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I Ate My Way Around Blissdom 2011

I went to my first Blissdom conference. Many of the conference sponsors were food companies. Between their treats and attentiveness from the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, I’m surprised they didn’t have to roll me onto the plane home like the blueberry girl in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

First things first. Mad props to the staff of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. The staff was very attentive and their customer service was top notch. They made us feel like Blissdom was the only conference at the hotel instead of one of the three large conferences they hosted that week. The Opryland Hotel had to fully renovate the entire first floor of the hotel after last spring’s flood filled it with a story full of water. It was my first visit to the hotel and I never would have known that there was any evidence of a flood.

 The floodwater almost reached the roof of  this gazebo.

 More of the indoor atrium. My roommate A Mommy Story nicknamed it The Bio Dome.

The Food!

I partook of this lovely cheesecake with fresh blackberries during lunch. I was tempted to make it my main course instead of my dessert.

The difficult thing about having so many food companies as conference sponsor was to not to fill up on the treats they were handing out on the expo hall floor so that I’d have room for the wonderful food severed during lunch and the evening parties. In particular the tiny Blue Bunny ice cream cones and Orville Redenbacher popcorn were extra tempting. Popcorn is my go to salty snack (although I like to pop it on the stove over microwave popcorn.) I hoped noshing on yogurt and fresh fruit during breakfasts counteracted the effects of the cheesecake and fried green tomatoes. Hey, I was in the South and never tried fried green tomatoes so when in Rome...
I could have kissed Quaker Oats for offering oatmeal and a flavor it yourself bar (which is the way I regularly eat my morning oatmeal.) after the previous night’s grease and meat fest meal. After experiencing some um, distress, last summer at BlogHer when I dove head first off the Real Food Wagon, I prepared for it by bringing a good probiotic and sampling YoCrunch Yogurt at every opportunity. The preflavored yogurt was a treat because I generally buy my yogurt plain by the giant tub so I can cook with it or flavor it with honey or jelly when I want a snack.

Most of our meals were buffet style with the exception of the ConAgra sponsored lunch. They treated us to a sit down meal that featured food that allowed me to work on my food photography skills.

We started the meal with tomato topped brochette. I liked that satisfying crunch of the toasty bread wasn’t accompanied by yet another fried food item (which often appeared in various forms during the conference.)

Chef George Duran did a cooking demo of our entrĂ©e. Grilled chicken with tomato and balsamic vinegar over whole wheat pasta.  I like the idea of this meal although I think it was a little heavy on the balsamic vinegar. The vinegar covered up the taste of the tomato instead of complimenting it. However, unbeknownst to me, my taste buds were wonky because what I though were my allergies acting up in combination of the excitement of the conference was really me getting sick and coming home with a fever of 102 degrees.

I’d like to try this making this meal with a little less balsamic vinegar once I’ve fully recovered.
Dessert was an interesting take on bread pudding, which is one of my favorite desserts. It was a peanut butter and jelly bread pudding. They presented it as a kid friendly alternative to regular bread pudding. Most at my table found the grape jelly to be a bit too sweet. Again wonky flu infested taste buds clouded my judgment on this one too. I think it might appeal to grown up tastes a little more if you substituted strawberry jam for the super sweet grape jelly.

I learned a lot about blogging and the business side of things than I have at any other workshop that I’ve attended. Since this was a mid size conference it was easier to meet many bloggers I’ve only known on line without a lot of logistical planning. I also made some quality connections with companies too.

Would I go to Blissdom again? Definitely. I want to try all of that yummy food against next year but this time with functioning taste buds.

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