11 November 2010

We All Caught the Buzz.....The Second Annual Foodbuzz Festival

Being one of the lucky bloggers who attended last years Foodbuzz Festival I have struggled not to compare this years festival with that spectacular event. In my books who can top a much anticipated "Outstanding in the Field" dinner with long tables snaking through a warehouse with course after course of sensual taste pleasures. But if we are living in the moment, and not in the past, the whole experience at Foodbuzz 2010 was definitely one for the memory books and exceeded all my expectations, despite comparisons, in more ways than one.

 Here it is Thursday already and I am only just now sitting back and savouring every moment of this adventure through attendee write ups, amazing videos, taste flash backs, new friendships forged and old renewed. This past weekend 350 food bloggers descended on controversially the best foodie town in the United States...San Fransisco.  With world-class wineries, artisanal cheese makers and small farms just a short drive away, San Francisco is awash in culinary riches. The quality and quantity of the restaurants and food carts here make San Francisco an unparalleled food city. The quality of the food did not stop on the streets of San Francisco but rose to the occasion for the biggest foodie "Lovefest" San Francisco has ever seen!!!! A big thanks to Foodbuzz who worked till they were "dog tired" to create an event that captured the heart and soul of the food industry and the blogging world in one elliptical event.

As I tried to coerce my camera into taking quality photos in low light (taking random and aimless shots does not help:D)lets begin our journey. For me the food extravaganza began when I met Joan of FOODalogue and Norma of Platanoes, Mangoes and Me for dinner at Lar Mar... outpost of Peruvian celebrity chef Gaston Acurio's (chosen by the Ferran Adria and the BCC as one of the eight best chefs in the world) right on San Francisco's waterfront. It is a fitting north-of-the-equator counterpart to it's sister restaurant in Lima's Miraflores district, home to the original La Mar.

Being the tasters that we are we couldn't go wrong with the ceviche sampler, which included four of La Mar's most popular varieties mixto, chifa, nikei and clásico; the causas sampler of Peruvian whipped potato with Ají Amarillo and seafood or vegetarian toppings; Antcuchos de Pulpo (grilled octopus skewers, herbed mashed potato with chimichurri sauce and ají panca); and a flight of house made empanadas with a variety of fillings. As our finale we decided upon traditional Picarones which are traditional warm pumpkin and sweet potato fritters with spiced chancaca honey. La Mar part of Gaston's empire is definitely worth a visit anytime... and if you can share it with two special ladies all the better.

Tasting at La Mar

Joan of FOODalogue and Norma of Platanos, Mangoes and Me

In true MTBT style I wandered the streets of San Francisco for 2 days prior to the big event. I have experienced Chinatown in San Francisco on a number of occasions but this time I wanted to actually see it, touch it, and taste it on some level. The reality of Chinatown is that there are two Chinatowns...one belongs to the locals, the other charms the tourists. They overlap and dance with each other. The old adage "be careful what you wish for" occasionally came to mind.

Grant Avenue

In the past I have never wandered off of Grant Avenue where there is a steady stream of "kitsch" but I would highly recommend venturing out of the mainstream and into an entirely different world of sights, sounds, smells, and of course tastes. Chinatown is still a thriving and active Asian community of young and old all shopping, playing games or practicing Tai Chi in Portsmouth Square.

This is a world of strong reds symbolizing happiness and green bamboo sticks for good luck; a neighborhood where one can find ginseng roots, perplexing herbs piled into bins, colorful knick-knacks, silk, sandalwood soap, and long-time neighborhood residents and visitors elbowing their way through the packed stalls of bargain-priced produce and fish tanks. Here you will find an unassumable Fortune Cookie Factory tucked inside a storefront on tiny Ross Alley where some 20,000 fortune cookies a day are handmade by two women, each manning a conveyor belt of what look like miniature waffle irons. This is the only one where the cookies are still made by hand, the old-fashioned way. Meander down Waverly Place, the street of painted balconies, a picturesque alley full of sights and smells to overwhelm you. It is also the nexus of temples in Chinatown, including Tien Hau which we were lucky enough to visit.

The next time you watch the movie "In Pursuit of Happiness"
you may spy Erhu

I wandered down Lombard Street, the windiest street and muscled my way onto one of the cable cars to my home away from home for a brief respite at the Wyndham Canterbury where we were treated like royalty. I would stay there again in a heart beat!

After a brief respite it was on to the welcome reception at our host hotel the Sir Francis Drake where a brightly attired Beefeater doorman ushers you into a magnificently restored lobby straight out of the Italian Renaissance – with antique crystal chandeliers, gilded ceilings, and a sweeping staircase.

Lobby at the Sir Francis Drake

From there we were bussed in to Fort Mason and the Herbst Pavilion for the Street Food Fare. We caught glimpses of the Golden Gate Bridge before entering "foodie heaven". From the food cart street scene we found French takeaway from Spencer on the Go, Tacolicious, porschetta from Roli Roti, Curry Up Now, Mission Minis Cupcakes, Namu (who hosted last years Outstanding in the Field dinner), woodfire baked pizza from you guessed it Pizza Politana, seafood and vegetarian paella from Daimond Lil, Chicarrones and sandwiches from 4505 Meats all served with overflowing glasses of wine and beer from the San Francisco Brewers Guild.

