Wednesday, April 30, 2014

GFAF Expo Recap

I can watch zombies maul countless people without batting an eye. I've been able to steel my nerves so I'm pretty much immune to the heartwrenchingness of those Sarah MacLachlan sad animal commercials. But give me a sample of gluten-free deep-dish pizza and I cry like a toddler.

That pretty much sums up all of my feels after the Chicago GFAF Expo.

I look forward to this weekend all year, not only because I love free stuff (who doesn't?), but because it really makes me feel like I'm a part of the GF community, and gets me excited about products I can see using in my day-to-day life. Plus, when you're used to never being able to eat anything, ever, it's nice to be in a safe-food bubble for a little while.

I spent Saturday repping Udi's/Glutino and Sunday working with my friends at Red Apple Lipstick, so while I didn't get to spend as much time on the floor as last year, I got a totally different perspective. I knew there were some "must-sees," and I picked my friends' brains for what they thought rocked.

Here are my fave finds:
Kiki's: I'm not exaggerating - when I tried the GF deep-dish pizza that Kiki's was demoing, I cried. I don't know what kind of deal with the devil these folks have, but this was the un- gluten-freest tasting GF pizza I've ever had. We're talking golden, crispy crust with just a bit of softness on the inside. Holy balls. For those of you in the Chicago area, these bad boys will be available through Artizone at the end of May. I don't know if I can wait that long, though, and Kiki and company might just find a wayward blogger hanging out on their front stoop begging for scraps.

Pamela's: I went in with a mission to find the Figgies & Jammies, and find them I did. I got to try the Mission Fig and the Strawberry & Fig, and they did not disappoint. I kept joking with my weekend roommate that she'd better put hers on lockdown so I didn't go rummaging.

Coffecake Connection: Growing up, Entenmann's coffee cake was a staple in our house. Not to mention, it appears at every work & conference breakfast, holiday brunches, etc. I'd not yet found a good GF alternative, until this weekend. Coffeecake Connection is based in West Chicago, ships all over the country, and has an amazing array of flavors. Plus, if you're not up for a whole cake, they sell these adorable little cake-a-lettes that are like a muffin, but better. I tried the Triple Berry, which was nice and fruity.

Freedom Foods: This Australian company stole my heart last year with their Tropic-os, so this year, I went in with plenty of cash. Since cereal tends to be my default food (oh, hey, now the blog title makes sense, no?), it's great to find a gluten-free one that I don't feel guilty eating. Expo price on these were about $2/box. I won't embarrass myself by telling you how many boxes I bought.

Ethel's Edibles: My sweet tooth tends to be overpowering, so I was really happy to find Ethel's on Sunday. Their Pecan Dandies are freaking amazing. I've been on a real pecan kick lately, and this was a perfect dessert. They're based in Michigan, but ship all over.
 
Leo's: My mom actually pointed me in the direction of Leo's on Saturday, urging me to try "the best gluten-free ravioli ever." With a pitch like that, I couldn't resist. Whaddya know, it was true. Great pasta, perfect texture. We liked it so much, we ran out and bought some after the expo, and my mom's taken to keeping a bag of it in her freezer for when I visit. Not bad, Leo's. Plus, they're in a lot of local grocery stores, so the convenience factor is icing on the cake (cheese on the ravioli?).

I Heart Keenwah: This delectable little snacky has had a place in my work desk drawer for a while. I already knew I like the chocolate, so getting to try the other varieties was great. This is a perfect pick-me-up for when you need something sweetish, but also want to get a punch of protein. And who doesn't love the phonetic spelling of quinoa?

Products are great, and I'm no stranger to swag pirating, but I also love the people aspect of Expo weekend. I'm pretty much a hermit in real life, so it's always nice to get the opportunity to be social, on my terms. And hanging out with some fellow special GF snowflakes is always wonderful. If you don't already have them in your blog feed reader, you should check out Gluten Free Betsy, Frannycakes & Tower of Mel. I finally got to meet Sarah of Celiac in the City, who might just have inspired me to finally make the trek to Milwaukee. And I got to meet several folks I know only via the Interwebs (hi, Allie, Abby & Melinda!), and got to hang with Andrea and Jay of RAL. It doesn't get much better than that.

Did you attend the Expo? What was your favorite booth? And does anyone want to place a wager on how many GF pizzas I order from Kiki's in May?

4 comments:

  1. This sounds like so much fun! I'm a freshman in college in California, so I didn't get to go (sad face!), but I'm hitting up the Gluten Free Fair this weekend in San Diego and couldn't be more excited! This will be my first gluten free event to go to, so I'm going hungry! Great breakdown and I can't wait to write my own blogpost about my delicious finds! :)

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  2. How did I miss Coffeecake Connection?! It sounds like the most adorable company ever! I might have to order me up some coffeecake to see what all the fuss is about.

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  3. Your list and mine are pretty similar from the weekend --- that deep dish pizza? STILL talking about it. (and dreaming) YES, let's get you and Betsy up here for a visit. Thanks for the shout out and so very nice to finally meet you!

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  4. It was so great meeting you Alissa!! The expo was a blast, and kind of a blur looking back on it considering I got no sleep the night before because Abby and I flew there and back to MPLS in the same day. The deep dish pizza was one of my favorites as well! Oh and the so-delicious ice cream too. I am drooling just thinking about all of the amazing food again! :)

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