My taste of the NRA Show

According to an old maxim, you shouldn’t shop for groceries when you’re hungry. That may or may not be true, but this can be said with complete certainty: Don’t walk the floor at the National Restaurant Show on a full stomach. 

I learned that irrefutable truth when I set out Saturday on the show floor to find gluten-free products, not because of food allergies or sensitivities, but because gluten-free is on everyone’s top-trends list. At the same time, I was on a hunt for vegan fare that would tempt me, a practicing carnivore. 

So I started the morning with a bite of a chorizo patty.  Hey, old habits die hard.

That was followed by multiple shavings of pancetta from an Iberico de Bellota pig exclusively fed with acorns.

After the prior night’s party hopping and restaurant visits, I had considered my hunt a scouting mission for innovation. Instead, impulse would clearly come into play.

Sometime in the afternoon I made it over to the Healthy Food section. Once I stopped expecting a charcuterie vegan “meat” to have a similar texture to the real thing, I found a chipotle, smoked apple sage, and Italian “sausage” to have great flavorings.

Heading over to the gluten-free section, I sampled gluten-free chipotle BBQ pretzel sticks and salted caramel clusters—a treat even for those of us that eat gluten products. I tried a soy sauce, also gluten free, than has less sodium than its traditional counterparts, but packs in the flavor.

Maybe I was parched after all the eating, but one of my favorite treats on the show floor was a drink made with aloe vera juice and flavored with fruit pulp. Refreshing and not overwhelmingly sweet, the refresher reportedly aids digestion. And yes, it is gluten free. It was also fat free.

 Back tomorrow for more sampling.

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