Foodbuzz Festival Collage

Do you see yourself in this collage?  If so, then you are one of the 200 + participants in my Foodbuzz Festival collage. 

Thank you to everyone who participated.  If you you would like to order a poster for $26 (click here to see the layout), please email me at
Blog Roll: Click the blog to visit the site. Click the blogger’s name to find them on Twitter

Broccoli and Chocolate – Angie Sommer
Eating Club Vancouver – Tiffanie & Jo Sia
Everyday Foodie – Jolene Schweitzer
Food for Your Whole Life – Sarah Matthews
Food Weds Herbs – Pat Crocker
Foodbuzz Staff – Sandy Hayashi
Foodbuzz Staff – Trisha Lindsley
Foodelicious – Renuka Serarajan
Grateful Hubby – Andy Lee
Jet Set Wisdom – Claudia Wisdom – Good
La Vie en Route – Annelies Zijderveld
Lazy Cook, Crazy Cook – Liz Barrett
Lick the Bowl Good – Monica Holland
Morgan’s Menu – Morgan Wooley
N Her Shoes – Bobbi McCormick
Oyster Food and Culture – LouAnn Conner
Platanos, Mangoes and Me! – Norma Torres-McHugh
Pretty Green Girl – Janet Gardner
Raya Runs – Raya Pickett
Salt & Pepper – Niki Lowry
Summer Tomatoe – Darya Pino
The Fitnessista – Gina Harney
The Kitchen Witch – Rhonda Adkins
Undercover Caterer – Sarah Singleton
What’s For Dinner (ASL) – Gina Stanley
You Can’t Eat What? –Suzanne Barn
This took me a ridiculously long time to link everyone up, so please let me know you were here.  Leave a comment!
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Tasting Pavilion & Gala in San Francisco: Foodbuzz *UCK Yeah

Our Saturday afternoon itinerary included a Tasting Pavilion at The Metreon.  There was an incredible amount of food and beverages that were ours for the tasting. The event was overwhelming… I had no idea where to begin, so I headed away from the bottleneck of people clamoring to sample from the first few tables and made my way towards the rear and hit Alaska Seafood’s make your own fish taco (snicker) table, which was good strategic play because after about a half an hour, it was one of the busiest tables with the longest line that lasted pretty much for the entire tasting.  So, I was happy to get in early and enjoy my tacos.  The only down side was the taco shell itself, which was moist and spongy, but that was easily forgivable after tasting the rest of the toppings.
After that I wandered around a little lost for a while.  Not knowing where to start.  I was a bit disappointed with my preparedness for the festival.  I missed out on major networking opportunities, by not having business cards to give to the brands and fellow bloggers, so this was where my collage idea really started to take form.  It was my goal to have 100 photos by the end of the Tasting Pavilion, which I far excited by getting 127.  I spent the majority of the 4 hours talking to anyone and everyone and having a fabulous time doing it!  By then end of our afternoon activities my brain receptors were a buzz with faces and names.  I didn’t actually realize how exhausting and rewarding introducing yourself to strangers would be.
After the Tasting Pavilion, I headed back to the Sir Frances Drake to decompress and prepare for our Farewell Gala.  This is actually when I decided that I would cap off my collage project at 200 people.  Again, I was unprepared by not having a nice dress to wear, but that is the sacrifice you make for traveling around with only a carry-on roller and a laptop bag!  
The Ferry Building was gorgeous at night.  The façade was lit up with orange lights, which I assumed was for the Giant’s World Series victory.  The food was amazing and provided by Paula LeDuc and lovely wines by Bonny Doon Vineyard. Honesty, I didn’t imagine that a catered affair for about 350 people could be so well prepared.  The scallops weren’t rubbery and the lamb was gorgeous, juicy and tender.  I managed to get the majority of the photos I needed for the collage, knowing I could fill in some gaps at the Sunday Brunch.  The rest of the evening was dedicated to the Scavenger Hunt for which our team was victorious, but the best blog post has yet to be decided.  Right now, I think there are only 3 other people in the running, so help get the word and re-tweet (#fbzhunt) and forward to friends!  I will need that $500 travel stipend to attend next year!
This is my last post about the festival.  I am working on my collage of over 200 bloggers who were in attendance, but I have hit a road bump… I was planning on using Picasa to create the collage, but I have too many images.  I could manually put them into Photoshop, but that will take forever and I am not that familiar with Photoshop for such a large project.  If anyone has any ideas that could help me, I would appreciate it.  I want to finish the collage, so I can share it with everyone… Thinking caps on!
Thank you again to Foodbuzz and all of the sponsors for putting together a wonderful festival!
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Scavenger Hunt: Foodbuzz *UCK Yeah!

