July 29, 2009

BlogHer '09 & Espresso Muffins

So, I went to Chicago for the BlogHer conference this weekend. There's not much I can say about it, because I ditched most of it (except for Rick Bayless's cooking demo & the evening cocktail parties) to explore the city.

With Rick Bayless
With Chef Rick Bayless

From the beginning, I smelled incompetence (after hotel room check-in & conference registration hassles), and that's always a turn-off for me. Plus, I didn't feel part of a community like I had hoped; I didn't feel welcomed & accepted. At first I thought it was mostly my fault, because I only attended the first session and didn't make a real effort to socialize. But after I read about things that went down like babies getting elbowed in the face, swag craziness, sponsors getting threatened by bloggers who wanted more swag, police breaking up hotel parties, & cat fights, I'm glad I didn't get involved in all that. It seems I'm not the only one to have thought that there was a "clannish & evil" vibe.

BlogHer '10 will be held in New York City, and I considered registering and suggesting a few panel ideas. I may end up going simply to score a cheap trip to NYC ($199 hotel rooms!), but right now I don't feel like going to another BlogHer event again.

The best part of the trip, though, was hanging out with the girls. Kelli, Steph, & Jaelithe met at my house Thursday morning, then we piled into the car and took off. I made espresso muffins (recipe below), "crack corn" (popcorn with truffle salt), & strawberry vodka for the trip.

Once we arrived in Chicago, Kelli, Steph & I decided to head over to The Tattoo Factory to get our much anticipated new ink. The people at the Tattoo Factory were awesome! They were nice, professional, quick...and generous. They gave us free tee-shirts & aprons!

My new tattoo

As usual, the trip was all about food for me. The four of us had an awesome dinner Thursday night at Blackbird, where we shared five appetizers, four entrees, & two desserts (instead of each ordering the tasting menu). I had a Greek dinner with the other food bloggers on Friday, where I got to meet Kalyn, Elise, Jaden and several other women whose blogs I read.

On Saturday, Steph and I had lunch at Hot Doug's Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium,
where we happily waiting in line for over an hour (causing me to miss the only food bloggers' session at the conference) to eat a Corned Beef Sausage, a Burgandy & Citrus Pork Sausage, and a Foie Gras dog...with duck fat fries and our own soda pairings (ginger beer with the corned beef, orange creme soda with the citrus pork, cherries & mint soda with the foie gras).


With Hot Doug himself!
Me & Steph with Hot Doug himself
(Steph is so slyly showing off her new tattoo.)

Since I survived the scariest cab ride of my life after that, I decided to splurge and buy myself something at Tiffany's.


Kelli & I went to the BlogHer cocktail party on Saturday evening, while Steph had dinner at Rick Bayless's Frontera Grill...but, she was nice enough to bring us back some of his beef tongue tacos (the dish he made on Top Chef Masters).

Tongue Tacos

Check out more photos from the weekend, most of which I ganked from Kelli & Steph.

* * *

Espresso Muffins

from Dorie Greenspan's
Baking From My Home to Yours

Moist and flavorful, these make a great on-the-go breakfast. I am not typically a huge muffin fan, as they are often dense & dry...but these are very light and not too sweet.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 cup strong coffee, cooled
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted & cooled
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-muffin pan with paper cups.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, espresso powder, baking powder, cinnamon & salt. Stir in brown sugar, making sure there are no lumps.
  • In another large bowl, whisk the coffee, melted butter, egg & vanilla until well combined.
  • Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and with a whisk or rubber spatula gently but quickly stir to blend.
  • Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes or until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before removing each muffin.


Alanna Kellogg said...

Hi Kelly,

So sorry that you didn't have a great time in Chicago. It was great to see you, you seemed to be having a great time for all I could tell. Pink feather boas?!

It doesn't seem fair, though, to judge something that was largely ditched? and are judging by others' reactions?

As for community, which 'community' do you mean, the whole BlogHer group or the food blog group? It was great to have you at the food blogger dinner on Friday night. Did you sign up for the Birds of a Feather tables? Twitter was full of notes about where the food blog people were meeting up, maybe you missed these?

Anyway, am sorry, as I say. The conference wasn't perfect but still ... "clannish and evil"? Excuse me?

Be sure to add your thoughts to the BlogHer09 recap post, it's here.

KELLY said...


The "clannish & evil" comment is an inside joke with my BlogHer roomies. Long story. No harm intended.

I had a great time meeting other food bloggers and getting a chance to talk over dinner. (I looked at the Birds of a Feather tables but I didn't seem to fit any of them and didn't see a food bloggers' table.)

I was talking more about the general vibe of the conference "community".

First of all, I was a little miffed from the beginning about a mix-up with our room. We called on the way to see if we could check-in early and were told that ALL of the rooms would be available ALL DAY. They weren't; we ended up waiting two hours for our room. Then, after waiting in TWO lines that evening to register for the conference, I was told that they hadn't yet printed my badge and to come back in the morning. After waiting in an even longer line Friday morning, I was told to step aside until they found my newly-printed badge. Apparently, there was another line forming for that and was rudely told by someone there to get at the end...even though the girl behind the counter told me to just "step right there." Ok, fine. So, more waiting. It all seemed very unorganized and left a bad taste in my mouth.

Like I wrote, I partially blame myself for not being more outgoing during the conference, but I just didn't feel comfortable for the most part. For example, as I was mingling after the first session I joined a group of people who were introducing themselves and talking about their blogs. Someone asked me "what do you want to get out blogging?" That struck me as an odd question. What do I want to get? Nothing, I told her. While I have loved the unexpected perks that have come out of blogging (job at KC, writing for sauce, trip to LA!), I don't do it for that. I do it for myself. She seemed put off by my answer, even though I was being very sincere. Maybe I was being tested?

That night, after we all had dinner, I was supposed to meet some people at the mamapop party. I had RSVP'd but my name wasn't on the list and they wouldn't let me in. So, I went back to the room.

The next morning, I slept in and decided to join Steph for lunch and city exploring. I guess I could sense tension and drama and just didn't want to be a part of it that day. Plus, it was such a gorgeous day that I wanted to be walking around outside! ;-)

I would have liked to seen more diversity in the panel topics, and I may still submit some ideas for next year. Of course, I am bummed that I can't make it to BlogHer Food this year. Maybe next time! Seems like it would be more relevant for me.

By the way, I liked your food bloggers post on BlogHer with the recipe links. Thanks for doing that! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Ooh...I hope there aren't the same issues at Blogher Food in SF. I'm looking forward to having a fun time.

Your new tattoo rocks!

KELLY said...

I'm disappointed that I can't go to BlogHer Food. I may try to go to that next year.

Denzil said...

Jean and I are going to attempt these once I move into the new house I am going to be renting.