26 May 2011

4 Days, 4 Airports, Time Spent at Eat, Write, Retreat...Priceless

“Do what you love…we all have something to offer…just be”
– Shauna aka Gluten Free Girl

Last Wednesday morning I packed my suitcases, threw them in the back of the car and headed to work like any day during the week. That day is a blur since my mind was on my anticipated trip to Washington DC. An apology to all our patients if I mislabeled your urine samples! A four hour drive to Vancouver, a 4 AM cab ride to the airport, 4 airports, 3 days on the East coast, and I am back home in the Okanagan Valley. My sleep depraved mind has been attempting to make sense of this overwhelming, once in a lifetime opportunity.

 More Than Burnt Toast has been silent for a week now as I wrap my brain around all that I have learned, sift through all the swag, photos, e-mails and detox from an action packed weekend. I apologize if you're one of the 1,000's of e-mails in my Hotmail account I just deleted. There are people to thank for the 3 days I spent at Eat, Write, Retreat. I took away so much valuable information, met many talented people, learned to say endive (ahn-deev), was a "new food trier" and came away richer and energized in more ways than one.It was a non-stop feeding and learning frenzy!!!!

Over the years blogging has afforded me the opportunity to attend several food and wine events from being a panelist at BlogHer Food in San Francisco, an attendee at Foodbuzz two years in a row in the same amazing city, as well as a weekend workshop right here in the valley. All of these events have allowed me to try and break my "wallflower" mold and immerse myself in the foodie culture and become the best that I can be. My excitement hit fever pitch when I was invited and sponsored by Canadian Beef to attend Eat,Write, Retreat in Washington DC last weekend. First and foremost I would like to thank Canadian Beef for sponsoring 5 Canadians whose energy and collective talents are contagious. The conference in Washington DC promised to be an intimate 3-day event like no other where we had rooms full of talented writers, photographers and sponsors all mingling together for three nonstop days of hands-on writing, cooking, food styling and photography workshops.


Washington is a place that excites, relaxes, inspires and leaves you wanting more!!!! Attending the three day extravaganza allowed us to experience the vibrant and eclectic food scene and the never ending sights and sounds of an event that met all of my expectations. Beyond the engaging and entertaining panelists we were able to attend an interactive session on food photography and food styling where we were gifted with the chance to play with our food, styling sandwiches and salads in teams and then viewing them up on the big screen. The critique from the experts was invaluable, as was the hands on approach. Yes that is a squirt bottle being used to prevent our sandwich from looking dried out. As Monica Bhide said, "The devil is in the details."

Our sandwich being "improved"

We also enjoyed a fantastic private three course luncheon with three luscious wines from Mirassou Winery at McCormick and Schmick’s in downtown DC from executive chef Fernando Giacomini. An Anchovy and Roasted Chioggia Beet Salad, Wild Alaskan Halibut in miso broth with a myriad of exotic mushrooms and a tempura spring onion, followed by Strawberry Rhubarb Shortcake were enjoyed by all.



Directly after lunch we had the opportunity to attend a cooking demonstration and hand-on class at CulinAerie, a cooking school in the heart of downtown DC. Founder Susan Holt created three delicious and easy recipes using one of our sponsors products endive (ahn-deev) and other fresh local ingredients.


Washington DC is home to a myriad of cultural tours and experiences. Showcasing the history of the region we were treated to a tour of the Capital Hill area from DC Metro Food Tours and their amazing team where we had dinner 3 times over. We weaved in and out of the neighborhood while learning some interesting historical facts about this American Capital with stops at Capital Hill Tandoor and Grill for chicken and naan (I would have loved to see their tandoor!!!!), North Carolina barbecue, sweet tea and comfort foods like macaroni and cheese and cornbread at Levi's Port Cafe, and Las Placitas for some traditional Salvadorian/Mexican papusas, fried plantains, yuccas and mouthwatering beef, and don't forget the margaritas. Ole!!



People ask what was my favourite part of the weekend or what was the one thing that I took away from this event? I enjoyed every aspect of the conference, but besides the obvious feeding frenzy, I'd have to say that "branding" yourself and finding your own voice is the singular aspect of my blog that I need to work on. Challenge your preconceptions, practice writing, use crazy glue, paint brushes and water spritzers in food photography and every minute watch, listen and observe. We were pushed to our limits with assignments to describe a food using all five senses and become storytellers. By no means was I the best photographer or writer in the room but hopefully the passion and energy of each and every attendee and panelist rubbed off on me by sheer osmosis. We all share a passion for food, the excitement of blogging and writing and for the weekend enjoyed the camaraderie of new friends.

 The weekend did not disappoint! What I loved most about this particular conference is that there was no need to pick and choose and otherwise miss out on any of the  panel discussions, guest speakers, restaurant tastings or historical/food tours. We were able to see and experience it all!!!!


I met so many amazing food bloggers, each with a different reason for blogging and their own voice. A huge shout out to all of my fellow attendees from Eat, Write, Retreat this past weekend, the amazing organizers Robyn Webb and Casey Benedict, the friendly and always helpful volunteers, the inspirational panelists that expanded our minds and allowed us to grow, and sponsors like Oxo, Calphalon, Goo Goo Clusters, Lindsay Olives, Jarlsberg Cheese and Woolwich Dairy , Dogfish Head Brewers, Barboursville Wine and My Spice Sage and many more too numerous to mention who were right there with us throughout. Visit the Eat,Write, Retreat site for a full list. Many thanks to all for the inspiration and for the lavish swag which made our suitcases burst at the seams on the way home and cause officials to scratch their heads at airport customs!!!!

