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I@MyLastBite My Last Bite Food Travel Writer Blogger Jo Stougaard

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Filed under Little Bites

Foodista

Back in May, I attended the International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle, Washington. It was the first ever conference just for food bloggers, and was organized by the founders of Foodista, Barnaby Dorfman and Sheri Wetherell.

Foodista Blog of the Day, MyLastBite.comFoodista is described as “a collaborative project to build the world’s largest, highest quality cooking encyclopedia”. If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s like “wikipedia for foodies”, and since I’m such a hard core “info junkie” AND food lover, Foodista is definitely one of my favorite online resources.

As a food writer working alone at home most days, Foodista is also an important part of my personal (although virtual) community. I get most of my Foodista updates via Twitter now, where I usually “retweet” and share (recipes or food stories) with my own Twitter followers. Learn more about Foodista (and Twitter) via links below.

When I first read about the International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC) on Foodista.com, the main thing that caught my eye, was the fact that Gourmet Magazine’s Ruth Reichl was the celebrity guest speaker. Like most food lovers, I’ve read all her books, and was eagerly awaiting (her then) soon-to-be released memoir “Not Becoming My Mother”.

Hmmm… a chance to meet Ruth in real life? Without looking like a stalker? The airfare and hotel costs would probably be worth it, just for this opportunity alone!

The book I was reading at the time was Molly Wizenberg’s “A Homemade Life” (she’s also the author of Orangette.com), so when I saw her name on the weekend roster as well, I thought, “that’s it… I have to attend IFBC!”

But here’s the thing… I HATE conferences. I make fun of conferences. I make fun of people that go to conferences. I especially hated when I was forced to go to them for work. The only thing I probably dislike more than a conference, is a committee. One of my favorite quotes being, “as useless as a committee”. I would think to myself, “why would I want to sit in a room full of women (or men) talking about one subject? Why not just google?”.

Okay, you get it… I’m just not a “conference” type of gal. Or at least I used to NOT be. Foodista’s IFBC changed it all for me. It wasn’t a stuffy, “all women only” (also not for me), large venue type of event. The organizers (Sheri and Barnaby) really put on a thoughtful, relaxing and FUN weekend in Seattle.

IFBC 2009, MyLastBite.comThe actual conference was held at the beautiful “Sanctuary at Admiral”, a restored historical building (from 1929), located in West Seattle. It was two stellar days filled with food writers, photographers, technology pros and, of course, lots of FOOD (and wine!). 

A few IFBC topics (that I was most excited about) were: “Food Porn – Food Photography & Styling”, “Blogging As A Career” and “Blog to Book – Getting Your Writing On Paper”. The latter in which Molly Wizenberg was on panel. She was so warm, informative and refreshingly humble. I was already a fan BEFORE meeting her, but I probably elevated myself to “Molly Groupie” afterwards.

One of the sessions that I thought would be boring, “Passionate Purveyors & Producers”, was far from it! I was especially captivated by Karl Kupers of Shepherd’s Grain, when he spoke about the “Find the Farmer” project. It’s a website that traces flour from farm to table. Cool, right?

The IFBC nights were fantastic as well. Friday evening’s welcome party was held in a funky, old building near Safeco Field, home to the Mariners. Lots of wine, food (oh, the fresh oysters!) and more wine!

On Saturday evening, it was all about Ruth Reichl. We all gathered at the Pan Pacific Hotel to hear the legendary writer read from her new book. It was just a wonderful, inspirational gathering, and the highlight of the weekend for me!

My good friend Afaf was my traveling companion for the trip, and we were both so happy to finally meet Charles Thompson, another L.A. based food blogger. It turns out that Charles knew my husband Peter from years back (they both work in movies), so the three of us (Afaf, myself and Charles) quickly bonded during the weekend in Seattle. We had two fabulous dinners out (that I’ll post soon), and we even squeezed in a sneaky, quick getaway to the Seattle Cheese Festival on Sunday morning.

There were so many nice folks at the conference (I can say that “c” word without grimacing now!), and it’s been fantastic keeping in touch with several on a regular basis. Here’s a shout out to a few of my daily Twitter pals that I met at IFBC: @Inuyaki, @PlumpestPeach and Washington’s own @PassionForEating … who just so happened to visit me for a wild night (with her family) in L.A. recently! 

