The view out of our window at the Intercontinental Hotel on Saturday afternoon. The conference was over a day old and keeping up with the pace of emotion was taking its toll on me. Having spoken on a food styling panel that morning with two people I greatly admire, I was on tilt as it was. I left Penny de los Santos‘s session in a puffy-eyed daze. Emotional, draining, inspiring, moving, funny, touching. That talk – the talk about the life of making pictures – was my keynote that day. I had nothing left to give and no more room to take anything in. If I had learned anything during my days at BlogHerFood, it was that I was here not to optimize anything but my connection with myself, my blog, and the people that inspire me to keep blogging every day.
It was certainly about food. It was about the experience, as it is for many of us that passionately live our lives in search of the imprints that food make on our lives. It was about the incredible community that San Francisco has been able to build in its markets like the Ferry Building. The stalls and stands outside – the invested interest & dedication to buying local and organic. The beauty of seeing these businesses being busy. After having been in hotel conference rooms for hours on end, this burst of visual stimulation and lungs full of fresh air was a welcome retreat.
While it wasn’t the knock down, drag out simply fabulous meal I shared with Broderick at SPQR, my other favorite bite of the weekend was experienced sitting on a ledge of a market planter with my dear friend (and SF roommate) Chris of Mele Cotte. Turning the corner at the market, we caught the wafting smell of smoked salmon and sharp red onions. Courtesy of Cap’n Mike’s Holy Smoked Salmon Company, we noshed on open-faced tartines of San Francisco sourdough, fresh cream cheese, roasted golden beets, red onions and toasted walnuts. A tiny sprinkle of lavender salt tied it together in a bright, unexpected way. I fell in love with this sandwich instantly.
Through the multitudes of demos and sponsor tables, it was nice to see a familiar face: the awesome swaggered smile of Elizabeth Faulkner. She’s a world-renowned pastry chef, Top Chef rock star, and owner of local restaurant Orson. After seeing her demo (on behalf of Scharffen Berger) at BlogHer Food, Chris and I visited her restaurant for dinner. The space is great, the drinks were top notch, and the dessert I had…well…I need not be overly-flowery about a dessert called The Breakfast of Champions. It included fried French Toast and cinnamon toast ice cream – how can that be bad?!
As I said in the beginning…in the end…my whirlwind weekend in San Francisco was all about the people. It was about my semi-shock at Michael Ruhlman asking questions about food styling at my session. It’s about folks like Irvin who rescued my friends and I from pending cab drought doom and entertained all of us with his witty demeanor the whole weekend. It’s about strong-willed folks like Sean who is blazing D.I.Y trails over at Punk Domestics. It’s about people like Michael Procopio and his incredible voice and way of storytelling. I can assure you, his blog name Food For The Thoughtless is a misnomer.
Lastly but certainly not least…it’s about the people I know that are real in my life every day. The amazingly strong and talented women who inspire me, lift me up, make me laugh, hug me when I have tears rolling down my face in a hotel bathroom, and consult on how to fit 30 pounds of swag in a 25 pound suitcase. I was so fortunate to have shared this weekend with Helen and Chris…and I can’t imagine it any other way. They’re my people – my dearest people – close to home. I left San Francisco feeling re-connected to people old and new, myself, and this new blog of mine that really makes me smile. This trip reminded me why we blog…why we do this: for ourselves and to reach out to those who feel the need to reach out, as well. Thank you to all the folks at BlogHer for asking me to speak at this year’s conference, to all the people who complimented my panel-mates and I, to the folks who took the time to introduce themselves. to the people who inspired me by sharing their stories. Thank you, thank you, thank you.