Foodbuzz Festival: Part Tre

Happy Thursday!

The weekend is almost here and I have found myself constantly fist pumping, especially while in the car with the radio turned up! Anyway, my previous two posts have been about this “little” adventure I took last weekend to this little event called Foodbuzz Festival. As you have seen, it has been filled with tons of food, friends, and memories that will last me a life time. I can’t wait to go back next year and do it all over again. I can’t even express my passion for food and the joy that it gives me to be able to share my recipes and stories with all of you (all of you? sometimes I find myself moving away from the term y’all…not very Texan of me).

Let’s refocus where we left off in yesterday’s post, day two at the Foodbuzz Festival. I had learned from the first day not to eat myself until I was bursting at the seams and instead decided to “pace” myself (yes, pace myself as if I were running a marathon of food) at the Tasting Pavilion because I knew the dinner that night would be fabulous. Even still, I did eat as much as I could get my hands on, but I was even more excited about getting every vendor’s information. Let’s just say there were definitely a few things that I wanted to purchase online, especially for the holidays! Moving on, I mentioned that I met a special chef/food celebrity at the Tasting Pavilion.

Say hello to Tyler Florence…swagger name: T-Flo!

Now, all the bloggers were informed ahead of time that T-Flo would be attending the closing dinner on Saturday night where he would perform a cooking demonstration. I was so stoked! I have always had a food crush on T-Flo, what can I say? He can cook, plus he’s got some Italian in him (hence the last name), and he’s good looking. I definitely envy his wife and kids because they eat VERY well. Seriously this guy has earned his spot as a chef (i wouldn’t even call him a food celebrity), he has a few restaurants in Cali and he works 75 hours a week and still gets dinner on the table. Super Chef! Anyway, he just decided to make a surprise appearance at the Tasting Pavilion and I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.

I didn’t really know how star struck I was going to be. I mean, c’mon I have been playing celebrity chef roulette for a while, first with Rachel Ray, then with Paula Deen, so I just assumed it was going to be just like my encounters with them, but this was totally different. Number one, if you haven’t noticed, T-Flo is a guy, and I don’t really have girl crushes if you know what I’m saying. I was so stunned and then to just make my day even better, T-Flo walks towards me, shakes my hand, and asks me “How are you doing today?” I believe I said something along the lines of “I’m doing just great,” but what I really wanted to say was “How do you think I’m doing? I just met you!” Lord, why did he have to be so laid-back and personable? That was just the icing on the cake. I would say probably my best encounter with a famous chef in my life.

The real treat came at the Gala Dinner and Cooking Demo with T-Flo later that evening. If you didn’t know, T-Flo has linked up with Alexia All Natural frozen foods brand. The dinner was sponsored by Alexia, and before hand was a cocktail reception where Alexia sampled a four different french fries for their “Reinvent A Classic Campaign.” Basically, each year Alexia looks for the next best french fry recipe. This year, all four recipes that were in the running were created by top food bloggers. We were given a chance to sample all the new flavors and then vote for our favorite creation. I loved all of the flavors, but my fave were the Classic Dill Fries. There is just something about dill that I can’t get enough of.

Let’s just say, I was munching on tons of french fries before the dinner.

Good thing

these babies are all natural…no preservatives here!

I had a french fry hangover when, just my luck, we were prompted to the dining room where we got the best treat of the night!

Best seat in the house, eh?
T-Flo’s Cooking Demo

He made pan-roasted pork chops that were as big as my head.
Placed over a bed of spaetzle (translation: dumplings) and braised red cabbage.

From the mouth of T-Flo: ” Spaetzle is the new black.” I agree. It was so exciting watching T-Flo cook he definitely has some mad skills in the kitchen.


You can barely see it, but that was the finished product: caveman pork chops, right?
On to the dinner…
The flower arrangements were absolutely gorgeous…so colorful!
Zee Menu
I was definitely a fan of the first course: Bib lettuce, honey roasted pears, glazed pecan, and blue cheese vinaigrette. Me and pears are bff’s now, watch out!

