July 3, 2013

CCA Conference 2013

June passed by in a whirlwind. I’ve been enjoying myself and the nice weather, when it was here, but there are two weeks that seem unaccounted for. I got a cold on a Monday, stayed home Tuesday, went to work Wed & Thurs (feeling better), flew to Toronto for the Celiac Conference in Mississauga, sinus filled up by the time I landed. Thinking it was just from the flight, as sometimes happens when flying, I went to the conference on Friday. Waking up Sat morning I realized I had another cold, but instead of staying in bed to get better, I contaminated people across Canada. Did you hear someone sneezing and coughing? That was me!!! Sorry, to spread my germs, but I paid for the conference and my flight (lodgings was free at my sister’s and thankfully she remained healthy because I’d never hear the end of it) so I was going to go. Also, my asthma started flaring up because of this cold so I spent the following week sucking on my inhaler and coming home from work and crashing on the couch. It felt like playing catch-up for the next week or two.

How was it? It was pretty good. Laurence Wall was the Emcee and kept up entertained when energy began to lag and kept the speakers on track. The presentations were interesting and I’ll post some information. The CCA certification program is more interesting than it would appear as more big-name companies, like Marc Angelo, are joining and making it easier for Celiacs to pick up items without having to worry. It makes sense as it brings the companies a new target market: those with gluten-issues.

The Gluten-Free Market Place was packed and one of the places to be. But I did expect it to be bigger; it is Toronto after all (Yes, I know Mississauga is a separate city; the same but different) and everything is bigger in T.O. And I expected more people to be selling stuff. You have an almost captive audience that wants to buy your product; sell it!! There were a lot of vendors from the general vicinity and by that I mean within a 2-3 hour drive, which is do-able in that neck of the woods. Growing up in that area (an hour down the 401) I was happy to see businesses from small cities and towns and they were doing well (Seriously, what’s wrong with Ottawa?!?!). The downside is that I would be able to return to their business unless I was visiting family since Ottawa is so far away. That left me a little disappointed, but I did make some purchases to make up for it. I was very very careful though this year after I was left with a two-month sugar addiction from the Ottawa CCA conference in 2011.

All But Gluten is new in stores and the ladies were giving out samples. The focaccia is delicious and makes a nice sandwich bread sliced lengthwise. Adian’s is fabulous bread products that can be found throughout T.O and I’ve heard that a few health stores here in Ottawa carry it. It’s good.

There are small-ish bakeries like Queen B Pastry in T.O, Little B’s Bakery in Southwestern Ontario, Tia’s Bakery in Cambridge who makes the best mock-rye bread ever ( I went back to purchase more), Winnie’s GF Foods in Waterloo who makes great homemade pierogies, Newton’s No Gluten is based in Guelph  and their goodies looked good, and lastly Sweet Temptations in Aberfoyle made delicious cupcakes (I broke down to peanut butter & chocolate). Although Jakki was running low here, I turned around and saw a long flat dolly full of cupcakes on their way.

There are also some gf shops popping up too. What a nice feeling, to go into a store where you could buy anything! Imagine! People in T.O are lucky to have Gluten Free & Me (Oakville) and Goodbye Gluten.

 There were so many great things: popcorn seasoning, sauces, samosas. Bard’s beer was there, but the man didn’t offer me a sample (it was after noon, after all) so I popped over to the vodka vendor. 

Now technically liquor is gluten-free because the gluten proteins can’t get through the finishing filtering process (it’s all the stuff added later that can cause problems) so I was intrigued in how Tag was different. The vendors were quite proud of Tag, of it being gf (it comes from corn), and it being a premium brand (aka expensive). Instead of telling the woman how much I love great vodka, like Chopin & Grey Goose, I should have kept my mouth shut. Like the woman beside me I got a little taster shot and a cosmopolitan and the woman serving me waited expectantly. I took a sip and quickly thought ‘Please don’t let my face show what I’m really feeling’ because that tends to happen without me realizing. I was polite and lied; it was horrible. Hello; I found a new anti-freeze!! Thank goodness I had the cosmo to mask the burn. There is a saying that good vodka should taste like water (it is the water of life) and I believe that if it doesn’t taste like water, than it is crap. Yes, I’m a vodka snob and proud of it.

I’ve saved one of the best things for last. These cheeky ‘G F Yourself’ t-shirts are designed by Jody Leigh, who took her love of design another step after being diagnosed Celiac. I love them and debated with myself all afternoon about picking one up. I had to pass in the end, but I’ll pick one up someday soon. A cheeky gal needs a cheeky t-shirt.


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