Sunday, March 18, 2012

2012 Food Blog Forum at Disney in Orlando

I attended the first Food Blog Forum in Orlando last year and really enjoyed it. I had no expectations, I only wanted to learn how to improve my blog and to network with other food bloggers.  I was really pleased with the quality of the event, but this year they took the forum to the next level (or two!) by getting Disney World to sponsor it.  And when I say they sponsored it, I mean they paid for our hotel rooms at the Polynesian Resort, several food tasting events and Park Hopper Passes! WOW!

It was a tremendous savings and a huge value for me as a vegan food blogger because Disney food service is more than willing to provide vegan options.  In fact, they went out of their way to make sure that I always had several options, starting with this dessert pictured below from the Friday evening reception at the Grand Floridian Resort.

I decided to make it a weekend for me, so I didn't bring the family.  I felt a bit guilty about it while I was there, but I know I would not have had the opportunity to spend time connecting with other bloggers in between the event.   It was also relaxing for me to get away and have some time to myself, which I think is important for me to do as a homeschooling mom.  God knows I don't do it often enough.

Below are some of the food samples from the World Showcase Tasting Event that was open only to attendees of the Food Blog Forum.  We sampled featured dishes from several of the theme park restaurants.  I have to say I really felt pampered at this part of the event.  The food and the ambiance was incredible.
Stewed Lentils, Spicy Cauliflower, Onions, Tomatoes, and Mint served with Basmati Rice, Pappadam, and an assortment of Sanaa Signature Dips and Spreads.  Sanaa restaurant is at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge.

From Park Event Operations at Epcot we sampled amazing Super Grain Fries made from quinoa and flax seeds!

Jaden and Scott Hair, owners of Steamy Kitchen and Diane Cu and Todd Porter, of White On Rice Couple were featured speakers and moderators of the event.  Not pictured but worth mentioning is Julie Deily, author of The Little Kitchen, who was the main organizer of the event.

On Sunday we enjoyed a free brunch at the Bayhill Whole Foods.  Besides the fruit, other vegan options included a tofu scramble and an oatmeal cookie. 

And here's a photo of all the "booty" I came home with.  Well, most of it!  OXO was generous in giving out the hand held kitchen tools and little plastic storage containers (not pictured).  I also won a Le Creuset Dutch Oven!!  I don't own one, so I am excited to try it out.

Kitchen Aid was also a big sponsor of the event and even gave away 2 major appliances.  Which reminds me I need to tweet about it to enter for their second giveaway :)  And I can say that with confidence because I learned all about Twitter from a couple of bloggers at the event.  I have a Twitter account but I had no idea I  was not using Twitter to it's fullest potential!  So if you want to follow me on Twitter, I know how to respond to Tweets now @fruityveggie.


Unknown said...

I was total cool to meet you! I like your post and photos. The forum was great. People wonderful and food was scrumptious-) Talk to you later, my dear friend!!

Gretchen said...

Hi Yelena,

It was great to meet you! I love your blog. Are you using WordPress and who did the design work? Did you see I found a recipe there that I'm going to use with my dutch oven :)

Unknown said...

I am not using WordPress, I am using Blogger. My husband helped me with design. I am glad that you like my beets, the recipe is soo good-)) Do you remember I told you about celeriac soup, you may like it also -))
I am so jealous about your new dutch oven, love the color of it!

tinyskillet said...

That is so cool, I wish I could of gone. Looks like lots of fun, and you came home with some great stuff. i won a Le Crueset Dutch oven in green, but I love that color blue! You'll love it!!

Jessica said...

Gretchen, that looks amazing! I'd love to join you next year. :)

Gretchen said...

Hi Lindsey, Thanks for the comment! I've never cooked with a Dutch Oven before, so if you have any recipes to share I'd love to see them :)

Following your Tiny Bento blog now!

Gretchen said...

Jessica, it was definitely well organized and very well sponsored for us to get such an amazing price for the weekend. If Disney is sponsoring again next year I'm definitely interested in going again but I'll probably need to bring the family! My kids are still mad at me, lol.

Unknown said...

Gretchen, when is your next post? I am waiting and waiting-))) Love to hear from you!

Gretchen said...

@Yelena, Oh, I'm glad you are looking forward to my posts! Sorry, really busy week this week and my husband is out of the country. I am working on a few new posts tonight but I may schedule them out so that you get a new post every day :)

Kim Bee said...

I had so much fun in Orlando. It was my first conference and first time at Disney. I think I looked like a deer in the headlights all weekend long.

Gretchen said...

Wow, first time at Disney too! How Fun! So I bet you really took advantage of those awesome Park Hopper Passes :)

YIGII said...

Wow, you have such an amazing food journey at Disney in Orlando!!! Amazing