What a whirlwind weekend it's been!
Have you ever taken a weekend trip across the country before?
Man, let me tell you, it feels way too short. Due to all the other trips I've taken this year, I was basically out of vacation days by the time the Foodbuzz Festival rolled around. Alas, my trip to San Francisco ended up being me spending 2 days in airplanes and airports, and 1 ½ precious days in gorgeous San Francisco.
Nevertheless, I had a fantastic time meeting old friends, making old ones, and meeting bloggers I felt like I knew but had never met in person.
I also had a chance to give a short speech to the Foodbuzz community about what I've been up to since winning Project Food Blog. I met some amazing people who share my passion for community service and reaching out to the poor. I was so encouraged, inspired, and excited to meet so many of you.
Obviously it's impossible to sum up such a rich weekend in a post or two, but I'll try my best!
I flew in from Boston Friday afternoon and arrived just in time to make the cocktail hour. I had a few butterflies in my stomach about the speech I was supposed to make, so I actually didn't eat that much! There were a lot of interesting fun little snacks, such as pork belly (top left), cod cakes (top right), and fresh Vietnamese spring rolls.
After a brief introduction by the Foodbuzz CEO, I came up and spent about 5 minutes discussing what I had been doing since winning Project Food Blog. There's more details in this post, but in summary, I shared about how I decided to donate my prize winnings to charity and what led up to that decision.
Growing up in the suburbs of Ohio, I was pretty sheltered. Moving to the city in Cambridge opened my eyes to the existence and plight of the homeless. I saw them during my commute day in and day out around the subway stations. I shared with the bloggers my internal struggles with wanting to help the poor, but not knowing whether giving them cash directly was the best way.
Fast forward to the time preceding Project Food Blog. I started serving at the Boston Rescue Mission, both cooking in the soup kitchen as well as singing during their Friday worship services. I was inspired by the work of the Mission, especially how they really invested in the lives of those with addiction problems. I was especially amazed at how they actually transformed lives. I saw living examples of those who had been changed, and I was both humbled and inspired.
After the talk, I was even more inspired when bloggers came up to me and told me they were doing similar things in their communities. I was excited at the idea of partnering with bloggers all around the nation (or even the world!) -- each of us blogging about how we've served at local charities this holiday season (more on that soon!).
Following my speech, hosts Joy the Baker and Marc from No Recipes presented the annual Foodbuzz Blogger Awards. The evening went by like a blur, and before I knew it, it was really really late (I had been up for 20 hours since leaving Boston that morning), and I crashed.
Saturday: Workshops + Tasting Pavilion
tasting our way through San Francisco's local artisanal treats
The next day, we attended workshops in the morning and visited the Tasting Pavilion in the afternoon. The Tasting Pavilion has been an integral part of the Foodbuzz Festival ever since it started in 2009. It's super fun - essentially you walk around all these booths with various vendors (most of them local!), who pass out free samples of their delicious products.
Alas, this blog post would become way too long if I described all the delicious things I've tasted, so I've decided to write about them in a separate post here.
Cooking Lesson with Tyler Florence
Saturday evening - a dinner with a celebrity chef
On Saturday evening, we watched Tyler Florence teach us how to make beautiful pan-roasted pork chops. In order to get a good sear on the pork, he told us we had to make sure we started with a very hot pan and a very dry pork chop (use paper towels!). Your goal? To get a nice, golden brown crust. "Color Equals Flavor" was his mantra.
Tyler Florence was an engaging speaker and told us tons of behind-the-scene stories about The Great Food Truck Race, a show he hosts on the Food Network.
Since the evening was sponsored by Alexia Frozen Foods, we tried a bunch of their new test flavors for waffle fries.
After watching the mouthwatering presentation by Tyler (and smelling the aromas while he was cooking it!), we were just a bit bummed to find out that we would not be enjoying those beautiful pork chops for dinner. Instead, we had a nice but relatively ordinary meal.
The main course was a "Surf & Turf"of sorts: Brandt beef filet mignon, Meyer lemon prawns, mashed celeriac, boiled asparagus, and roasted carrots.
I met many cool bloggers. Above: Ben from You Fed A Baby Chili? (also a contestant last year for Project Food Blog who wrote some amazing posts for that contest), Irving from Eat the Love (a fellow Taiwanese blogger!), Sabrina from The Tomato Tart, and Kristin from The Cuisinerd. I also met other cool contestants from Project Food Blog last year, such as Julie from Willow Bird Baking, Greg from Sippity Sup, Mara from What's for Dinner, and Mariko from The Little Foodie.
Above, Lindsay from lindsay-meyer. I met Lindsay at the first Foodbuzz Festival ever back in 2009 and we've been friend ever since. I'm so bummed I can't find the card for the blogger on the right whom I also met. She was super sweet and encouraging to me about my speech on Friday night.
Melonoat - another Taiwanese blogger! (Well, Ellen is Taiwanese; Tao (pronounced "Dao"), is half Chinese, half Irish). Their blog also has some awesome authentic Taiwanese dishes which Ellen learned on a trip back to Taiwan from her grandmother! They were so kind to drive me back to my friend's house that evening.
The next morning I didn't really have time to go to the last Foodbuzz Festival event since I had a long day of flying in front of me. Instead, I met a friend for breakfast at the Millbrae Pancake House (right next to SFO), and hopped right on a plane back to Boston.
This trip was way too short, and I've decided not to ever do these crazy weekend California trips anymore. Next time I come, I'm definitely staying longer!
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