Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Weekend at Theo Chocolate with the IFBC -- Day 1

Taken from theMaykazine's Flickr Photostream under CC license
After staying up late attending the Urban Spoon welcoming party at the ultra hip Cafe Purple, I got to the International Food Blogger Conference with only 5 hours of sleep.

Saturday morning, 6:25am, I walked into the conference hall at Theo Chocolate and found a dozen or so people bustling around in very efficient form, carrying things, moving things, cleaning things, generally doing things to other things in a near frantic state -- the sense of 'panic on the verge' that overwhelms the front line of employees at any conference.  Within a minute of arriving, I was carrying cartloads of POM drinks from Theo's industrial fridge to the hall.  Being one of only two male volunteers, I figured that I was in for some heavy lifting (people under duress default to traditional gender roles very quickly).

When my first task was completed, I asked about coffee, and was met with a deeply apologetic, wearied, hangdog look.  "The coffee vendor isn't here yet, but as soon as they are, you can drop whatever you are doing and get some coffee."  I was not about to argue with the severity of that expression, particularly because it came from staffer Reno, who aside from this one moment was the most persistently upbeat and cool guy I met at IFBC.

A photo of a cup of coffee.Image via Wikipedia
Once Caffe Vita arrived, the general level of optimism and energy was instantly elevated from "why did I agree to this?" to "Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho."  The best way to keep volunteers and employees happy, especially through long or early hours, is with lots of caffeine and sugar.  When those volunteers and employees are all foodies, the caffeine had better come in a delicious package.  Vita did not, in any way, disappoint.

Then some people spoke, it was cool, but the real point, I think, was lunch (just kidding, of course, Barnaby Dorfman gave a very informative talk on SEO; I missed the other morning sessions due to duties).  Four wines from the Walla Walla region were paired with small plate offerings from Seattle Chefs.  There was also a well received GF table, but since I was flying solo (without the GF wife), I did not partake.

The winner for lunch, in my opinion, was a plate of spicy citrus chick peas topped with a whole marinated baby octopus.  The texture of the purple and white octopus was just about indescribable: slightly tough like squid on the outside, a little crunch on the inside, and wholly unique.  The red tinged spicy chick peas were a perfect accompaniment to the octopus too, for both their tooth pleasing combination of crunch and give, as well as the acidic tang of the (I think) lime juice.  It was prepared by Chef Shannon Galusha from Bastille Cafe and Bar.

After lunch, I was able to sneak away from my volunteer duties to see the session on the Law and Ethics of Food Blogging, which was largely about copyright.  The rock star of that talk was Robin Goldstein (sorry Barnaby and Robert) whose presentation was titled "Reducing Bullshit in Wine Writing," if memory serves.  As desperately as I wanted to stay for dinner, being completely floored by the fare thus far, I was exhausted and ready to be "off" for the day.  If it was a one day event, I might have pushed through, but I could not bear the thought of missing the food trucks on Sunday.

I could write a whole seperate blog post about the Walla Walla Wines, but I will post some links instead.  Hopefully that will help to reduce the overall level of Bullshit in Wine Writing.
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