I was a pescatarian for the night and so I got extra shrimp: jumbo, right? Anyway, they were perfectly roasted with the juice of a sweet Meyer lemon. It was placed over a bed of celery root puree and serve with roasted asparagus and carrots. BTW celery root puree was my ultimate fave!

And, what would Foodbuzz Festival be without dessert? Left to right: Scharffen Berger Chocolate Mousse (like biting into a cloud of rich chocolate), Sourdough Bread Pudding (really chewy and love the topping, was brown-sugary), and last but not least, Cowgirl Creamery Cheesecake (obviously you know how I feel about cheese cake…not a crumb left!).

So, I hope you all enjoyed my tale of my first Foodbuzz Festival. I can’t wait to go back next year and re-live my own personal buzz off food.

MANGIA!!!

Foodbuzz Festival: Part Due

Happy Wednesday!

Wow, I just realized that it is Wednesday…where did my week go? It just seems like everything is flying past me. I think it has something to do with my anticipation for Thanksgiving…I pretty much just want it to be here already! Anyway, if you didn’t tune in yesterday, I re-capped my first day at the Foodbuzz Festival…it was chock full of food, friends, and happiness. Today I am really going to try and hone in on my brevity skills with my writing because I know that sometimes a large post can be just a tad bit overwhelming, even for me. Did I mention I love to write? Did I mention that I absolutely love to cook and eat? Did I mention my love for my absolutely crazy family? Well, put them all together and you get me, Chelsy, a passionate food blogger who wants to share with you anything and everything about cooking/baking, and eating my way through life. Naturally, it may get a little long-winded on the way. But, hey that’s just who I am and what I want Mangia to be all about!

Day Two of my Foodbuzz Festival began just beautifully. I am an early riser, always have been, always will be. I think it’s just something about the world waiting on me to begin my day that I just cannot stand. Why waste it laying in bed? Anyhoo, I woke up around 7 (which is actually a little late for me) with a food hangover. Obviously, I had indulged just a little too much the night before so even looking at food was making me sick to my stomach. Now, I am not going to say that the pumpkin tart wasn’t worth it? Hell, the entire meal was worth it and I had never felt more of satisfaction in my life. I knew that I would be starving if I didn’t eat something, so I grabbed a mini coconut cream pie larabar that came in my SWAG bag. It was just what I needed. Plus, coconut is my favorite flavor. I am telling you, larabar knows where it’s at. I always feel like I am on an island when I have one of those babies!

I figured I could at least get a little exercise in since I had some time before my 9 a.m. Foodbuzz panel session. I did a mini ab workout (the entire time I was thinking, o yea, Chels, this definitely counts…baha!), threw on my best outfit (mind you I was in my pj’s when I did my ab workout), and took a brisk walk. The number one thing that I love about San Francisco is that you can walk everywhere. I love to see the city and learn about the culture and people that live there…the best way is walking. I walked to Union Square and then trucked to one of the main streets, where I hailed a cab (yea, I said it…I hailed a cab…watch out Texas!). It was only 8 a.m. so I told the driver to take me down to the Embarcadero, which was right near my destination for Foodbuzz. I had no idea what the Embarcadero was so I just thought I would figure it out when I arrived. I was so excited when the cab driver dropped me off because my surroundings were breathtakingly beautiful.

I walked down towards the boat dock and looked out over the bay, I loved seeing all the lights across the bay…it’s so beautiful to watch the rest of the world waking up.

Then I walked a bit further down the sidewalk for a better view…

As you can see…

the view was absolutely gorgeous…what a world we have

As I looked out over the bay, in all of it’s regal beauty, I couldn’t help but yawn and then it dawned on me: I need coffee! I seriously has forgotten to have a my morning americano, which tells you how much fun I was having. Anyway, I spotted South Beach Cafe across the street and literally skipped on over…literally. I arrived and knew I was in the right place when I saw the big LaVazza sign near behind the register, it’s only one of my favorite brand’s of espresso. Fox news was on and one customer (he looked like a local guy) was intently fixated on the screen while sipping his morning Joe and having a piece of lemon cake out of the cafes over-sized pastry case. I walked up to the register and instead of being greeted, the owner began cursing and waving his arms at the television (mind you this was all in E-talian…i.e. Italian and English). Apparently, he was a bit ticked off with Berlusconi in Roma and at the U.S. tax policy. I want nothing to do with arguing about politics. Hey, I know about em’, I exercise my right to vote. It’s simple.