I know for sure I’ll be going to IFBC again, and hopefully we’ll have a large L.A. group attending the next one. It was a treat to get out of my “virtual” community (internet & twitter) and actually spend time with my fellow food lovers in person. It just took a special type of conference, like Foodista, to make me appreciate it!

As you can tell, Foodista isn’t just the “wikipedia of food” for me. They’ve also been a solid support for the growth of my blog. If you’re lucky enough to be named Foodista’s “Blog of the Day”, just sit back, smile and watch your page hits skyrocket!

WOW. MyLastBite in the New York TimesA couple of week’s ago, Foodista co-founder Barnaby Dorfman emailed me and asked if I’d like to be photographed for the New York Times. The article would feature Foodista as well as other web-based recipe sites. Soon after, New York Times reporter Kim Severson called and she interviewed me via the phone. Two days after that, photographer Axel Koester was in my kitchen, taking countless pictures of me making bacon-wrapped breadsticks. 

The article was published yesterday… online and in print, and my husband was so excited he got up early and bought twenty copies for family and friends. I’m framing a copy for the kitchen of course, and am just so grateful to Foodista for even thinking of me! For all your support, kindness, guidance and generosity… THANK YOU!

More Photos from IFBC:

IFBC 2009, MyLastBite.com
The Sanctuary at Admiral

IFBC 2009, MyLastBite.com
A few of the many wonderful speakers at IFBC!
Top left: Kristy Melville, Molly Wizenberg, Jaden Hair
Top right: Molly Wizenberg, Jaden Hair
Bottom right: Rebekah Denn, Kathleen Flinn, Julie Brosterman 
Bottom left: Kristy Melville, Molly Wizenberg

IFBC 2009, MyLastBite.com
Inside the conference

IFBC 2009, MyLastBite.com
Welcome cocktail party

IFBC 2009, MyLastBite.com
Meeting Ruth 
Reichl

IFBC 2009, MyLastBite.com
The most amazing goodie bag EVER. Thanks Sur la Table & Foodista!

About Foodista

IFBC details

IFBC 2009 Agenda

Foodista (and me!) in the New York Times

Mentioned Above:

A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

Not Becoming My Mother by Ruth Reichl

Orangette

About Twitter

About Wikipedia

Gourmet Magazine

Steamy Kitchen by Jaden Hair

Eat All About It by Rebekah Denn

Shepherd’s Grain

FindTheFarmer.com

Simply Heaven Food by Afaf

100Miles by Charles

Bacon Wrapped Breadsticks!

Kim Severson, New York Times

Photographer, Axel Koester

All my IFBC photos on Flickr

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Filed under Food Events (festivals, classes, etc.)

Gourmet Institute (save the date)!

The official dates for the 2009 GOURMET INSTITUTE event in NYC.

SAVE THE DATES: October 23-25, 2009.

Peter and I had a great time when we went, especially mingling with the likes of Eric Ripert and the great Mario Batali!

Peter & Ripert, MyLastBite.com  With Mario Batali, MyLastBite.com

Check out the promo video from last year. I was totally surprised to see myself and Peter featured on the video! Actually, him more than me… I’m standing behind him (tipsy from wine tasting!) when he’s speaking on camera.

Promo Video

Gourmet Institute

I’m definitely going again this year!

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Filed under Food Events (festivals, classes, etc.)

Kogi

The Kogi Taco Truck made me miss being in my twenties. Especially over the last couple of months, since I started following their Twitter updates on my cell phone. Late at night I’d be in bed reading a book, and have to stop so I could see the incoming Twitter text: “10PM-2AM@The Brig – Abbot Kinney and Palm in Venice”. I couldn’t stop wondering, “Who ARE these people partying EVERY night of the week, chasing down the Kogi taco truck at 2AM?”

It was sort of depressing, because I wanted to be out there chasing the truck too, but then again, I didn’t want to be OUT THERE chasing the truck (or chasing anything for that matter). The Alibi Room in Culver City actually runs a Kogi kitchen (monday thru saturday), but still, I had no desire to fight rush-hour traffic and wait in a ridiculously long line, just for a TACO. 

I admit it, at 45 years old, I’m definitely more of an OpenTable, “reservations a month in advance” sort of eater these days, but of course, that wasn’t always the case.

Twenty-Something, MyLastBite.com

Shortly after I turned twenty-one, I moved to Pacific Beach in San Diego, then spent the next couple of years partying non-stop with my friends. Our days consisted mostly of working in retail during the day, sunning ourselves on our days off and planning “girls night out” EVERY single night of the week.