Birch and Barley


Thank you Canadian Beef for allowing me this opportunity!!! What do we Canadians have to say....

Photo Adapted from Olga Berman Photography
Dan, Mike, Val (moi), Isabelle and Ethan


And now for A SPECIAL OFFER from one of our generous sponsors: CALPHALON is offering readers an exclusive 10% off on online purchases at www.calphalon.com from now till June 6. Use promo code C95926.

*Note: Clearance items and gift certificates do not qualify for the 10% discount. Excludes John Boos and Co. Cannot be combined with other special offers or applied to previous purchases. Terms subject to change. Valid through June 6, 2011.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips

34 comments:

  1. so good to meet you! glad you had a great experience at the conference.

    Thank you for taking a photo of me, Nikki and Daphne!

    {could you do me a favor and link directly to my blog under the photo credit? Thanks!}

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  2. Oh wow! What an amazing experience...and for the record, I love your food photography. :) Glad you had such a great time. xo

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  3. Love reading everyone's take on the weekend! So nice to have met you. You have some beautiful recipes on here, I can't wait to explore some more!!

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  4. Sounds like a great time! That was a real bonus that everyone was able to see all the panels. Most conferences have so many things happening at once and everyone misses out on something. Choice is great, but it would be nice to see everything once in a while.

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  5. I fully believe days you leave for a trip, someone else should be looking over your shoulder at work. I'm sure we're all in clouds on those days.

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  6. Terrific! What an adventure. It looks like you had a great time.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  7. What a wonderful experience! It sounds as though you had a great time.

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  8. It was so awesome to meet you. I have followed your blog for a while and think you do a great job!

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  9. Absolutely wonderful and amazing but Im happy you are here, xxgloria

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  10. I really enjoyed reading about your experience and I'm so happy you had this wonderful opportunity.

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  11. Wonderful post, Val. I would be on sensory overload after an experience like yours. I'm looking forward to reading more about it.

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  12. Oh Val, it makes me so happy that you had such a great time! Sounds amazing!

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  13. Oh, I would have loved to go and break away ffrom my wallflower mode! Sounds delightful. This one was close enough to home that I should have done it. One of these days . . .

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  14. Loved every minute of this Val. Finding your own voice is harder than it sounds. It's something writing classes encourage and "try" to teach. Not easy.
    Sam

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  15. Wow! Sounds like an amazing experience!

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  16. Val:

    So glad you had such a good time.

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  17. This sounds like such an awesome experience, Val. Thank you for sharing it with us! =)

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  18. Sounds like you had a very good time!

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  19. If not for the number of airports, and time travelling I would rank this as an absolutely stellar weekend. What you've come home with is so valuable and I can't wait to hear more.

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  20. What a fantastic opportunity. Good for you! :o)

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  21. Wow that sounds like so much fun, I'm jealous!

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  22. FOUR airports? Oh, my. I will never complain about air travel again. I love D.C. And it sounds like you had the perfect time at a great conference. I love that writing was a significant feature of it. Your enthusiasm oozes from this post and makes me wish I could have been in two places at once last weekend :).

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  23. Hey there Roomie! I am glad you got home safely. It was fun hangin' with you and learning together last week. I hope we will meet again someday. Your photos are just beautiful Val. I hope you have made room for all the swag you brought home. Have a nice weekend! Bonnie

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  24. So glad you had a great weekend- the conference sounds wonderful! :)

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  25. What a fantastic experience that sounds like! So glad you went and could share it with us.

    I wouldn't think too hard about branding and such. Keep doing what you're doing. YOu do it well and have so many people who love reading you and sharing your recipes.

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  26. It's always the journey to and from that's the worse part of any trip. Hope you didn't need to have a pat down!

    The experience sounds well worth the 4 AM cab ride. What a wonderful time you must have had.

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  27. What a great time! I am a tad envious! Congrats on being one of the 5!

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  28. Nice to see you back Val! It sounds like a wonderful opportunity and I'm glad you returned feeling more inspired! (LOL! Try saying endive with an Aussie accent!)

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  29. What an amazing experience! Looking forward to see another growth spurt on your already amazing blog.

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  30. oh fab, val! i'm so glad you had a great time in my hometown! I was there for the 1st day and then traveled by to Atlanta but would have loved to meet you. next time for sure!

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  31. What a great opportunity to learn and meet so many other interesting people. The food looks pretty darn delicious too - McCormick's and Schmick's has always hit the mark for seafood, I think.

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  32. What a wonderful opportunity for you, Val! I am so thrilled to read that you got to go. I must admit, I was disappointed that the sponsorship did not include your flight. They have enough moula to do that, me thinks, but the honor of being selected and getting to go is almost the best part. The experience sounds like it was absolute top notch. How many attended in all? Was it all food bloggers? The 5 Canadians and how many Americans?
    I cannot imagine how intense the time was there - and then to come back and work... YIKES!
    Good for you! Another well deserved feather in your cap.
    :)
    Valerie

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  33. It is always nice to have face time with other food bloggers! Glad you had a wonderful trip!

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  34. Sounds like a really interesting experience, Val. It's amazing the kinds of opportunities foodbloggers have. Thanks for sharing.

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Welcome to my home. Thank you so much for choosing to stay a while and for sharing our lives through food. I appreciate all your comments, suggestions, daily encouragement and support.

Val

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