Blogher Food ’11, Atlanta

hota sauce

People often ask me how many times I get back to the states. I don’t know why this is such a pressing question but having just gotten off a plane after 1 1/2 days of sitting on plane, where the guy next to me coughed all night* – and he was kind enough to cover his mouth (although each and every time he did, he jabbed me awake with his elbow) – then sitting in a crowded airport bus for nearly two hours in rush hour traffic from de Gaulle at 7am for my final sprint home, I can honestly still say the BlogHer Food conference was well-worth the trip.

The nice thing about the annual BlogHer Food conference is that it’s a good mélange of food folks, from everyday cooks to professional, both of whom happen to have blogs. There aren’t a lot of places in the world where people converge like this on similar footing and it’s fun to chew the fat with young folks under the age of twenty along with folks coaxing bloggers to engage in more adult activities.

People converge at conferences like this because they share something in common, including the good (making friends from all over the world, meeting over English muffins, sharing recipes) and the bad (content thieves, server downages).

bacon

I’d not been to Atlanta and I have to say, while I didn’t get to see a lot of it, I did get to see – and eat – as much I could pack into my stomach in three days. I also haven’t spent a lot of time in the American south (I also haven’t spent a lot of time on beaches in Thailand either), and there’s only so much one guy can do with his time and I tried to sample the diversity in the city in between all the conference fun.

At the tastings by some of the sponsors of the conference, the grouchy old me kept waving away any and all of the new-fangled stuff they were offering to spread on the English muffins, like Nutella or jam (I’m a just-butter kinda guy, since I wanted to revel in the English muffiny goodness without all the other stuff), but once persuaded to try the feta spread**, I had to admit it was pretty amazing stuff. See? Even I need to open my iron-clad mind every once in a while.

In order to stave off the time difference, I arrived a day early and through the power of Twitter, when I saw that Kalyn and Lydia were heading to the Dekalb Farmer’s Market, I leaped out of my Heavenly Bed and ran downstairs to catch a cab with them over there.

Not to be disparaging, but I was a bit disappointed when we pulled up outside a giant warehouse-like building. I suppose I should have looked at their website, which showed a hulking, windowless structure. Walking inside, there were rows of produce, some of it was lovely – especially the unusual Asian and Mexican chiles, and root vegetables – which were offset by bins of shiny-perfect apples from Chile. Ringing the outside were dried fruits, nut butters, and spices, and there was an extensive cheese selection which was very nice to see. But I wasn’t sure of where the “farmers” were at this market

Kalyn got tsk-tsk’d for snapping photos (since I live in Paris, I know better) and we finally split, me with two bags of wild rice which, adding in the cab fare from downtown, cost me $27.75 each. Still, I think if I lived in Atlanta, I’d shop here selectively as there were some nice fruits and vegetables, as well as meats and lovely cheeses, mixed in with all the other stuff.

hamburger

So off we went in search of a burger. Kalyn had remembered dining at Buckhead Diner many years ago, so we sped there in our taxi. Interestingly, on the plane home I was reading in an issue of Gastronomica magazine that Julia Child used to dine here when in town.

Nowadays it’s a rather sleek affair and the burger was fine. But I realized that mostly people in Atlanta like their greens, and they like their pork products, and I’d have to wait for the right burger to come along. I had it during a rollicking fun dinner at Abattoir, which means slaughterhouse, in French, and is equally fitting since it’s both located in an old meat-packing plant and serves a menu heavy on charcuterie and other meaty items.

I was with some food writing gal-pals, who gave the one lone fellow at their table a run for his money in the eating department. Even though the name is French, the cooking highlights what’s going on today in America, namely serving fresh, honest foods from local sources, and cooks becoming keenly interested in reviving the art of making their own charcuterie, often surpassing what’s available in Europe.

greens baconstrips

I ate a lot more than I should have, and it was impossible to stop eating the outstanding frites that came with the hamburger which I wanted to wrap up and bring home with me, but didn’t.

The next night I thought I’d stay in bed, but instead got swept up in an impromptu dinner of real southern food at Mary Mac’s Tea Room with a large group of folks from the conference. I didn’t see any tea, so I ordered a Jack Daniel’s on the rocks while everyone else drank wine. (Who drinks wine with southern food? But after the feta-incident, I guess I shouldn’t be so judgmental.)

Since fried chicken is My Absolute Favorite Food in the World, I ordered that; three hefty drumsticks with a side of macaroni and cheese, and an iceberg lettuce salad. (Hey, don’t judge me, even though Ari laughed at me for ordering it.) The deep-fried crayfish were excellent with the rich, spicy dipping sauce, which made up for my healthy salad choice. So there.

white bread 99cents

A market that I did enjoy was the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, located close to downtown, which was a great place because items were sold in individual stalls. From the folks outside selling tamales and tacos, and even to the owners of the grocery store inside who I thought were following me while I was engaged in some “power shopping”, in an effort to be helpful – until someone told me that they were worried that I was a shoplifter with my big bag. Yet I enjoyed the market very much. Even if I wasn’t able to steal anything.

taco making Georgia peach iced tea

I did buy (yes, really) two enormous bags of kale and a few rolls of aluminum foil for a French friend in Paris who always implores me to bring back some of that “…very heavy-duty aluminum foil, s’il vous plaît, Daveed! There’s plenty of bacon and other pork products where I come from, so I didn’t feel the need to stock up on fat back or bacon. Plus I was getting my fill of pork at the events. Can fried chicken please be the next food trend in America? Thanks.

greens in atlanta

The BlogHer Food conference organizers had arranged for us to get out of the big hotel complex, which was nice and a way to not just get some fresh air, but to include the city in the conference rather than us being trapped indoors all day. And conferences are about networking and bonding during the limited time together, kind of like speed-dating, and this gave us a chance to relax while enjoying some great food together. Either that, or they heard my transatlantic pleas for kale and aluminum foil and were kind enough to schlep all five hundred people over to the market so I could pick up a few things.

bbq bbq

As soon as our bus pulled in and I saw the bbq truck parked at the curb, it took me little time to race over to the window to order. I couldn’t believe there was no one else in line…until I realized that yes, there was a line, and I’d cut right to the front of the dozen people waiting in it.

I always warn visitors that 3 inches of space looks like 3 feet of space in Paris, and people aren’t shy about engaging in le resquillage, taking an opportunity to wedge themselves in if they see any sort of opening. Or creating an opportunity, if necessary. (And who said the French aren’t enterprising?) I sheepishly moved out of line when I realized what a connard I was and Jaden started laughing at me when I realized what I had done.

hotlanta bbq

Boy, was my face red. So I channel my inner-American and waited patiently for my turn in line until I got to the front and since they didn’t have fried chicken, I ordered smoked pork with a side of macaroni and cheese and a simple, but excellent baked potato salad. I never thought of baking rather than boiling the potatoes, and I’m going to try that next time I whip up a batch of salade de pommes de terre.

david and jaden

After I did a careful scan to make sure there were no “souvenirs” from local canines, another habit I have from living in Paris, we basked on a grassy patch, me sipping my Arnold Palmer, while simultaneously trying to scrape the sticky wad of chewing gum that someone left on the walkway off the bottom of my sandal. Which is one habit from my fellow Americans that I definitely don’t miss.

georgia white dirt

The indoor market was a lively mix of vegetable vendors, restaurant stalls, with no shortage of people selling pork and related pork products.

fat back

I’m used to pork products, but never saw such piles of everything from layers of pork fat back, bacon, and smoked pigs ears, to uncooked sausages as long as broom handles, flecked with spices and herbs. And giant tubs of smoked turkey wings, live crabs, and lots of other fish and fowl packed in between them.

atlanta market

Piles and piles of greens were heaped up; mustard, collard, and even kale, which have found a good home in my freezer, which I sautéed with garlic and olive oil, for longer safekeeping. I just hope I don’t get robbed in the next few months and lose my stash, even though I think it’s pretty well hidden in there.

Right before leaving, I stopped in the coffee shop where they were chopping up fresh Georgia peaches for peach tea, and the utterly charming young woman ground up a pound of fresh roasted coffee for me to bring home, which I enjoyed this morning in my cross-cultural café au lait.

scallions market goer

But even though it was a food blogging conference, at some point we had to buckle down to business, and there were great seminars on everything from recipe writing etiquette and dealing with copyright issues by David Leite and Dianne Jacob, to getting tips on food writing from veteran, Nancy Baggett, to the seminar I participated in on social media with Jaden and Sara-Kate Gillingham Ryan, which I’m planning on doing a write-up of in the near future for the site because it was interesting to hear what everyone had to say.

she-crab soup

I did meet hundreds of other food bloggers, newbies and old pros, some as young as 17, and others from as far away as Istanbul, all typing away with their little fingers on their food-stained keypads at home, creating recipes and sharing stories of food for their own particular point of view, being part of this whole sprawling medium. I love the diversity and the thousands of voices out there and that at some place, perhaps in Atlanta or elsewhere, we all intersect and complement each other. It’s all very special and it’s hard to convey the experience except to say it’s like sitting down at a large table with a group of strangers over a big meal and instantly hitting it off, and having a rollicking good time.

crab pretzel

So our final meal was at Holeman and Finch, which was sort of a free-for-all of food, and I only knew about half of the people at the table. Prior to my visit to Atlanta, a few people had told me that the city wasn’t worth a visit, “Just get in and get out”, they said. And I have to say how wrong that advice was.

Aside from the obvious attractions like the CNN tour and a visit to Coca-Cola (and my room with a Heavenly Bed, Starbucks coffee, and a full spectrum of television stations in English), when you leave the larger American cities, people are much, much nicer and far more relaxed. It’s a lesson I keep forgetting, having lived in coastal cities, and one that I’m always happy to be reminded of when I venture deeply in between the two coasts. There’s good food in them states!

cocktail radish salad

I had a spectacular last-evening meal with a makeshift group here, which was obviously quite the Atlanta hot spot judging from the packed bar. Yes, the waiters had ironic tattoos, plaid shirts, and were post-adolescently adorable, but seriously good handmade charcuterie hangs from the rafters in cooling chambers and carefully made salads and cheese boards heaped with outstanding ingredients let you know that Atlanta can serve it up as good as any restaurant in San Francisco or New York, or even Paris.

It was my first time trying lamb “fries” (testicles), which I can’t say I enjoyed sinking my teeth into, but what’s not to like about a pile of crispy radishes layered with sprigs of flat-leaf parsley or a well-made Manhattan, with a touch of smokiness from whatever the waiter suggested I modify my drink order with? (I was too lost in his inked-and-plaid-accented gaze.) House made pretzels were so good that we I ordered three more of them as soon as the first piping-hot mini-loaf hit the table. And sweetbreads cooked crisp with chewy greens went really nicely with the slightly spritzy white wine the waiter poured to go along with everything.

Back at home, I read from their website that at 10pm nightly, they announce they are making 24 burgers—and just twenty-four, because of the time it takes to prepare the burger correctly. Sitting here at my un-Heavenly desk in Paris a week later, makes me wish we had lingered a little longer at our table.



*I cut him a little slack because he had the dreaded middle seat. But on the other hand, I was kind enough to let him have the entire armrest.

**I couldn’t find the recipe on their website so I asked them if they could send it, if they have it. If so, I’ll add it here to the post shortly. If not, you’re out of luck. And so am I.



Related Posts and Links

Food Blogger Camp

Food Blogging

Food Blogger Camp: Part 1

Food Blogger Camp: Part 2

So you want to be a successful food blogger? Here’s how… (Bay Area Bites)

Five Reasons to Go to a Food Blogging Conference (Will Write for Food)

80 comments

  • I’ve only ever paid flying visits to Atlanta but it’s somewhere that I’ve always wanted to explore further and it’s good to hear that you had so much fun there. I was following the tweets from the conference with interest!

  • I think fried chicken is becoming the next food trend! You must try Hill Country Chicken
    next time your in NYC.

  • Your visit sounds magical. The photos are fantastic! Especially that mound of bacon…….

  • Looks like it was so much fun! I love Atlanta, it always has good food but I’m sure you can find some more interesting varieties at a festival like that. BTW – what is white dirt???

  • Sounds divine… I wish there were such an event for garden bloggers!

  • Shira: Organize one! There’s been a few other food blogger events, large and small, and it just takes sending out a message to your friends and co-bloggers to make it happen. Of course, people might have to travel to get there, but it’s fun to visit a new city with new (and old) friends – and get a taste of things around town.

    Caroline: I don’t know. There were a bunch of ‘remedies’ and perhaps it’s one of those? I just liked the labels, and the fact that something is called “white dirt”..

    Ellen: I have!

  • Hilarious account of Blogher Food
    WHAT A TRIP!
    I’d meant to go this year but life intervened…
    Still after reading this I feel as if I’d been there…I can smell the bacon

  • Every time you come back from BlogHer Food and write about it I promise myself that I will go the following year. It hasn’t happen yet, hopefully next year…
    Looks like you a fun time was had by all and I’m green with envy about those bags of kale!

  • My parents live in Atlanta, and we’ll be making the trip there from Paris this summer. I think it’s a lovely city, great food! I love that you lugged kale across the Atlantic…it’s definitely one of the things that I miss the most over here (that and tomatillos!). I hope to get to BlogHer Food next year!

  • