Monday, November 22, 2010

Foodbuzz Blogger Fest: Day 2

Nothing wakes you up early on a Saturday morning like the word PORN emblazoned across a giant hotel conference room screen. Day 2 of the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival and off to a sniggling start. My first breakout session of the day explored lighting, composition, and tips for photographing food, lead by [No Recipes] and The Cooking Photographer.
Following the workshop, Border Grill's Mary Sue Milliken demoed variations on the fish taco using fresh Alaska Seafood. A charming interlude to... lunch? Unfortunately not yet. 
The Food Blogging Guide to Success (Whatever That Is!) panel was an interesting one. Featuring the bloggers Lick My Spoon, Kitchen Corners, and Carrots 'N' Cake, discussion topics spanned recipe ethics to personal safety. In the end, Lick My Spoon made me smile commiserating about her massive, shelved French Laundry post... (the beast we ALL have as bloggers that we can never seem to finish and get out there!)
A short walk downtown followed, leading to the Tasting Pavilion at the Metreon's top floor.
479 Popcorn was my first stop, with a wooing Chipotle Caramel & Almond corn.
Next door were some poached gulf shrimp and chile-gazpacho from Miss Pearl's Jam House
Three Twins sampled their smooth mint confetti and strawberry ice creams.
Prather Ranch Meat was popular, grilling sausages in their cheeky t-shirts.
I enjoyed Tyler Florence's roasted butternut squash & apple soup with parmesan herb savory shortbread.
Other highlights included Annie the Baker's peanut butter cookie, Ledgenear Farm's literally drinkable maple syrup, INNA jam's raspberry preserves and jalapeño jelly, a wistful Macadamia nut blossom honey from Royal Hawaiian Honey, and spicy pickled vegetables from Pick-A-Peck.
And let's not forget the booze. It may have been midday, but I was sure tasting the many varietals dressed to the nines in JAQK Cellars' clever designs. An example of gambling gone right.
The Watermelon Wheat Beer and Fireside Chat Winter Spiced Ale from the people over at 21st Amendment came giftwrapped in 6 pack boxes - a novel idea! I was also impressed by the distinguished Bison Brewing Organic Chocolate Stout , but most (surprisingly) of all by the wines from Far Niente
in Napa. The overdressed gilt labels on their Estate Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon bottles deemed them missable, but both wines were so down to earth, nuanced and drinkable I had to retract my judgemental claws. Their Dolce late harvest Napa dessert wine was a proverbial cherry on top. 
But it was the ladies at the Jacob's Creek tasting booth that saved me from the poker face of the pavillion. Tall pours -and always a mischevious smile- made me return to their booth again, and again.. and again.
After a small wine nap break, dinner was served at the incredible church de gourmand - the Ferry Building.
Like something out of a dream, the thorough way of the closed complex was transformed into a sprawling dining room, light arches overhead bracing the length of our hungry mob.
Most of all it was the company at our table is what made this such a fabulous experience. I had the pleasure of dining (and drinking copious amounts of wine before dinner) with the sassy j e t s e t WISDOM, Culinary Herbalist and wonderful conversationalist Pat Crocker, my buddy the Wind Attack, the charming Tomato Tart next door, our team captain Casey Angelova, and the très hip Warm Kitchenette.
The meal we were about to enjoy was presented by the Cooking Channel and featured wine pairings by Bonny Doon Vineyard.
Dinner started with a Roasted Golden Beet Tart with crimson beets, feta, currants, wild arugula, and basil puree. A 2009 Bonny Doon Vineyard Albarino (very familiar to me by this point in the weekend) was poured alongside.
The second course may have been my favorite - Seared Scallops with Bonny Doon Vineyard Verjus Beurre Blanc served over braised fennel and garnished with fried fennel fonds. A lovely 2007 Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Blanc made the near perfect dish sing.
I was impressed that the entrees were dropped around the room at once, hundreds of Rosemary and Garlic Infused Racks of Lamb with local wild mushrooms, pinot noir sauce, and butternut squash puree, all cooked to a sultry medium rare. The components all worked wonderfully together, a warming toast to the season, paired with the 2006 Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Volant.
(I have never seen a group of diners so uniformly and ferociously tear meat from bone like us hungry bloggers. It was a carnal and beautiful site!)
Dessert was a Tarta de Almendras - A buttery almond cake with oranges, figs, Spanish sherry sabayon and parmesan crisp. The pairing was a delicious 2008 Bonny Doon Vineyard Vinferno fortified dessert wine.
Following the satisfying meal, Angelova championed our group in the after dinner Foodbuzz Twitter scavenger hunt. Several blocks away after her third capture, a cab was flagged. Deja vu, there was not enough room for everyone in our group - All but one could fit. I looked up at the clear autumn night sky between high rises, considered my full belly, wine buzz and put my trust again in fate.
"It's alright," I told them, a sudden chill curling my lips into a smile. "I think I'm going to walk."

2 comments:

  1. If I go to the festival next year, I can only hope (wish, pray?) that I get to sit at a table half as fun as this year's!

    The great thing about your really late foodbuzz posts is that I get to remember the weekend all over again! yay!

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