Wednesday, September 30, 2009
What: The inaugural BlogHer Food ‘09 Conference
Where: The St. Regis, San Francisco, Calif.
When: September 26, 2009
Why: To get in some offline time with the fantastic food blogging community.
The Scoop: After Friday’s wine-and-tempura tasting party at RN74, I was more than ready for the inaugural BlogHer Food conference to get started. Stepping into the St. Regis hotel, I arrived in time for my personal favorite past-time: goodie-bag collection. A quick check-in garnered me a reusable shopping bag full of edibles, housewares, and fliers, some more applicable than others. My top choice, hands down, was Nature’s Path Peanut Choco' granola bar. I could barely wait for an appropriate snack time. Since not everything was veg-friendly, I took advantage of the donation station, conveniently set up for any goodie-bag discards. Including these donations, 676 pounds of food was donated to the San Francisco Food Bank from the conference.
The morning got exciting as the first round of break-out sessions began, one panel featuring our very own Elizabeth. The packed room experienced a hearty, hour-plus discussion of food blogs’ politics, including hot-topic issues such as veganism, GMOs, class issues, Big Ag business, and more. Kim O’Donnel, fellow panel member and food blogger for True/Slant, also talked about her monthly meatless chats, as well as her weekly Meatless Monday recipe feature, showing the ever-expanding awareness of going veg. While risking nepotism, I will say the discussions resulting from Elizabeth’s own comments were both informative and inspiring.
By lunchtime, our stomachs were growling threats of mutiny, leading us to the gallery room for a conference-wide catered meal.
Sharing a table with fellow veg-friendly bloggers Jill Nussinow, Lauren Ulm, and Heidi Swanson, we enjoyed a tasty, albeit light, meal, starting with a fresh salad (of course). Romaine lettuce, roasted cherry tomatoes, and kalamata olives helped calm the hunger, although it was the mushroom risotto that finally did the trick. Each bite was accompanied by the emcee stylings of chef Rocco Dispirito, who spent the better part of an hour talking up the meal sponsor. Seeing as how we had the veg option and said sponsor wasn’t the most veg-friendly, we decided to talk amongst ourselves about more applicable topics, such as the wonders of Rainbow grocery and the complexities of vegan cheese.
The afternoon continued with more insightful panels covering practical skills, creative development, and theory. It was fun to see such a vibrant community of bloggers gather offline, engaging in a day of discussion devoted to their passion.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
What: A pre-conference
Where: RN74, San Francisco, Calif.
When: September 25, 2009
Why: Meeting fellow food bloggers before the big BlogHer Food '09 conference!
The Scoop: Often times, Abby and I like to eat. Sometimes, we even like to eat together, and when the opportunity arose to attend a pre-conference cocktail hour with mushroom-centric hors d'oeuvres, we pretty much jumped at it. The evening was organized by Jessi Langsen of The Mushroom Channel, which is a PR blog for The Mushroom Council. As you might expect, there was a clear theme: mushrooms.
The very chic RN74 was a charming, if somewhat croweded, space for the fun. The place was packed—it was Friday night, after all—with diners, drinkers, and then us, the bloggers. Canapés of maitake mushroom tempura and shiitake veloute—which I was assured was vegan—came around every so often, which we eagerly devourved, having been instructed to come "dinner-time hungry." Abby and I got separated early on by the crowd, but both ended up finding fine chatting companions. It was fun to catch up with Jill Nussinow, The Veggie Queen, and Elisa Camahort Page, co-founder of BlogHer. Abby met Abi Jones, a local San Franciscan—something of a rarity in this crowd—who started Heat Eat Review.
By the time we left we were all geared up for the following day's conference, about which Abby will have a full report soon!
The Scoop: The VN team attends dozens of shows every year to promote the magazine, but nothing quite tops the intensity, energy, and excitement of the Natural Products Expo. At this trade show, where thousands of new products are launched, we walk the show floor for hours to discover the hottest new vegan goodies to share with VN readers. This past weekend, three staffers landed in Boston to discover what’s brewing in new loot. Here are some of our favorites—and you can count on VN to dish more in a future issue of the magazine or on VegNews.com.
