Hi, everyone! I'm just back from a trip to San Francisco, where I attended the Fancy Food Show at the partially under-construction Moscone Center - my first Fancy Food Show. It was a very interesting experience. It's easy to get sidetracked: I tried some outstanding 13-year Wisconsin cheddar, the best asiago cheese I've ever had (also, amazingly, from Wisconsin) and some delicious chocolate and toffee, but none of those are things the site will carry. My brother, who's assisting with this project, and I concentrated on the purveyors of spicy and other savory condiments and sauces. For example, there is a man named Jake who makes barbecue and hot sauces, and we liked every one of them - here is his website. He was friendly and gave us the last two ribs he had cooked, so that we could have lunch. In fact, most of the purveyors we spoke with were nice, which is not surprising if you think of them as people who are passionate about food and delight in bringing people pleasure. Some other highlights were a Bavarian company named Essendorfer - I thought all their flavored pestos were delicious, so I'd like to carry some of them but have to make a decision about the scope of what we're selling, at least at first. Another category of great condiments we tried were mustards. For example, there's a guy from Wisconsin who makes an outstanding Fig Balsamic Mustard. He also makes a great lemon curd, in case we decide to carry sweet sauces sooner or later.
The scope of the items we will carry is one of the things that has to be decided on before launch. We're currently planning on concentrating on spicy and savory sauces, though we might also include some dry spices or spice mixtures that are really outstanding. A propos, there was a vendor who had voatsiperifery for sale. We sniffed it and were very impressed. However, the wholesale price is very high, which is a consideration.
Also while I was in San Francisco, I tried a bunch of Japanese condiments my brother bought during trips to Japan. We can't even read many of the labels, but quite a lot of the sauces were very good to excellent, well-balanced ones. My sister-in-law is Japanese, so either she may translate the labels or we can get someone else to do that. Then there's the task of contacting the companies and finding out what the wholesale prices and minimum wholesale orders of the products are.
You might think that at a food conference, everyone stuffs themselves, but that's not the case when you're walking through every aisle looking for the best condiments and sauces you can find. It actually requires a lot of stamina to do business at the show when you're scouting out whatever you can find in one or two categories, and someone who's as focused as we were doesn't eat more than small amounts of samples of extraneous products. On the afternoon of the last day, though, a lot of vendors give away large quantities of products, because they can't take them back with them. So my bag almost broke that day, but mostly because of samples of hot sauces.
In the coming weeks, we will be trying more samples of sauces and condiments and getting more pricing and minimum order information. If you have any other ideas of particularly great spicy and savory condiments the site should carry, of course we're all ears, and thank you for all your advice.