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Table & Travel Talk

Archive for August, 2010

Gastronomy and Goosebumps at the International Food Bloggers Conference

The two of us are at the International Food Bloggers Conference in Theo’s Chocolate Factory in Seattle.  We just finished lunch – and what a lunch it was!  When you have 250 foodies gathered together, they’re a hard lot to satisfy.  We had everything on our bambu eco-friendly, recyclable, green plates from paper thin sliced salmon carpaccio with riccotta salata and a peppery arugula salad –  to a spicy chickpea dish with crunchy chorizo and a slightly daunting, barely-miniature grilled mini-octupus with arugula salad (there must be an assumed palate-pleasing connection by the featured chefs between arugula and those who write about food).

This morning we learned how to put the “sex” in food blogging.  You think what you want – especially as we used all 5 senses:  look, listen, touch, taste, smell  and all with a lemon!  Kathleen Flinn, you certainly know your way around a knife.  As the presenter of this session on “Writing With Your Senses”, Kat had us all salivating with our inner writer.  We also loved Joy Victory of  WordPress.com who has the great job title of Editor Czar (can we dub ourselves Blog Emperor and Empress?).  Seriously, Joy who was a joy, along with Barnaby Dorfman of Foodista and Matt Dhillon of UrbanSpoon.com, filled us in on the not-so-subtle nuances of social media.

Norma & Allan IFBC 8 10 SmallerSo, now it’s back to work.  We might have snoozed through some of our afternoon sessions after the Walla Walla wineries poured some great wines to accompany our lunch, but the cool weather at our indoor/outdoor conference is keeping us bolt upright as we struggle to manage our goosebumps.  Also, there is more than a touch of a sugar high going on here, as Theo’s has generously put out mountains of melt-in-your mouth chocolate to taste (now addicted to the beautifully balanced 70% Dark Chocolate Spicy Chili) , in case our energy flags.  The day’s seminars end around 5 pm and a dinner/reception this evening will feature James Oseland, Editor-Chief of Saveur magazine, followed by another full day tomorrow.  We’ll definately be hitting the gym on Monday….Norma and Allan

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A “Sideways” Glance

I just returned from a trip to the Los Angeles area with my husband (my “foodie” soul mate) to visit family.  Whenever we get a chance, we slip away to the nearby Santa Ynez  Valley wine country (immortalized in the 2004 movie “Sideways”)  for a day of tasting as well as enjoying the gorgeous scenery on our drive up the coast.  Rather than talking about wine today,  which could fill many blogs, I have to share a terrific restaurant find.  We were in the town of Los Olivos around noon and feeling the need for something solid, when we caught sight of a beautiful vine draped porch set up for outdoor dining.

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Run…don’t even hesitate – to dine at the Los Olivos Cafe!  Besides a setting right out of a painting, this charming restaurant earns raves for service, food and an award-winning wine list.  Indoor dining looked just as inviting but with sunny, warm weather (and being from Seattle), the outdoor option was just too great to refuse.

We are “grazers” in order to try a wide variety of dishes.  Our server was thoughtful in his recommendations for both food and wine pairing, returning to check on us often – but was never obtrusive.   Alert – we almost filled up on their incredible bread and house-made olive oil, so do not let yourself be tempted beyond one basket full!  Starters worth trying – definitely the Rustic Spreads which include generous portions of the Cafe’s signature tapenade muffaletta (took us back to New Orleans) and hummus.  Great flavor in both and the hummus didn’t overwhelm your palate with garlic, as so often is the case.  The Artisan Cheese Plate had three extremely good sized portions of cow, goat and milk cheese – again, selected with great attention to quality, freshness and taste.

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The indoor “wall of wines” made famous in the aforementioned movie is a guarantee that you won’t go thirsty.   Again, based on our dining choices, our server guided us, providing some sample tastes along the way.

A few more thoughts – I am sure I was a bunny in a former life (not Playboy, as in rabbit!) and the salads were .   The Cafe Nicoise featured an entree size portion of fish along with egg, olives, green beans, new potatoes , cherry tomatoes and greens, and a light vinaigrette.  We ogled another table’s entrees of Cafe Salmon and an immense 8 ounce grilled Angus burger, but couldn’t squeeze in another bite.

We would return in a heartbeat – and will!   Next time we intend to end a day of wine tasting with dinner there and perhaps an overnight at the Fess Parker Inn, which is just across the street.  Here’s the info:

Los Olivos Wine Merchant Cafe:  2879 Grand Avenue, Los Olivos, CA.    Phone:  805-688-7265   LosOlivosCafe.com

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Catching Up in the Kitchen

After a hiatus, I am excited to return to FuntasticFoodie and doing what I love best – sharing adventures, thoughts and stories of all good things food, wine and travel related.  I’d like to introduce a good friend and equally enthusiastic “foodie” who will be pairing with me – Allan Aquila, who also brings years of hospitality experience and tales to the table.  So, pull up a chair and let’s resume our conversations….

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