Tired. So so so so tired.
That’s my recap.
Okay, fine I’ll give you a little more than just that. First, let me tell you why I’m so tired. We arrived into Portland late Thursday night at around 10:45 but it was closer to midnight by the time we checked in. Then we get our room and it wasn’t cleaned. *wah wah* We got a new room fairly fast. Kudos to Doubletree for fixing it super quick. They gave us a new room in just a few minutes. But, by the time I flopped into bed it was 1:30. Not such a big deal because the conference started at 1 . . . except.
Except we were going on a tour of Bob’s Red Mill bright and early this morning. Yeah, those six hours of sleep are just not cutting it now. Anyway, let me tell you all about our first day here in #PDX at the International Food Bloggers Conference.
First, it’s all about Bob’s Red Mill. This wasn’t an IFBC-organized event but organized by a food blogger attending IFBC who also happens to be employed at Bob’s Red Mill. Her name is Michelle and her blog is jemangelaville.com. She reached out to me a while back to see if I’d be interested in touring the factory and naturally I said yes. I use quite a few of their products and I am a ‘How’s It Made?’ junkie. I love seeing the behind-the-scenes of stuff. The swag bags we got at the end were awesome too. I got a gluten-free swag bag full of gluten-free steel cut oats, gluten-free polenta corn grits, quinoa, and gluten-free pancake mix. I am looking forward to making some goodies with these things. And yes, I’ll try to come up with some new unique recipes to share with you all. (It was also a lot of fun to hang out with Michelle during the wine reception and throughout the night here and there during the food fair.)
Our tour guide was Bob Moore himself. The man is 83 years old and from what I could tell his age isn’t slowing him down in the slightest. He hopped up onto one of the old stone mills on display to address the group of us. I guess those whole grains are doing him some good!
Part of the tour included a visit to the gluten-free testing room where they test every single shipment of their gluten-free products for contaminants. The legally allowed amount of gluten in products to be called ‘gluten-free’ is 20 ppm (parts per million). The technician told us that generally their products test out at less than 5 ppm. I liked the sounds of that.
What Jacquelyn pointed out to me – and she was right – was how everything in the entire factory and offices was noticeably clean. Sure there was stuff displayed and things on desks and general ‘clutter’ like any functional office, but not a speck of dust anywhere. Impressively clean.
We returned to the Doubletree for conference registration and lunch. There were zero gluten-free and vegan lunch options provided by the conference. I won’t lie. This was rather disappointing for me. I know I wasn’t the only vegan there. Heck, there was a panel hosted by the ladies of Vida Vegan. And I know I wasn’t the only gluten-free person there. Dr. Jean Layton was a presenter on a gluten-free panel and during our tour of Bob’s Red Mill we met some others who were gluten-free too. The organizers have been amazing in providing for everyone’s needs otherwise so I hope that it was just an oversight.
No matter. Jacquelyn and I found a great salad down at the hotel lobby lounge/restaurant called Gather Food & Drink which had a Grilled Watermelon Salad on their menu. Turns out it’s only on their dinner menu but they were kind enough to make it for us for lunch because they had the ingredients prepped already. Folks, it was amazing. Like, “try-to-figure-out-how-it-is-made-and-copy-it” amazing. So, hopefully I’ll get a chance to experiment and deliver for you guys.
The first part of the conference was the Keynote by Bruce Seidel, the CEO of Electus‘ new YouTube food channel called Hungry. As a traditional television media industry veteran (Food Network!) he is now focused on YouTube and more non-traditional media. There are some really cool shows that they have or are launching soon, including one that made me laugh so hard by this hilarious comedienne/personal chef Alex Thomopoulos (who blogs at Against-TheGrain.com) called Bites and Booze. They showed us a sneak peek of one of her episodes about tacos. Seriously, freaking hilarious. She has Celiac Disease and her show features all gluten-free recipes. I like to think that if I lived in California and (in a completely non-stalkerish way) knew Alex that we would be BFF’s. I’d laugh at all her jokes, at the very least. We’d cook gluten-free nom noms on the Californian coast at sunset. (Okay, yes now I’m getting weird.)
Apparently Hungry is looking for the right personality to host a vegan show on their channel. I put it out there on Twitter that I know a girl . . . *waving*.
Next up was the Live Blogging session where local Oregon food producers and farmers had 5 minutes to talk about their products and we could tweet/blog/Instagram all about it. It was part way through this that my laptop battery died and it was less fun to live tweet from my phone. So I didn’t. Also, not to be whiny, but there was a sad selection of gluten-free and vegan treats coming our way. Not all the food producers made it to each table. I had seen on Twitter someone had gluten-free and vegan chocolates but we didn’t get them at our table. That didn’t stop me. After the session was over I searched them out and snagged some samples and contact info. I’ll be reaching out to them to get some goodies to review and giveaway. You guys will love this stuff. So good. If you don’t want to wait for my review just go to their site now, order some stuff, and have them ship it to you. It’s called Chocolate Decadence and they’re located in Eugene, OR. I tried the Chocolate Raspberry, Chocolate Mint, and Chocolate Peanut Butter. *swoon* And I walked away with this.
Yes, though I know my iPhone pic is rather crappy (took it just now for you guys), I hope you can tell that it’s a giant dark chocolate bar that says Oregon. Awesome! I am bringing it home for Levi. Because I’m a good wife.
A quick shout out to Fishes Sushi & Japanese Cuisine from Cannon Beach, OR, who made a vegan sushi option in addition to their fish one. They had locally-produced wasabi and it was awesome. The sushi was just plain veg sushi or whatever, but wow that wasabi was kickass.
After a quick break we headed into separate breakout sessions and I chose to attend the Niche Blogging panel which was run by the lovely ladies of Vida Vegan Con. (I think I might have to hit up Vida Vegan next May back here in Portland.)
Obviously, running a gluten-free and vegan blog is a niche. If you’re not gluten-free or not vegan, chances are there’s not a lot here for you if you’re really not interested in recipes or products catering to those lifestyles. You might not necessarily be into both vegan and gluten-free diets but probably at least one, even if just for a friend or family member. There was some neat ideas floating around the room (it was a smallish group of us) which made me think of ways that I could entertain some of the visitors to my site who maybe aren’t really here for specifically gluten-free and vegan recipes without taking away too much from those of you who come here for exactly that. Lots to think about for sure.
I took a little break between the break-out session and the food and wine reception to come back to our room, chill a bit and start writing this recap. We caught the tail end of the reception and headed to another ballroom for the A Taste of Oregon Gourmet Food Fair where there are different restaurants from the Portland area showcasing their goodies. There were gluten-free options available, though most were not vegan. There was a cute little chicken pot pie that was gluten-free. VeggieGrill had a booth set up and yes, I pigged out. I don’t think anything aside from the kale salad was gluten-free but I was desperate. Their menu did include some gluten-free and vegan options so if I ever have a chance to check out one of their locations we will definitely have options.
There was some pretty awesome swag up for grabs. Hypocrite that I am, I grabbed a sweet pig-shaped cutting board courtesy of the National Pork Board, who are sponsoring tomorrow’s breakfast which we are skipping out on. I don’t even know how I’m going to fit all my free stuff in my suitcase.
Annelies of Attune Foods flagged me down to let me know that their new Erewhon Buckwheat and Hemp cereal was out but not yet available in Canada so I should snag a box to take home. Sweet! (Thank you Annelies!)
Apparently my Canadian accent is shining through. I’ve had a few people say ‘You’re from Canada!’ after I introduce myself or say something more than just a ‘hello’. Turns out I say ‘eh’, alot. *hangs head in shame* Except I promise I’m not saying ‘eh’, I’m saying ‘hey’. Doesn’t help that I’m wearing my parka, tuque, and snowshoes to the conference either. See also: Canadian stereotypes.
So far the best part of IFBC has been all the great people we’ve met. I saw some familiar faces from BlogHer Food earlier this summer in Seattle. It was great to reconnect with those folks. There have been such nice friendly faces here that it’s been easy to just mingle and introduce myself. I don’t know if I feel that way because this is now my second conference and I don’t feel so intimidated, or if it’s just a bit more laid back and less cliquey here. Regardless of the reason, I’m really enjoying our trip so far.
PS Can someone remind me to make reservations for Portobello for Sunday? I have heard over and over again about how awesome it is when I mention we’d like to go. Someone suggested making reservations and I do not want to miss brunch there.
More to come tomorrow…
Follow on Twitter @MeganTheGFVegan