Toes in the sand

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend BlogHer Food in Miami. In addition to giving me a bulletproof excuse to walk around humming Will Smith for three straight days, the conference was also a weekend of connections: with fellow bloggers; with brands; and between my fork and my mouth. I also had the opportunity to meet one of my all-time favorite writers and cookbook authors, David Lebovtiz.

For those unfamiliar with the event, BlogHer Food is one of the largest food blogging conferences in the country. Hundreds of bloggers gather to learn, to network, and to explore a new city. Thank goodness I took my fabulous roommate Cassie’s advice to arrive a day early—our three days were a blur of friends, frolicking and of course food. Here are a few of the highlights.

Street

FRIENDSBeach Group

Lauren, Meagan, Cassie, yours truly, and Megan (Photo credit: Country Cleaver)

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Me + my fabulous roomie/partner-in-crime Cassie

Yardbird Group

Some of the best women I’ve ever met

The Lemon Bowl and The Law Students Wife

Me + the lovely Liz

Me + Lauren

Cheers to Lauren, my one time (though then unknown) childhood neighbor

The aspect of the conference that I was the most excited about was finally being able to meet bloggers whose work I’ve long admired and who I already felt I could call friends. I know it sounds odd (and like a weird online dating service) to feel like you “know” someone via blogging, but let me tell you—it is a powerful force that unites those crazy enough to spend our best hours dreaming about food, making food, taking pictures of food, talking about food, then talking about other people’s food. Spending time with these women (and men!) was incredibly rejuvenating, inspiring, and a heck of a lot of fun. I honestly can’t imagine the conference experience without them.

FOOD

Naturally, this was a food conference so EATING was a big priority. Four meals I’m still dreaming about are:

Yardbird

Yardbird

Photo credit: Climbing Grier Mountain

With incredible cocktails including a knock-you-off-your-stool bourbon blackberry lemonade, fried chicken that would make any southern grandmother flick her cast iron skillet with envy, and biscuits prepared by angels, Yardbird was hands down one of my favorite restaurants I’ve ever tried. If you go to South Beach, this is a must visit.

The Front Porch

Front Porch

Not your average eggs. I’m still trying to recreate a perfect version of the pesto and pine nut “green egg” omelette I enjoyed, but no luck as of yet. I may just need to go back to Miami…

Havana 1957

Havana 1957 Rice

Miami is the U.S. city for Cuban cuisine, and even our cab driver (a self-declared Cuban cuisine expert) vouched for this place. What more endorsement do you need? Also, this rice blew me away. How how did they squeeze so much flavor into these tiny grains?

Pizza Pazza

Pizza Pazza

Photo credit: Bake Your Day

Run by two passionate Italians straight out of Naples (you would have loved their accents!), Pizza Pazza served up some of the best pizza, prosciutto, and mozzarella I’ve eaten outside of Italy. Our hosts were so excited about their food, hospitable, and made ideal menu recommendations. After our over-the-top meal, tiramisu was totally gratuitous necessary and a surprise gift on the house!

DAVID!

David Lebovitz!

I’ve never been one for celebrity crushes, but I have long adored David Lebovitz. Far before I started blogging myself, I followed David’s site, because I adore his witty, honest writing style (The Sweet Life in Paris is one of my favorite reads), and I have a personal soft spot for Paris, where David lives and blogs. I have spent the past few summers cooking my way through The Perfect Scoop (a.k.a. the ice cream bible), and at BlogHer Food, David actually autographed my copy of his newest cookbook My Paris Kitchen. Anddddddd I totally sat in the front row during his interview and energetically raised my hand to ask a question. Super fan, party of one!

(David, if you are reading this, I am beyond flattered. Also, I promise I’m not a stalker.)

NETWORKING + EVENTS

Brands make BlogHer Food possible. In addition to meeting representatives for many of the brands I cook with every day at the conference, several brands hosted beautiful events in the evenings that were a pleasure to attend. Organic Valley, Applegate Meats, and Stonyfield teamed up for a lovely evening of bites, cocktails, and focusing on the importance of choosing quality ingredients.

By the Bay Sunset

Wisconsin Cheese hosted an unforgettable evening of wine and cheese pairing in a stunning setting by the bay. This event was incredibly special to me, not only for the breathtaking views, but also because I was able to learn more about some of my favorite Wisconsin cheeses, including Hook’s Blue, Pleasant Ridge Reserve, and Maple Leaf English Hollow Cheddar.

ENRICHMENT

I walked away from BlogHer Food feeling enriched, and I’m not just talking about the cheese. At the conference, I attended several sessions on topics that ranged from monetization, to Pinterest, to kitchen demos. I also learned invaluable lessons from fellow bloggers who generously shared their experiences and knowledge, had the opportunity to meet face to face with PR reps I’ve worked with for years, and met lovely new individuals too. It was wonderful.

Beach Waves

I’d like to give an enormous thank you to my sponsor Imperial Sugar for making my attendance at BlogHer Food possible. Safe to say I’ve been bitten by the conference bug, BlogHer Food 2015 Madison anyone?