International Food Bloggers Conference- Day 2

Day 2 of the IFBC started with a gourmet breakfast hosted by pastry smart. For those of you who shop at whole foods, pastry smart needs no introduction. Their whole foods brand exclusives include Miettes de Pain and Kali The Baking Goddess in addition to their own brand, le culture. Pastry Smart is an all organic bakery that use the finest ingredients from certified organic suppliers. Their breakfast spread was delectable with granola and cream top yogurt, cold cuts, shortcakes, cheese, fresh fruits, pastry wrapped baked brie, fruit juice, coffee and tea.  My favorite was the angel biscuit shortcake with whipped cream, the berries were fresh and the lightly sweetened cream perfectly complemented the fluffy shortcakes and tangy berries.

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Followed by the breakfast was a session on organic and sustainable food production practices presented pastry smart. WordPress  had a happiness bar set up at the venue, minus the alcohol. Associates were available to answer and resolve issues for blogs hosted on WordPress. I don’t know about you guys, but i have issues with pictures on my blog posts while using Internet explorer. They have promised to email me with a solution and until then advised me to use Firefox or chrome.

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The most awaited session on food photography and cooking demo by New York times food photographer Andrew Scrivani and Chef John Mitzewich of Food Wishes and Blue C Sushi’s vice president of culinary, Jeffrey Lunak was a session that the audience enjoyed thoroughly. John and Andrew have a great working chemistry and were humorous, knowledgeable and approachable. Chef John cooked an “Everything Salmon Tartar” which takes its inspiration from everything bagel and a salmon ceviche. Seven lucky names were drawn at random and were invited to take pictures of the food. I was really hoping Andrew would put them up on the large screen and discuss the dos and donts of those pictures. Unfortunately we never got to that because we ran out of time.

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Andrew’s session started with a slideshow of great food pictures he has taken and discussed the nuances of those pictures. Here are my key takeaways from the session.

  • South western light is best for food photography.
  • A 55 mm compact macro lens is good enough to create magic with food photography. Be at least 6 inches away from the subject while taking pictures with this lens.
  • A table height of 32inches is ideal.
  • Soft lighting from right side of the room gives a natural look on bottles filled with liquids.

There is a beginners food photography course video done by Andrew here and maybe a great tool for those of you interested in food photography. Andrew’s session definitely made me hungry and thankfully we headed over to the discovery expo session where more than 15 vendors were waiting with delicious samples of food for us. Almost every vendor served cheese in some form or the other, cheese with flatbread, cheese with even dried fruits and nuts. Thankfully veggie grill came to my rescue. They served a vegan blackened chicken with cabbage and a creamy Santa Fe spread which was outrageously good. The vegan chicken was made with tofu, wheat and pea flour and honestly any devout carnivore wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. They also served a green salad and an absolutely divine vegan carrot cake with vegan cream cheese frosting. That cake is truly God’s food. If you have a veggie grill where you live, please do me a favor and go there at least for their carrot cake.

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There were three sessions post lunch, an olive oil tasting with California olive ranch,  wine and writing with Bordeaux wines and a food photography workflow with Andrew Scrivani. It was a tough choice and i opted for the photography session but really wished that these sessions were not happening simultaneously. Followed by photography session, i went for 7-part structure of story telling which was a very interactive and entertaining session by Cynthia Lair and Matt Smith from cookusinteruptus. Other popular session seemed to be the sous vide cooking session by Scott Heimendinger , the creator of Sansaire sous vide machine.photo 4 (2)

Alaska seafood hosted a reception with halibut corn dogs, Buffalo Alaska Cod quesadillas, sockeye salmon bites and bacon wrapped scallop sliders. I went in just to get some pictures.

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I am so glad that i couldn’t eat anything at the seafood reception because the day ended with a surprise dinner hosted by urbanspoon. We were divided into groups of 10 and taken by bus to a surprise restaurant. 25 restaurants in the Seattle area generously prepared their signature dishes and either the chef or the manager talked to us while dining.

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The vegans/vegetarians and the people with gluten intolerance were taken to cafe flora in Seattle. Cafe Flora is a 20+year old premium vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Seattle. We were welcomed and seated by Bailee, who took care of us for 3 hours while we dined, took pictures, chatted and asked questions. It was a 6 course meal, yup you read it right. We started with drinks, we could choose between couple of wines and a cider or a bunch of non alcoholic beverages. I ordered the rosemary lemonade and honestly it was out of this world.IMG_9698

Our 1st course was a pate(mixture of ground meat or vegetables) platter which consisted of lentil-pecan pate, marinated olives, pickled vegetables, red confit and rosemary croccantini. The pate was flavorful and paired well with croccantini which tasted similar to la panzanella rosemary croccantini which we sampled earlier in the afternoon at the discovery expo. This platter is a must try for anyone who visits the place. We were also served yam fries with a vegan cayenne aioli and the fries had the right amount of seasoning and just perfect.IMG_9682

Our 2nd course consisted of chanterelle mushroom and potato pierogi(steamed dough with filling) served with a vegan chive sour cream. It was a modern and adventurous filling for a traditional Polish dish. It had the right balance of flavors and we polished it off within minutes.

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Our 3rd course was salad. We were served a vegan Caesar salad and a nectarine and black rice salad. The Caesar salad was crisp and refreshing, the fried capers on top was an interesting twist to the traditional salad. The nectarine and black rice salad was bursting with flavors from fresh vegetables like radish, green onions and arugula.

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We were served a vegan heirloom tomato and sweet corn pizza on a roasted garlic and macadamia pesto and topped with cashew cheese for our 4th course. The pizza was top notch but i was so stuffed from the previous courses that i couldn’t eat more than 1/2 slice.

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Our 5th course was an oaxaca taco for the vegetarians. The plate had roasted corn tortillas filled with cheddar and mozzarella mashed potatoes, topped with lime creme fraiche, cotija cheese and fresh pico de gallo.

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I opted for a vegan entree which came with fried green tomato, bourbon baked beans, house made corn bread and watermelon. By this point i had reached the point of diminishing returns and could barely take a bite of the fried green tomato. The tomato tasted fresh but the outer coating lacked flavor, the beans were too sweet for me. I was happy to see watermelon instead of nectarine.

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Our last and final course was dessert. We were given three options- vegan chocolate brownie coupe, vegan coconut layer cake and vegan peach blackberry crisp. I went with the coconut layer cake and little did i know i was inviting trouble. A giant slice of buttery goodness was set before me. Thankfully they gave us boxes even before we could ask. I took one bite and I was like holy cow! is this really vegan? There were 3 layers of super moist cake filled with peach coulis and coconut frosting. If i were to name my last meal, it would be a tough choice between veggie grill’s carrot cake and cafe flora’s coconut cake.

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Thank you urbanspoon and cafe flora for the awesome dinner and experience. We went home with another swag, this time with a box of nuts from Tom Douglas’ company and a cookbook written by Chef John Howie. IFBC 2013 was an awesome experience and after all the food i ate, i think its time to do my 3 day cleanse with Suja.

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4 thoughts on “International Food Bloggers Conference- Day 2

  1. Cynthia Lair was my whole foods instructor at Bastyr and I follow her blog regularly. Many of her recipes have been tried and they come out very nicely. Her background in acting comes across in her videos which are very funny!

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