Last weekend there was, as you may be able to guess from the title, a food expo. Just a big conference of food. From vendors in Hong Kong and abroad. It was, as you would expect, very crowded. People even brought suitcases to take all the loot home. My friend JV had acquired VIP tickets to the expo, but we weren’t entirely clear on the benefit of the VIP nature.
We circulated on the main floor, but as soon as we found the Taiwan section, we found lines worth waiting in. Who doesn’t love good Taiwanese food? Scallion Pancakes, Sesame Dumplings, other dumplings, soups, sausages: all things that you can find in a night market in downtown Taipei. But after that we somehow ended up in the healthfood section: beverages and noodles. After posing with a ramen mascot (I think it was for noodles of some kind anyway) and photographing cartoons in tears their food was so good, we made our way to a different level.
We found where we should have started the night: Gourmet. We flashed our VIP stamps and the waved us through while those without the fancy tickets were left outside. We saw people wandering about with wine glasses for tastings, and we quickly acquired the same for a 20$ deposit. We then weaved through the wine stalls sampling Merlot and Prosecco, then Sake and Ginseng liquor. But there were also food stuffs: macaroons, dried seafood, olive oils, salts, and the most exciting black garlic.
We discovered black garlic next to the frozen beer. A man was peddling black garlic soda, and I had no idea what it was, but I do know that I love garlic. As my dad says, “you can never have too much garlic.” I stand by that motto. I add it to everything. So in soda: of course I will try it. And it did not disappoint. I came home with a few cans of the soda and a jar of the garlic itself. Fermented and roasted, it is whole cloves, deep black in color, with a tangy garlic-y and sweet flavor. I’ve been eating them alone. But my friends and I have committed to a cook off; I’ll be looking for recipes soon.
The Wan Chai expo center is a mind-bogglingly huge place, and often has things worth going to (computer expo was excellent last year, we purchased some fun speakers). This was no exception. If you can avoid the crowds and get to the real niche markets, you’ll discover something interesting. But I suppose that little piece of advice can apply to any exploration. But onwards. I shall be cooking with black garlic imminently.