I am aware that today is Christmas and I should be blogging about something that is Christmas related, but I started writing this entry a month ago and would like to finish. I think of it as a gift unto myself.
Tis the season, after all!
So, here’s what I started way back when, sort of an Ode to Food. Merry Christmas, readers.
I’m behind in my storytelling. MUCH APOLOGIES. This is my typical thought process:
(During an event)
“OOooo this is like THE COOLEST THING EVER”
“I must write about it!”
“I will take pictures to remind myself of the awesomeness. And then post on social media. And use for blogs. And show random strangers whom I’ve just met because everyone loves pictures of food.*”
*everyone => tiny little Jenny minions
So, I have a countless number of food pictures and random notes from various events, not to mention there is the main event I have yet to write about, namely MY FIRST IRANIAN ITALIAN WEDDING.
I was a bustler at this wedding. That’s, like, kind of a big deal. And it was in Italy. And there was magical click-snapping and at least seventeen courses of food and more dancing than I ever thought was possible. In short, it was what I envision the Great Wedding Feast to be like:
In the meantime…
I’ve been preoccupying my time in Rhode Island with activities that make me twirl down the streets of Providence singing joyful songs with my hands in the air because I love where I live. (It’s a disturbingly saccharine image of happiness, but you get the idea.) Among the twirl-invoking activities are my magazine assignments. I get to cover killer pub crawls, and a couple of months ago I got to attend an event called Taste Trekkers (you can read my preview piece about it here).
Basically, their tagline was “For foodies who love travel and travelers who love food.”
I am BOTH OF THOSE THINGS.
My heart fluttered with every event topic and detail of the weekend:
- Ten-minute talks about food things given by food people.
- Twelve info sessions led by experts who came from as far away as New Zealand and Peru to discuss international food tours, and flavors of Greece and Miami, honeys and wines, the history of wood-fired ovens, how to bake bread on Cape Cod, and the ins and outs of Vermont cheeses.
- The opportunity to eat TONS OF AMAZING FOOD: local artisanal producers offered everything from pickled vegetables to almond butter toffees; oyster shucking to freshly sliced prosciutto; Deep Eddy vodkas, local whiskeys and cold beer; cheeses and breads, crackers and jams, gluten-free cookies, chocolate truffles, cupcakes, and lots of Jenny saying, YES I WILL HAVE ONE OF EVERYTHING, THANK YOU.
(I went a little crazy.)
I was invited to go because I’d written the article about the conference, and the founder of Taste Trekkers is one cool dude. But even after I’d scored a free spot, I tweeted so much in my excitement that I won additional free tickets.
Another friend of mine (formerly known as M-Dog) also Tweeted and won tickets, so we were swimming in tickets. I invited two other friends, and we went off on a culinary adventure.
One of the people I invited was someone I had only recently met, and God bless him for witnessing me around food and continuing to talk to me, even to this day. But I did sort of harangle him into going.
(I developed my own meme)
As soon as I sent him a link that detailed the food sessions, though, he required no further harangling. (GOOD MAN) I asked him which sessions he wanted to go to so I could specify on his ticket (Greece? Spain? Honey? Wine? etc.), and he ended up choosing the exact same sessions as I did. I mean, WHAT ARE THE ODDS?
3 sessions x 4 choices = 1/12 chance
1/12 chance x the fact that it happened = 100% odds)
But still. It seemed like a remarkable coincidence.
He was a great sport despite my insanity, and we spent most of the time speaking in fake, posh British accents (his is far better than mine), and he acted as a barrier between me and a man with halitosis. (Thanks again, Nick.)
Here’s the breakdown of “Foodie Day.”
The morning began with mini-talks. There was a woman named Lisa who has a food tour company in France called Sojourner Tours, and she opened her talk with such beautifully spoken words of greeting that I hoped she’d give the whole talk in French. (I wouldn’t have understood it, but it would’ve been lovely to listen to.) Another speaker convinced me I should go to North Carolina for the food scene, and I took a picture of this slide:
(Hope and Main is a brand new “restaurant incubator” (similar to a business incubator…but for burgeoning restaurants and culinary endeavors), and all of the incubating business from H&M who debuted at the conference were AMAZING.)
It was then time to split off into our sessions. M-dog and Suse went off in one direction, Nick and I went off in another. Our first stop was Niagara Falls.
We learned about wines in the Niagara region (“learned” = drank two full glasses prior to noon) while the couple who taught us about them bickered in a passive aggressive manner.
Next, we journeyed to New Zealand, and the woman who led the session was a food tour operator in Auckland and the North Island. She originated in the UK but went on holiday to New Zealand and never returned. Her presentation caused me to happily reminisce about my own adventures.
For our last stop, we watched a ten-minute film about cheeses and listened to the Executive Director of the Vermont Cheese Council repeatedly talk about his role in the VCC, and we tried not to giggle each time he solemnly mentioned The Council (ohmmmm)
Finally, it was time for the main event: the room of full of local and delicious food. Here are some pictures I paused to take before shoveling samples in my face.
**hey! A Christmas reference!
ps. the man who started the above pickling business is named Ziggy Goldfarb. WHAT A GREAT NAME. His company should be called Ziggy Gold Color Pickling.
And then Nick and I were candidly caught on camera stuffing our faces, which is naturally the only time I end up tagged on a public Instagram account and the Taste Trekkers website. I could not have been even mildly aware. My motto: Why smile when I could instead look like I’m eating leather?
By the end of the afternoon, I had eaten something from each table, and still left feeling not-as-full-as-I-could-be***.
***I accidentally typed “I ate someone from each table and still left feeling not-as-full-as-I-could-be.” To my knowledge, my subconscious is not manifesting in typos. Cannibalism is not on the table.
SO: long story short, I had a very good day.
What’s even better is that the day before this was Industry Day, and I met incredible people. I mingled with the creator of Chicago Food Planet Food Tours, and the women behind the food tours in Rhode Island, and chefs and museum curators from Johnson and Whales University, and the professor who leads writing workshops in Greece. And from this I was able to:
1. Go on a food tour in Chicago, which was AMAZING and I will write about it someday, hopefully before next Christmas
2. Go on a food tour in Rhode Island and discover Pawtuxet Village, which is my new favorite place in Rhode Island.
3. Attend two closed events at JWU in which culinary students presented their edible creations as final projects, and I got to eat them.*** I was also sent home with fresh breads and croissants, which made me feel very French as I rode the bus with baguettes sticking out of my bag.
***to be clear, the edible creations, not the students
4. And (drumroll) I was able to apply for, and gain admittance to, a travel-writing program in Greece.
THIS IS SO EXCITING I MUST USE ALL CAPS AND DO THIS:
And THAT, my friends, is what I call a Merry Christmas and a wonderful conclusion to 2014.
Hope your day is full of joy, too, dear readers 🙂 Merry Christmas!