For those of you rushing down to the second — and final — day of the MetroCooking DC Show at the Convention Center, open until 5 p.m. today, and featuring an appearance by the gruff yet paradoxically cuddly celebrity Food Network chef Bobby Flay, you’ll find an overwhelming array of vendors hawking foodstuffs, cooking utensils and gutter cleaning services. Admittedly, we were slightly taken aback by the abundance of gutter cleaning services on offer, but a spry exhibitor of around 65 or so, representing Gutter Helmet Systems of Millersville, Md., provided perspective: “If you installed our system, you’d have more time to eat food.”
We skipped the cooking demos — we really don’t need to learn how to decorate a Santa cupcake or watch an award-winning chef manhandle a butternut squash — and instead sequentially roamed the show floor, sampling all the free products we could dig our foodie spoons into.
The big take away? Gluten-free is officially a full-blown epidemic. “It’s gluten-free!” we were told time and again. Well, of course it is. It’s a gutter-cleaning system.
We paid more than one visit to the alcohol pavilion because it seemed like the polite thing to do. There, we sampled a glass of $91 Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet, nestled inconspiculously among the far superior $15 and $16 bottles of French and Italian reds. It made us feel rich, decadent, drunk.
We engaged in a rather absurd discussion with a perky young woman from The Cook’s Cook. “We’re an online magazine!” she exulted. “Well, we’re a real, printed magazine,” we exulted back. “But we have online content!” she replied, realizing she was losing the battle but probably not the war. “You can actually hold our magazine.” “But…” “Please give up. Now.” “Okay.” Poor misguided creature.
We got the day’s best swag from Caviar, a promising restaurant delivery service new to D.C. The energetic, engaging, clearly gluten-free young women helming the booth handed us a self-contained plastic cutlery set, perfect for those times when eating with your fingers simply won’t do, and a credit card holder that adheres to the back of your mobile phone eliminating, presumably, the need for a proper wallet. We adored the girls from Caviar and can’t wait to order something from the service.
Best encounter of the day? David Tenant, the super-charged founder and CEO of Crackem, which is still in its “please give us money” Kickstarter phase. The Crackem is a small, concave plastic oval with a raised center ridge on which one is meant to gently tap an egg resulting in the perfect, shell-free, mess-free, yolk-preserving crack (Shark Tank are you listening?). We gave the device a try and ended up with egg-soaked hands.
The Crackem – Photo: Randy Shulman
The surrounding crowd was amused by our humilation. “You have to take a much lighter approach,” grinned Tenant, proceeding to crack a perfect, mess-free egg. “What’s wrong with cracking our eggs on counters?” we posited. “This is better!” How? “Because it ALSO DOUBLES AS A SPOON REST!” Clearly the Crackem is the most versatile, gluten-free kitchen aid devised by anyone. Ever. Buy one now. You need it.
Anyway, without further egg-cracking, gluten-free adieu, on the pages that follow, we present our top 5 favorite finds at this year’s show….