Sunday morning was even chillier. But I made sure to get to Fremont even earlier because I was getting a real latte or else. I make one every day at home but this morning every minute still in bed was precious. This left no time for a home latte. No traffic at all on the viaduct. On the road early enough to miss the Aurora Bridge construction. Plenty of time to park the car and walk to Peet's for a large, triple, non-fat latte. Fuel in hand, I made my way back to ifbc headquarters via the Fremont Sunday Market. At 7:30 a.m., just a few vendors were setting up their tents.
Breakfast was more sugar, again in the form of pastry and fruit from Top Pot Doughnuts, PCC Natural Markets, Driscoll’s Berries, and, my choice this morning, Udi's gluten free muffins. Not too mad about the one with, I think, blueberries. The other unidentified flavor I enjoyed. I like a dense pastry, something with a bit of heft. I was a bit surprised at how much upper body strength I needed to pull it in two. Ok compared to ripping a phone book in half, not so much. But relative to pulling apart any other typical breakfast pastry, more than I expected. Still, I liked it. It was moist and it had flavor.Once we were all nearing diabetic coma, we sat down to the first session of the day, Food Blogging For Specialized Diets with Shauna James Ahern, author of the blog Gluten-Free Girl and the book Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back…And How You Can Too and Alex Jamieson, author of Living Vegan for Dummies and The Great American Detox Diet.
They each talked about readers who leave critical comments on their blogs and even become hostile. Someone threatened the life of Shauna Ahern? Come on, blog readers. If you have a preferred reason/way/method/practice/dogma for living gluten-free or being vegan, get a blog and tell us about it. Or just stop reading the blogs which piss you off. If you are a glutton for punishment and continue to follow bloggers who make you so nuts you turn into a school-yard bully, then that's on you, not the blogger with whom you disagree. Do yourself and the rest of us a favor and move on. Cuz no one wants to hear your preferred reason/way/method/practice/dogma if it's fueled by hate.
Shauna and Alex each stressed that you can't be all things to all people. Find your niche and run with it. And let your readers know that you are not responsible for the ingredients they chose to use. Someone in the audience mentioned he uses a disclaimer on his site. Hmmmm, I'll think it over. I see disclaimers on all kinds of sites. We'll see.
Each stressed that they are not out to turn people vegan or gluten-free. At its core, their message is close to my own - make your own food! No take-out, no processed junk. Go buy real ingredients, bring them home, put them together by following a recipe. Hey, it might turn out really good or you might not like it. There are only a ka-jillion recipes out there. Find one and follow it or use it as a muse but make yourself some real food. Feed yourself!
Next up was Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking led by Dr. Nathan Myhrvold, CEO and founder of Intellectual Ventures. He walked us through his soon-to-be-published multi-volume food and cooking book Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. This set is currently going for $500 on Amazon. I'll pass. For me, cooking and food are, among other things, a creative outlet. I'm not interested in the chemical composition of everything. I'm not looking to remove the intuition of cooking so I can follow an experiment. I actually enjoy the trial and error. I don't want to sterilize it.
The book has great pictures. We'd never see some of these things if it weren't for this book. But I just want to cook and I just want to eat. I want it to taste good and I want to like it. I don't want it to turn into a Discovery Channel program or a Myth Busters episode.
Now on to Digital Photography Taught by Penny De Los Santos "award-winning documentary photographer who has spent the past several years documenting food culture around the world. Penny is a senior contributing photographer for Saveur Magazine, a contributing photographer for National Geographic and Martha Stewart Living and has photographed for numerous publishing companies and cookbooks including the nationally acclaimed book “Asian Dumplings” by Andrea Nguyen." (from the ifbc web-site)
Penny shared several of her images she has made for Saveur. She talked about "making" pictures, using instincts, paying attention to details, being patient - lots of waiting for the decisive moment, as Cartier-Bresson called it. She loves what she does and that's the important part. Her images are great. Appetizing. Inviting. It was inspiring.