Anyway, I introduced myself and because he was rapping some Italian I inquired as to the region of Italy he was from. He was very enthusiastic in his reply and answered “Puglia.” The next thing I knew I was having a conversation with him about my Italian ancestry and the history of the Italian people. He assumed that there were no Italians in “cowboy town.” Not to mention I was doing this while sipping on my wonderful double-shot espresso that I received for free. I.love.making.connections. My time was running slow so I said Ciao and headed a block over to the Federated Media headquarters for the programming sessions.

Once there I enjoyed a light breakfast of cold mini frittatas, fresh fruit, and a slice of pumpkin bread with fresh raspberry preserves. Then it was off to the attend the sessions, which basically should be called school for food bloggers. After listening to a Q and A panel discussion with some of the A-list bloggers (about taking your blog to a whole notha’ level), I attended blog design bootcamp (how to bling out my blog) and immediately following, effective social networking (i.e. spreading some Twitter love). Let’s just say I learned some really valuable points about food blogging. Here are just a few of the things that I took away:

1). Blog about food because it’s what you love to do. Do this because it’s your passion, your bliss (I can put a check next to that one).
2). Find your voice and be yourself. Don’t try to be someone else or blog about what you think someone wants to read. Blog about what you are passionate about, what truly resonates in your heart. Don’t change for anyone.
3). Connect with other people and make friends (i.e. twitter is for keeping track of your close friends…not about how many “friends” you have).
4). Be creative with your twitter posts…i.e. just don’t post, “Hey go read my newest blog post.”
5). Lastly, don’t stress, it’s just a blog (probably the most valuable thing I learned).

After blogging school we got down to the best part of the day the Tasting Pavilion hosted at the Metreon. It should have been called the “eat everything in sight until you find yourself unbuttoning your jeans pavilion.” Luckily, I had on my stretchy luon pants so I could eat myself into a satisfied oblivion.
One of my fave dishes from California Walnuts: crostini, goat cheese, honey-walnut sticky,ooey, gooey, mixture!
More Godiva chocolate+coffee!
Well hello there!

O, just of my fave yogurt in the world (think goat milk:creamy and light)

I got a pickle, hey, hey, hey, hey!

Holy Caramel Sauce Batman!

The Girl and the Fig…let me tell you, one of my faves…three words Raisin.Fig.Mostarda, seriously changed my life!

Tostada Cups+ Fish=Genius mini-fish tacos!

The life of an endive (ON-DEEV)!

Endive+Gorgonzola+Walnuts

Sticky, Gooey, Yummy Bread

Madeleine’s

Yummy syrup-y sauces (does that make sense?)

That is what I call a real bread stick!

Chocolate
Took some shots
An taste bud sensation
Creamy Ricotta…enough said.
The best pears you will ever eat
Miles of hummus
Olive
Spreads
Grass-fed beef

Just some proof that I actually did attend the festival…in person!

Views from the top


Another great view…met a special chef! More on this in tomorrow’s post!

As for that brevity thing? Yea, never.gonna.happen. Last Foodbuzz fest post tomorrow!
MANGIA!!!

Foodbuzz Festival: Part Uno

Happy Tuesday all!
I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend. I spent this weekend fulfilling one of my major goals. If you read my post yesterday and you guessed that by the looks of it I spent my weekend in San Francisco, you are darn straight tootin’ ! I spent the weekend in San Francisco living it up with my fellow food bloggers at the 3rd annual Foodbuzz Festival. What do I have to show for it?

This awesome, exclusive v.i.p. pass that they gave me…what, what? Yea, I’m a baller!


