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I flew to Portland, attended the International Food Blogger’s Conference, and lived to tell about it.
This may be hard for some to believe, but this was the first time I’ve traveled alone so I was feeling a bit of trepidation. Okay fine, who am I fooling, I was pretty freaked out at the prospect of flying alone. Then I saw the plane I’d be boarding. Note the propellers. Who knew they used these little things for anything besides packages? I had no idea. Well, I did it and it wasn’t so bad. In fact, I feel a unique connection to the people I was seated (squished) next to. I think next time I’ll parachute in from a helicopter. Onward!
The conference got off to a start with a quick welcome and then we were treated to a food tasting and live blogging session sponsored by some pretty amazing Oregon food vendors. They went table to table and had 5 minutes to introduce their product, allow us to taste it, photograph it, and then share it with our social networks or on our blogs. Then they moved on and a new, wonderful food vendor would appear. It was like speed dating with food. We tried everything from beer, to chocolate, to fresh canned tuna, to sushi, to jams and jellies, to salted caramel.
The happy, smiling man above is John from Fishes Sushi and he had just asked “Does anyone like Sriracha?” You might be able to guess what everyone at our table answered.
We closed the first day out with, you’ve got it, more food! Starting with a wine reception hosted by Oregon’s Washington County and ending with the Taste of Oregon and Gourmet Fair. Deliciousness at every turn. Then there was the gift suite that consisted of a mile long table filled with swag galore from the all fabulous sponsors.
Then, this happened. A live demo on how to butcher a pig, step by step. Did I mention that the National Pork Board was one of the sponsors? This lady has some real skills and a very sharp knife.
On day 2 I attended sessions on technology and writing held by well known bloggers including Tori Avey of The Shiksa in the Kitchen, Gabi Moskowitz of Brokeass Gourmet, Kelly Senyei of Just a Taste, and Keren Brown of Frantic Foodie. I was so completely engaged in every session that I didn’t reach for my camera once and the time just flew by. These women know their stuff and I was so inspired by all the gems of wisdom that were shared in these super informative sessions.
After a long day of attending sessions, we all met for the Farm to Table Dinner hosted by Wildwood Restaurant and Oregon Wine. Our dinner consisted of four courses, paired with luscious Oregon wines. We started off with a tuna pate crostini, then came the three-bean salad with basil puree. The main course was jerk spiced Draper Valley chicken with black quinoa, balsamic roasted strawberries, and grilled pineapple. For dessert we had a shortbread tart with yummy Oregon blackberries. It was all farm fresh, locally sourced, and artfully prepared.
The 3rd and last day was what I had been anticipating most. A photography workshop and live cooking demo with noted New York Times food photographer, Andrew Scrivani (on the left) and Chef John of Foodwishes and Allrecipes fame. The dynamic duo had everyone cracking up as they worked their way through Chef John’s recipes for white gazpacho, super crispy onion rings, and shrimp scampi. These guys bounce off each other in a great way which made for a very entertaining session. Then, finally, I had the opportunity to place my camera in Andrew’s hands and ask him a few questions. I was really just hoping that some of his magic would somehow be infused into my Nikon.
I barely saw the light of day during my conference days but I did have a chance, for a few hours, to get out and briefly see Portland and spend some time with my sister Linda, and her husband Bill who happily retired and moved there a couple of years ago. I’m also pleased as punch to be able to share a recipe from Linda’s kitchen. More on that coming soon.
It was an eventful, and very memorable trip to a beautiful city that I hope to visit again soon. Thanks so much to all the sponsors and everyone who took part in making this event so special.
Next year’s venue has been announced and it will be….Seattle! They are offering a discounted blogger rate and you can get all the information here.