You know those bloggers you’ve been stalking for months, maybe years? Those bloggers to whom you tweet the most random information like “I just saw a squirrel on crack.”
Some of them, you know so well through constant gchats and e-mails that you immediately talk about the latest thing you discussed, like, several hours ago.
Some of them are bloggers you stalk silently, and you approach tentatively and shyly, wondering whether screaming “I freaking lurrve you” would creep them out.
Some of them, you only just discovered a few months ago, and you find that you need to stalk them a bit more obsessively because they are awesome.
And then there are others whom you’ve never heard of, yet are so impressive and amazing that you wonder which rock you’ve stuck your head into.
Gather all those bloggers together into one weekend of feasting, drinking, freebie-whoring, and mingling…and you’ve got yourself one heck of a mind-whirling Foodbuzz Festival weekend.
Observe the following conversation starts on Friday evening:
“Oh my God, you’re Eden!”
“Oh my Gosh! You’re Carrie!”
“Argh! You! You’re Lauren!”
“Oh my God! HI! Carolyn!”
“For Christ’s sake! Finally! Jolene!”
“MARIKO! Oh my Gawd!”
And so continues on a series of high-pitched, maniacal “Ohmigod”s.
You should have seen me. Maybe you have seen me. In which case, I’m very sorry if I squeezed the oats out of you and screamed or spat in your ear.
I was like a seventh-grader in middle school, feeling buzzed about finally having my own locker in school and being thrust into an entirely new environment of rotating classes and social groups. Everything, everyone seemed so familiar, yet so new; so comfortable, yet so awkward at the same time.
Yes, this weekend has been emotionally, physically, and mentally overwhelming—but I’d be ready to replay the whole event all over again if I could.
Let’s take a couple steps back to Friday night.
Jackie and I have different blogging styles and eating habits. We somehow agreed to be roommates through Twitter…and thank freaking god for Twitter, because Jackie is the most freaking awesome roomie I could ever ask for. You’ll see why within the next couple of posts.
We all decided to book a hotel not in Foodbuzz’s recommended list because we couldn’t really afford any of them. Adante Hotel is about half a mile away from the Sir Francis Drake Hotel (where most bloggers resided), and much cheaper at about $180 for two-nights.
It was…ack. It certainly wasn’t a fancy hotel, and I found the paintings of wild life kind of tacky and…creepy.
Especially the two cranes mating on top of my bed.
What…the hell? But aside from the clogged toilet, the crappy internet connection and the 5 am phone call asking us to stop making noises (we weren’t; we were sleeping!), Adante served its purposes well enough. Beggars can’t be choosers.
But thankfully, Foodbuzz treated us like the royalty that we really are. It ferried us to the Herbst Pavilion at Fort Mason Center for our first eating event of the weekend: a street food fare extravaganza.
Here’s to us, the foodie royalties.
(from left) Astrid, the Burper, Eden, and Jackie. The Fantastic Foodies.
There was a pig roasting on the spit outside. My stomach growled. Here, piggy piggy…
But we had to enter the pavilion first to get into little groups and exchange gifts.
You already know what my gift is! But I got a cookbook collecting recipes from celebrated chefs in San Francisco from Suki at Super Duper Fantastic (who I will be meeting again soon, tee hee).
“The food will be served at 7:05,” the Foodbuzz peeps told us. Forget the 05. Feed me now!! I was getting pretty hungry, so I nibbled on the appetizer dish set before us by the Frog Hollow Farm.
The best freaking pear I’ve had ever. You wouldn’t really think of a piece of fruit as buttery, but these were. Buttery, velvety, luscious sweet pear. Mm…
The cheese cubes were good too, but somehow they just made me hungrier for real food. We also had some kind of tiny pear tarts:
Cute and dainty and delicate, but not my thing.
It wasn’t just me. All the other bloggers were starting to get antsy. You don’t gather a crowd of hungry food bloggers together, make them sit down with a few appetizers, while delicious food aromas are wafting from all corners. It’s like trying to satisfy a pride of lions with bunches of dry hay while there are fat fluffy lambs frolicking all about.
Anyway. There weren’t any fat lambs, but there was plenty of fabulous hot food being served. As soon as the minute hand clicked into place at 7:05, food bloggers sprang up and crowded towards all corners of the pavilion where the food vendors set up their grub.
