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BlogHer Food 2010: Fun, Friends, Food and Channeling Carmen Miranda

Those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook already know that I was back in San Francisco last week to attend BlogHer Food 2010 [1].  I had an absolutely marvelous time reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.  I ate like every meal was my last; I partied like it was 1999; and I shopped ‘til I dropped!  And, I also managed to learn a few things about blogging in between.    But, getting back home after such a trip brings a big dose of reality with it.  As I step back into real life, I have lots of catching up to do.

I’m always amazed (and very impressed) when I’ve barely stepped off the plane and there are already numerous conference recaps posted on various blogs.  I wish I could be that organized! I’m usually lucky if I can get something posted after two or three weeks, and by that time, it barely seems relevant anymore. Plus, there is usually so much information to write about that I get overwhelmed about halfway through and throw my hands up in despair!  This time, however, I was determined not to let too much grass grow under my feet.   So, here is my recap while all is still relatively fresh in my sieve-like little mind.

Dianne Jacob of Will Write for Food [2], referred to BlogHer Food as a love fest [3].  She’s right.  It was a love fest, or at the very least, a mutual admiration society.  For me, the conference was the ultimate social experience.  I loved having the opportunity to meet the creative forces behind the many, many blogs I enjoy reading.  I welcomed the chance to compare notes and share insight with them.  I loved seeing pictures of their kids, dogs and kitchens, hearing about their successes and frustrations and finding out where their favorite sources for vanilla beans and saffron are online.   I probably would have still gone to BlogHer Food even if there hadn’t been a huge lineup of incredibly talented speakers, celebrity-studded parties and a vast array of sponsors and exhibitors doling out scrumptious snacks and nifty swag.  Yup.  I would have gone anyway, because to me, that’s what blogging is all about – interaction, networking and community.

I don’t think that I can add much more about the conference sessions that hasn’t already been eloquently said by some of my fellow attendees. Truth be told, after going to four similar conferences, I found that many of the sessions were pretty repetitive.  Been there, done that.  But, I’d like to tell you about a few of the highlights of the weekend for me. At least, some of the highlights that I got pictures of, that is.  First on that list is…..


Yes, it’s true.  I finally got to meet Dorie Greenspan [4]!  And, she was just as charming and lovely as I knew she’d be.  You know what else?  She wrote the sweetest note to me in my copy of Baking: From My Home to Yours [5].  Yes, I hauled my batter splattered, dog-eared copy of the book to San Francisco all the way from Florida hoping to get it autographed. I’m thrilled, I tell you!  Absolutely thrilled!  I wanted to get a picture of myself with Dorie, but I was too verklempt to ask her.

I also got to see another one of my “crushes” again.  Penny de los Santos [6] was at the conference presenting another riveting session on photography.  I was so inspired by her talk at IFBC [7], and I looked forward to the chance to hear her again.  I just love everything Penny stands for – passion, authenticity and creativity.  She is such an incredible talent!  Seeing the world through her lens is an amazing experience.

The next highlight of my trip was getting to spend some quality time with my dear friend, Laura, of Hey What’s For Dinner Mom?. [8] We met last year [9] at BlogHer Food and hit it off immediately, which is funny because we are so different in so many ways.  Laura lives in Alaska.  I live in Florida.  She lives in the country. I live in suburbia. She cans her own salmon.  I buy mine at the supermarket.  She’s tall.  I’m not.  I could go on and on, but you get the drift.  Despite all of our differences, we click.  I can’t explain it. It is what it is.

Laura and I had already been planning our 2nd annual pilgrimage to Chinatown, when we decided to add another outing to the agenda. So, guess where we went.  Are you sitting down?  Really.  You should be sitting down for this.  Okay, then.  We went to…..


SQUEEE!!! (I never actually say “squeee”, but I heard that this was the appropriate exclamation for BlogHer Food attendees.)

I have to tell you that this is the stuff that foodie fantasies are made of!

Laura and I met up with Carol [10], Valerie [11], Amanda [12], Heather [13] and Selena [14] for a fabulous dinner at the Berkeley landmark [15], and we were not disappointed.

The food was spectacular!  Every dish was made with impeccably fresh ingredients

In case you were wondering, we had Pizzetta with Wild Nettles and Parmesan,  Avocado and Beet Salad with Ginger Vinaigrette, Wood Roasted Alaskan Sidestripe Shrimp with Fresh Pimientos and Fresh Pluot Tarte with Rose Ice Cream.  We had a lot of other yummy things too, but the pictures turned out too crappy to use.

On day two of the conference, we were treated to a field trip to the Ferry Building [16].  I met up with Elaine [17] and Lael [18], who are two fab femmes!  We decided to try our luck at getting a table at The Slanted Door [19] for lunch.   Amazingly, the restaurant was able to accommodate us.

Of course, we couldn’t help but sample as many dishes as we could fit on our table, and the food was fantastic!

My favorites were..…um…..   Hmmm.  I can’t decide.  They were all so good!

