I can’t even believe that the Food and Wine Conference (FWCon) has been over for more than a week. It was a conference I had been looking forward to for months, and now I have to wait until next year – wahhhh.
Last year, my first year as an attendee was so much fun! This year, I felt like I almost knew too many people, and therefore never got a chance to see everyone like I had hoped to. Those are things I never thought I would say; that I knew too many people. That’s how much I love this conference and finding my “people” those who love to blog, love food, and combining the two. Not that you needed to be a blogger to attend. But there truly is something at any blog event that my husband, family, and non-blog friends don’t get the way blog friends do. And that’s okay, because things like this…they’re just for me. They’re my thang, that fulfill my creative side, and I kind of like that.
So, back to the FWCon! It is three full days of events. Hosted each year at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, FL, this resort is a place you could go on vacation alone without even attending the conference, or any other Orlando attractions and still have a good time (note to Jason: let’s book a weekend getaway, stat!). I roomed with Lora Hogan, another Tampa Bay blogger, a yogi and a fellow foodie. We had a great time together, and I even periscoped Lora while she did yoga on Saturday sort of as a light tease, but also because after the food we had already had, you wouldn’t catch me trying yoga! But then Lora made that whole situation into a blog post about Hotel Yoga, which just shows you the type of person she is (find me on periscope @casadecrews).
Friday night kicked off with a welcome event hosted by Dixie Crystals, and a Make-Your-Own Sugar Scrub station. I got too caught up chatting and never made it to an actual station, but it looked fun!
Next up on Friday, The Florida Strawberry Grower’s Association welcomed us with a fun Signature Strawberry Shortcake Cocktail using St. Augustine Distillery Vodka, one of the sponsor’s I was a brand ambassador for (along with Premier Beverages and The Hess Collection). I clearly had a good time, because I started posing Jammer, the Florida Strawberry Grower’s Association mascot with cocktails… Jammer had a good time, too!
Lastly on Friday, we were welcomed into the Butler banquet room to try tapas-style bites from different restaurants located at the Rosen Shingle Creek. The Taste of Rosen Shingle Creek was a lot of fun! The drinks provided by Premier Beverages were also tasty (duh).
After several hours of chatting, eating, and drinking it was time to call it a night. Saturday would be another full day! But not before enjoying a treat from the hotel; all the macaroons in a chocolate shoe!
Saturday was full of all kinds of informative sessions. My favorite was the Keynote presented by Monica Bhide and Andrew Wilder. Monica, was a speaker last year and her knowledge and humor are what draw me to her. She tells it like it is, and I just seriously love listening to her speak. I first became aware of Andrew, last Fall when we did an unprocessed challenge with #SundaySupper. Andrew’s site, Eating Rules, is one I go to often to look for more ways to clean up our diet at Casa de Crews.
Saturday Break #1: Cabot Cheese and Pacari Chocolate. I mean it was cheese and chocolate at 10am! I was a happy kid. Fact: I never really bought Cabot Cheese until I met them at last year’s FWCon. Plus, most of their cheeses come in block form, and that tends to be less processed as well. The chocolate from Pacari was also super tasty!
Have you ever had poutine? I had heard of it, but had never eaten it. Lunch was sponsored by the Idaho Potato Commission and Wisconsin Cheese with a Poutine Bar! I opted for the Chicken and Waffle Fries with maple syrup and cheese curds. It was insane! I would have forgone the cheese curds though. Everything else about it was so good. I saw someone with short ribs over fries, and a fried egg over breakfast potatoes, but alas, I was too full to try anything else.
Saturday Break #2: Peach Smoothies from Sweet Georgia Peaches with a side of bluegrass. I mean how cute was the whole set-up?! It was a fun break, for sure.
After learning, eating, learning, and well, eating some more…we had a two hour break (where Lora did yoga, and I hydrated. LOL).
The winners of all of the recipe contests were also announced.
I never made it to dessert, because I was too busy having fun at the Idaho Potato video booth (think karaoke with…potatoes and props).
After breakfast, Lora and I finished packing, checked out of our room and drove over to the University of Central Florida Rosen School of Hospitality, for the rest of our day.
More sessions were available, and I wish I could have cloned myself to go them all.
Lunch was sponsored by one of my local faves, Out of the Weeds. If you’re in the St. Petersburg or Tampa area, make sure to visit Three Birds Tavern! See my Feta, Zucchini, and Chicken Meatballs paired with Out of the Weeds dressing, here.
The entire weekend was such a great time! New friends were made, old ones were seen. It was just an inspiring weekend to be among my people.
…I feel like I am missing so much, even though this post is already 1171 words. Some of the weekend can’t even be described in a blog post. It was a wonderful weekend, and one for the books! There was no time for formal photos on fancy cameras. We were all too busy catching up, getting to know one another, and having FUN, while eating and drinking. It was a weekend that was needed for my bloggy soul, and not one I will soon forget.
At the end of the conference, Isabel, came up to speak and thank all the other attendees that helped to make the conference such a success. Then she brought her family (husband, children, and parents), and I lost it. Tears, everywhere, you guys! It was a sweet way to end the weekend. Isabel didn’t actually say when the next conference would be held, but you better believe this kid will be there!
Have you been to any blog conferences this year?