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IFBC SWAG: Pack Mule Not Included

Now who doesn’t want a pig-shaped cutting board in their kitchen? It never occurred to me to seek one out, but there it was, propped up in all its glory on the sprawling gift suite table at the IFBC 2012 “Taste of Oregon and Gourmet Fair”, donated by the National Pork Board on our first night at the conference. The generosity of the vendors at this event was staggering. Thank you immensely all vendors who were present, as well as Foodista and Zephyr Adventures for putting on the event. Practically the entire length of the center of the banquet room was piled high with goodies: food samples from hemp seeds to gourmet chocolates, and kitchen collectibles like my piggie cutting board, as well as a stunning cookbook — Canal House published by Andrews-McMeel, and a huge wooden spoon that will take its place as my official chili spoon this winter — just to name a few.

I passed on the bag of organic flour, but snagged a box of the gluten free hemp/buckwheat cereal that had its debut at the conference — it’s not even available in stores yet. OXO’s “Good Grips” line made a nice showing with a handy water bottle that we got at registration, as well as this nifty avocado slicer. And my new friend Lauren from Made in Nature tossed bags of dried fruit at us every time we sat down at a table with her. Thanks, Lauren! The pineapple is my favorite.

My husband, a conference veteran, warned me that I’d come home with “stuff”. But since he’s a web developer, his “stuff” consisted of some cool notebooks and a lot of paperwork and pens — maybe a rogue frisbee. That didn’t prepare me at all for what we were offered at the IFBC. I smartly took a suitcase large enough to still be carried on the plane (I’m a diehard carry-on-only girl), but left room for my “stuff” — it didn’t even come close to being big enough to get everything home. I stuffed my suitcase as far as it would go, with the zippered expandable space open, and I still had to hand-carry a large canvas bag on board along with my purse. I ended up checking the suitcase home out of necessity. (Many thanks to the AlaskaAir guy who checked me in for not charging me for my nearly 30-lb. bag.)

My new friend Regina ( actually walked across the street to the Lloyd Center and bought a larger suitcase to get her stuff home, and graciously donated her smaller bag to my other new friend Michelle ( because she mistakenly only came to the conference with a backpack — silly Michelle!

So note-to-self for next year, suck it up and check a big, empty suitcase to the conference so I have some way to get all my “stuff” home. Either that, or don’t let the conference fever hit me so hard, and be more selective of the things I acquire. That said, I’m very happy with my little pig who now sits prominently on my kitchen countertop and is just too cute to cut anything on — yet I still had to have him. Truth be told, I had to have two!

LIVE BLOGGING AT IFBC: like speed dating for food fans!

First day at the IFBC food blogger conference in Portland, Oregon, and the event kicked off with an inspiring and fun keynote speech by Bruce Seidel, CEO of Electus’ YouTube Food Channel, Hungry. How wonderful to see so many talented chefs being produced on a channel that doesn’t require a cable subscription. I can’t wait to check them all out, especially the new Gluten Free offering airing mid-September.

Following the welcome, the IFBC threw us into the blogging ring with a whirlwind event that I call “speed tasting” — think speed dating for food fans — in which 20+ food vendors shared their wares with us in a series of mini 5-minute presentations at each of our tables. We were bombarded with chocolates, beer, truffles, water buffalo tartare, and finishing salt, to name just a few. Here are several that made an impression on me:

Coastal Mist

Oh, my! 6-layer dark chocolate ganache truffle! These chocolates are creamy and decadent Belgian chocolates produced out of love in Bandon, Oregon.

Jacobsen Salt Co.

Mild and briny finishing salt from Jacobsen Salt Co in Portland. Sea salt harvested from Netarts Bay. “Salt transcends everything in food.” says Ben Jacobsen, proprietor.

Very smooth South American coffee. Strong, but with a smooth finish — very nice. Don’t even miss the cream and sugar!

Temptress Truffles

No, not truffles as in chocolate — truffles as in black, earthy treasures of the soil, truffles! Here we tasted Truffle-Salted-Caramel: black truffle butter, oil and salt reduced down to a caramel then served with green apples! Who’d think? Farmers Market guru, Elan is awesome.

Fishes Sushi & Japanese Cuisine

Local sustainable fish from Cannon Beach, Oregon. Here we have an Oregon Roll: Oregon grown Dungenous crab sushi roll, with Oregon wasabi (not horseradish, but a wasabi plant — whoo! packs a kick!)

Packer Orchards and Bakery, Hood River

Spiced vanilla pear butter: autumn in your mouth! — ’nuff said.

Straw Propellar Gourmet Foods

Instant Oatmeal with GF offerings, and the company gives to charity every quarter: what a great criteria for a company. 90% of the sugar is from the fruit, no processed sugars.

The Well Traveled Fork

Whoa! More chocolate! Really loving this!
Black Butte Porter Cupcakes from Deschutes Brewery from The Well Traveled Fork, LLC in Bend, OR. Fresh, organic, seasonal and sustainable food. They give culinary tours, and teach children where food really comes from.

Rogue Creamery

Oregon Bleu Cheese from Rogue Creamery outside Grants Pass, OR. Hands down: BEST BLEU CHEESE I’VE EVER EATEN! They also produce the first smoked bleu cheese in the country: Wish she had a sample of that!

Nicky Farms

Now this one’s definitely a first, but hopefully not a last: Water Buffalo Steak Tartare from Nicky Farms. WOW is about all I can say. Now I’ve had tartare before — steak, tuna, etc. But this had such an amazing mildness to it, not gamey at all, with a succulent and creamy mouth-feel. It was my last bite of the event, and surely the most remembered. (Apologies for the photo. The iPhone doesn’t do great with macro shots.)


Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

This is a quick and easy party dip. Just mix everything in your food processor, and you’re good go to.

  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers (from the jar, and patted dry)
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2-3 tsp chopped, fresh oregano
  • pinch salt (to taste)
  • pinch black pepper (to taste)
  • drizzle olive oil as the mixture combines in the food processor—you’re looking for a smooth, yet fairly thick texture

Serve with pita chips or crackers. For a gluten-free appetizer, serve with cut veggies, rice– vegetable–or potato chips.