Sadly, as great as the food was – the service wasn’t.  I suspect it was supposed to be “low key” and unobtrusive.  But if it had been any more laid back, it would have been nonexistent!  Not once did anyone ever even ask if our food was okay.  The servers didn’t ask if we were finished with our plates before trying to rush off with them either.  We kept having to grab them back from their clutches.  And…..well…..you know…..a smile and a “Thanks for spending an obscene amount of money at our restaurant despite a plummeting economy” would have been nice.  We paid our bill and slipped out without receiving a second glance.  Sigh…..

The Ferry Building is filled with small artisan food shops and fresh markets brimming with gorgeous fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses.  Elaine, Lael and I had a great time window shopping and snapping pictures.  Just look at these perfect heirloom tomatoes.  They don’t even look real!

One of the places that I promised Mr. SGCC I would visit while in San Francisco was Boccolone Salumeria [20].  Boccolone is the retail shop of the artisanal salumi venture from Chris Cosentino and Mark Pastore of Incanto Restaurant.  The shop features over twenty varieties of Boccalone’s handmade cured meats. Their salumi are handcrafted in small batches using sustainably raised, heritage-breed pork and the highest quality spices and salts.  I picked up a few things from the shop when I was there last year, and they were a big hit with my meat loving caveman of a husband.  Forget the chocolate!  Mr. SGCC wanted some pig!

Check out all of that salumi! I grabbed about five different kinds and stuffed them in my bag.

Of course, no trip to the Ferry Building would be complete without a sweet stop at Miette [21].  Miette is a dainty little pastry shop, inspired by the patisseries of Paris.  The name, “Miette,” means “little crumb” in French.  Here, you will find a myriad of assorted pastries, little cakes, sables and their famous macarons.  I wanted to try one of everything, but I settled for a chocolate pot de crème and a box of deliciously delicate macarons.

Les macarons!  Oo la la!

And, I must tell you about Debra [22].  I’d been looking forward to meeting her for ages!  We’d been tweeting about it for months.  And, when day one of the conference wound down, I realized that I still hadn’t run into her.  I knew she was there.  I just didn’t know where.  So, the next morning, I DM’d her.  And she replied.  When I got back to the hotel from the Ferry Building, we found a quiet corner and talked each other’s ears off.  Debra was just as I’d imagined her – smart, funny and warm.  I’m so thankful that I got to spend a little time with her.  I just love her!

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention some of the great parties I attended.  On Thursday night, several of us were invited to a cocktail party hosted by Beringer Winery [23].  Laura and I cabbed it over to the party venue and were met by Lori [24], Kristen [25], Maria [26], Amanda [27], Katie [28], Jenny [29] and a bunch more wild and crazy food bloggers.

In case you’re wondering who those two devilishly handsome guys are in the photo with us, they are Jamie and Bobby Deen, aka the Deen Brothers [30], aka Paula’s [31] adorable sons!  Yes, dear readers, Jamie and Bobby Deen were at the party too!  And, being the well-bred Southern gentlemen that they are, they were only too happy to schmooze with all of us drooling female food bloggers. And, I do mean drooling!  These boys were absolutely charming, gracious and very easy on the eyes. We were treated to a cooking demonstration as well as autographed copies of the brothers’ new book, The Deen Bros.Take It Easy [32].   All I can say is Mama Deen sure did something right with those two! (Many thanks to Kristen [25] for letting me borrow this pic and the one below!)

On Friday night, these four beautiful ladies welcomed us to La Petite Soiree – “a lovely little party complete with chocolate, drinks and all sorts of foodie loveliness”.  Helene [33], Jane [34], Kristen [25] and Stefania [35] were the Hostesses with the Mostesses as they treated about a hundred of us to delicious nibbles and cocktails in the über cool studios of Blue Sky Photography [36].   Walking into the party was definitely an “ooh and aah” moment, as the whole room was bathed in a soft pink light. It was striking!  I wish I had gotten a picture of it, but my little point and shoot probably wouldn’t have done it justice anyway.

There were little food stations positioned all around the room with the most fabulous food from some of San Francisco’s most popular food cart vendors.  And, the drinks were flowing, people, with everything from fruity little iced teas to jaunty little cabernets.  La Petite soiree truly was a “lovely little party” and my sincere thanks go out to all four hostesses for including me!

Last, but certainly not least, was the blowout closing bash hosted by Elise [37], Jaden [38] and Ree [39] on Saturday night at the California Culinary Academy.  Those three sure know how to throw a party!  There was tons of great food prepared by the students at the Academy, as well as an open bar.  There was even a special “Bacon Room” with tantalizing tidbits made with – you guessed it- bacon.  And not only that, but the hunky and cerebral Michael Ruhlman [40] was on hand to show us how to cure our own bacon.  I might just have to try it for myself.  Michael made it look so easy!

Whew! I’d better wrap things up before this blog post gets to be longer than War and Peace!  I just want to give a shout out to some of the special people I got to meet and hang with that I haven’t already mentioned.  Thank you Anita [41], Alice [42], Allison [43], Jen [44], Chuck [45], Shirley [46], Kim [47], Sean [48], David [49], Garrett [50], Irvin [51], Shauna [52], Aran [53], Susan [54] and anyone else who I may have inadvertently left out.

Oh, and before I forget, here’s a pic of me channeling my inner Carmen Miranda [55].  Be afraid, people.  Be very afraid.