Day Three's sessions began with one that I had honestly considered missing: Food Blogging for Specialized Diets. Now, it's not that I don't want to learn about these things to bring the best possible content to my diverse population of readers or anything; I just really needed a break to blog and tie all my thoughts together (I'm not like some of the bloggers at the conference, able to blog on the spot without obsessing over the editing process; shame on and/or good for me!).
As it turns out, the first session of the day was an engaging, inspiring, and entertaining session led by Shauna James Ahern of Gluten Free Girl and Alex Jamieson, author of Living Vegan for Dummies and The Great American Detox Diet. They were so real and so incredibly fun that it was impossible to do anything but pay attention to them (I think the fact that I'd finally had some protein in my breakfast helped for the concentration bit, too...). What struck me as interesting was that regardless of topic, we "specialized" bloggers all share a common goal: to bring our knowledge to the public with our own bits of expertise. We also face a ton of criticism for being so specialized, with the gluten-free and vegan bloggers being targeted for their *gasp!!!* meatless offenses, and I, as a budget food blogger, attacked for having the nerve to own a laptop computer (which happens to be a Christmas gift from my extremely awesome mother). What they both made clear is that we're not going to please all of the people all of the time, and that is okay. If I could have left with only one lesson that entire weekend, that would have been the one.
Other highlights included...
- The Great Food Blogger Geek-Out: Dr. Nathan Myhrvold of Modernist Cuisine, the hugest, greatest cookbook of all time, led us through the inner-workings of this six-volume, 15 pound behemoth of a food geek heaven. From a video of exactly how a popcorn kernel pops ("Show it again!" many of us cried, and he obliged), to how they massacred certain cookware to show the intricacies of the cooking process, Dr. Myhrvold was our hero for the hour. Though some folks complained that it was an infomercial for these books, most of us happily (and aggressively) tweeted our geeked-out glee at every new photo or technique that was presented. Sadly, at around $500 it's not a set of books I can buy anytime soon, so I will just have to remain content with my "teaser" booklet, signed by Chris and Max.
- Penny De Los Santos: Featured in publications like National Geographic and Saveur Magazine, there's no doubt that Penny is a fantastic photographer. What none of us were expecting was how her photos - and her words - would move us. From incredibly delicious food porn photos to shots of people that just pulled at your heartstrings with their captured smiles or frowns, Penny showed us an hour's worth of the pictures she makes - not takes. We arrived as admirers and left as a worshiping cult, many of us literally moved to tears by her inspirational words and the images of life that she captures so well.
- Pitch to Publish: It's no secret that I want to publish a book based on PGEW, so this was the one session I felt I absolutely could not miss. The distinguished panel of speakers included Molly Wizenberg of Orangette; Kirsty Melville, president of Andrews-McMeel Publishing; and Victoria Von Biel, executive editor of Bon Appetit. They filled us in on what publishers for both books and magazines are looking for, and I left feeling I finally had a bit more of the information that I've been trying to access for the past year. Wish me luck!
- Pineapple Curry with Salmon and Chicken Larb Taco from Kaosamai Thai Restaurant - I'm quite familiar with beef larb, so having a chicken version was a welcome change. I still prefer the beef version but this was a fun, inventive little taco that made a fun appetizer for the perfection of my pineapple curry with salmon. Puts some of our Sacramento Thai restaurants to shame!
- Taco Trio from El Camión - Fish, carne asada and my very first pollo con mole tacos all crowded on a tiny plate made for an incredible feast! I am now obsessed with mole and need to find a way to Poor Girl my way through a recipe so that it's both authentic and affordable.
- Rolling Fire Pizza - These folks are awesome enough to tote around their own wood-burning oven to make sure they serve only the freshest pizza possible. Unfortunately for me - a hardcore pizza topping scraper - their focus is the crust, so there wasn't much for me to scrape off and enjoy from the smallest sliver I could find. Still, the crust tasted phenomenal and is perfect for all you pizza crust lovers out there.
I couldn't possibly eat anymore than I already had (I didn't even eat the tortillas from any of my tacos so I wouldn't get too full), so I have no idea how good Skillet's lamb burgers with arugula and bacon jam were, nor did I try Molly Moon's ice cream. Word on the street is that they were both outstanding and apparently the falafel and hot dog trucks also boasted some great eats. To go along with our street food lunch we were served beer instead of wine (*sob, sob, sob*), which I passed on as I am not a fan of beer at all. But in all fairness, beer does probably go better with a plate of tacos or some hot dogs than a glass of chilled Chardonnay.
But it wasn't all a wash for me. Though I was probably the only blogger who preferred the small plate set-up of Saturday's lunch & dinner (I guess I'm just more of a grazer than an hardcore eater... this is why I will move to Spain when I retire so that I can live a life filled with nothing but tapas and good wine), I absolutely adored every dish I tried that day and remained full enough to last me until sushi & cocktails with my friends several hours later. It was such a delightful treat to partake of the different cuisines offered by these food trucks! Here in Sacramento, folks have not gotten the clue about this rapidly growing food phenomenon, so the most fun we get to have is the Who Has the Best Taco de Lengua game. If Sacramento's city council would pay more attention to the opportunities that food trucks can offer the city, rather than "donations" by "interested parties", we could do wonders. But that's for an entirely different post altogether. *steps off soapbox*
The fifth - and final, I promise - installment of my IFBC recaps is next! Stay tuned... there's a even a fun li'l slideshow included. :)