Most of us were on pretty tight budgets, but we knew which beach bars served free “happy hour” food (drinks bought by the fellas), and it usually consisted of nachos, taquitos or plates of bacon-topped potato skins. Remember when potato skins were the cool, new appetizers?

Roberto's Taco Shop, MyLastBite.comOur favorite drinking holes back then were places like the Beachcomber or the Pennant, and we never missed a Tuesday $1 Margarita night at Diego’s on Garnet Avenue. Quick trips to Mexico for cheap lobster and margaritas were followed by dancing all night at the local clubs.

These nightly adventures always ended with a trip to Roberto’s Taco Shop in Mission Beach, which was steps from the shore, next to the aging Big Dipper roller coaster. The giant, carne asada burrito was my favorite and I always ordered it with extra guacamole. I can’t recall ever eating there during the day, or going there sober for that matter, but back in the day, Roberto’s Taco Shop was MY Kogi.

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.comIf you’re not familiar with Kogi BBQ, then you probably don’t live in the Los Angeles area. The first time I read about Kogi was on an EaterLA/Lesley Balla post back in December (boy, do I miss her on Eater these days). Ever since then, Kogi has been the “it” taco truck in the city, offering the flavor of spicy Korean barbecue, conveniently wrapped in a fresh tortilla. Kogi gained even more followers when they started using Twitter to communicate upcoming locations with their customers. It was a simple (and brilliant) way for Kogi to keep in contact with hungry, usually late-night, eaters.

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.comLast Thursday, I just happened to be reading the Kogi website, when I noticed a post titled, “What 20 Bucks Can Buy You”, and was thrilled to learn that it was for a fundraiser in nearby Burbank the same evening. The Gina Alexander Philanthropy Project partnered with Kogi to offer All-You-Can-Eat Kogi tacos for $20, with the proceeds benefiting the Center of Hope Village (for abused children) in the Philippines.

I called Peter and made sure he could make it home early so we could finally try the now-famous Kogi tacos together. Just last week the Kogi truck had been on the Fox lot where he works and he hoped to try it then, but the line was just too long for a my workaholic husband, who doesn’t like to break for lunch anyway.

We arrived at the event 30 minutes early, and after paying our $20 donation (each), we headed for the Kogi truck line, quite pleased to be very close to the front. It was another hour before the truck actually showed up, but there was plenty of entertainment to keep us occupied (photos below), and we didn’t mind because it was all for a good cause.

Peter and I both ordered two Korean Short Ribs and one Spicy Pork. The All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Taco offer, was limited to three at a time, which made sense because when I looked back at the line behind us, there must have been at least 150 hungry people waiting on the street. 

The tacos were terrific (LOVED the spicy pork), and we were content with the three that we tried. Of course if we didn’t have to get back in line and wait again, we would have definitely made it a furious pig-out session, but mostly it felt good to make the donation (Peter later told me he slipped them another $20), and to FINALLY get a taste of the Kogi phenomenon!

Afterwards we headed home, took our pups for their evening walk, and then I fell asleep next to my husband reading my favorite, new book. And guess what? I was tickled pink, NOT to be in my twenties again.

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.com
Peter saving our spot in the Kogi line

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.com
DJ Derek Basco entertaining the kids (and us grown-ups too!)

Wrestling at GAPP Event, MyLastBite.com
Waiting for the wrestling event

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.com
The Kogi Taco Truck arrives!

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.com
Peter almost up to order… and check out the line behind him.

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.com
The Kogi Truck menu

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.com
Korean Short Ribs and Spicy Pork!

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.com
GAPP founder (Gina Alexander Philanthropy Project) Gina Alexander, with Kogi owners Caroline Shin-Manguera and Mark Manguera.

Upcoming All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Taco dates: 

Thurs, June 25
Thurs, July 30
Thurs, August 27
You must rsvp for your name to be placed on the list.
Email/RSVP or Get more info by contacting
gapp@ginaalexander.com

More Kogi photos on Flickr

Mentioned Above:

Kogi Website

Gina Alexander Website

Center of Hope Village in Philippines

Kogi on Twitter

About Twitter

The Alibi Room

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event Info

Eater L.A. – Lesley Balla on Kogi

Lesley Balla currently writes for Tasting Table

OpenTable

Eater LA

My current, favorite book (that I’m reading again)

With Peter

Our Pups

Roberto’s Taco Photo Courtesy of David C.

