San Francisco Foodbuzz Festival – Part I

I spent my weekend in San Francisco at the 2nd Annual Foodbuzz Food Blogger Festival. I had a great drive into the city from Sacramento. Light traffic and beautiful weather. I pulled up to the front of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel and handed my key to the valet. Overnight parking was $55/night – I checked in and had a few hours to hangout in my room before the evening welcome reception.

Cute boutique hotel room. I had a corner room with a great view of Union Square. I threw my bag of “sweet” festival swag on the bed and watched some TV before meeting everyone in the lobby.

It seemed like people already knew each other. I stood off to the side and bumped into another blogger that didn’t really know anyone. Her name was Tsz and she blogs over at gastrophoria. She’s a designer like me. We chatted the entire way to the Herbst Pavilion (at Fort Mason) for the Welcome Reception and Street Food Fare (10 local street vendors provided the food).

There was an amazing cupcake display from Mission Minis of San Francisco – totally cool that the table full of cupcakes spelled out Foodbuzz. The Food Network had us sign a release at registration – they were filming some footage for a reality cupcake show and lots of bloggers were interviewed. I stood in the background with another new blogger friend, Laura –  from Family Eats and Edible Tidbits.

There were 3 different cupcake flavors – pumpkin, green pistachio spice, and vanilla bean. I tried both the pistachio and pumpkin flavors – they were both excellent! Pumpkin was definitely my favorite.

The second thing  that caught my eye was the “Spencer on the go!” truck from the Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race” – very cool because I watched the show. Their menu included the following: New England Lobster Cappuccino, Braised Lamb Sandwich and Escargot Puff Lollipops – they served a lot of those on the show. The line was super long and I knew I wanted to try other things, so I skipped the truck.

I waited in a very long line to try the pork loin sandwich and the chicharrones

It did not disapoint. The cornmeal crust and pork flavors were amazing… and the pork rinds? I don’t normally eat pork rinds, but I did Friday night, and damn they were super tastey!

I also got a yummy pork belly taco from Tacolicious and a slice of pizza from Pizza Politana. They had a tomato sauce, spicy salami, spinach, dry cured olive, red onion and Parmesan pizza – it was thin crusted and fabulous!

Other vendors served up beer and wine, vegan paella from Diamond Lil, Caramel Toffee Crunch Straus Organic Ice Cream, pork belly sandwiches w/potatoes from Roli Roti! and I’m sure I missed a few. I didn’t try everything, but it was fun to pick and choose.

Each blogger in attendance was supposed to bring a “foodie” gift that represented themselves/their blogs and/or the region they were from.

I received an awesome cookbook from Suzanne over at You Can’t Eat What?  – She’s an allergy conscious blogger. While I have no food allergies, I have several friends that do, so this will be a great add to my cookbook collection for sure. Thanks Suzanne!

I brought a cookie cookbook and four Alternative Baking Company, Inc. cookies as my gift – they are vegan cookies. No dairy, eggs, honey, hydrogenated oils, cholesterol, preservatives, artificial ingredients or refined sugars and they taste AWESOME! They also have some wheat free cookies too! – They are a Sacramento based company and I’ve been buying them at the co-op and Nugget market.

I was nervous going into the first night, but ended up meeting some really great bloggers. Turns out, lots of people went without knowing anyone and food sure does bring people together. Much different than the fashion conferences I used to attend.

I got a great night of sleep and headed to my morning breakout sessions.

First up was Food Blogging Guide to Success (Whatever that is!) Ryan Stern, Vice President of Community & Publishing at Foodbuzz moderated the session. The panel included 3 Foodbuzz bloggers:

Damaris (Da) Palmer from Kitchen Corners
Stephanie Hau from Lick my Spoon
Tina Haupert from Carrots ‘N’ Cake

The only blog I read on a regular basis was Tina’s – it was so nice to learn about the others. All 3 bloggers were asked how they measured their success. The answers ranged from life balance to connecting with readers and knowing that they’ve had a positive impact on people’s lives. They all do freelance writing outside of their blogs. Some write for their local newspapers and other websites. They talked about ways to grow your blog readership and gave lots of good tips and ideas.

The second breakout session was Fast, Fresh, Delicious – sponsored by Fresh Express. Chef Todd Fisher, from the Monterey Peninsula, demonstrated blogger Ashely McLaughlin’s (The Edible Perspective) winning recipe.

