Well, it’s late on a Thursday night and I’m listening to Ray LaMontagne (obsessed), still recalling my fun, food adventures at the 2nd annual Foodbuzz blogger conference in San Francisco last weekend. It was a big, crazy gathering of 350 food bloggers from all over the country. It was a weekend of making new friends, and hanging out with Chicago food friends (and roommate!) like Mara Rosenbloom
Me and my friend Mara Rosenbloom of I Made Dinner.net!
and eating a lot of amazing food, drinking a lot of excellent wine and running all over San Francisco, in a rather frantic manner, on a foodie-freak-stravaganza! Herewith, I share my top 10 encounters. The Lazy Cook was absent, attending to business at the American Dietetic Association meeting in Boston, leaving me, The Crazy Cook to dutifully experience all the foodie magic. (Her loss, if you ask me!)
1. We were met at Friday night’s Street Food Fare with a huge table of Mission Mini cupcakes spelling out Foodbuzz (my camera could only capture half!). Food Network was filming the founder for an upcoming show! They were tiny and delish!
Mission Minis Cupcakes spelled out Foodbuzz!
2. The Street Food Fare was awesome. My favorite was Namu’s Korean Taco, an umami-loaded mouth festival of beef in a Nori (dried seaweed) wrapper, kim chee (a Korean fermented / pickled veg and vinegar concoction), scallions, tomatoes and God-knows-what-else. Now I know why people go ga-ga for Korean tacos. I wanted seven of them – yet restrained myself to one!
3. Tiny Pancakes! The old-time-y San Francisco breakfast institution, Sear’s, serves a plate of 18 tiny Swedish pancakes that at first I thought ridiculous – then I went straight to “delish!” They were light and flavorful (and you don’t have to eat all 18 of them!)
4. Handmade Sea Salt from Mendocino. Bob and Lora LaMar from Gualala, CA have been making their own sea salt for two years now, after their sport-fishing business was shut down from a fishing ban imposed on 15 miles of coastline. Being foodies, they made, well, salt from salt-in-the-wound. Their smoked sea salt is amazing! Check out Foodzie.com for more info or to buy (not being paid by anyone; I just love it.)
5. Tcho Chocolate! After reading all about it in the Nov. 3 New York Times food section, I nearly had some kind of attack when our cab passed the Tcho Chocolate warehouse on the way to Fisherman’s Wharf. When I saw the building, I cried out to the cabbie, “STOP THE CAR!” Mara was like, “WTF?” And I just said, “Get out, follow me.” We wound up in their tiny store-front/tasting room for a taste of this South-American-sourced chocolate (much of it sold to the restaurant trade) and somehow found room in our bellies for some tastes. I purchased a bag of baking chocolate and intend to create some hot-chocolate happiness this weekend.
6. But, wait there’s more! My foodie friend Deb Kwan and I had dinner Sunday night at Bar Agricole, and she represents Taza Chocolate Mexicano – an amazing maker of organic, direct-trade chocolate, and of course she generously gifted me with some, so there will be Battle Chocolate going on my kitchen this weekend! The flavors are super-interesting — Guajillo Chili, Vanilla, Cinnamon, Salted almond — I can’t wait to try them!
7. On Sunday we were hell-bent on going to Dynamo Donuts, for their pioneering donut stylings, in such flavors as bacon-apple-maple, lemon-pistachio and salted caramel. Shut. it. down. I’m not even a donut-eater, but these? I had to try. Why has no one else gotten on this artisanal/gourmet donut bus? They were DELISH!
8. I also have to give a shout-out to Bonny Doon Wines. Meeting founder and winemaker Randall Grahm was a major highlight of the weekend. He’s a wine pioneer and Bonny Doon graciously served their amazing wines on Friday and Saturday nights and it was a real pleasure getting to talk to Randall Grahm and sample Le Cigare Volant and their fantastic Albarino (who knew California winemakers were making the classic Spanish white, Albarino?)
9. Meeting Jeffrey Saad from last year’s “Next Food Network Star” was so much fun! He’s so nice and I remember rooting hard for him while he was on the show, because of his passion for food and travel (hello? see my last post about Moroccan food madness). I can’t wait to watch his new show, “United Tastes of America” on the Cooking Channel (debuts Nov. 16 at 8:30 p.m. Central time, and no, I am not being paid to say that!)
Jeffrey Saad of Cooking Channel's new "United Tastes of America" and me!
9. Being a Chicagoan, Garrett’s Popcorn is near and dear to my heart, but San Francisco’s 479 Popcorn offers something different. They make fun, gourmet flavors of popcorn like Truffle-Cheddar, and the founder named it because 479 degrees F is the perfect oil temperature for popping corn. All the flavors were divine, and they were just featured in Fine Cooking magazine for a fun Truffle Popcorn Kit. Delish.
10. Well, this photo kind of sums up the food blogger madness that I so enjoyed: the sheer obsession with capturing food in all its glory — the visuals, the smells, the tastes, the textures, the sounds (of hundreds of cameras clicking sometimes, around a plate of food lit just-so, at our food photo workshop). I love being a part of the Foodbuzz blogger community, and I love sharing my passions with you! Come back soon for a look at a super-secret underground dinner I recently attended at the Lettuce Entertain You test kitchen in Chicago. What a food week it’s been! Happy cooking and happy eating to you!
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