When I found out that the grand prize for the Foodbuzz Scavenger Hunt was a $500 travel stipend for next year festival, I was in.  Being that I traveled the furthest (from Bulgaria) and would probably hold that title next year, this $500 would be a nice contribution toward my travel expenses and I have no doubt that the 3rd Annual in 2011 will be equally fantastic!

I was a little hesitant about running round San Francisco in heels but my newfound partner in crime Sabrina at The Tomato Tart was rearing to go. We decided to form a loose team, tentatively titled the Bulgar Wheaties!  Some of the bloggers at our table were eager to join because our enthusiasm was over flowing.  Little did they know that our late night escapades would take them through many stages of crazy, including, but not limited to; eating off stranger’s plates, group grind on a Ferry Building security guard and an almost bar fight!

Looking over the task list, we felt a little more confident about our chances.  The first item on the list was to get at least 10 business cards.  Thanks to my photo collage project I had the networking portion down.  I had about 40 business cards, so check! I contemplated arranging the business cards on my naked body, but when I found out that the winners might be chosen randomly, not based on the lengths they go through to make the hunt exciting, I decided to forgo the extremes!
For the subsequent task, we decided to tackle the group jumping jacks. This was really not a pretty sight, as we had all had a lot of wine and many of us were wearing inappropriate clothing for any physical exertion. We were lucky to have Salty Seattle jump in for a little bit although she was doing more of a dance move rather than an actually jumping jack. (I am having trouble uploading the video from The Tomato Tart)
Next, we decided to give the security guard outside the Ferry Building a taste of our collective awesome dance moves.  He was in for a real treat when our team had a big grind fest outside of our Gala.  I thought it was his shock kept him from reciprocating and getting his grove on!  
After our disco inferno, we started our journey to find the hippest person we could find and get a photo with them.  Personally, I think this task was really subjective because what is hip?  How does one quantify a person’s hipness, what is the scale?  At one point, I had suggested we do a group shot and let the judges pick out who is the hippest person, but that idea got shot down.  Then upon exiting the Ferry Building, we came across a woman selling knitted hats on the street.  She had a whole funky set up going on with flags, hats and weird dogs, so I approached her to be our hippest person… well, she was all sorts of crazy, most likely a manic schizophrenic, we made a bit of a connection… I don’t know what that says about me.  She started a complete manic diatribe about every single thought that came into her head, I am intentionally omitting details as not to offend anyone. One of our team members snapped a picture of us talking and that sent her over the deep end screaming and ranting and hitting herself.  I managed to calm her down, but I was loosing time and she didn’t seem to want to give us a photo.  Reason: “if you were 150 pounds over weight and had no teeth would you want people taking pictures of you? (to me) you are a girl, you know how it is…” and with that I said my good byes to one of the craziest people I had ever had the opportunity to converse with.

