Conference day kicked off with vendors showing and telling about their wares. From Goo Goo Clusters to cheese to cookware, there was much about the culinary world to be found. The first lecture on Food Trends, great content by Kara Nielsen also known as @TrendologistK. Prior to the lecture, I got to meet Will Gilmer from Gilmer Dairy who does funny but sincere videos for YouTube and his blog about life and thoughts on the farm. He was sampling American made cow’s milk cheeses and discussing the nutrient-rich properties of cheese and dairy foods providing calcium, potassium and vitamin D, three nutrients called out as needing increase in American diets. Most Americans fall short of the needed three servings each day for good health. Lunch was provided by Whole Foods and sported unique offerings combining other nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These foods provide fiber, the fourth nutrient of concern.
The conference was held at Old Car Heaven, a popular venue where old cars from movies and such are restored and used as the backdrop for special events. A very unique and well-know icon in Birmingham, Alabama. Next I heard a lecture on vloggging (video blogging). Much was learned about the bloggerverse as it relates to foodies. Other sessions included recipe developmnet, marketing your brand and optimizing your goals through blogging. I met a lot of really great people!
I had the great experience of attending FoodBlogSouth held in Birmingham, AL. This conference was such a wonderful mix of foodie entrepreneurs and professionals who are promoting the nourishing properties of foods for both body and soul. This was such a passionate group and warm and welcoming to a newby blogger that I am who has always had a more nutrient-oriented view on food.
Secondary to the thrill of the conference was that it was my first time to ever visit Alabama. It was clear from the start that this state and the south in general is all about food. Upon arrival, I dined at Sweet Tea. Much to my surprise, it was a cafeteria style restaurant with a serving line where selections were made and requested as you pushed a tray down the line. Also to my surprise, the food was excellent! Very southern with grilled meatloaf, mashed potatoes and squash casserole just like mom used to make. I also had a piece of old fashioned carrot cake with cream cheese icing that was moist and mouth watering. If I could have tried everything, I would have gotten the black-eyed peas, turnip greens or macaroni and cheese. All dishes true to the southern heritage and I am sure, seasoned as well as the foods I did select.
The first day, I attended a media training lead by Lisa Ekus and Virginia Willis. These ladies have a ton of knowledge and experience especially Virginia’s insite on technical and food-stylist issues that added to my knowledge. I lunched at Los Juanes, an authentic mexican food restaurant that was excellent. The chicken fajita quesadillas were bursting with vegetables that were sauteed and seasoned just right to melt in your mouth. They had my personal fave, queso blanco, a white queso that was rich and delicious to accompany my meal as well as spicy but smooth refried beans.
After my media training, I ate at Jim n’ Nick’s where they are all about Bar-B-Q and especially known for their pulled pork. I tried out their vegetable gumbo with cheese cornbread and pulled pork stuffed potato called Pig in the Potato Patch both of which were excellent. Of course, I had to try a piece of their pie. Again, if there is anything the south is known for it is pie and their chocolate cream pie was not only yummy to the palate but pleasing to the eye! As you can see, I could not wait to take a bite!
Notice that not only am I enjoying my food, but watching my portions and including my vegetables. As any good registered dietitian will tell you, balance, variety and moderation are key in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. That and the ten blocks I walked to get to the training and ten blocks I walked back to the hotel…not to mention my regular morning work out at the hotel gym earlier that morning.
My New Year’s was spent at a cute getaway just east of Dallas, the Hilton Bella Harbor in Rockwall, Texas. The area has built up on the eastern edge of Lake Ray Hubbard and is a nice place to get away with only a short drive from the metroplex. The hotel is well done and well-kept both cozy and elegant in feel. They had a New Year’s party courtesy of 103.7 Lite FM, a local radio station. Before the party, dinner was found at Dodie’s Cajun Diner. Despite the under-staffing for such a busy night, the food definitely made the wait worthwhile. In the mean time, the decor kept me occupied with typical Cajun type souvenirs and various NOLA icons. I chose the Chicken and Sausage Gumbo which was mildly but definitely Cajun spiced with a nice, fresh side-salad and garlic bread that was both buttery and garlicy like it should be done! My date chose the Bar-B-Que Shrimp Appetizer which was ample in portion and more strongly Cajun in spice thus, would appeal to any NOLA lover. The good news is that along with low-fat and non-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, seafood is listed as a food group to increase in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. Seafood contributes a range of nutrients, notably the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Moderate evidence shows that consumption of about 8 ounces per week of a variety of seafood, which provide an average consumption of 250 mg per day of omega-3 fatty acids, is associated with reduced cardiac deaths among individuals with and without pre-existing cardiovascular disease. Thus, this recommendation contributes to the prevention of heart disease. The recommendation is to consume seafood for the total package of benefits that seafood provides, including its omega-3 fatty acid content. So, enjoy as part of a balanced diet! Now, on to dessert!
There are a variety of places to find dessert from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory to Cold Stone Creamery ice cream shop as well as other chain and non-chain places to shop and a movie theater for off-season activities in place of the summer-time water sports. All-in-all, the night was a great experience and would definitely recommend if you need a night away.