It's a little nutty to look back on the past year and everything that's occurred since my first Foobuzz Blogger Fest in San Francisco. A chance meeting on the street outside the hotel lead to my fast friendship with Andy of the Windattack, and also an introduction to Greg of Sippitysup at the kick-off event. Who knew we'd have a podcast together several months later?? On Joy the Baker's network, no less! This demonstrates that while Foodbuzz Blogger Fest has a lot to do with food and blogging, it has way more to do with casual, social, and fun networking. I approached 2011's fest with a renewed set of expectations, mostly modest set on simply meeting and talking with great people.
The kick-off party this year was off to a roaring start before I'd finished my first glass of wine. I enjoyed a lovely conversation with the reps from Bonny Doon Vineyard over a lambent glass of their 2010 ¿Querry? Apple/Pear/Quince Hard Sparkling Cider (Delish! And perfect for your Turkey Day). The smorgasbord sampling buffet was topped off with classy immaculate sweet bites by Yigit Pura. A delightful way to finish a festive evening reuniting with friends.
Saturday's Taste Pavilion offered an intimidating amount to sample, so I zeroed in on the good stuff, and surprised myself by occasionally coming back for seconds. I spent a little too much time at Redwood Hill Farm and Bellweather Farms' tables shoveling goat, cow, and sheep's milk cheeses. I washed the cheese down with drinking chocolate and coins of Tcho's spectrum of cocoa products. Cross-pollinating makes everything more exciting, so I asked House of Balsamic (my favorite) to drizzle their apple balsamic vinegar on my Three Twins Organic vanilla ice cream. Brilliant!
There was plenty to drink and it couldn't have made me happier! New to me was Bloom Gin, a premium London Dry Gin with lush floral notes of chamomile, pomelo and honeysuckle. My favorite non-alcoholic delight was the super dry California Brut flavor of the popular Vignette Wine Country Soda. 21st Amendment did it again (their Fireside Chat and Hell of High Watermelon won me over last year) with their newest ale Allies Win The War, a collaboration with Eugene, OR's Ninkasi Brewery. The earthy ale is brewed with dates, lending it a kiss of mellow sweetness. I ended the afternoon getting up close and personal with the Skyy portfolio of brands, including Espolon Tequila, Campari, Wild Turkey and Frangelico... and watching the determination to make them all work together in one cup. Witness the boozy horchata and tequila-based cocktail below, made pink by a splash of Campari...
Greg of SippitySup getting TikiBuzzed.
I probably should have taken a cocktail break, but kept calm and carried on to The Tonga Room to co-host The Table Set's TikiBuzz Happy Hour! We met some listeners and shared wonderfully potent potables with our new friends.
Our gala dinner was set in the bowels of the Grand Hyatt, with an exhibition kitchen worthy of Iron Chef helming the banquet room. Tyler Florence (quickly dubbed #T-Flo by FoodBuzzards on Twitter) demoed a lovely Eastern European-inspired meal, whilst a very different menu was being plated for us backstage.
A butter lettuce salad kit.
Pro photo tip: Candle Saucer bounce!
Kristin The Cuisinerd, ready for meat!
I lucked out sitting with a pretty amazing table really of some of the best bloggers out there. We brandished knives. We awaited delicious food. We spoke of the T-Flo.
Andy, not letting his meal cramp his swagger.
Wedding steak surf n' turf does not a T-Flo cider-marinated pork chop make.
Joy the Baker contemplates the intention of her bulgar wheat and braised leek entree.
After a lackluster dessert our table retreated to the top floor of the hotel for liquid dessert, but the bar was a little TOO hopping. Forced to hang at the fringes we couldn't help but notice an open back door to a similarly lackluster wedding reception. Evil comes in many forms, and after an unsatisfactory meal, beware the mind of a foodbuzzed blogger. I won't elaborate, but maybe the reception was crashed by a flash mob, and maybe there was an animated conga line, and maybe their guest book ended up with a few extra John Hancocks. But I couldn't be sure about any of that.
Strolling back to the apartment I smiled at the crisp San Francisco night. Another year! So many accomplishments and yet so much inspiration still untapped. What fruits might the coming year produce? How will the unexpected surprise? And how will I look back at it all this time next year? Well friend, I suppose time will tell.