Moving on, we needed to find some late-night bites.  I personally thought this was an evil task, because one; we were in the boring financial district, which was completely void of life and two; we had just spend 3 hours stuffing our faces… how could Foodbuzz ask us to eat more!  Our team had managed to find an open restaurant on our journey back toward the Sir Frances Drake.  Inside the restaurant, there was a server and a lone couple enjoying a late night dinner.  My initial idea was to have a late night snack of bar garnish: olives, maraschino cherries, lemon and lime wedges, but then my bold streak lead me to ask the lone couple if they wouldn’t mind sharing their dinner with us and they actually agreed.  So, Sabrina and I pulled up two chairs to our lovely couples table, then took turns feeding each other pasta and sausage, while the couple watched… kinky! 

We still needed to our hip photo, which came about serendipitously.  Time was of the essence and we didn’t want to miss out on being the first team to complete our tasks and get back to the Clock Bar for a victory round of drinks on Foodbuzz.  I threw myself into the street and ambushed a cab, which happened to be driven by a rad Nepalese cab driver aptly named Karma.  He was definitely the hippest person we had met on our hunt, who agreed to a photo.
We were the first to return, I am not sure if there was another team out there, but we had this challenged locked up!  We arrived at the Clock Bar to do our victory lap and wait for everyone else to roll in.  I ended up sitting on the back of one of the couches chatting with Greg from Sippity Sup, Adam from Wind Attack and Sabrina, when I started feeling someone touching my butt, which moved from a nudging to a full on attack.  This woman started elbowing my butt and punching it.  I slowly turned around and ask her if she could refrain from physically abusing me, which I considered a reasonable request.  (Now, here is the thing I hate about blogging, for those of you who I had the opportunity to tell this story in person, I used my best British accent for this part. So, imagine the italicized quotes in a drunken British accent.) “You need to move your fat bottom off my chair.” You have a huge bottom and it needs to get off my chair.” (She was also poking my butt as she insulted, what I consider a voluptuous and sexy rear end). At this point, I made a comment about how low-class British people traveled the world on the strength of the Pound, but behaved like drunken hooligans when they were let loose on decent society (I can’t wait for the response comments from my fans or former fans from the UK) I resumed my conversation with my blogger friends and the woman was relentless.  She called over the manager of the Clock Bar to tell him how my “fat bottom is on her chair”.  At this point, I stood up and turned around to defend myself, and I stumbled forward a bit and tripped on the legs of the couch, which in turn caused Crazy British Lady to proclaim that I was now trying to physically attack her, when she was the one abusing me… go figure.  The manager asked us to step outside into the hotel lobby, where the Crazy British Lady continues with her drunken babbling about my “huge bottom”.  I told the manager, when she’s finished spreading her madness, come and get me.  I would be waiting by bar.  Finally, a half an hour to 45 minutes later the big manager asked me to step outside for a private deposition.  Before he could talk, I told him I don’t want to know what sort of tales she was spinning and gave him my sane side of the story.  He knew that I was right and asked if there was a place, we could stick her in the bar, so we wouldn’t have any further issues. I suggested the exact opposite corner of the room from where I was standing.  The tension and drama has subsided and I was recanting the sorted tale to Linda from Salty Seattle and she recommended that I add this story to my scavenger hunt post.  Covertly, I had asked Sabrina to take a photo of Crazy British Lady, but she had forgotten to turn off her flash and our psycho was alerted to our actions.  Sabrina and I were getting ready to leave the bar anyway, so we just ignored their ranting lunatic and head for the exit. Then outside of the bar, Madam Westminster, friend of Crazy British Lady comes running out asking why we are taking pictures of her friend and that it was illegal to take photos of people without permission (not in the US!).  As Sabrina was exiting through the revolving door of the Westin St. Francis, Madam Westminster jammed the door so Sabrina was stuck inside.  I was trailing behind and went through the side door and physically over power the old bat by moving the door from the outside and release Sabrina, who had hurt her wrist, but now I was stuck in the door, which was an easy escape for me.  We continued walking back towards the Sir Francis Drake happy to be away from the madness.
Crazy British Lady
This is the end of my tale.  Thanks again Foodbuzz for organizing the event and giving all of us bloggers so many fabulous food and photography opportunities. I do hope the good people at Foodbuzz, deem my post worthy of the travel stipend for 2011.

