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Friday, May 27, 2011

BlogHer Food, Arrival and RockHer Party

I still can't believe I attended the BlogHer Food Conference in Atlanta. Did I really board a flight in Austin and fly all the way to Georgia by myself to rub elbows with fellow food bloggers? To geek out about seeing Jaden of Steamy Kitchen, Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen and the David Lebovitz from Paris? It all feels like a wonderful dream!

I started tweeting with other attendees long before the conference started by searching for the hashtag #blogherfood. When I had a longer than planned wait in Houston for the second leg of my flight to Atlanta, I used that time to check in with other food bloggers via twitter to find out how everyone was doing. There were a lot of tweets about driving in, flying in, and also about taxi sharing from the Atlanta airport. Sweet! What a brilliant idea!

I also saw some tweets thanking Moe's for the party bus. Party bus? Who? What? Where? I sent a tweet to Moes Southwest Grill @Moes_HQ to see if they were providing a shuttle from the airport to the host hotel. I was surprised when I landed in Atlanta and received a tweet back from Moe's asking when my flight landed. I tweeted that I had just touched the ground and was walking towards baggage claim now.

The picture above is how I was greeted at baggage claim. What a warm welcome! Although we don't have Moe's Southwest Grill in Texas, they were more than happy to let me crash their little party bus.

Look, there is the Executive Chef of Moe's, along with other food blogger from around the country who were selected to be on the bus. Moe's served wine, chips and salsa on our trip to the hotel and I had the chance to chat with the President of Moe's and one of their PR/Marketing Representatives. Moe's targeted 20 bloggers, and 1 blogger targeted them. (Me) Thanks again Moe's for the ride, and the wine. You guys rock! Let me know when you open a store in Texas.



Although checking into the Westin Peachtree was not a smooth experience (don't worry I tweeted them too) the room had a really nice view.

From the 55th floor, the floor to ceiling windows revealed a beautiful downtown Atlanta.

Here is a picture of my hotel room. I didn't photograph the bathroom, it was so tiny I don't think any pictures would have turned out...but just imagine a sink, toilet and shower - bam, a bathroom.

Once I was checked in and unpacked, it was time for the Rock Her pre-conference party at the Hard Rock restaurant located diagonal from our hotel.

The party was hosted by Susan from Doughmesstic, Leslie from The Hungry Housewife and Brandi from BranAppetit (pictured above on the right).

The private events room at the Hard Rock was pretty packed. Being the first gathering for BlogHer Food attendees, it was loud, crowded, and full of opportunities to meet one another.

I was really nervous, but kept reminding myself that not everyone knows everyone. I did my best to be outgoing and introduce myself and find out more about my new blogging buddies. While standing in line to get into the party I started up a conversation with the woman in front of me... It was Pam Johnston who blogs at http://www.thefamilyfoodie.com/. She lives in San Antonio, which is an hour from my home in Austin. Although I did meet lots of people from far places, I was always so shocked and excited when I met someone from Texas.

This is a terrible picture I know, but I didn't want to use my flash. The guy in the plaid shirt is David Lebovitz who I didn't talk to because I was a wimp...but admired from afar. I observed him being so warm and nice to folks, I don't know why I didn't march myself over and say hi. I later sat in a session where he was on the panel and learned he gets a little freaked out about "big brother." I hope my stalker behaviour doesn't add to his fears.

There were some yummy bites at Rock Her, including this huge meat carving station, a pasta station and passed appetizers like shrimp cocktail and sliders.

I'm a sucker for a mashers bar though. Both sweet potato and mashed potatoes were served in martini glasses.

Then you helped yourself with the toppings of your choice.

I of course selected the sweet potato mashers and topped with brown sugar and pecans. Is there any other way? Yum!

Our hosts did a pretty outstanding job or wrangling up sponsors and prizes for the event. There were sponsors out the wazoo and lots of prizes to be won. I actually left with a ManPan. Do I think that will be enough to get Jim cooking? I wish, but probably not.

I made a few friends at my first food blogging event. The two on the left are Sues and Chels from We Are Not Martha, then there is Brandi from BranAppetit and on the right is the ONLY picture I took of myself at the conference...which stinks because this was my least favorite outfit of the weekend.

Back at the Westin, I took the glass elevator up to the rooftop bar and restaurant.

The views from the top were spectacular.

The sun setting across downtown Atlanta was the perfect backdrop to a really wonderful day.

It's time to go to bed, I needed my sleep for the first full day of BlogHer Food 2011.

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