Time to get our grub on with Gourmet Food Trucks of the Pacific Northwest including:
Skillet made sliders. I think the first batch that went out had better stuff on it than my batch. It was very basic. Delicious? Definitely. I'd like to follow the truck and go get lunch when it's ner where I work. From their site, this week's burger is grass-fed beef, arugula, bacon jam, and cambozola on a soft roll. Geez, that's good. You know it is. Hallava Falafel needed more than one person making one portion at a time. We waited far too long. Maybe next year have a whole mess of portions prepared for when we're let loose from the mid-morning session. This would give the falafel chef time to prepare the next round. And make sure a second employee shows up. The food was great. That's a pickle on top. Has a bit of a bite. Falafel, tahini, pita. Very good. Like desert island good.Anita’s Crepes prepared crepes with fresh lemon and brulé sugar, dusted with powdered sugar. So tasty. Pretty sweet. A bit too sweet for me. But I was mezmerized by the process. You can tell. I took lots of pics. El Camion dished up a whole plate of grub. Three tacos plus half a giant tamale. The tacos were fish (my fave), chicken mole, and pork. For the tamale you could choose from chicken or puerco chipotle. Ah, chipotle. Spicy and smoky. Love it. Local beer selections provided by Pike Brewing Co. I didn't have a drop. After the latte and a POM juice, I drank water. All of the food and drink from the previous two days had me fighting a food hang-over. Rolling Fire was cooking up amazing pizzas in a wood-burning stove. The tomatoes were fresh and crisp. I requested the nice charred piece in the foreground. Why cook in a wood-fire oven if you're not gonna have the charred pieces? Molly Moon’s Ice Cream offered these flavors, of which I sampled olive oil and the salted caramel. Like cupcakes, ice cream does not tempt me. I don't crave it. I don't order it in a restaurant. Never think of it. But I knew I'd try it and I knew it would be good. It was very good. The olive oil was very subtle but it was olive oil. If you like the actual taste of a nice, light olive oil, you would like this. Also like the cupcakes, offer me salted caramel anything and I'm bound to try it. Nice and salty. Creamy. I did not sample anything from Dante's Inferno Dogs or Kaosamai. I was just way too full. I don't eat hot dogs but I do love thai food. Just couldn't do it. We still had to sit in sessions and then a movie (accompanied by Indian food!). And I didn't get a chance to play the scavenger hunt. Too much time standing in line. And I forgot my memory card reader so had no way to get my pics online. And I took what time I did have to catch up with personal email and chatting with S.
Good and full, we sat down to the last session of the conference, Pitch to Publish with Victoria von Biel, Executive Editor of Bon Appétit; Kirsty Melville, President, Book Division at Andrews-McMeell; Molly Wizenberg, Bon Appétit columnist, author of the blog, Orangette and A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table.
They all talked about how blogging has changed some of the rules of the game. Print publishing is traditionally strict and restrictive. But as a blogger, I'm not restrained by, well, by much of anything which might concern a print writer. Who will publish my work? I will! Who would pay to read it? It's free! (pros and cons about this) Can we publish it by the holiday? I can publish 24/7! How will we distribute it? Just get online!
Kirsty talked about all the P's of writing: passion, purpose, perspective, point of view, perseverance, practice. I like that.
After this last session I took a quick tour of the Theo Chocolate factory. Much hotter than I expected until we got into the kitchen. The chocolate is mixed in giant batches, one milk and one dark. But the individual flavorings are mixed by hand in small batches. Theo Chocolate is the only organic, fair-trade, bean-to-bar, chocolate factory in the United States. After the last session, the vast majority of attendees beat a hot foot out of there to catch the shuttle back to the hotel. I think the movie was scheduled after most attendees had made travel arrangements to leave Seattle. This actually was a nice turn of events. There weren't many of us left. It was quieter and much less crowded. A good way to watch a movie and casually eat Indian food. We watched Today's Special written by and starring Aasif Mandvi and Madhur Jaffrey. It was pretty good. I thought it was a nice way to unwind and decompress after almost three days of non-stop conferencing. Showed plenty of Indian food, one of my top three cuisines to eat or cook.
Dinner was provided by Cedars, a restaurant in the U-District which S and I really like. OK, so the selection provided wasn't their best work but I'm OK with that. It's not easy to make a big batch of anything, let it sit in a warming dish and then expect it to taste made-to-order by the time folks get around to eating. But I will take just OK Indian food over no Indian food any day.
Surprised and tickled pink to discover the Alaska Seafood marketing literature features the art of Rie Muñoz! According to her web site, she has worked with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. The Sustainability In Plain English brochure is full of her work with a full page bio on her and a great picture. I'm so happy to see it. I'm going to keep this booklet and probably alter it to make her art the prominent feature.
Please check out Readers to Eaters, a Bellevue-based organization promoting food writing, educational programs about food, and the publishing of books about food for children and their families. They had a market-place at the conference and I talked to June, one half of Readers to Eaters. So nice. I picked up Dianne Jacob's Will Write For Food.
More food bloggers I had the chance to meet and chat with: Fork This and The Endive Chronicles, and Core Wisdom Wellness. Very glad to meet you all!
Selfishly, I hope the conference is in Seattle again in 2011. I enjoyed it. I filled out my survey to let them know my thoughts. I think I'll start cruising the other attendees' sites to see who wrote about the event.