Let me tell you, I had the time of my life and when I say that I met food bloggers from all over the country, I mean from everywhere, near and far, from Panama to Canada, and even from Australia. Anyway, I felt so fortunate to be surrounded by people who shared their similar stories of everything that can go wrong and everything that can go right (i.e. problems and successes) with food blogs. I felt so welcomed and surprisingly unintimidated, even though I was surrounded by some veteran food bloggers such as Joy the Baker, How Sweet It Is, Kath Eats Real Food, and Peas and Thank You. These ladies have been some of my idols that I have followed closely since beginning Mangia. They were so down to earth and made everyone feel at home. Needless to say, I learned so much from my fellow foodies and can’t wait to get started with the bling-ing out my blog! Because I spent two full days at the festival, and because I took a bazillion photos, I thought it would be better to break my days up into segments. This will make it easier for me to share my days, while saving you all the headache of one large unnecessary post.

Today we begin with my first day @ the festival, Friday, Nov. 4, 2011. I had an early flight out of Austin that left at 8:30. I took Jet Blue for the first time in my life and I tell you, for economy, I felt first-class. I am so used to Southwest where I just get a pack of honey-roasted peanuts, but not with Jet Blue. I spent the three hour flight watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta (btw these women are ridiculous and should be sent to the crazy house), and bonus: I got to choose from a list of snacks that Jet Blue provided. I chose the Quaker Multi Grain Fiber Crisps…they weren’t bad. I’m not going to lie, I missed my Southwest Airlines Honey Roasted Peanuts. I arrived at San Fran airport at 10 a.m. and the time change was already killing me. I felt like I had started my morning all over again. I grabbed my luggage, hopped in a cab (btw my cab driver had just taken his MCAT…pretty impressive, eh?), and headed to the King George Hotel.

Now, if you want an old timey experience, then the King George is the place to be. It is one of the oldest hotels in San Fran. I enjoyed the small room which was absolutely perfect for just myself. Another person, and we could have had an s.o.s.! The closet was bigger than the room, haha! When I discovered the old school heater that shoots steam out of the top, I definitely knew I wasn’t at the Hilton. However, I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything. Life doesn’t always have to be glitzy and glamorous to have a good time. When I arrived at the hotel I rushed up to my room and then trekked to the nearest restaurant for lunch…the time change had me totally starved.

I found a Mediterranean restaurant around the corner called Santorini Mediterranean Cuisine(pretty Greek, eh?). I love me some Greek food so you know I was all over it. For an appetizer I ordered my fave, Babaganoosh, which came out on a platter the size of my head.

See what I mean?

It was tasty, but it wasn’t my favorite ganoosh…I think they may have added too much vinegar, which gave it a rather acidic taste. I was also brought out a tower of pita bread that was crispy on the edges and chewy in the center. It was perfect dipped in the olive oil/herb mixture that accompanied it. For an entree I ordered the grilled veggie platter which was layered with a variety of grilled veggies: eggplant, zucchini, red bell pepper, mushroom, onion, and tomato. It was topped with crumbled feta cheese and served with a side of creamy balsamic dressing. I loved this dish, but to tell you the truth, I liked the dressing better! Haha! My platter came out with a side salad of fresh mixed baby greens, beets, roasted walnuts, red onions, red bell peppers, and feta tossed with a fruity pomegranate dressing. It was just what I needed. Overall I would say that the meal was an 8/10…I was only semi-stoked about it. What I wasn’t thrilled about was the bill…$26 bucks for a lunch time meal!? FTW? I was so puzzled and then I remembered that I was in California where the prices are just a “tad bit” higher compared to these parts round here. At that moment I seriously considered writing a blog on how to save money at Greek restaurants…apparently my salad had shaved gold in it. Moving on to bigger and better things, I picked up my registration packet which came with an awesome SWAG bag at the Grand Hyatt later that day.

This is the awesome grocery tote that everything came in!

These are all the goodies that came with it…magnets, Godiva!, coupons, a potato peeler…
I just had to get a close-up of the Godiva goods…love sponsors!

