Foodbuzz Festival 2011

This weekend I attended the 3rd annual Foodbuzz Blogger Festival in San Francisco, CA. It was a whirlwind adventure and I am so happy to have met many warm, creative and inspiring bloggers. I also enjoyed samples from some wonderful food brands and benefited from excellent programming through the breakout sessions.

I arrived on Friday at noon local time. After a delightful lunch at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, I went to the festival registration and picked up my SWAG bag and credentials. I enlisted the help of a large cappuccino from Bread and Cocoa in order to unpack and organize my belongings and get settled in.

Behind every successful woman is a substantial amount of coffee

The blogger gift bag was a little heavy on the chocolate, but I’m not complaining.

After organizing my things, I freshened up and headed to the Welcome Dinner at Terra Gallery, where we mingled over Sabra hummus appetizers and Bonny Doon Vineyards wine. I especially enjoyed the light and refreshing albariño. At the main event, we helped ourselves to buffet style dining. There were several Foodbuzz blogger-inspired dishes. My favorite was the beet ravioli, and the lentil salad was a close second.

The desserts were all created by Yigit Pura, winner of Top Chef: Just Desserts season one. My favorite was the mulled wine macaron with spiced blackberry cream.

For the rest of the evening, I chatted with new friends and enjoyed a local brew.

By the way, this show is brought to you by the letter Alcohol.

Say hello to Sarah, Laura and Karen! These creative women have unique voices in the blogosphere and their sites are worth checking out. I had a lovely time getting to know them.

Saturday morning began with a delicious breakfast spread and the beginning of group sessions.

After the Taking Your Blog to the Next Level panel discussion, I was lucky enough to get one of Mama Pea’s dough balls. How sweet was it that she brought gifts for everyone and had dozens of dough balls on her at all times? I think she’s a genius.

I attended two sessions after the panel discussion: The DSLR-Free Zone: Taking Gawk-worthy Photos with Lo-tech Equipment, and Beyond the Written Word: Making the Most of Audio and Video. Warning: there might be another video on the way soon. But hey, don’t worry. You’re not alone. It’s my worst nightmare too! I just feel that I have to test what I’ve learned.

But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

After the sessions I took a long walk to the Ferry Building.

The Saturday farmers’ market was packed with people. I tasted some juicy, sweet Frog Hollow Farm pears and bought some jarred jams and chutneys from the farm table. I also found some beautiful persimmons!

After the Ferry Building Marketplace, I took another long walk to the taste pavilion, where I sampled a plethora of goodies from the festival sponsors.

Dry Creek Valley wine. I probably shouldn't start with this on an empty stomach... Or should I?

 

Mission Mini Cupcakes

Judy's Breadsticks

OXO Good Grips, of which I am SUCH a major fan.

21st Amendment Brewing, which I visited the very next day.

Special tasting of their brand new Allies Win the War

Redwood Hill Farm and Green Valley Organics

After working the room (of course), I rested my liver a bit by relaxing at the hotel for an hour or so, and then I got ready for the Gala Dinner, featuring a cooking demo by Tyler Florence.

My favorite comment of the night was T-Flo’s point that these days a blogger can post a recipe or an editorial and get the same amount of attention (in the form of page views, likes, etc.) that a major national publication can, which illustrates that blogging is democracy. I like that notion.

I loved how everywhere I went, people were taking photos of their food. I wasn’t the only one! For dinner I opted for the vegetarian entree, which was decent.

The dessert trio consisted of a sad little cold bread pudding, flanked by two delectable confections: a Scharffen Berger chocolate mousse and a Cowgirl Creamery cheesecake.

I bid my new blogger friends farewell and headed back to my hotel to curl up with a book and a hot tea before bed. I prepared myself for a crazy adventurous final day in San Francisco with one of my best friends. There were giant lattes, Chinatown shopping sprees, impromptu beer tastings, kimono fashion shows, and a whole lot of other things that I wouldn’t dare post (or even mention) on the internet.

And there were dozens of fluffy macarons. I promise I’ll tell you all about them next time.


Motorino, Manhattan, NYC

As you may already know, Kyle and I are on vacation in New York City. We arrived on Monday afternoon and met up with our friend Melissa for dinner that evening. Her first suggestion was Motorino, a pizza place in the lower east side. After some discussion of alternative options, we all decided that Motorino was a great choice. We arrived at the small restaurant around 7:30 and were told that it would be a ten minute wait.  No problem, we walked around the block. When we returned the host came outside and told us this:

“I hate to do this because it’s really rude but I have a table available now for you but I would need it back around 8:15. Or you can wait another ten to fifteen minutes and take your time.” We must have looked at him quizzically because he immediately began to explain.

“We have a celebrity coming in and I need your table for their party at 8:15.” We looked at our watches and looked at each other. It was almost 7:45. I thought about how we had been traveling all day and were looking forward to catching up with a good friend over a bottle of wine and a Neapolitan pizza. Now I don’t have anything against 30 minute meals, when I’m cooking them in my own kitchen out of a Rachael Ray cookbook, but on this night I just wasn’t in the mood. I suggested that we wait for the next table and take our time.

Motorino makes Neapolitan style pizza in the gorgeous oven pictured above. They have a good beer and wine list, and they offer a “perfect pizza wine” which is a sparkling red blend that we really enjoyed. I don’t know about how well this wine pairs with pizza; it didn’t seem like an earth shattering life changing combination. However it was delicious, and perfect for a warm summer evening.

We ordered three pizzas and shared them all. I loved the Margherita, which was topped with a tasty tomato sauce, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella. The crust was crispy and doughy all at once with a delicious char from the oven. As we dug in, we were joined by the celebrities of the evening. That’s right, there were more than one. Kyle played it really cool.

Melissa and I struggled to be cool too. We covertly took pictures.

We finished our meal as their pizzas were coming out. We didn’t want to leave them behind. We ordered tiramisu and another bottle of wine. It wasn’t hard to eavesdrop because although we were in a crowded restaurant, we could hear the woman of the hour loud and clear through the whole meal. For a tiny lady, she’s got a big mouth!

When we paid the check, they were finishing up. Guy Fieri left first, followed by a gaggle of guidos. Then the rest of the guests at the table of ten stood up and started to walk out. As soon as they left, we bolted out the door. See, I didn’t want to interrupt her meal but I was eager to say hi. Blame the second bottle of “perfect pizza wine” – I walked right up to her and said “Rachael! Hey Rachael, can I get a picture please?” She whipped around with a big smile on her face and said,

“Yeah, sure. Why not? Hey guys, how’s it going?” I shoved the camera in Kyle’s hands and leaned in to pose, afraid that the moment might pass if we didn’t seize it immediately. Then Rachel Ray laughed and said, “How great is that? You didn’t even ask him to take the picture, you were just like, ‘take this’ and he did it! What a guy, huh?”

 

What a guy indeed. I’m having the time of my life with my very best friend in the city that never sleeps, and I hope it never ends!