Heirloom Tomato Salad at Chez PanissePerfect Heirloom Tomato Salad from Chez Panisse

For days I’ve been mulling over how to write about the experience of attending BlogHer Food Conference in San Francisco last weekend. After looking forward to it for months, apparently I was having so much fun I took very few photos of people to help me remember everyone I met! I didn’t do much better on the food either (although I did manage to capture the perfect heirloom tomato salad above from Chez Panisse.) BlogHer Food was one of those surreal events where you meet such a huge number of amazing people in a very short time that it’s impossible to mention them all in a post like this. I’m going to share a few highlights, but if you were there, please help me write this post by leaving a comment with your thoughts.

I arrived in San Francisco on Thursday and spent that afternoon finding the perfect purse, with assistance from Caron, who was a great shopping companion. We shared lunch in Chinatown, and then that night we had an amazing dinner at Delfina with Sean and D’Paul. We did miss Amy, who had to cancel when her husband had an unexpected but very exciting work dinner to attend.

This less-than-flattering photo is an example of what happens when you’re relying on a waiter to capture your perfect restaurant experience, but I did want to show the evidence that on Friday I went to Chez Panisse for lunch with my new friend-for-life Grace Davis and my already-friend-for-life Christine. Grace came to BlogHer Food even though she is (gasp) not a food blogger, so it’s fun to read how she enjoyed her first food blogger experience, and she was amused when she saw how food bloggers get those restaurant photos. We did have a memorable lunch at Chez Panisse, which I’ll be sharing more about in a future installment of Friday Night Photos.

That night I had another great dinner (and this is going to be a recurring theme with the great dinners.) This one was at Bodega Bistro with Amy, Christine, Susan and Jeff, Garrett, Jennifer, Cheryl, Anna, Caron, and there were a couple more people that I know I’m forgetting. (Sorry! Please comment!) We missed Lydia who was stuck in the airport in Boston and got there very late that night.

The next day was THE CONFERENCE! The morning started out great since I had plans to meet two of my blogging idols for breakfast (Tea and Lisa) and even before they arrived I got to say a quick hello to Heidi, who I’ve wanted to meet for a long time. But then things started happening very quickly. I have to say the whole breakfast and welcome session was a blur of faces and hellos, maybe because I was nervous about speaking on a panel that morning about Food Blogging Best Practices with Alanna, Elana, Lauren, and Michelle. (See the links below for live-blogging if you want to see what we said!)

Then there was the now-infamous lunch, which you already heard more about than you ever wanted to know if you’re on Twitter. Even though I’m not a three-glasses-of-wine-with-lunch kind of gal, it looked promising when we sat down to the wine and a pretty tasty salad was quickly served.

What made the lunch infamous was the successive courses of Bertolli frozen pasta meals, served as if they were something special rather than something you might buy if you weren’t a food blogger. (For the record, I was on the planning committee for the conference, and the lunch choice was not something we had any say about.) Above is a photo proving the pasta was perfectly edible, and possibly even tasty by many people’s standards, but I do think having frozen food for lunch at a food blogging conference was a bad match. However, I also try hard not to be a food snob, and I thought there were some people who were a bit much with the righteous indignation over lunch. End. of. frozen. lunch. story?

Well, it would have been the end of the frozen lunch story except that the lunch was being pitched by Rocco de Spirito, who is either sexy or sexist depending on who you ask. I have to confess that after Rocco was so gracious about holding the get-well sign last year I’m becoming a Rocco fan, and clearly Abi and Liz above were not entirely immune to his charms either.

I spent the afternoon learning there were plenty of things I didn’t know about beginning photography from Todd and Dianne and what it’s like to be a professional photographer from Matt and Lara. The day flew by and before I knew it we were having the ending keynote where Elise, Ree, and David were sharing what it’s like keep on keeping on as a food blogger (and it was great fun meeting Elise’s parents, who I almost felt like I already knew from Elise and their cooking on her blog!)

If you’re exhausted, better take a big swig of Diet Coke because next there was a big cocktail party on the roof where the BlogHer folks were nice enough to let Rand and Bradley join the party and meet some of my blogging friends. For those who don’t know, my brother Rand and his partner Bradley are the design and tech team behind Kalyn’s Kitchen, and I was so happy they could stop by.