Can’t wait to put this baby to use…love me some dranks! Cheers to the holidays!

After that I did some shopping at H&M (first time to the store ever…I did a fist pump as I walked through the store). Afterwards, I visited some of my San Fran lululemon family. Of course, they weren’t as near as excited as I was. In the end I think I will stick with my Austin lemons!

I headed back to my hotel where I freshened up a bit, put on my best walking shoes, and headed back over to the Hyatt. There, my fellow bloggers and I hitched a ride on the shuttle towards Terra Gallery for the Welcome Reception and Dinner. The Welcome Reception was hosted by Sabra, one of my fave hummus companies. We were served all varieties of hummus with a platter of crudites and munched on small dishes featuring hummus. My fave hummus is their Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, so I dove into that immediately.
Le Menu by Sabra

Of course upon arrival everyone started snapping pics of the wonderful Sabra Hummus Stations…sorry, I got a little excited…excuse the blurr.

Yum!

I must say the toasted chickpeas in the bowl on the right were excellent…so crisp and flavorful. I drowned my plate in them. My other favorites included the individual phyllo pastry cups, in particular, one stuffed with tomato basil hummus, and one with wasabi pea hummus (that one was definitely creative and packed some heat behind it!).

I grabbed myself a plate of all this good stuff, a fabulous glass of wine, and sat down at the nearest table I could find. Just my luck I sat down with three really nice gals! Anna and Jillian are two friends who just started their blog, Cubicle Chronicles, where they blog about staying healthy while trapped in a cubicle at work all day. They literally share a cubicle so this is real talk here people! I also met Ann, who wouldn’t you know? She’s from Houston. I was so excited to meet a fellow Houstonian. Anyway, her blog, Running with Chopstix’s (clever name eh?), is all about her passion for exercise, food, and writing. We all carried on great conversation, sharing our blogging ups and downs with one another. It was great to meet people that shared the same interests as me! After about an hour, we were all directed upstairs for the dinner and blogger awards ceremony sponsored by Electrolux.
I really admired all of the chefs for their hard work and effort + fabulous dishes!
I pushed through the line to snap pics, as you can see everyone was ready to feast!This potato broccoli soup was super delish…warmed my heart and soul!Not much of a beef stew fan, but with the Honey Cornbread…I.WAS.SOLD.
Brown Sugar Butter Roasted Chicken…enough said
Tuscan Kale, Leek and Ricotta Salata Tart…O my word!
First plate(s) of the night: ceviche shooter, plate at the top is beet ravioli and a vietnamese spring roll with a yummy peanut sauce, plate on the left was my FAVORITE DISH of the night!

Here is a better view of my favorite dish: Pan-seared Day Boat Scallop with Grapes, Capers, Wood Roastd Cauliflower, Baby Parsnip Puree, and Verjus


Allow me to take a moment so that I can describe how much the dish above impacted my life…may have changed it forever. The scallops were tender and buttery and seared to absolute perfection. The baby parsnip puree I could have drowned myself in…it had the flavors of a creamy mashed potato, but potato no more! After that I will only have baby parsnip puree! This whole dish came together nicely with the capers and green grapes, which added that perfect savory and sweet flavor combination. Lets just say, I went back to this station a total of three times…I would have returned for a fourth, but I thought that would have been a tad bit too greedy for me. Plus, I needed to save room for the dessert buffet, yes, I said it, a dessert BUFFET.

The macarons were so beautiful, I just had to take a picture of them twice. Plus, this was my first time eating macarons in my life. I chose the Mulled Wine & Blackberry and the Red Licorice. With each bite, I savored the crisp, yet airy texture of the cookie. The best part was the olive oil ganache filling. Give me a bowl of that and I will go to town!


I am sure glad I saved room for dessert because it was well worth it. There were more desserts, but this was all I could fit on my plate and afterwards they should have rolled me back to the bus. Food coma+food baby=I need a wheelbarrow!