Link to Ashley’s winning Fresh Express Challenge Recipe

My third session was Food Porn 101 – Taking Sexy Pictures. I had the pleasure of meeting session presenters Laura Flowers who blogs over at The Cooking Photographer and Marc Matsumoto who blogs over at No Recipes. We learned that good composition and good lighting is key. We also learned about the rule of thirds, props to make ugly food look better, shadow and light, 12:00 – 3:00 – 6:00 and 9:00 positions… and then we got to play with the props in professional lighting, not so professional lighting and natural light. I quickly discovered that I need a new camera stat! I had so much camera envy the entire 3 days of the conference. There were food paparazzi everywhere.

Cheap lighting option…

Not too shabby! Note: must run out to IKEA tomorrow to pick up a similar light. Daylight savings is going to kill my after work photography.

My burger photo with the pro lighting…

and my fruit bowl…

We had an hour break between the morning sessions and the afternoon Taste Pavilion. I went back to the room to chill for a bit. I then walked by myself to the Metreon.

My late husband and I went to the Metreon the night we got engaged. We saw the premiere showing of James Bond’s – The World is Not Enough. I was not prepared for the flood of sadness that hit me when I walked through the front doors. I was all by myself and the 11 years that had passed since the engagement, felt like 11 minutes. I took some deep breaths, composed myself,  and made my way to the roof top… where I soaked in the beautiful sunshine and gorgeous view.

I waited outside until they started letting bloggers into the pavilion. More than 50 producers, brands, wineries, breweries, demos and chefs were featured. First up – I grabbed a glass of wine 🙂 Can’t even remember from who or where – just knew I needed it.

I got to sample new Alexia fry flavors…

Carolina BBQ Sweet Potato, Chili Lime Sweet Potato, Caribbean Jerk Russet Potato and Parmesan Lemon Russet Potato. They are going to pick a winner based on voting. We got lucky to actually taste samples – other people just vote online without getting the chance to try them. The Carolina BBQ Sweet Potato was a total win for me. Loved it!

Cupcake stickers… Ticings edible sheets are so freakin’ cool. Weddings, baby showers, birthdays, holidays, company branding. Super excited to learn about this product. The inner event planner in me can’t stop thinking about the possibilities.

Praise the Lard – awesome T-shirt! Prather Ranch Meat Co. cooked up some hotdogs that were beyond ballpark amazing. Perfect for the SF Giants victory!

Juicy with lots of flavor!

This shrimp cocktail sample was “Out of this world” – I must preface this with letting you all know that I am a HUGE shrimp cocktail fan. From what I could tell, Miss Pearl’s Jam House in Jack London Square provided the samples.  Things started to get confusing after a few hours. I should have taken notes.

Todd Fisher, Fresh Express Chef from the morning session… whipped up an incredible salad.

Sierra Crisp Herb Salad with Toasted Quinoa and Smoked Pecans in a Cranberry Vinaigrette. The smoked pecans gave it great flavor. He said everyone kept thinking there was bacon in the salad. Super swanky mini bambo serving plates and forks.

I sampled so much more. Halibut and salmon tacos from Alaska Seafood, s’mores from Ghirardeli, cheese from Jarlsberg, Moovision smoothies, etc. Trust me, it was a good thing my jeans had stretch in them.

I also got to catch Kath Younger from Kath Eats Real Food cooking up her Thanksgiving side dish – Figgy Wild Rice, Mushroom and Sourdough Dressing. The pavilion smelled awesome and Kath did a great job!

I’m saving the Saturday Night Gala Dinner and the Farewell Brunch with new friends for another post. I took so many photos – it’s hard to know when to stop.

Thank you Foodbuzz – it sure was a great time and so nice to now have it documented here on the blog. I already miss my new blogging buddies and look forward to their recaps as well… but it sure feels nice to be home with Dan and Higgy.

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    • Amy on November 8, 2010 at 4:17 am

    I smiled through this whole post. What a fun experience….. I think it’s so cool and brave that you went without knowing anyone. The food looked amazing!!

      • Tina on November 8, 2010 at 3:24 pm

      ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh, my pants are getting tighter just reading/seeing all these pics of the yummy food! 🙂 Looks like you had a fab time! loving your blog!!

        • foodiddy on November 9, 2010 at 7:55 pm

        Ha! Ha! – too funny about the pants.

      • foodiddy on November 9, 2010 at 8:01 pm

      Thanks Aim, so glad I decided to go, almost stayed home. That would have been a big mistake. I wouldn’t have had the chance to meet such fabulous people.

  1. oh Kath!!! now I want to go!!!

    I second Amy that it was very brave to go alone, having been to other blogging events… I dunno… I’m not that brave!

    I may just have to email you though regarding some of the photo tips…

    cant wait to see your other recap!

      • foodiddy on November 9, 2010 at 8:00 pm

      You would have had a blast – you should totally come next year.