After a good nights sleep our morning was spent soaking up knowledge in sessions from photography to writing with food demonstrations from Alaska Seafood or Fresh Express. From here we headed off to the Metreon for a taste testing.   

Enjoy a few sights....

The finale was a cooked to perfection Gala at the Ferry Building presented by The Cooking Channel. Insert picture of twinkling lights and sparkling chrystal here. Wetarted with appetizers from Paula Leduc followed by an amazing meal of Roasted Golden Beet Tart; Seared Scallops with Braised Fennel and Bonny Doon Vineyard Verjus Beurre Blanc; Rosemary and Garlic Infused Rack of Lamb with Local Wild Mushrooms, Pinot Noir Sqauce and Butternut Squash Puree; all accompanied with wines from Bonny Doon Vineyard. It was all followed by a Tarta de Almedras with Oranges with a Spanish Sherry Sabayon.

But what really makes the event.....the people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

...and the padrons.....

See you next year Foodbuzz....I've left my heart in San Francisco!!!

Photo courtesy of Joan of FOODalogue

What others are saying....

Food Wishes
Spinach Tiger - Angela
OC2 Seattle - Sarah
FOODalogue - Joan
Sippity Sup - Greg
Confessions of a Young Woman - Gillian (thanks for making the plane ride so enjoyable)
A Feast for the Eyes - Debby

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/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. I think the city of San Francisco should hire you as their PR person. I totally agree with you about SF being the culinary epicentre of the US (I know others might not agree). I'm also glad to read that you had a wonderful time and forged new unforgettable experiences Val...that's what it's all about. It's been a virtual visual treat reading yours and some of the other posts about this year's festival.

  2. So glad you had such a good adventure, Val. :-) I love your shots of San Francisco streets. I lived in California for 8 years and San Francisco is one of my favorite cities in the whole world. :-)

  3. How INCREDIBLY awesome that you got to meet so many super fab bloggers and eat so much good food and get to spend time in one of my favorite cities in the world!

  4. I'm having so much fun reading all the Festival posts and seeing the photos. Much like Project Food Blog, everyone has a slightly different take and yours was very enjoyable.

  5. Whew! Thanks for not posting a photo of me that makes me shiver! What a great post you've done. We never made it to Chinatown. Instead Monica and I were Thelma & Louise as we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge and about the town. I'm coming back next year, that's for sure!

  6. Wow, looks like you had a great time Val. I've seen your photo on other blogs having fun. I recognize several familiar faces in your pictures.

    Love your photos of the streets of San Fran. You've captured it beautifully.

  7. What a lot of fun! The food looks amazing.

  8. Wow, looks like it was a grand time! Wish I were there!

  9. Amazing summary Val. Maybe next year I'll make it back to beautiful SF, maybe :D

  10. The only way I could have enjoyed this post more--why, to have some of the food and the company, of course!


  11. Val..you brought it all back for me. It was my first visit and it was so much better with you and Joan. I cannot wait until next year and remember you have a sofa bed waiting for you in New York

  12. I know what you mean about comparsins. There really is no point because both years were life highlights for me. GREG

  13. Hi Val,

    Debby spoke very highly of you so it was nice to finally meet you this past weekend at Foodbuzz.

    I can't wait to see what the 2011 Fest will be like!

    BTW, Those nutty crisps above are beautiful!

    ~Monica H
    Lick The Bowl Good

  14. Planning days before and days after would be key... and staying with blogging friends, what a bonus. That is what we do this for... to meet like minded people, and increase our joy!
    San Fran is he epicentre of the food world in North America, to me... NYC a close second... or maybe a tie there... but, that is how I see it. However, we are really blossoming in Canada, and the Okanagan and the same area in Ontario can definitely hold their own with each of these areas.
    Great pics. Love the write up. You have a gift. I am also enjoying your site changing as the seasons change.
    (I am surprised it was only 350 people. Our even had 500 my week, and there were 2 other weekends with about 350 in each of them.)

  15. After reading your post...you've managed to entice me to want to consider two things. One, to re-visit S. Francisco after already 20 years ago. Second, maybe taking FoodBuzz a little more seriously.

    Val...I'm thrilled you had such a great time and thanks for all the visuals;o)

    Flavourful wishes,

  16. Great overview of the weekend Val. So I get to enjoy it vicariously, thank you!
    I sure hope to attend next year!

  17. Fabulous write up! Since I wasn't able to go this year, it was fun to see it through your eyes. Sounds like it was yet another success :) But how can you go wrong in SF, right? Truly one of the very best cities in the world on several levels -- definitely when it comes to food!

  18. Wonderful post Val! Even thought I missed this year's festivities, I feel like I was there reading your posts!


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