“A Taste of Tenneessee” opening party at the Nashville Farmers’ Market
Planning Food Blog Forum was sort of like planning a wedding. You spend months of your free time thinking about, stressing over, and working on all of the little details, and then *poof*, in what seems like the blink of an eye, it’s gone!
And also like a wedding, I needed a honeymoon. Not that I actually got to rest much over the past week- but I did just need to step away and focus on some other things in my life for a while. Namely, my new job, my baby bump, finally taking time to celebrate my wedding anniversary, and a trip back to my hometown for my high school class reunion.
After a few days of non-Food Blog Forum activities, my brain is ready to take a look back and process all that transpired in that 48 hours.
It was such an incredible weekend full of fun, learning, meeting new friends, and spending time with those that have become good friends over the past year.
Loveless Cafe serving up fried chicken and biscuits
The weekend kicked off on Friday night with the attendees arriving at the Nashville Farmers’ Market for the opening party- “A Taste of Tennessee”. What exactly does Tennessee taste like? Well, here’s a look at some of the goodies being served up:
Loveless Cafe – fried chicken, biscuits, and jams
Goo Goo Cluster – the original southern confection of chocolate, peanuts, marshmallow and caramel plus the newer versions with pecans and peanut butter
Yazoo Brewing Company - a sampling of various beers and custom made Yazoo tumblers for everyone in attendance
Mista Dale’s – their tangy and delicious mustard slaw on mini hot dogs
I think Mista Dale himself was as big a hit as his Mustard Slaw!
Perl Catering – their always amazing onion bisque, truffled spaghetti squash slaw with pumpkin seed pesto crostini, heirloom cherry parmesan crackers with house cured bacon
O.liv Body Bar – lemon squares (and free mini spa treatments!)
Olive & Sinclair Chocolate – smoked nib brittle and buttermilk white chocolate along with mexican hot chocolate
Grinder’s Switch – tasty Tennessee wines
The Bloomy Rind- sampling of artisan cheeses from all over Tennessee
Bathtub Gin – tomato jam pastry bites and sampling of several of their other incredible jams
Corsair Artisan Spirits - blood orange and gin cocktail as well as tastings of their best spirits
Yazoo’s table had a crowd the whole night
And while I didn’t get any photos of it, we also had a very special celebrity chef join us for the evening. Nashville’s own Arnold Myint of Top Chef Season 7 and owner of Cha Chah, PM, Suzy Wong’s House of Yum and AM @ FM, entertained the crowd while making a curried pumpkin bisque and lentil tacos.
As the evening wrapped up, and the attendees made their way to exit, there was one more thing waiting for them…. the Swag Bag.
These bags weighed about 13 lbs each and were stuffed to the brim with everything from coupons to gift cards to food samples to kitchen tools. I think the best way to describe it is “THE best swag bag EVER”.
We’re so thankful for our amazing sponsors who generously donated more swag and door prizes that I ever dreamed possible. Seriously, it was more than any other food blogging event I’ve attended in the past, and from the reactions of the attendees, they felt the same way.
Saturday kicked off at 8 a.m. with coffee and breakfast at David Lipscomb’s Ezell Center. We won’t talk about the minor snafu with the electrical outlets that almost left us without our caffeine.
Thankfully we averted a full scale disaster and figured out a way to make the morning joe. I’m afraid the day might not have gone quite so smoothly if we had a crowd of cranky, sleepy food bloggers on our hands!
And speaking of swag, see all these insulated OXO travel mugs in the photo above? And those brand new Calphalon coffee pots? All were donated by these generous sponsors, and all walked out in the hands of food bloggers.
Another extremely generous sponsor – Whole Foods. They donated our entire breakfast of bagels, muffins, croissants, cinnamon rolls, toast, jellies, jams, peanut butter, fruit, coffee, juices, and water. (Note: more Calphalon donations on this table. These toasters also went home with lucky attendees!)
I also have to mention the Ayala’s Herbal Waters. In the days following the event, I learned on Twitter that some bloggers were such fans that they drank two, three, maybe even four of them throughout the day. No wonder we ran out so fast!
The lovely ladies of Farm Flavor who donated all of our badges and brochure printing for the event. They even brought along “Jack-be-Little” pumpkins for everyone. So cute.
Finally, when everyone was properly caffeinated and fed, it was time to get down to business. Jaden and Scott of Steamy Kitchen and Todd and Diane of White on Rice welcomed the group of 90 + food bloggers in attendance.
Then it was time to move full speed ahead into a full day of learning on topics like PR for food bloggers, working with brands, blogging etiquette, recipe writing and development, food styling and development, SEO, working with TV, tips on social media, and blog design. Great stuff I tell ya.
For lunch, we had a food truck court made up of some of Nashville’s finest:
Riffs Truck with their banh mi and insanely delicious shrimp n grits. Jaden even declared them the best she’s ever had!
Yayo’s O.M.G., mini pork and chicken tacos (seen above). Awesome little crunchy bites.
Happy Eating with Mongolian beef tacos and pocky ice cream. The perfect ending to a smorgasbord of food truck yumminess!
Did I mention the door prizes?
All day long it was like one of Oprah’s “Favorite things” episodes! No one left without a door prize, and that is all thanks to the generosity of our incredible sponsors:
OXO, Just a Pinch, Calphalon, Girard’s, Nashville Farmers’ Market, The Patterson House, Magazines.com, Chicago Metallic, Swissmar, Whole Foods Market, Farm Flavor, Kitchen Aid, Artisan Books, The Loveless Cafe, Lindsay Olives, Goo Goo Clusters, Amco Houseworks, Edgeware, Nashville Toffee Company, WestBend, Jarlsberg, Beanilla, Lifetime Brands, and Betsy’s Cheese Straws.
Also, I have to give a very special thanks to my sister Mechelle, who drove in from Indiana specifically to help us with the event. I think I speak for Leah and Lindsay too when I say that I’m not sure we could have done it all without her!
The Patterson House FBF closing party cocktail menu
Finally, the end of the day came and Lindsay, Leah and I could breathe a sigh of relief. It was time to head to The Patterson House to have a little fun and wrap up what had been a few months’ worth of planning and hard work.
See that cocktail menu above? Yes, I was drooling and wishing I could have one. But since I can’t, the crew at TPH had come up with a special mocktail for those of us that are with child or just prefer not to imbibe.
TPH’s James mixing up the mocktails
And let me tell you, their mocktails are just as impressive as their cocktails, which makes me very, very happy.
Of course I can’t forget to mention the spread of appetizers they had on hand for us to munch on: spiced nuts, fried goat cheese balls, and rosemary pork rinds.
Tasty morsels at The Patterson House
And that’s that. I told you – it felt like my wedding day in many ways.
You plan for months, the big day comes, and in the end you’re left with a smile on your face, surrounded by good friends, good food, and good drink. As it should be.
Me (and Baby Eats in my belly), Leah, Jaden, Lindsay, and Diane
So many others did a great job recapping their experience, that I wanted to share those with you too. Check out all of these incredible blogs to see what they thought of Nashville and Food Blog Forum!
Food Blog Forum Round Up