In the end, it’s all about the food, isn’t it?
I feel for the IFBC organizers who had to take up the challenge to make 250 food enthusiasts belly-happy for 3 days. For me, they really did it. At every meal, we were lucky enough to benefit from the talent of creative chefs and we never served the same thing twice. Here’s how it went down:
Friday night: Opening of the conference at Hotel Monaco. Cocktail party hosted by the main sponsors with wine tastings, cocktails, and small bites.
- Breakfast: Fresh breads and French pâtisseries; one-bite muffins and cakes; variety of berries.
- Lunch: Small plates menu prepared by 5 different chefs with wine pairings.
- Cocktail-hour: Tapas with Sherry pairings.
- Dinner: Tasting menu crafted by 6 different chefs; desserts; wines.
- Breakfast: An incredible array of (enormous) doughnuts, muffins, berries.
- Lunch: Food truck gathering; beer.
Are you hungry yet? If not, wait ’till you see the pictures. Unfortunately, my pictures are not the best as I tried to travel light and only brought my point-and-shoot camera, but I think it’s still worth showing.
By the way, I will be writing about the food that I enjoyed best, just like I would talk about a fantastic new restaurant I just discovered. In no way do I feel obligated to mention anybody because they were sponsors; I just think that people who do wonderful things should be talked about.
Feeding from the Food Trucks
Gourmet food trucks all are the rage in large US cities: forget about your Mom & Pop greasy fast food joint. Many of them are now managed by chefs who have been trained in such serious cooking schools as the Culinary Institute of America, they are often mentioned in serious publications such as the New York or LA Times, and they have hoards of food enthusiast followers on Twitter. Guides are even published to find the very best food trucks.
I was very curious to find out if all the rage was worth it because this trend hasn’t yet reached Quebec. We do still have the traditional burger & fries trucks driving around and while they serving delicious and fresh fast food, they’re not the gourmet kind.
Turns out we had a very nice selection to choose from: Mexican, Thai and Lebanese trucks as well as pizza, burgers, crêpes and ice cream were all fighting for our attention. I tried them all – my belly still thanks me. I couldn’t help myself, it was that good.
Waiting in line for the best food truck food around:
“What would you like to have today?” – Lovin’ the small windows from which they take your order. El Camión Food Truck.
Pollo Verde Tamale and Pescado Taco from El Camión Food Truck:
Wagyu Beef Burger with Arugula, Cambonzola Brie Cheese and Onion Chutney from Skillet Street Food:
Wood-Fired Pizzas from Rolling Fire – of which I had two slices and had to restrain myself from getting a third:
The very cute Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream Truck:
A delicious (and lactose-free) mango and basil sorbet from Molly Moon’s Ice Cream:
Saturday Night’s Tasting Menu
This dinner was truly a delicious surprise. After the last conference on Saturday, they asked us to go outside to the “food area” and enjoy a Spanish happy hour so that they would be able to “turn the room around”. They literally did just that, turning the tables to place them perpendicular to the stage where Saveur Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, James Oseland, would give his speech. White tablecloths, flowers and candles gave the room a more intimate feel.
While we listened to Oseland’s passionate and inspiring words, the chefs were outside, each at their small tables under white tents, feverishly preparing hundreds of servings, Top Chef style. Right before service, they all took a minute of their time to come on stage to present their dishes – right then and there we knew we were in for a treat. Attendees probably had a hard time restraining themselves to run to the tables to get their servings. Each chef had chosen a beautifully shaped plate to match their food and I had a hard time balancing mine to bring them back inside to eat (I have a newfound respect for servers).
All the food was amazing: tasty, colorful and rather artfully presented, considering the chefs were mostly alone with only one helper to plate all the servings. Interestingly, the menu worked well as a whole, the flavors were harmonious with each other and no plate overshadowed another. This could have very well been a hundred-dollar tasting menu in a great restaurant.
Chilled Sockeye Salmon with Mascarpone, Cherry Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Chile Salsa (Chefs Brian McCracken and Dana Tough):
Beef Carpaccio with Wild Watercress, Pickled Cauliflower and Pecorino Toscano (Chef Ethan Stowell):
Salad of Locally Grown Chickpeas (Chef Holly Smith):
An amazingly tender Wagyu Beef Cheek (melt-in-your-mouth isn’t even accurate enough to describe the texture of this meat) with Stuffed Squash Blossoms and Fresh Corn (by Chef Tamara Murphy):
#1 for most challenging food:
Marinated Octopus with Chickpeas, Preserved Lemon and Chorizo Vinaigrette (Chef Shannon Galusha). I never had octopus before, but the salad was so tasty and smoky that I loved it.
For the Sweet Tooth:
Luscious chocolates from Theo Chocolates and Cupcakes from Cupcakes Royale:
Check out these posts from other International Food Blogging Conference attendees:
- On Food and Friendships: The International Food Blogging Conference 2010
- Swag from the IFBC – The Merry Gourmet
- IFBC: Sex, but No Drugs or Rock n Roll – Salty Seattle
- IFBC 2010: What We Ate – Savour Fare
- 5 Sound Bites From the Food Bloggers’ Conference – deVine Table