I gravitated towards the food stand closest to my table, Diamond Lil.
It had a fabulous big pan. How could I say no?
They served two options: seafood gumbo and vegan paella. I asked for both. Duh.
They were both awesome. I love that they were served hot and sizzling from the pan, almost burning my mouth, saturated with savory flavors and rich with vegetables like cauliflower, mushrooms, peas and peppers.
The gumbo had chunks of juicy seafood in it. I found the vegan paella less crispy as I expected paella to be, but the flavors were just wonderful.
And then. I saw her. The divine goddess who strutted across the hall in heels and furry coat. Oh my God!
Averie! Our very own vegan queen. At a good 10 inches taller than me, she towered over me, and dazzled from all the way across the room.
Unfortunately the place was not a friendly place to vegans. And unfortunately right after I said hi to her, hugged her, and led her to the booze, I pounced right on the meatiest, greasiest station of that night:
4505 Meats. Hello, we meet again. I recognized this company immediately because their chicharrones, which they dished out liberally on a silver platter at the last festival, are absolutely unforgettable.
That night, they dished out more than chicharrones. Besides the fried pork rinds, they served a greasy, hunky bomb of a sandwich:
Pork loin brined in jalapeno pickling liquid crusted in cornmeal, beans, onions, and coriander aioli on a buttery sesame bun.
Holy-Effing-Porky-YEAH! The first thing I dug into was the crispy, perfectly spiced pork rinds. And then I pawed my way through the sandwich.
The pork. It was fantastic. Crispy and gritty on the outside because of the cornmeal, but rich and tender inside. The crunchy onions made a refreshing complement on top, but the only failing point was the bun, which was too soaked in butter, if that’s even possible. The result was that after I was about 80% through this sandwich, I started feeling too greased out.
That was when I met the cutest couple, Amanda and Andy from Two Boos Who Eat.
Oh my God! It was so exciting to meet them again!! So exciting that I dropped my sandwich while trying to hug Amanda and navigate the food into my mouth at the same time (Amanda lined up to get me another one, the sweetie).
By that time I decided I needed something to cool me down, because all the grease was making me feel heaty inside. I scurried over to the ice-cream man.
Well, the ice-cream ladies, specifically, the Straus Family Creamery.
Amanda was chewing on some fresh figs, but she decided to get in line with me, and made Andy hold on to her figs.
Here he is, holding on to her figs ever so delicately. When I grow up, I wanna find a man to hold my figs, too.
I asked for the Brown Sugar Banana ice-cream first:
Small little cup, HUGE intense flavor. Creamy and rich like butter. Maybe they did put butter! Who cares! It was freaking good!
I wandered off licking my ice-cream like a happy little girl, and bumped into two adorable bloggers:
Oh my God! Mariko from The Little Foodie and Damaris from Kitchen Corners. I really shouldn’t call them adorable, because they are quite a bit older than me and already have kids of their own. But they really were.
Mariko is one of the bloggers I’ve discovered and fell in love with through Project Food Blog. I was thrilled to meet her in person! She’s the kind of person you just love to hug and warm up to immediately. Da (or Damaris) is a newer blogger to me, but one I will be following. She actually ran into really bad luck recently—her laptop got stolen on Saturday.
After chatting with them for some time, I bumped into Eden, who told me she was on her third ice-cream from Straus now and that I better get my ass over there again and try their “sweet and savory” ice-cream. What sweet and savory ice-cream? I didn’t see any, then I realized she meant this:
Caramel Toffee Crunch ice-cream.
She was right. It was effing awesome. Bits of crunchy toffee and flecks of savory salt. The perfect ice-cream. I beat Eden’s gluttony by visiting the place three more times. Heh.
Do I even need to introduce this gal? She’s epic. She’s dynamic. She’s cool, hip, and pulls no bullshit out her sexy ass. Dang, this girl is fine, and Mara knows it! I think I screamed like a crazy fan. Luckily she just laughed and hugged me.
And then, she told me that I absolutely had to try Namu, because, in her words, it was “SO rrrrwrrrr good!” She positively swooned while she said that, so I had to go over to see what the fuss was about.
