This year's show at the Los Angeles Convention Center (at top) included an International Showcase, Japan Pavilion and Latino Foods Pavilion along with dishware, machinery, food containers, plastic cutlery, pest control services and other behind the scenes restaurant needs.
I picked up samples of everything from Pumie, a pumice scouring stick for cleaning porcelain and tile (or scrubbing feet) to Bon Appé's nutella fudge brownie cake that will stay fresh at room temperature for 14 days, or so they claimed. The maker is Upper Crust in Toronto, Canada.
Its rival in the Japanese Pavilion was T-Pops Tokyo style sweet and creamy matcha popcorn, one of several types of popcorn with Japanese flavors (above). These were "proudly made in L.A.," the labels say, not Japan.
Ice Dome sake (above), which comes from a 600-year-old family-owned company in Japan, was processed in an ice dome at 10 below zero. After all that chilling, this premium sake should be served cold, not warm.
Satsuki rice (above), a short-grained rice for sushi, is being grown in Uruguay, where soil, water and climate are similar to those in Japan. Recommended also for porridge, rice pudding and any dish that requires a stickier rice, it will come in handy if the California drought decreases rice production here, a rep at the booth said.
Aguacates Chahena from Uruapan, Michoacán, handed out bags the color of avocado pulp Right now, all Mexican avocados exported to the United States are from Michoacán, a booth attendant said, but in the future we may also get avocados from the state of Jalisco.
A real winner from California was lamb bacon produced by Superior Farms of Davis. This cured and hardwood smoked slab bacon is made from lamb breast. It's new this year, but only restaurants can get it. Sadly, it won't be in retail markets, because you'd love to put it into a BLT, which in this case stands for bacon-lamb-tomato.
Fortunately, Fresh Origins sugar crystals flavored with herbs, flowers and fruits (above) are being launched into retail. These colorful little shots of sugar can be used in countless ways. Cilantro sugar may sound weird, but it's delicious, fun for rimming a margarita glass. Basil crystals on vanilla ice cream? Why not? Other flavors are cranberry, mint, rose, hibiscus and fennel. The herbs and flowers are grown on a farm in San Marcos, California.
Don Chente Bar-Grill & Lounge on Figueroa Street across from the Convention Center handed out tastes of mole poblano on chips and cochinita pibil smothered with pipián sauce. Pretty girls in elaborate costumes and a skull-faced catrina figure (above) brought over from the restaurant made this one of the most colorful booths.
Working a show like this is hard, so massage chairs were full, and electronic gadgets that ping muscles to relax and soothe them were getting lots of use. Another place to relax was the California Craft Brewers Pavilion, where one could chill out with cool IPAs, Pilsners and others before heading out into the warm evening.
Attended by restaurant and food service industry professionals, the expo opened Sunday and ends today.