The Pennant Bar

The Beachcomber

Dining Date: 4/30/09


Kogi Korean BBQ on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Food Events (festivals, classes, etc.), Food Stories (written by me), Food Trucks

The Flirtini Incident

The last time Peter and I hosted Easter brunch at our house, it was sort of a disaster.

We invited my sister Janet, Peter’s sister Susan and both their families for a late Sunday brunch. I spent a few days getting the back garden perfectly decorated with new flowers, and set up a long dining room table outside with my great aunt’s hand-painted china. I even got out my Scottish (clan Maxwell) grandmother’s antique linen napkins and gently ironed each piece, which wasn’t so easy to do because of the hand-embroidered “M” sticking up on the corners.

It was a gorgeous Easter Sunday and our backyard looked like a page out of House & Garden magazine, especially with the flea-market chandelier hanging above the table. Peter secured the heavy fixture to a large branch on our oak tree, even though we didn’t need the light of course. The glass made the garden so pretty, twinkling in the sun through the leaves.

I always like having a “signature” cocktail when I entertain for a large group (even for brunch!). It makes it easier for the hostess (so I don’t have to set up a full bar) and it makes it fun for the guests, especially if the drink is something new.

A few weeks before the disastrous Easter, I was watching the Sex in the City episode where Samantha befriends the transvestites in her new apartment building. Throughout most of the episode she and the “ladies” were arguing over late-night noise outside her bedroom window and Samantha couldn’t get any sleep. After an ongoing catfight with the “guys”, including throwing water on them from her apartment window, she finally decided it would be better just to make nice, and hosted a roof-top barbecue for the whole gang. The episode ended with Samantha raising a glass, toasting Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and her new “girl friends” with a cocktail called, “Flirtini”.

Samantha’s Flirtini Recipe:
2 oz. Vodka
1/2 oz. Apricot Liquor or Triple Sec
1/2 oz. Pineapple Juice
Splash of Champagne, garnish with a strawberry

I thought it would be so fabulous to serve Flirtinis for Easter lunch. They sounded so “fresh and fruity, like springtime”! It was about noon when our guests arrived and the grown-ups started drinking the first of several pitchers. I had never gotten a buzz so fast before (I’m sure it was the vodka mixed with champagne), and by the time we sat down to eat, we were all stinking DRUNK.

What type of food did I serve for our beautiful Easter brunch? I can’t remember (or maybe I don’t want to remember). I had a hangover by late evening and spent the next two days cleaning and packing up the antique dishes. All that effort setting up the garden, gathering our family together, and the memory of the day is just a painful blur.

I haven’t had a Flirtini since, and only remembered it when I suggested to Peter that we should host Easter at our house this year. But he had a much better idea: How about we treat our family to Easter brunch at the Bazaar?

*Brunch at the Bazaar by José Andrés [visit 10]

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Huevos a la Cubana “Andy Garcia” (12 Tiny Eggs Sunny Side Up), $12. One of the three new brunch items on the menu at the Bazaar by José Andrés. I know this LOOKS like a lot of yolk, but these were small quail eggs. Lightly crispy underneath with a savory tomato sauce on top.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Eggs Benedict “New Way”, Iberico Ham, $18. So beautiful that I couldn’t stop turning the plate and taking photos! The piece of ham was CRISPY and crackled when I bit into it, and the foam tasted like butter. I’ll never be able to have Eggs Benedict anywhere else again.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Savory Spanish Torrijas: Iberico Ham, Egg 63 (egg was poached at  63ºF.) and Idiazabal Cheese, $18. This was my favorite new brunch item. It was very similar to french toast under the ham… but so much better of course!

Along with the new brunch items, we shared dishes (that I’ve had several times before) from both the regular Traditional and Modern menus including:

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Tuna Ceviche and Avocado Roll, $12. My sister Janet’s favorite.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Crab Meat Steamed Buns with Pickled Japanese Cucumbers, $18. Three per order (about two bites per little sandwich), never enough!

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Croquetas de Pollo (Chicken and Bechamel Fritters), $8 This is ALWAYS a favorite at the table. Perfect bites (like large tater tots) of little “chicken pot pies”.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Bloody Mary: Freshly made tomato juice with a celery-wasabi foam, $16. Definitely could have been a meal in itself! I loved the wasabi foam on top.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
In front: Tableside “Nitro” Blood Orange Screwdriver: Frozen liquid nitrogen blood orange and vodka, $20. House-made Lemonade (freshly squeezed lemon juice, rosemary syrup), $6. Bloody Mary (back, left).