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Food Truck Fare: San Francisco

Our first night at the Second Annual Foodbuzz Festival was dedicated to the vehicles of mobile gastronomic delights, not limited to French, Swedish fusion,  Korean, Pizza, Indian, local wines, artisanal beers and many others.  At the beginning of the event, I never doubted for a moment that I wouldn’t eat my way through each truck and stand, but the task proved more difficult than I though. 

As we pulled into Fort Mason there was already a street food fare happening in the parking lot called Off the Grid, which some Bay Area residents informed us that this happens every Friday.  Our bus (free transportation provided by Foodbuzz) pulled around to the Herbst Pavilion, which was already filling up with hungry and eager food bloggers.

In an email from Foodbuzz sent earlier in the week were supposed to bring a foodie exchange gift to the Welcome Reception, but I missed that memo.  I really couldn’t have brought what I would have wanted to bring without having to check my luggage; I hate checking my bags.  I am not going to say how, but when it came time for the gift exchange, I ended up having a gift to give (wink, wink)!
We were all randomly assigned to tables and I happed to be at Table 16, which for me was a great table because not only was I seated with foodies who I follow, I was also seated with some new foodies I’ve yet to follow.

(Top L –> R) Becky @Columbus FoodieStephanie @Lick My SpoonWhitney Amuse Bouche, Me, Stephanie @Baking Barrister,  (Bottom L –> R) Not sure?, Natalie @Perrys’ Plate, Kate @Something We Dream

I ended up exchanging with Whitney from Amuse Bouche, who spent her time pre-Foodbuzz fest in Napa with friends on a tasting spree. I was fortunate enough to reap the rewards with a bottle from Dutch Henry.
After our gift exchange, I did some mingling and eating, as you do and came across one of my favorite food bloggers/cookbook author Super Natural Cooking‘s Heidi Swanson, I didn’t even think about not approaching her, but I tried to play it cool.  She was really friendly and we had a lovely conversation, mostly how and why I ended up in Bulgaria.  I hoped my enthusiasm for her site didn’t freak her out.  I can be a little intense; I am my mother’s daughter. 
Some of my favorite 101 Cookbooks recipes: Double Broccoli QuinoaTassajara Warm Red Cabbage Salad and Coconut Red Lentil Soup.  Part of my go to arsenal!

Sidenote: back in 1989, Bill Murray (AKA Dr. Peter Venkman) was shooting Quick Change with Geena Davis and Randy Quaid. The film was on location outside a bar in Queens.  My brother, at the time and still is a HUGE Ghostbusters fan, so my mother, after a few beers decided to get Bill Murray’s autograph, in doing so, she managed to break onto the set, find his trailer and basically freak Bill Murray out.  She succeeded in get the autography, but was escorted from set and asked never to return.  This story has really nothing to do with Heidi, but even when I am working at my other job in the film and television industry, I try to avoid the “talent”. One, I don’t want to seem lame and two; I don’t want to be that fan that is slightly obsessed; thanks Mom!
Back to the Fare!  I tried my hardest to eat and try everything that was offered, but at one point all desire for eating just dissipated.  My pants were cutting into my flesh and I just felt uncomfortable.

In generally, I enjoyed the food.  Street food/ food trucks at the level that these gourmet trucks are aiming for is relatively a new phenomenon in the US.  Before I left for Bulgaria in 2006, I recall seeing one truck in Manhattan and I think it was a coffee truck called the Mud Truck that cruised around Union Square and NYU. The rest of the food that was available then was dedicated to ethnic eats like the kebab/halal meat trucks and “dirty water” dogs, which I love!  These gourmet trucks are pushing limits and exploring the boundaries about what you can and can’t do in a mobile kitchen and how quick you can get it done.  While some food lends itself well to this quick and mobile method, others require more tweaking.
There were two important revelations during the event one; I was stupid not to bring business cards.  I was really placing myself at a networking disadvantage and two; because of my lack of preparation, I stumbled upon a project that would define my existence at the festival.  For people who didn’t have business cards, like myself, I started snapping pictures of peoples faces and their ID badge, so I could remember who I met and urged others to do the same for me.  By the end of the night I had about 25 snaps and it occurred to me that this might make an interesting photo collage.  Let’s just say the idea morphed wildly and now includs over 200 different people from the event.  Stay tuned.
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Chez Panisse Café: Foodbuzz *UCK Yeah!

