’t keep a straight face when the girl serving it to me had a T-shirt, complete with company logo, smuggling some of the largest bubbles this side of the ‘ol “Missis-sip.”  There’s only one reason Three Olives hired this hot little tot, and it wasn’t her product knowledge.

At this point, it’s 3 PM, and I’m already half in the bag, The Saval Foodservice team thinks I’m that drunk at the party that confiscates your lampshade and works it as a hat, and Celeste is quite tired of breathing my fumes and deflecting my advances on the cuter patrons at our booth.  She insists I need more food, so I manage to serpentine my way over to Coastal Sunbelt Foods, just across the isle from us.  Do you shop at Giant?  You know that fabulous salsa only found in the fresh produce isle?  THEY MAKE IT.  I made a nuisance of myself at their booth, scarfing down all the free chips and salsa I could manage, until the girls finally gave me that “You should really move on” look.  Like that ever stopped me.

So, as I wrap it up with a Clipper City Marz-Hon, live from the convention center floor, a word of advice...

Don’t hoist those sails without a little more ballast, or you’ll be sinking in that Bermuda Triangle of Food Service nonsense like I just did.

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