It would have been almost impossible to think of a better situation, personally and professionally. Last Thursday I traveled from Portland, Maine across the country to Portland, Oregon. I was headed to the International Food Bloggers Conference, which promised to be a learning and networking experience like no other. Better still, I was there representing the 1200 farm family owners of Cabot Creamery, an IFBC sponsor.
Before things got officially underway, on Thursday evening there was a book party and welcoming get-together at the storied Mother’s Bistro & Bar where early bird attendees sampled delectable local fare and some of the most inventive cocktails I’ve ever encountered.
On the way to the party at Mother’s, I took time to explore downtown Portlandia. This is one seriously cool town, and I only scratched the surface. I really need to go back. Soon.
Friday’s agenda included an opening lunch sponsored by another great farmer-owned cooperative Organic Valley, followed by a schedule of sessions and workshops for 200+ food bloggers of every stripe and level of experience.
On Friday night there was a Gourmet Fair and de facto Swagapalooza (the sponsors were very generous with goodies for the swag bags), with tasting stations to satisfy virtually any culinary inclination. I brought five different Cabot cheddars to sample, including Cabot Clothbound, aged in the Cellars at Jasper Hill. By happy coincidence we were close to the Mionetto Prosecco station and discovered just how great the pairing of quality Italian bubbles and aged cheddar can be.
There is magic that happens when you get a group of like-minded people together to connect with each other and luminaries in their field. The sponsors added sparkle to the proceedings, expanding our knowledge of tools, food, wine and spirits, and resources. There were iconic brands like Wusthof knives, OXO innovative kitchen product and Analon cookware, food brands like USA Pears, Made in Nature dried fruits and Nutive. You can check out the list of other outstanding sponsors here.
Held in one of the great food-centric cities in the country, Portland greeted the far-flung food bloggers with open arms and a vast array of local comestibles and drinks from all over Oregon. The variety, creativity, and genuine joy for the food had us all reaching for keyboards and cameras in a desperate attempt to capture in words and pictures that which should, by rights, be tasted and savored. There’s already been chatter among us about next year…in Seattle!