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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A Food-Focused Weekend

It's no secret that a great deal of my free time is spent on food-related activities, be it in the form of shopping, cooking, tasting, dining, thinking, reading or writing.   Yet, this past weekend was so packed with food-related events, that it probably set a new record even for me.   Indeed, it's now Tuesday evening, and I'm still trying to recover from it all.

I'll start with the gathering that I'd been waiting for the longest, the Second Annual Bay Area Food Bloggers' Picnic held on Sunday afternoon in sunny Lafayette.   In the year since I started this site, I've had several electronic exchanges with other food bloggers, but I had never had the opportunity to meet a single one of them in person.   That all changed on Sunday, when Owen graciously opened his home to host a picnic like no other that I've ever attended.   A lot has already been written to describe and document the event, so I will simply say this:   it was an absolute pleasure to finally meet so many of my favorite bloggers, including those with whom I have previously communicated at some length (Sam, Joy, Brett, and Amy) and those whose work I have admired largely from afar (The Bunrabs, Sean, Anita, Martha, Elise, Jennifer, Pim, Owen and Marc).   My only regret is that we didn't have more time, as there were so many other outstanding bloggers in attendance who I didn't get a chance to meet -- including Shuna, Cookiecrumb, Derrick, Heidi, Biggles, Garrett, Penny, Tea, Alder, Amanda, and many more.   In any event, special thanks to Owen for hosting the event, and to Penny and Sean for taking so many great pictures.

Going back now to Friday, I left my office promptly at 5:00 p.m. so that I could fight my way up the peninsula in order to pick Rhonda up for a special occasion -- the celebration of her birthday.   We'd been talking for over a month about how she might like to spend the evening, but it wasn't until a few weeks earlier that we had finalized the plan:   I would throw a small dinner party in her honor at a restaurant, inviting six friends to join us.   After investigating a few options, we were stunned to learn that we could get the chef's table at a restaurant that typically requires much greater advance notice for reservations -- Quince.   Although we had both dined at the restaurant a handful of times before, we were excited to return -- particularly since several of our friends had never been there and were anxious to try it.   Overall, we had a great evening.   The company was outstanding, the conversation lively, and the food -- well, it was occasionally brilliant, and overall very good.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
There's more...
Early Saturday morning, I headed out for my usual destination -- the Ferry Building Farmers Market.   Only this time, I wasn't simply shopping for my weekly groceries;   I was also looking for ingredients for possible dishes to take to the food bloggers' picnic.   Now, I realized that I couldn't just throw something casual together;   this is, after all, a group of the Bay Area's most discriminating palates, folks whose passion for good food runs so deep that they felt impelled to start their own blogs.   So, I spent Saturday afternoon experimenting with a few options, only eventually settling on a slight variant of a dish that I served at a dinner party last year:   Chilled Crab with Mango, Red Onion & Creme Fraiche, this time served on toasted brioche and topped with chopped chives.

I finished up in the kitchen just in time to get ready for our Saturday night engagement -- a dinner at Winterland restaurant.   Shortly after it was announced a few months ago that the restaurant would be closing its doors for all but private parties, an enterprising person on Chowhound set out to determine whether she could assemble enough interested people to rent out the entire restaurant for a night.   Wanting to experience the cuisine of Executive Chef Vernon Morales one last time, we signed up.   And I'm very glad that we did, for the menu was innovative, interesting, and satisfying -- just as I expected it would be.

I spent Sunday morning preparing my dish for the picnic and Sunday afternoon meeting my fellow bloggers.   On our way back from Lafayette to San Francisco, Rhonda and I stopped for ice cream at Sketch -- a place that caught my attention when I saw Brett's post raving about it last month.   Our appetites sated by great food and delicious ice cream, we arrived back home in the early evening -- leaving just a few hours to wind down, to get ready for the new week, and -- most importantly -- to start worrying about where I would possibly find the time to draft posts about all of this!


Blogger Derrick said...

Rats! I was looking forward to meeting you as well. Did we not overlap at the party, or did we just miss each other? Maybe we'll meet at some event in the future.

August 30, 2006 7:35 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

We'll have to find some time to get together and chill! Love your writing btw!

August 30, 2006 7:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was so nice to meet you on Sunday, albeit briefly. Wish I could have stayed longer, but I had a dinner date... I've read and admired your blog for a very long time (with no small amount of envy for the amazing meals you enjoy!), so it was wonderful to finally put a face with the words.

August 30, 2006 10:08 AM  
Blogger NS said...

Derrick: Due to a prior commitment, I arrived at the picnic on the late side -- probably about half an hour before you left. Because I was meeting everybody there for the first time, however, I never did manage to make it across the patio to say hello. I'll definitely look forward to meeting you at the next opportunity!

Garrett: Thanks for stopping by, and thank you very much for the kind words. I've been enjoying your blog for some time, so it's nice to finally connect -- even if only electronically for now. I'm sorry that we didn't get a chance to meet in person on Sunday, but I, too, hope that we can do so in the very near future.

Jennifer: I wish that we had had more time to talk at the picnic, but even our brief discussion was a real pleasure. Thank you so much for the kind comments -- I appreciate them very much, particularly coming from somebody whose writing I enjoy. I hope to have the opportunity to meet again soon!

August 30, 2006 3:33 PM  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

I believe I became "aware" of you when you showed up, but we didn't get real face time. I'll take the blame; I should have waylaid you.
Next time!?

August 30, 2006 4:35 PM  
Blogger Owen said...

NS - it was wonderful to meet you even if only really in passing - and I am flabbergasted by your present for me. A totally graceful gesture that left me speechless when I opened it.

I am really glad you enjoyed it and I loved you crab dish. Most excellent.

August 30, 2006 8:21 PM  
Blogger NS said...

Cookiecrumb: There's definitely no blame for you to take; I simply arrived too late to be able to chat with everybody. I look forward to the next event, so that I can meet you face to face at long last!

Owen: I'm so pleased to hear that you liked the gift, and I thank you again for your generosity and hospitality in hosting the picnic. It was a pleasure meeting you, and I look forward to chatting at greater length at our next gathering!

August 31, 2006 11:56 AM  
Blogger Tea said...

I'm sorry to have missed you as well. Next time, for sure.

September 03, 2006 10:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a great event!

September 06, 2006 5:13 PM  

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