Food Blog Forum Orlando Disney Trip {Part One}

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Last weekend I was giving an opportunity that I never thought I would get. I was able to go down to DisneyWorld for a food blogger conference. I say that I never thought I'd get to go to something like this, because to be honest I never thought I'd be able to afford it. 

Thankfully Food Blog Forum worked miracles and Disney took care of pretty much everything and I only had to pay a registration fee and travel expenses. If I could bear hug everyone from Food Blog Forum  and Disney right now I would! I can't even put into words how much this conference meant to me. Just being with other people that are passionate about food and blogging pulled me out of the "funk" I've been in lately. It was just a breath of fresh air. I mean for once I wasn't the crazy chick with the camera snapping pictures of my food! There were about 100 crazy chicks and their camera doing the same thing I was. Amazing.

I just wanted to give a little re-cap/overview of the conference. I'll be posting more about it later, because I took well over 1,200 photos and I'm pretty sure that all of those wouldn't fit into this one post. ;)

Originally BigBear was going to come with me to Florida for the weekend, but he got a new job a week before the trip so my mom was more than willing to take his place. We drove about 12-13 hours down to Florida on Thursday. Such a long drive, but 100% worth it. Since we got there a day early we stayed at the Westgate Vacation Villas for the night.  Hello Florida!

Westgate Vacation Villas

Friday morning we got up early and made our way over to Disney to check in :) Disney provided us with rooms at their Polynesian Resort. This resort was beautiful! It transported me right back to Hawaii and I fell in love with it from the second we checked in.
Disney's Polynesian Resort
After getting settled in to the room, we headed out to check out the resort and to grab lunch from one of  the restaurants at the resort. We choose Kona Cafe for lunch, it was was perfect. If you get a chance to go, make sure to try the Pan Asian Noodles!

After lunch we shopped a little and relaxed, before I got ready for the Welcome Reception at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. I met Amanda, from Amanda's Cookin', and we walked over to the party together.   (I've been waiting to meet Amanda in person for over a year, I was so glad to finally meet her!!) 

The Welcome Reception was beautiful! Disney made every event special, and this reception was a wonderful way to start off the weekend! I mean look at that food! I've died and gone to food Heaven! 
Look at all of that gorgeous food
After lots of amazing food, connecting with fabulous bloggers, and a few cocktails I headed back over to the Polynesian Resort. We sat on the beach and watched Tangled on the outside movie screen, while waiting for the Electrical Water Pageant and Magic Kingdom fireworks. I was so excited that we could see both right from our resort!
Electrical Water Pageant 
 Saturday was a long but incredible day! Early Saturday morning, we took Walt Disney World's Monorail System over to Epcot for the conference.

During the morning portion of the conference we had sessions about "Food Photography and Styling" ( Diane Cu & Todd Porter ), "PRspectives" ( Jaden Hair , Rachel Barbarotta, Arianna Bastianini, Tom Smith), "How to Write Bigger, Better, More Badass Food Posts" ( David Leite), and "From Hobby to Professional: Taking your Blog to the Next Level" (Dawn Viola)

 ( Rachel Barbarotta Jaden Hair  , Arianna BastianiniTom Smith) ON THE RIGHT
Diane Cu & Todd Porter  ON THE LEFT

Dawn Viola  &  David Leite 
At lunch we took a break and headed through Epcot for a lunch provided by Walt Disney World. Restaurants from all over Walt Disney World were there making dishes for us to sample. And sample we did. So much food!!! (Yeah it was a lot but with all the walking we did it was ok)

(from left to right)
Chocolate Raviolo with Cognac 
Mascarpone Cheesecake with Lavender-infused Florida strawberries 
Olive Oil-infused Chocolate Truffle mousse with sea salt carame 
*this was probably my fist pump in the air moment, when I wasn't the only person snapping 100 pictures a second!*

Soda Float with Rotovap Extracted CO2-infused vanilla lemonade with Nitro whipped, no sugar pomegranate ice 
OK, I'll stop now. Sorry about that ;)

After lunch we headed back to the conference and had Experts Round Table Sessions. We were able to pick four, and I jumped at the opportunity to learn from the masters!

I picked these:

Blog Design - Lindsay Landis
Working with Brands – Rachel Barbarotta (KitchenAid) & Arianna Bastianini (OXO)
Recipe Development & Writing – Jennie PerilloKelly Senyei
Writing a Cookbook from Two Perspectives – Angie DudleyAlison Lewis

These were one on one.... ok well more like one on ten, up close and personal sessions with some of the best food bloggers out there. I'm so glad that they did this!

Since Jennie was one of speakers in the Recipe Development & Writing group I finally was able to meet her and hug her in person. She's just as wonderful as I expected. We've chatted on twitter, and I've fallen in love with her blog, but meeting her face to face almost made me cry, like tears in my eyes, hold them back so you don't look like a dork. Not one of those "omg it's Jennie" cries, but one of those "my heart is getting ready to explode because this woman that I've grown so fond of, a woman that has made me value my relationship with BigBear even more everyday, and a woman that I've hugged in my mind 1000 times is standing up to hug me" cries. Sorry. You wouldn't understand.... or perhaps maybe you would...

Jennie and I
I want to share just a few more photos with you, I'm going to break this re-cap into two parts. Even though I tried to made this short and sweet, I just can't. I want to be able to show you everything....well I can't show you everything because that would equal to about 100 post ;) but I want to show you more without making this post so long. Below are some of the pictures from the Epcot Illuminations Dessert Party. We had front row seats to the fireworks! Saturday was St. Patrick's Day after all, so everything was "Irish" inspired for the party :) Including Guinness ice cream with bacon brittle and Bailey's Cheesecake Push pops!

Epcot at Night and the Epcot Illuminations

I have my second post ready! Read about that here: Food Blog Forum Orlando Disney Trip {Part Two}

A HUGE Thank You to Jaden, ScottDiane, Todd , DawnJulie and Walt Disney World  for everything that you all did to bring together such a wonderful event!

Be sure to check out all of these other wonderful bloggers and their great re-caps of the trip!

There are so many wonderful recaps written from the bloggers who attended Food Blog Forum – Orlando 2012. So much food, beautiful photography and stories!