Ever since I’ve read about Alice Waters, I knew that her philosophy about using local, sustainable and organic foods was something that I wanted to incorporate into my own style. Chez Panisse has been around since 1971 and the Café since 1980. Since I was going to be staying in the Oakland/Berkeley area, I was determined to eat at one of these marvelous establishments. As luck would have it I reserved a table for 1 at 11:45 in the Café. Not a bad way to start day 2 of my San Francisco odyssey!

As I approached the entrance I had butterflies in my stomach, I don’t know why but I did.  It felt like I was going on a job interview, I did however inquire with the hostess about externship opportunities! 
I was seated upstairs in an area of the restaurant over looking, what seemed to be an enclosed terrace nestled in the tree branches.  I named that area the “treehouse”.  I was not fortunate enough to be seated there, but if I am ever to return (fingers crossed) I will request to lunch in that magical nook.  The only down side to my seating arrangement was the annoying middle-aged women to my left and right flank.  If I had not been so pumped with adrenaline for the forth coming meal, I would have slipped into a partial comma from boredom from listening to their equally loud, mundane conversations.  This is the downside of eating alone, not having sufficient distractions from your neighbors.
When the menu was placed before me, I was determined to step outside of my comfort zone and that zone rarely includes offal.  When I saw that they had a liver starter, I was determined to try it.  I would like to think that if you are going to make such a bold leap, do it at one of the best American restaurants!
The Romano Bean Salad with Roasted Figs and Chicken Liver Toasts  was truly an eye opening experience for me, I had absolutely no apprehension about the taste of the liver, I sat back and enjoyed the taste sensation in my mouth.  The creamy texture of the liver blended harmoniously with the fleshy sweet figs, crisp yet tender beans and peppery rocket leaves.  I couldn’t have imagined a better introduction to offal.  I slowly devoured the dish carefully chewing each bit to let the flavors dissipate. I would like to say to my surprise that the liver was amazing, but I knew it would be delicious, it was just my own mental psychosis that has kept me from offal all this time.
For my main, I again went out on a limb and ordered the quail. The idea of this delicate, yet flavorful game meat, partially deboned sounded perfect.  The Wolfe Ranch Quail with Fried Green Tomatoes and Spicy Cabbage Slaw not only met my expectations it exceeded them.  I have never know such tender, juicy and flavorful meat.  Normally I have to salt my food generously, but I touch the seasoning shakers nought once. 
To date this was the best meal I have ever eaten hands down.  The only only downside is that I didn’t have a chance to enjoy it with my Angel.  I doubt he would have been ranting and raving about it like I am but his presence would have rounded out the perfection.

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Berkeley Farmer’s Market: Foodbuzz *UCK Yeah!

I have arrived in San Francisco!  I am extremely excited to have had the opportunity to travel from Kyustendil, Bulgaria to San Francisco for the Second Annual Foodbuzz Festival.  Because of the great distance I had to travel, I am determined to make the most out of my experiences on the West Coast.  To ensure that I maximize my time, I arrived a day early and stayed with my friend from college the fabulous Bay Area massage therapist Whitney Moses.  While I was hoofing it towards her house, I came across the *uck Yeah! bus and for me this statement just encapsulated my feelings towards my forthcoming adventure.

