Day 2 kicked off with pastries and coffee before we were allowed to either roam free at the Farmer’s Market at the lovely Ferry Plaza building, or attend one of the informational seminars that were being offered that day. I opted to join one of the seminars, since sitting was a very, very good thing for me to do. The first session was the Farm to Table Discussion, presented by Chef Paul Arenstam of Americano Restaurant in San Francisco and Brian Kenney of Hearst Ranch in the Central Valley. They covered topics ranging from a basic background on sustainable agriculture, the processes involved in raising and producing grass-fed meats, to health benefits of these types of products and how social media is impacting the demand for humanely treated, hormone-free meats by bringing awareness these issues to the general consumer. I found the discussion to be extremely informative and enjoyed the exchange between the presenters and those of us in the audience; it’s good to know that food industry professionals are just as interested in what we have to say as we are in their knowledge and expertise.
Afterwards, I got to meet Diana from A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa and a few other bloggers who were in the seminar. Diana & I hit it off immediately and made plans to check out the produce at the Farmer’s Market before the Tasting Pavilion event at the Metreon. However, we were given the chance to participate in a second morning session on olive oil tasting which, unfortunately, conflicted with a book signing she wanted to attend. I decided to attend the second seminar and promised to take plenty of notes.
Now, you all know that I love my olive oil but up until last weekend, I didn’t know much about it except that it’s available in light and extra virgin varieties. Chef Michael Tuohy of Grange Restaurant in Sacramento changed that for us within just 50 minutes, and even though I’m not a connoisseur, I feel a lot more confident in my knowledge and what my personal olive oil preferences are. We were given 6 different types of olive oil to sample, all of which were coded with mysterious letter & number combinations rather than names (the big reveal was done after the tasting). Next to our little cups of olive oil were thin slices of Granny Smith apple and some crusty bread, along with plenty of water, all of which was available to help us cleanse our palates in between oil varietals.
As with wine tasting, olive oil tasting follows the 4 S’s: Swirl, Sniff, Slurp and Swallow. Chef Michael guided us through the proper methods of executing each of these techniques, and soon all you could hear was a lot of slurping and coughing. Why did we cough? Certain olive oil varieties are much more pungent than others, and that peppery sensation doesn’t really hit you until you swallow the oil. I didn’t cough, though; evidently I have the tolerance of a water buffalo when it comes to pungency. Still, I definitely preferred the milder, fruitier tasting oils over the super spicy ones. Luckily, one of those milder oils ended up being our little party favor: a great big bottle of 2009 Olio Nuovo from California Olive Ranch! This is the first press of the year, so this extra virgin oil is fresh and fruity tasting, with only the slightest peppery endnotes. (See what a good job Chef Michael did? I totally sound like I know what I’m talking about.)
After taking some pictures of the incredibly gorgeous day, my mom & I headed to the Adagio Hotel to check in (major shout out to Mom for carting me around most of the weekend). Unfortunately, that was when I heard the scary news about my Dad, so needless to say I was too distracted & distraught to do anything but get all the details of his condition. I ended up missing the Tasting Pavilion at the Metreon, much to my chagrin, but the word on the street was that it was an amazing afternoon of almost TOO much food! My fellow bloggers got to try a multitude of different appetizers and desserts, from ceviche to pizza, mini cupcakes to impossibly rich gourmet chocolates. The afternoon was also set aside for some sparkling wine and Merlot tastings, as well as the chance to showcase some of the Foodbuzz blogger scholarship winners prepare their winning dishes in front of an audience. I was looking forward to catching one of my favorite blogging pairs, The Duo Dishes, do their thing, but I heard that all of the winners prepared some wonderful food. And, as if we hadn’t already gotten plenty of awesome swag, vendors were giving away all sorts of great products, from samples to coupons to some excellent wine and pilsner glasses (which Dorian at Foodbuzzso graciously saved for me to pick up when I can walk and carry things at the same time). Truly, Foodbuzz outdid themselves to make all of this happen for us.