So, you read Part 1, but you’re still wondering who had the best donut? Never fear, Part 2 is here.
Remember, I’m giving out a package of some of my goodies to one lucky winner. I decided to extend the giveaway through the end of the day today, in case anyone gets excited about one of the products below and decides to enter. Have at it!
By the way, there are many great vendors I haven’t explicitly recognized. Product reviews aren’t a major focus of my blog, so I don’t want to overload you with them. Suffice it to say that all of the vendors were great people, selling great food, doing great work (besides that one brand that’s in the doghouse).
Most represented superfood
Neck and neck winners:
– CHIA, in Holy Crap cereal (which I will likely not be eating as cereal but am looking forward to baking into something) and in Chia Moxie peanut butter, plus several energy bars
– QUINOA, in many baked goods and bars, and the star of I Heart Keenwah, one of the most addictive supersnacks I’ve ever come across. I’m fond of the ginger peanut, but be careful: according to cofounder Ravi, this flavor is polarizing.
By the way, I just learned that the I Heart Keenwah founders all met at my alma mater, the University of Chicago! I had no idea there were so many quinoa lovers running around the quad. But it makes perfect sense that U of C alumni would be annoyed enough about the mispronunciation of their product’s name to spell it out phonetically. Because, English majors and business students alike, that’s just the way we are.
Spirulina (a B12-rich algae) popped up in one Raw Revolution bar. The bar is an alarming shade of green but tasty nonetheless. (All their bars were good, similar to Lärabars but more interesting, in my opinion. Though I like Lära, sometimes the bars are a bit dry, which I didn’t notice here.)
Most simultaneously adorable and practical
A close runner-up in this category was me, wearing my Red Apple Audrey lipstick sample, but I figured I’m not really that practical, so I gave it to Gluten-Free Labels instead. Throw a couple of these babies on your colanders and spoons, and throw your masking tape and Sharpie in the trash. (Well, no, don’t do that; they’re still useful for other things, and that’s wasteful.)
Mark your territory in style, and support a really nice person, too—I’ve met the maker, Kelly, twice now, and she’s great.
Gluten-free beer most likely to please someone who never liked beer that much in the first place
New Planet. Some of their beers tasted more like cider, which is great because I prefer cider anyway. The ones that did taste like beer were more mild and accessible than some of the heavy hitters (Glutenberg, for example, which I could tell would be great if I liked hops). New Planet’s Belgian and amber ales got the thumbs up from this would-rather-drink-a-margarita girl.
Jeff of Basic Batters, with his prize-winning donut holes
I liked both Kinnikinnick’s and Basic Batters’ cinnamon-sugar donuts, for different reasons. Kinnikinnick’s was lighter and more traditionally donuty, but Basic Batters’ had pumpkin purée and pie spice mixed in, and it was so dense and autumnal, and man, am I ever ready for fall. They sold out before we could buy any, sadly. This family company is brand-brand-new and off to a killer start. Watch out, Dunkins.
Most generous vendor
This one is too tough. So many of the vendors I met were so outgoing and nice, and so (rightfully) proud of their wares, and so eager to share them with us. Most of them were gluten-free themselves, and I could see they recognized themselves in our shining faces as we swallowed that bite of brownie, baguette, or “rye” bread that tasted just the way it should.
She always was the lucky one in the family.
At the end of the day on Sunday—which, by the way, is the best time to be at this kind of event if you’re in it for the freebies—many of them gave away food they had brought with them, in portions much larger than a bite. For example, we lugged home two bulging bags of rolls from Local Oven (local not to NJ/NY but to Texas, though I believe they ship nationally. Try the onion rolls).
However, if I had to choose a winner, I’d give it to the Cake Over, a brand-new, not-even-quite-opened bakery in NJ, whose owners ran several giveaways over the course of the weekend. The prizes included a whole frosted champagne cake (very tasty—I had a sample), a two-foot-long tray of chocolate cake bites, and a chocolate-swirled coffee cake…which went to us! Yesssss.
Most hoping to see at the next Expo
No, you hipster, not a cronut. (Or a townie, either.) The other day, I had the sad revelation that peanut butter-stuffed pretzel bites exist…but GF ones don’t. Sure, you can dip your GF pretzels into peanut butter, but that’s not the same. I would love if this would come down the pipeline (ideally in a sunbutter-filled form, too, as the Gluten-Free Idiot suggested on Twitter, for the peanut-allergic), because no way am I attempting to make my own. I will for sure blog about them, though. Here’s looking at you, Snyder’s.
Best part of the experience (or, most likely to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside)
Colette Martin with her book Learning to Bake Allergen-Free
Nabbing all the leftovers at the very end of the day on Sunday. Just kidding.
The best part by far was the people. I met several writers and bloggers who had previously existed for me only as a voice on a phone, emails, pixels, Tweets, and blog posts. (For example, I finally got to say hi in person to Colette Martin, whose book I helped edit at work and who is a real dynamo and super nice. Great book, too, if I may say so.)
Some of the vendors I’d met earlier this summer, but many of them (and many of their products) were totally new to me. All of them were smart, forthcoming, and passionate about their products.
Some attendees were parents of gluten-free kids, some were newly diagnosed themselves, some were old hands with years of experience to share. I loved getting to know them.
I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again, maybe at the next Expo, and I can only hope that one day I’ll also be lucky enough to meet and talk to all of you, face to face, over a gluten-free treat or two.
Note that there was absolutely no “committee” or “voting” involved; all opinions are strictly my own. For these “reviews,” I was not compensated with anything other than free Expo tickets, huge amounts of free samples and a sugar high. Thank you, once again, to everyone who made this event possible, particularly the vendors and other bloggers who made it a fantastic weekend.