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Felix Meana making the “Nitro” Blood Orange Screwdriver: Frozen liquid nitrogen blood orange and vodka. I love when the liquid nitrogen cart comes rolling up to the table. This screwdriver was velvety smooth and strong! We all loved it.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Clockwise from top left: Jade (partial), my nephew Cody, Peter’s niece, Chanel.
Top Right: My niece Kindal and Cody’s girlfriend Jade.
Bottom Right: Peter’s sister Susan and her boyfriend, Jerry.
Bottom Left: Chanel, Peter and Miles (Peter’s nephew).

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Clockwise from top left: Miles and my friend, Laur.
Top Right: Susan, Jerry, my sister, Janet and nephew, Chace.
Bottom Right: Jo (me!) and Peter.
Bottom Left: Cody and Chanel.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Clockwise from top left: Miles digging into dessert, Chace gets comfy on the Blanco couch. With the twins, Chace and Kindal.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Peter holding court in the Blanca room! The Rojo room was closed for the restaurant’s first official brunch.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Chef Marcel Vigneron invited the twins (my sister’s kids, Chace and Kindal) back to see the kitchen. They are both fans of “Top Chef” and have been cooking since they were really little, so this was heaven! Thanks Chef!

Dishes we also shared, that I’ve had on previous visits:

Sweet Potato Chips with Yogurt Tamarind Dip, $10

Philly Cheesesteak Air Bread, $8

‘Pa amb’ tomaquet (bread with tomato in Catalan)

Foie Gras and Quince on mini Brioche Bun, $15

Nitro Coconut Floating Island Dessert, $10

We also shared a pitcher of Sangria Rojo, $42. (no photo)

The Bazaar by José Andrés, SLS Hotel
465 South La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 9004
(310) 246-5555
Dining date: 4/12/09

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.comAn extra treat for me was meeting Chef Katsuya Fukushima (in photo, at right). I had seen him on an episode of “Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie” and was wowed by his knowledge of “modern” cuisine. Chef Fukushima works closely with José Andrés at MiniBar in Washington D.C.

A very special THANK YOU to Bazaar Manager, Felix Meana (also in photo) for taking such good care of us. You made the day extra special.

Thanks also to William and Audra for organizing our large (table of twelve) reservation!!

All my Bazaar photos on Flickr

Mentioned above:

Sex in the City: Episode 48

Top Chef

The twins cooking

House & Garden

“The Flirtini Incident” originally published April 15, 2009

The Bazaar no longer serves brunch.

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Filed under Eating Out, Food Stories (written by me), Molecular Cooking

BLT

BLT – Bistro Laurent Tourondel

Dinner at BLT with good friends Marty and Kathy. I had read about the “amazing” popovers, but thought “seriously… how good can they be”. UM.. pretty damn good! They were crispy on top, pulled apart easily, steamy and airy inside and came with a small recipe card.

It turned out that Marty was a regular at BLT, so the sommelier spent extra time with us making sure we (especially Marty) were well cared for throughout the evening. Before dinner, Peter and I had a drink in the bar and nibbled on the nondescript looking popcorn on the counter. It was fantastic…. tart, salty and spicy.

My two favorite dishes were the appetizer of Artisanal Slab Bacon (of course) and the Onion Rings. The steak was fantastic, perfectly fine… but I’ve had plenty of fantastic steak in Los Angeles (my favorite steak is at Mastro’s served up with lobster mashed potatoes). But still, I did enjoy the steak here and totally recommend the slab bacon, onion rings, and the addictive popcorn at the bar!

BLT KILLER Popovers, MyLastBite.com

 Killer Popovers!

BLT Slab Bacon, MyLastBite.com
Amazing Slab Bacon as an appetizer!

BLT OnionRings, MyLastBite.com

Super crispy and light onion rings.

BLT Steak, MyLastBite.com

BLT Steak

BLT Doughnuts, MyLastBite.com

Cinnamon Doughnuts, Blueberry Compote and Lemon Verbena Ice Cream

BLT Popover Recipe, MyLastBite.com

I love that the Popovers come with the recipe attached!

http://www.bltrestaurants.com
8720 W Sunset Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90069 (310) 360-1950
Dining Date 6/28/08

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