While Whitney was busy with a client, her Terminally Snarky friend Jade had volunteered to be  my gracious tour guide.  She offered to drive me to BurgerMeister, so that I might rectify a certain situation where I haven’t had a decent hamburger in many moons.

The hamburger was fabulous and just what I was craving.  I had wanted to go to In N Out Burger, but I was advised that because of the time of day, I might never get to that part of town (near the Oakland Airport)
As we were cruising around Berkeley, I see a bunch of tents in the distance and I get a flutter of excitement… have I stumbled upon a farmer’s market?  Yes!  What luck!  I truly feel that there was some sort of divine hand that lead me to that point.  It turns out that this particular market is only open on Thursday from 3 – 7pm… what are the odds that I would be on Shattuck and Rose at that exact moment?
Unfortunately, for me I can’t actually go shopping at the farmers market, as I don’t live locally, but there is something serene about being surround by so much of nature’s bounty.
Stay tuned for more San Francisco adventures and Foodbuzz shenanigans!  What are some other great things to do in the Bay Area?
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The Soul of Dinner Party

For the third challenge, which I didn’t advance to, I was really grasping at straws for and idea worthy of the Project Food Blog competition.  My first two entries, I thought were sound and felt confident that I did a good job, but every idea that I had come up with for the third round sounding lame and gimmicky.  I had just finished reading The Soul of a Chef, by one of my favorite authors Michael Ruhlman.  As I find all of his books, it was very inspiring and thought provoking. When I reached the end of the book there were some soulful recipes from the three outstanding chefs featured in the book: Brian Polcyn, Michael Symons and Thomas Keller.

Because of this book, I decided to apply the idea of soul to blogging and participating in the Project Food Blog competition.  Of the 1888, people who entered only 655 actually took the time to submit an entry for the first round.  Why? I am sure there are numerous reasons: ideological differences, time commitments, feelings of inadequacy etc… but for those of us that did place themselves on the chopping block, what was the common thread that bound us together?  Did we are share the soul of a food blogger?  Would that soulful element shine through our words and images and liken our fellow blogger to cast their votes for our entries? We are all pushing through this competition for a variety of reasons be it finding a new audience, getting more page hits, exploring fresh ideas, cash and glory etc… Regardless why we are here the winner will possess this incalculable element that is not on the judges scale, soul.
The key to successful party planning is preparation and organization.  While I am proficient in the preparation, I am just average in the area of timing and execution. I blame this on my perpetual habit of overdoing it and making things more complicated than necessary.  So I decide only 3 courses!
“Caesar Salad” – Parmigiano-Reggiano Custard with Lettuce and Parmesan Crisp (Adapted from The French Laundry Cookbook)

Spicy Smoke-Roasted Pork Loin with Green Apple-Horseradish Sauce
(Adapted from Brian Polcyn)
Cream of Walnut Soup
Once I identify my recipes, I print them out and in this case photo copy them to be placed in a binder.  I hate getting my cookbooks or notebooks dirty.  I then go through the recipes and make a cumulative shopping list sorted by category: produce, dairy meat, pantry etc.. 
Next, I start brainstorming a schedule, analyzing what items can be made ahead and ordering the steps I need to do chronologically. The time I spend preparing the schedule is really the key for me to make complicated menus for large parties, particularly Thanksgiving, which I begin research and prep in early October. 
Where I get dans la merde is my timing.  I quite often under estimate the time it will take me to compete certain tasks and I know I will improve with experience, but I often neglect to include pauses to clean up. I have this weird tick that I can’t cook in a messy kitchen.  I need a blank canvas so to speak before I can begin the next task.
Once I found out that I didn’t make it to the 3rd round, I gave up my photographic efforts and focused on  enjoying a great meal with friends. Everything turned out fantastic, with only one small snafu.  The parmesan custard didn’t solidify well.  When I unmolded it it was cooked, but not formed.
Good luck to everyone who advanced to round 3.  I will do my best to read as many posts as possible and cast my votes.
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