French Vanilla Coconut Milk Creamer by Turtle Mountain
Coffee Biscotti hemp ice cream by Living Harvest
Thousand Island dressing by Organicville Foods
Coconut Sugar by Essential Living Foods
Rice Cheese (newly formulated) by Galaxy Foods
Raw Cinnamon Agave by Wholesome Sweeteners
Thai Red Curry by Helen’s KitchenRecycled dollar-bill toothbrushes from Radius
Naked Almond Fudge ice cream by Coconut Bliss
Recycled flip-flops by Okabashi
Raw cleansing kit by Garden of Life
Chocolate Chip Pancake Mix by Cherrybrook Kitchen
Double Layer Fruit and Nut Bars by Clif Bar
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies by Everyday Gourmet
Recycled eye glasses from ICU Eyewear
Sesame Garlic Marinated Tempeh Strips from Turtle Island Foods
Friday, September 25, 2009
What: An afternoon outing to check out the 45th Annual Big Book Sale
Where: Underdog and the Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, Calif.
When: September 25, 2009
Why: We like big books, and we cannot lie.
The Scoop: All work and no play makes magazine editors a little restless, so this Friday we decided to take a little bit longer for our lunch break and head into the city for some food and some fun.
Our first stop was at Underdog in the Inner Sunset, where we grabbed a smorgasbord of vegan sausages and side dishes to go. After piling back into our cars and heading out to the marina, we dined outside in the bright sunshine, a nice change from the usual morning fog surrounding our office. Once we had out fill of veggie hot dogs complete with all the fixin's, we headed inside the Fort Mason Center to check out the Big Book Sale, put on by the Friends of the San Francisco Library to raise money for literacy programs.
Scanning the titles for something specific was a little impossible, but if you kept an open mind you could make some great finds. Everything from pre-1900 classics to manga to rock records was on offer. While I opted to carry my books by the handful, others pushed around huge shopping carts and loaded in choice paperbacks like groceries. When everything costs less than $5, it's easy to go a little overboard.
With full tummies and a bevy of new/old books to enjoy, we headed back to the VNHQ and got back to work with renewed vigor. If you are in the market for some cheap reads, be sure to check out the sale next year!
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
After sets by politico hip-hop artist Truth Universal, San Francisco poet Sellassie, Malinese guitarist Vieux Farka Touré, and the powerful vocalist Cherine Anderson (see her before she hits the big time), sultry songstress Alanis Morissette took the stage. The reportedly newly vegan Morissette, looking happy and healthy, delivered a hits-filled acoustic set that pleased all.
Friday, September 11, 2009
In the 10 minute practice round VN Associate Publisher Colleen Holland came in first place, leaving us all in her dust, while birthday boy Joseph came in a close second. Revved up and ready for the next round, VN Managing Editor Elizabeth Castoria took the lead in the five-minute qualifying race. Then it was time for the main event, the 15-minute, no-holds barred speed race. Tensions on the track were high, and while it was—yeah, yeah—all in fun, we all wanted to win—or at least beat Joseph. The winding track and high-speed competition was fierce, causing a few of us to spinout, resulting in lost precious seconds on the clock. By the end of the race it was clear that speed-demon Colleen had again prevailed, and office manager Lyndsay Orwig had pulled into second place.
After our rousing afternoon of high-stakes racing we were all a bit tired, and more than a little bit hungry. For lunch we went to Vanida Thai Kitchen, a local favorite with tons of yummy veg-friendly options. After a hearty round of tom ka soup we all indulged in lunch combos. As soon as I saw “fried tofu” and “peanut sauce” listed side-by-side, I knew what I’d be ordering. The food was delicious, filling, and exactly what our post-racing palettes demanded.
Upon return to the VNHQ, we were greeted with homemade birthday desserts, courtesy of Elizabeth and Associate Editor Abby Young. Elizabeth’s decadent coconut-lime cake, made with Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free cake mix, was rich, zesty, and reaffirmed to all of us why coconut is so amazing. Abby used a secret family recipe to make her offering, a tasty pistachio custard pie exactly the color of key-lime. A fun afternoon was had all-around, and, again—because you can never say it enough times—a very happy birthday to Joseph!