A Foodie Weekend in Three Acts
Act I. "Pour Yourself a Stiff Drink, There's a Lot More to Come."
The kickoff party for Scharffen Berger's annual Chocolate Adventure Contest has become an Orson tradition. Exotic drinks, whimsical nibbles, and a whole lot of chocolate cupcakes. The theme this year for the Chocolate Adventure Contest is cupcakes - devise a cupcake made with one or as many of the 14 "adventure ingredients", including beets, adzuki beans, stout beer, and bee pollen. Elizabeth Falkner, one of the judges, led the way with a bartop full of cupcakes.
The drink list was tailored for the evening.
There was also a blind tasteoff competition (the final ingredients - pandan, bee pollen, and sumac).
Yes, that is Alice Medrich and Elizabeth Falkner doing the blind tasting.
Scharffen Berger on full display. I noticed this display was, um, on the emptier side as the night grew later.
Details for the contest are at the Scharffen Berger site and the deadline for entering is January 2, 2011 - giving you plenty of time to create a crazy-delicious cupcake of your own.
Act II. Laughter, Squeeness, and Love
There was a lot of joking about "squeeness" on Twitter re: BlogHer Food. This second installment of the conference was two days of pure uncut giddiness. I may have done my share of squeeing, abbreviated list of reasons below(I know I'll be leaving many lovely people out, so apologies in advance):
- Seeing Dorie Greenspan again and watching her effortlessly charm everyone at the conference (having Dorie at your event is basically instant win.)
- Reuniting with a contingent of fellow Bay Area Food Bloggers (sorry I missed the after-conference picnic, I love you all!)
The amazing Blue Sky Studios where lapetitesoiree took place. Notice the completely unattended Canon 5D Mark II in the background...I'm just saying...
-Finally meeting Aran in person (she's like a movie star: more gorgeous in real life) and her beautiful baby girl.
-Sitting in on some very entertaining, thought-provoking, inspiring sessions. I'm always humbled by the sheer talent out in the blogosphere, and moved by the generosity of everyone in sharing their knowledge and advice. it's a great community to be part of.
-Penny de los Santos. What a wonderful soul. So honored to hear her talk about her amazing travels and her beautiful outlook on life. Not sure the last time I saw an audience so absolutely riveted by a speaker. Living life with passion indeed.
Dinner with Chuck and Jen after the afterparty at Le Cordon Bleu. I love how the weekend was composed of both large-scale joy and close connections; if anything, the BlogHer Food conference was proof of how the strongest of bonds can be forged through the vast anonymous interstices of the internet. I'm so glad for all the people I got to see and hug this weekend.
Oh, and thanks to Jen for catching a few photos of me at the conference. That HP photobooth at the afterparty certainly got put to good use, didn't it?
Act III. A Surfeit of Delectables
Not content with only two days of introducing myself to strangers and eating tons of food, I showed up at the Hub on Sunday to be a judge for the Good Food Awards. Apparently the chocolate category garnered the most entries by far, forcing the committee to split them into several subcategories to facilitate judging. I was pretty thankful they did that as I was on such a caffeine buzz after sampling 28 chocolates in 3 hours I am not sure I could have survived more.
The judges at the beer table exuded seriousness, turning imbibing into an act of gravitas. The coffee room was the most interesting to watch: row upon row of steaming glasses of coffee, judges moving down the line coffee-cupping.
David, part of the chocolate committee, who fed us a steady stream of chocolate samples.
Our chocolate panel focused on inclusions, or chocolate bars with added flavorings such as spices, fruits, nuts, etc. We tasted them blind, meaning we were not told either the maker of the chocolate nor the additions, which made it a real test of our palates in distinguishing flavors. I would have taken pictures except it would have like unmarked brown square after brown square, so...just close your eyes and imagine. The winners of the awards will be announced next January; I'll let you know then which were my favorites but for now it's a secret!
So...decompression, resumption of normalcy (or it is redefinition of normalcy). More time in the kitchen, I hope. Recipes soon, I promise.