To the left of the macarons is an itty bitty piece of chocolate with spectacular powers! Don’t let it’s size full you, that piece of chocolate was a little piece of heaven, with a silky Valrhona chocolate exterior surrounding a creamy Italian nougat. Top that sucker with a marcona almond and i was in heaven. To the far right was a mascarpone cheescake with calvados quince and gingersnap crumble. I just saw the words mascarpone and being that we are bff’s and all, I dropped that sucker on my plate. My favorite dessert of the night was the beauty to the left of mr. mascarpone, the Heirloom Pumpkin Tart. Holy Moly, this thing was like biting into Thanksgiving. The gingersnap tart shell was crisp and flavorful…fricken tasted like Christmas, then came the bite of a candied pumpkin seed nougatine and a milk chocolate crunch center. I have no words because this dish was on replay in my head the entire duration of the festival. I forsee a remake on my blog in the near future! Alright my loves, that was only my first day at the festival. If you thought that was overload, get ready for round two tomorrow. It is going to give you a serious food buzz, literally!

MANGIA!!!

Some Exciting Foodie News!!!

Happy Tuesday all,
How is your morning so far? Mine is pretty awesome, I went to a yoga flow class this morning to get my fitness on. I find the after effect of fitness pretty amazing, it just makes me feel good inside and at ease for the rest of the day. So, this is kind of an impromptu post, but I have some really, really, and I mean really exciting news that concerns the future of my little food blogger dreams. First off, I just wanted to say that I started Mangia (almost two years ago) with the purpose of sharing my passion for food with the rest of the world (i.e. my friends and family, and complete total strangers). More importantly, I didn’t just start this blog thinking that I would just blog for a couple of weeks, months, or a year and then just quit. There would be no point to that at all, I just love food and blogging way to much. I started my food blog with the intention of making it big, I mean larger than life. My motto: Go Big or Go Home! Over the past couple of years I have become so inspired by men and women in the food blogging world, those who have taken their everyday lifestyles with the intention of sharing their type of cuisine with others, and little did they know that their food blogs would become outrageously popular, with followers worldwide. For example, you have The Pioneer Woman, a woman who sought out to blog about her day-to-day life cooking for her family and roping cattle with her husband and four children on the side. Little did she know that by this year she would have millions of followers and wouldn’t you know, her own t.v. show on Food Network! Now, that is what I call a trailblazing woman! She is one of the many bloggers that remind me anything is possible with your food blog, weather you are a five-star chef at a high end restaurant, or a college graduate with 20+ years experience in home cooking. Now, for the exciting news: A couple of weeks ago I became a Foodbuzz Featured Publisher. Foodbuzz is an awesome food blogging community where food bloggers worldwide come together to create profiles and connect with one another to share recipes. I had to get in on this, and Foodbuzz even gave me a cute little button to put on my page that you may have noticed, it says Foodbuzz Featured Publisher. Anyway, that is not even the best part. Each year they have a Foodbuzz Festival where Foodbuzz Featured Publishers and non-publishers come together to celebrate the food blogging community. Not even the best part, Foodbuzz pays the festival fee for Featured Publishers to attend…so, guess who’s going to the Foodbuzz Festival? Yea, that’s right Yours Truly. I cannot wait to attend, not only because this is my first food blogger festival, but because this is a great opportunity to network for my blog, meet new friends and fellow bloggers, and really learn how to make my blog 100 x’s better for you, my viewers! I feel on top of the world and so excited that I am about to reach one of my goals. By the way, did I mention the festival is in San Francisco, one of my absolute, all-time favorite cities! I cannot wait! It all goes down Nov. 4-6. If you want to know what I will be doing at the festival, check out the schedule of events here. Just a question, any fellow Foodbuzz featured publishers, or food bloggers out there that follow my blog attending? Shoot me a comment or email, I would absolutely love, love, love to meet each and every one of you! Well, now I am off to research more flight+hotel packages and add up figures for purchase( any sponsors out there? haha! totally kidding). I hope you are all enjoying your Tuesday! Happy blogging!

MANGIA!!!