Now you may have heard that there was a very big party later that night, hosted by Jaden, Elise, and Ree, but before I could go to the party I had dinner plans to go to Contigo with Lydia, TW, Susan, Rebecca, Val, and Andrea. (Edit – Thanks to Susan who shared the photo of our group above, from left T.W., Susan, Rebecca, Lydia, Andrea, me, and Val.)

I can’t say enough good things about the amazing food at Brett’s restaurant and am already making plans to go there again in February when I’m going back to San Francisco with Mary and Jacque. Unfortunately it was too dark to get photos this time, as you can tell by the picture above, so the official (glowing) review of Contigo is still pending. I will say that we couldn’t stop ordering things and dinner went on so long we pretty much missed the party, arriving just in time to catch a few of the last people there, but reportedly there was dancing, chocolate cake, and wonderful drinks. (And thanks to Elise and Jaden for giving me a fabulous goodie bag even though I was so late!)

By Sunday BlogHer Food Conference was officially over but my vacation was still going on. First I had fun rehashing the conference at breakfast with Lydia on Sunday morning, and then my step-sister Karyn and her daughter Isabella picked me up to stay at their house. (This was after Karyn had swum across the channel from Alcatraz, and she was excited!) We had a fun day exploring the Ferry Building, where I shot photos of the mushrooms, followed by lunch at Yank Sing, which Karyn had introduced me to a few years earlier. That night was another amazing dinner at Vanessa’s Bistro in Berkley, which I’ll write more about another time.

Monday morning Karyn’s sister Bobbi drove down from Guerneville to get me so I could go there for the next two days. We stopped off in Healdsburg on the way, where I got some fun kitchen goodies, and then on the way to Guerneville I shot a photo of this colorful collection of tomatoes. I had yet another amazing dinner that night at Chef Patrick’s in Guerneville with Bobbi and her husband Rick. It was fun getting a quick look at Rick and Bobbi’s new house, and then on the way back to San Francisco the next day Bobbi helped me pick the perfect sunglasses to go with my perfect purse, so I arrived back in Salt Lake City on Tuesday night feeling very well-fed, well-dressed, and well-entertained!

In Spite of All The Amazing Dinners, People Did Learn a Lot and Here’s Where You Can Read All About It:
Thanks to the sponsors who help with conference expenses, BlogHer has livebloggers who take notes during each conference session and post them shortly after for other bloggers who can’t attend. Here is the Official Live-Blogging of BlogHer Food for anyone who’s interested in checking out the sessions.

Enough About Me, Here’s Who Else Wrote About BlogHer Food Conference:
BlogHer Food Recap from Baking Bites
Bloggers from 5 Second Rule
BlogHer Food ’09 from Elana’s Pantry
San Francisco Through My Foodie Eyes from Foodie Reflections
Food Bloggers Take San Francisco from In Good Taste
BlogHer Food ’09 from Still Life With
Whereupon I Begin to Get Out More from State of Grace
BlogHer Food ’09 Recap from Use Real Butter
Lessons Learned in San Francisco from Bad Home Cooking
BlogHer Food ’09 from A Year of Slow Cooking
Memories of BlogHer Food 2009 from Andrea Meyers
I Think I’m In Love from Brownies for Dinner
Foodblogging Fiesta from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
BlogHer Food ’09 from Lick My Spoon
BlogHer Food Weekend in San Francisco from Tartelette
BlogHer Food ’09 from What’s For Dinner Mom?
Back from BlogHer Food from Anali’s First Amendment
Norwegian Gold Cake and Zuni Cafe from Umami Girl
It’s the Bay Area (and Food BlogHer) from Baking and Boys
BlogHer Food Conference 2009 from Two Peas and Their Pod
The Lonesome Traveler Hits San Francisco from Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy
BlogHer Food from Retro Food
BlogHer Food from The Perfect Pantry
The Fun That Was BlogHer Food from Simply Recipes
I’m all about the matchy-matchy from Jaden of Steamy Kitchen
6 Thoughts on BlogHer Food from Danielle of Bon Vivant

(If you wrote about BlogHer Food, please leave a comment with a link to your post and I’ll add it to this list.)

Now It’s Your Turn to Share About BlogHer Food:

I know I missed as many people as I mentioned in this recap, so if you were there (and especially if we managed to meet) please chime in with a comment about your experience at BlogHer Food.

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