Obviously, I knew it was going to be Korean. Namu means “tree” in Korean, and I smelled something familiar wafting from the stall.
What they served me was a nori “taco”:
Seasoned rice, bulgogi (Korean bbq beef), salsa, and spring onions on toasted nori roll.
Hm, sorry Mara. I liked it, but didn’t love it. It wasn’t that it didn’t taste good—the flavors married well together, and the rice was nice and sticky—but I’m Korean. I grew up eating this food.
So. I was unimpressed. It was stuff my mom makes all the time. I guess I should just count myself lucky and stop being an ingrate.
I went to see what the other ballyhoo was about at the middle of the pavilion at Spencer On The Go, a French mobile bistro:
That was only about 1/5 of the line that was waiting to chomp down their stuff! I hate waiting, so I avoided the station until the line had somewhat simmered down. Bad choice. Some items on the menu that I had wanted to try was sold out by that point:
Boo. But while I was in line, I got to meet Matthew Kang, blogger of Mattatouille, another Korean Angeleno food blogger and USC alumnus.
Oh. My. God. He appeared in a suit, which I found funny, given that he was chowing down street grub.
I’ve been following Matt ever since I moved to L.A., and have always loved his artful and sensuous writing.
Matt told me he and Joshua Lurie from Food GPS (another Angeleno food blog I religiously follow, though he blogs a lot about beer) drove up from Los Angeles at 6:30 in the morning, and have already conquered 4 eating spots. Now you see why I love their blogs! I was stupid and lost the opportunity to take Matt’s picture though.
Probably because I might have been a bit distracted by the escargot puff lollipop!
Really, it was just a fried pastry puff stuffed with escargot and drenched in melted herb butter. But everything tastes better in a stick! Maybe the French don’t get fat because their food is rich and delicious enough to satisfy in tiny portions.
After that I gravitated towards the center of the Pavilion, where hundreds of mini cupcakes from Mission Minis were stacked to spell out “FOODBUZZ”:
Isn’t that freaking cool? I had a momentary daydream of how when I’m rich, I will have cupcake slaves bake giant cupcakes saying “SOPHIA IS F**KING COOL” on my lawn and make it a tourist hot spot and gain revenue off them.
I’ve only had a snort of beer up my nose, I swear.
Another cool thing about Mission Minis is that they’re being featured by The Food Network for Cupcake Wars. Soon you’ll be seeing several bloggers on TV moaning about how good the cupcakes are, but sadly you won’t see me. No way am I gonna be featured on TV with my horrible accent.
I don’t like cupcakes much, but for the sake of bragging rights, I dug into them. The green cupcakes were gingery, spicy cakes with slightly tangy buttercream frosting:
The orange ones were pumpkin cakes with the same buttercream frosting:
They were as tasty as high-quality cupcakes can be, and I had fun licking my fingers, though I wasn’t much in the mood for desserts. It’s hard to resist mini cupcakes though, especially when they’re so darn cute and pretty.
By that time, I was stuffed to the max. I felt like I had just swallowed an Olympic swimming pool with a side of bricks. It was time to say:
N-O. Except of course I couldn’t. Damn my gluttony, but when I came across these chicken kathi rolls while I was about to leave the place, I couldn’t resist sinking my teeth into one.
They were these hot, chewy pan-fried dough stuffed with spicy chicken and vegetables by Curry Up Now.
And then Jackie gave me a bite of her paneer kathi roll, which was stuffed with hot and creamy cheese cubes, and I couldn’t help finishing hers. And then get another one for myself to munch on the ride back to the hotel.
How do you spell: Pig? Oh yeah, S-O-P-H-I-A. Oink.
But that’s okay. When you “pig out” with a bunch of food bloggers as passionate about food as you are, gluttony is an activity to be celebrated, and this weekend, it was debauchery in its prime glory.
In fact, I talked and screamed so much, I lost my voice that night. Though I kind of liked it, because I thought I sounded all husky and sexy, two of the last words to describe this pig in jeans.
More food, booze, and peeps to come. Stay tuned, for more ohmigod’s.
Question of the Day: Fill in the blanks: I would like to eat “food name/type/restaurant” with “food blogger name” at “pick a place” because “whatever wacky reason”.
And…if you had cupcake slaves, what would you like them to make you?