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Pizza Expo and Nightclub & Bar

photos by Joe Urcioli

Pizza Expo and Nightclub & Bar  Rocks the Town During Its Annual Conventions at the Las Vegas Convention Center

These two conventions are one of the highlights of the year for the food and beverage industry and this year both took place during the same week.

The Pizza Expo, as it does each year, featured a trade show with all things needed to make America’s favorite food, as well as items to complement pizza or innovations crucial to a pizza business owner. 

Impressive was a pizza dough making machine from the GP Bakery Group that at top speed can produce 5,800 pieces per hour. 

Those looking to provide options for those that can’t eat gluten should be interested in the CauliPower pizza which uses a crust made from cauliflower. 

A possible innovation for the future (or possibly the present) is the 24/7 Pizza Box vending machine that stores refrigerated slices which after purchasing sends the pizza through a conveyor oven. 

Walking the aisles for hours can lead to tired feet and bodies, so having two sit down options was quite a welcome relief. As it does every year, Stanislaus Food Products offered dishes made with its products along with tables, chairs, wine and good company with other weary conventioneers. Piancone had the same very smart idea to showcase its products by setting up its booth like a restaurant with tables, chairs, food menu made with its products, wine and even servers to take your order and deliver it to your table.

Hopefully one has room for dessert after indulging in a pizza pie, and we enjoyed the convenient individually-wrapped Classic Italian Rainbow Cakebites from Cookies United composed of almond flavored cake, raspberry jelly, dark chocolate coating and chocolate sprinkles which were not only delicious but quite eye-catching with the colors of red, yellow and green that reminded me of the shades in spumoni. 

The 32nd annual Nightclub & Bar Show was yet another record-breaking gathering that attracted nearly 40,000 people from around the US and from nearly 50 countries. One of the main attractions is the trade show, at which exhibitors displayed their products including beverages, glasswear, food, lighting and social media applications. 

One of my favorites was Travis Hasse Distilling Company’s Cow Pie, a chocolate/caramel/vanilla liqueur made with Wisconsin dairy cream and rum; although the name doesn’t conjure up an image of something delectable, it turned out to be one of the tastiest drinks I’ve ever experienced. I especially enjoyed meeting Travis Hasse, whose business card identifies him as President and Head Goat Keeper.

Abe Stevens, Founder and Distiller of Humboldt Distillery from Fontina in Humboldt County, CA had an interesting vodka infused with locally-grown legal food-grade hemp seed (Cannabis Sativa L.), which not only has a unique herbal aroma but is very tasty and enjoyable. It’s legal in all 50 states and has a taste comparable to gin.

Bitters seem to be gaining in popularity and Raj Beri was offering samples of bitters from the Australian Bitters Company. The small batch bitters are made ‘down under’ and crafted by hand using old world techniques with natural botanical herbs and spices. 

A new innovation that intrigued me was the Growler Werks, a growler carbonation system with changeable CO2 cartridges that will keep the beer fresh and carbonated for up to two weeks.

Another new innovation was Beyond Zero, a product that I wrote about in our February issue that has the potential to be a landmark breakthrough in the beverage industry. Inventor Jason Sherman was demonstrating his invention that quickly freezes liquor into spirit cubes, eliminating watered down drinks.  

A few aisles over was a similar product, the Ufrost instant freezing machine, named for its U-shaped design, which uses liquid carbon dioxide to freeze any type of liquor up to 40% in less than two minutes. Owner/inventor Julien Michalk, an engineer by trade, was demonstrating his product and serving frozen liquor-infused popsicles made with juice and spirits.  

As usual, one of the most heavily trafficked areas was the Craft Beer Pavilion. The first booth I encountered was Wetten Importers, which had some of my favorites. On the table were the likes of De Troch Oude Beersel Gueze, Samichlaus and Delirium Tremens. 

Some new beers to me I enjoyed were the Steven’s Point Casper White Stout and Casper Pineapple Hefe; Dogfish Sea Quench Ale (a session sour) and Flesh Blood IPA with lemon flesh, blood orange juice, orange and lemon peel; Sam Adams Rebel Juiced IPA made with mango puree and Fresh As Helles with orange blossom; and Garage Brewing’s peanut dunkelweizen and Hatch Chile IPA. 

Mark your calendars now for next year’s Pizzo Expo slated for March 19-22, 2018; and the Nightclub & Bar March 26-28, 2018, both being held again at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

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