Blogs everywhere have been all abuzz this past week with recaps from the big BlogHer conference in Chicago( July 23,24,25 2009). Well, I was there, too! Although, I wasn't actually a conference attendee... just hitched a ride and roomed with 3 fabulous lady bloggers who were attending, Kelly, Kelli, and Jaelithe. Why no ticket for me? Well, actually when I decided I was going, they were sold out... but I don't know that I would have gotten one anyway... not big into conferencing... feels too much like work. People trying to sell you stuff, crowds, speeches. I'm not knocking it, it's very valuable for many bloggers...I know Kelli and Jaelithe got a LOT of helpful info and great opportunities. But if I'm in Chicago, and oh how I LOVE Chicago, I have to be out experiencing the city, it's people and it's places. So here's my BlogHer Recap, minus most of the BlogHer part....
My car/roommates... Kelly drove and provided popcorn with truffle salt (referred to as "Crack Corn" due to it's addictive deliciousness) and breakfast. Kelli also made snacks... awesome cheese straws that tasted like Cheezits but WAY better. She used this recipe, I believe.
We got to Chicago a bit earlier than check-out time, but we had called ahead to see if we could get our room yet. This is where some of the frustrations of the whole event started rearing it's head... they said we could check in whenever, that a room would be available. When we got there that was not the case. Okay, so, lets go chill at the bar until we can get in? FAIL... the hotel bar was not open yet. Nor was the coffee shop! Luckily, us boozers, erm food bloggers come prepared with flasks and baby bottles of liquor...
After waiting awhile, we decided to get on with our trip. There was a tattoo shop offering discounts to Blogher attendees, and 3 of us wanted to get inked. We had checked out the place's work first, so don't worry...just 'cuz they gave a discount doesn't mean they aren't quality. This was my first tatt! I was kind of nervous, but I have been wanting to get one for a while now, and had thought long and hard about what I wanted. Something classic, something I will always love. I knew I wanted it to be food-related too.... something that represents my love of cooking and eating... an ingredient that I use a lot, and will never tire of... GARLIC! I love it. I wear it proudly. If only they had scented inks...
After Spider Legs (that was the artist who did Kelly and my tatts) worked his magic on our skin, we had a couple drinks at the bar next door, then back to the hotel, where we finally had a room, to get gussied up for dinner. Why gussied up, you ask? We were going to Blackbird!! Rather than doing the planned tasting menu, we opted to order several apps and entrées and share. Among my favorites were the veal sweetbreads with golden beets, molasses, pine aioli and summer truffles, some amazing roasted quail, California sturgeon with peas, braised peanuts (a revelation for me!), bacon and bourbon caramel, and pork belly with sweet crispy shrimp, chinese broccoli, preserved green tomato and black pepper (pictured below). A fantastic meal. Recommended!
The next day, I roamed around Chicago by myself... checked out some museums and sights, got a chicago dog at some random corner bar... basically got lost and explored. The Chicago Art Institute has a really neat exibit about wine right now. If you are at all into wine you should try to check it out!
In the evening, there was a food blogger dinner at a Greek restaurant. It was so exciting to attend this and meet my foodie kinfolk. There were about 30 of us (all listed here, thanks to Alanna!) We ate, we took photos, we talked food. Pictured below are Kelly and Jaden, Elise and Lydia, and Gudrun and Kathy. You can read more about this gathering on Kelly's, Jaden's and Gudrun's blog!
Saturday, Kelly skipped out on the conference and took a cab with me to Hot Doug's Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat emporium. This excursion deserves it's own post, so for now I will just tell you that we waited in line for over an hour (line pictured below), which was totally worth it. We made new friends and ate some amazing meat in tube form, including the famed Foie Gras dog... as seen on No Reservations...
That evening, while the other gals attended swanky BlogHer cocktail parties and such, I walked to Frontera Grill, grabbed a seat at the bar and had some tongue tacos, made famous by Rick Bayless on Top Chef: Masters. Sooooo good. I got some to go for the others, though Frontera people were a little reluctant to do food to go because they weren't sure how they would taste once cold... I guess it's good that they care about the integrity of their food. They tasted great after being walked a few blocks, by the way.
All in all a fabulous trip. Thankyou BlogHer for the opportunity to travel to Chicago and meet fellow bloggers. I do not at all want to down the event itself. I would totally go to BlogHer food in a heartbeat... I just felt that Chicago itself had more to offer me than this particular conference. I love love love Chicago, and had such a great time with my roomies! If they invite me to New York next year I am in there like swim wear.
I am in love with your garlic tattoo :) That was brave and seriously awesome!
Duh. Of course you are on the priority list for roomies next year. Per Se here we come. Or not. Start saving pennies now.
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