When Karen Keegan of Savor the Flavor in California commented at the end of our ten minute Saturday buyer’s meeting at the 2012 Summer Fancy Food Show in Washington, D.C., “I wish we had more time together, I’d love to see more of your products.” and delighted in our Tavolozze al Tartufo Crackers, it felt like our time at the 2012 Summer Fancy Food Show in Washington D.C. was getting off to an auspicious start.
We were buoyed even more by the positive response from our pre-show buyers’ meeting with food friends from the Pasta Shop in Berkeley, Linda Sikorski and Cathy Leland of Rockridge Market Hall. They gave thumbs up to two of our debut products for the show: Bevanda al Balsamic: Drinking Balsamic and our surprise product of the show, Torrone-in-a-Jar (a creamy dessert topping made with ground up torrone, honey, and Piedmont hazelnuts).
And how could we know on the first day that our Silver sofi™ nomination for RITROVO SELECTIONS™-Casina Rossa Puttanesca Sauce would become a Gold Winner at Monday evening’s gala awards with Super-Chef Jose Andres?
In the interim there were amazing visits with old and new customers, a steady stream of samples dropped by Italians looking for an importer, festive dinners out after the Show, and an overall energizing RITROVO® feeling.
Some special moments were:
We talked the latest in extra virgin olive oil news and gossip with devoted retailer and expert Louann Mcloughlin of Olio2go, a new fan to Madonna dell’Olivo’s Itrans Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Sat down and talked about new food trends, including drinking vinegars with Ari Weinzweig of Zingerman’s, always delighting in his wit and passion for real food.
Looking up and seeing our four great grocery buyers from one of our oldest customers, Metropolitan Markets, both at our booth and at the party after winning our sofi™ Gold. Their familiar and delighted faces while tasting our newest products reminded us of the supportive history that has brought RITROVO® to its 13th year.
We were especially inspired by the reactions to our new Bevanda al Balsamic: Drinking Balsamic, which almost unanimously was touted as “refreshing” and on trend. When we arrived home, we learned—to our delight—that it had been listed by NASFT as among the products “on trend” and tastemaking for this show.
We were gratified too by the smiles and appreciative responses to RITROVO® long-standing staples like our boxed pastas (Waves of Grain, Bucatini, “Odds & Ends”), 2009 sofi™ gold winning Aged Balsamic Vinegar, Ciacco Alba White Truffle Oil, Miller Farms Truffle & Salt Almonds, and Casina Rossa Lemon Oil. Many of the kudos for them came from new faces, particularly retailers looking for products that truly remain in the specialty food category and are not in massive distribution. They identified the uniform quality and uniqueness of RITROVO®’S product lines that can help distinguish them from a sea of larger retail stores.
There were also savored moments with long-time customers from far away from Seattle: Cheese Store of Williamsburg, Elwood Thompson, Eli’s, Molto Formaggio, Olive Oil and Beyond, Primi Piatti, and the excitement of beginning relationships with new customers like Formaggio Kitchen in Boston and Woodstock Market in Vermont.
And in the few moments when we roamed to see the many other interesting Fancy Food Exhibitors around the show, we marveled at some unique products that caught our RITROVO®-trained eye: a chocolate spread with a clear extra virgin olive oil base from Spain, a series of delicious couscous toppings from Morocco, unique fruit-coated nut crunch bars from Calabria, exquisitely-packaged olive oil tasters from an Australian company.
All of this inspiration will keep us motivated and dedicated to what RITROVO® does for some months to come—or at least until the Winter Fancy Food Show.