    • jessica on November 8, 2010 at 6:31 am

    YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMY! It is only 8:30 AM and after reading this I can’t stop thinking about everything I want to cook today! I’m so glad that you enjoyed yourself — and kudos to you for going alone, I know how scary that can be at first! Maybe next year I will join you!


      • foodiddy on November 9, 2010 at 7:59 pm

      Do it Jess – FB Blogger Festival 3 – us in SF with a side trip or 2 to Napa – dangerous x10.

    • Lora on November 8, 2010 at 7:40 am

    Color me envious! What a fabulous time you had and the food all looks delicious (and beautiful). I can’t wait to see what you cook this week now that you’ve been to the conference.

      • foodiddy on November 9, 2010 at 7:58 pm

      So far it’s been simple – as in skipping dinner and a sandwich the next night. Gotta get back in the kitchen, the daylight saving time crap is killin my kitchen mojo.

    • Hilly on November 8, 2010 at 10:46 am

    I cannot believe how amazing all of that food looks! Lighting or no lighting, I bet every darned thing at that conference was tasty. I’m a little envious of the pistachio and pumpkin cupcakes, though….I would kill to get some of those!

    The Chicharroneslooks amazing too! Plus, what? Alexia, my fave, has new fry flavors? Omnomnom!

    I am glad you had such a good time and met so many nice people! It’s great to hear about a positive blogging conference that makes you feel better about yourself and your blog just because you went. 🙂

      • foodiddy on November 9, 2010 at 7:57 pm

      Dude… cupcake heaven – you would have been dancing through the pavilion and street faire – every flavor you could imagine.

  2. Holy cannoli! I’m so glad I am eating while I read this or I’d be salivating all over the place!
    I’m loving the recap – I need to make it to a food blogging event one of these days!

      • foodiddy on November 9, 2010 at 7:56 pm

      Yes – food blogging events for the win~! Thanks for stopping by Sybil

    • Dubu K on November 8, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    HOW FUN!!!!! I love the cupcake stickers….very cool. We spent the weekend eating and drinking our way through the Sonoma/Healdsburg area at the “Wine & Food Affair”. We hit 12 wineries in 1 day…each had a wine & food pairing….got a great cookbook with all the recipes 🙂

      • foodiddy on November 9, 2010 at 7:56 pm

      Eating and drinking your way through Sonoma and Healdsburg sounds wonderful – two of my favorite little towns. If you try any good recipes, be sure to share, hint…hint…

    • Steph on November 8, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    I would consider starting a food blog just so i could have a reason to go to FoodBuzz next year! lol.

    Your pictures looked amazing! I bet everything was super yummy. I’m so proud of you for going without knowing anyone. Not sure I could do that.

      • foodiddy on November 9, 2010 at 7:53 pm

      Do it Steph – Start a blog… in all of your spare time. 😉

    • Dave W. on November 8, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    What a great opportunity and it’s terrible that you had to go to San Francisco to participate…tough work but someone has to do it. The food looks greeat and from what I can see the pictures turned out quite well. Maybe a search or two on Craigs List or E-Bay would be in order if you really feel the need for a new camera….Best of luck and keep ’em coming.

      • foodiddy on November 9, 2010 at 7:53 pm

      CL and ebay are great places to start – one of Dan’s buddies suggested the same thing. Thanks Dave W!

    • Mommers on November 8, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    WTG……….Kiddo……..I am so proud of you. You are definitely spreading your wings……………..

    Looking forward to many more blogs with wonderful food and great little stories…………….M

      • foodiddy on November 9, 2010 at 7:52 pm

      Thanks Mommers

    • Scott on November 8, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    I’m sitting with Hilly and she suggested I read your blog! So glad I did because this is rockin stuff, FooDiddy!

    Praise the Lard is like a real slice of heaven I bet!

    ~ Scotty

      • foodiddy on November 9, 2010 at 7:52 pm

      Hiya Scotty! Awe, I love my Hilly for pimping my blog – Praise the Lard – heaven indeed. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Paul on November 9, 2010 at 12:03 am

    This looks like a blast! Once you mentioned (and showed) the Ticings, I got distracted and had to go to their website and check them out. Not cheap for custom designs, but I have all sorts of ideas swirling around my head. Thanks for sharing your experience!

      • foodiddy on November 9, 2010 at 7:51 pm

      I know…crazy possibilities with the custom designs!

    • Kristen on November 15, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Finally able to catch up after vacation… Looks like I wasn’t the only one that had a fab getaway. So glad you had fun…and SO glad that you made it through the Metreon deja vu. Kind of scary, but thank God for the roof top with some fresh air and then some very yummy food & wine to carry you through! 🙂

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