Inspire, enlighten, invigorate. With hundreds of new photos and dozens of new blogs to read, I don’t even know where to begin. I have posts up my sleeve: a D.C. Metro Food Tour, lunch with wine at McCormick & Schmick’s, tons of photos of wandering D.C., cocktails overlooking the White House from the roof deck of the W Hotel. There were lots of great moments, but most importantly, and first, I want to share my takeaways from the conference, along with a photo journey of the opening night events.
Learning about endive and gobbling down endive boats
Dining on “street food” inspired by various US cities
Sipping on Virginia wine from Barboursville Vineyards. . . I do love Virginia Viognier! And I need to find a way to get to the Wine Blogger’s Conference! These wines might need their own post at some point; they were seriously good.
Swirling organic white whisky, distilled in Virginia by Catoctin Creek. . . white whisky! Have you had it? The distiller, Scott Harris, was kind enough to walk us through the Mosby’s Spirit white whisky, Roundstone Rye, and Watershed Gin. And my husband arrived just in time for a taste and a chat. A visit to Catoctin is definitely on our future travel agenda.
Eating Drinking desserts become cocktails from the fabulous mixtress, Gina Chersevani, from Washington, D.C.’s PS7. All wine-based, dessert cocktails included Strawberry Rose Granita, Chardonnay Vanilla Granita, and Chocolate Zinfandel Granita.
Rice Pudding cocktail (St. Elizabeth’s Allspice, Catoctin Creek Whisky, Jasmine rice, cream, and vanilla)
And dessert inspired by cocktails, Hibiscus Margarita custard with hibiscus granita
Sure, there was plenty of food and lots of beautiful, creative, locally-inspired drinks, but I think what I, like many other bloggers, took away from the weekend was inspiration from one another and from the phenomenal experts. And so I close with my Eat, Write, Retreat Top 5, in no particular order.
1) Getting a refresher course in pitching from Monica Bhide through an exercise pitching Lindsay Olives to various publications, changing angle depending on the publication. I spend my days pitching, and this was a nice reminder to mix it up again!
2) Everything about listening to Gluten Free Girl at the Beyond your Blog session, the not-so-gentle reminders that blogging is not about stats or followers or hits or being famous or getting a book deal and that the posts we write should be about what we absolutely love. Everything that comes after that is just icing on the cake. It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers, but I just have to warn you, there will be more wine, travel, events, and general life posts coming up because I am more excited about those things than my dinner!
3) More from Monica Bhide. . . letting it flow, reading more of just about anything and everything to write better, and taking a day off of ALL media. No Twitter, emails, TV, magazines, nothing. I’ll let ya know when I get around to that.
4) Fran Brennan’s keynote, talking about working outside the box and her journey to Food News Journal. Being surrounded by women who “went for it” is something I need to be reminded of. Daily.
5) Leaving work behind in the hotel room on a Friday (even if it makes you hyperventilate a little) to enjoy a sunny afternoon in a new-ish city with some great blogger people (Lara, Kimmy, and Mike), is more than worth it. The work was still there when I got back.
And finally, Casey Benedict and Robyn Webb are completely lovely and on top of that, conference-planning rockstars! They gathered an astounding group of sponsors, speakers, vendors, and bloggers for an intimate, educational, fun weekend, by far the best blogger weekend event I have been to.
Minus my horrific allergies to just about everything in D.C., it was the perfect weekend!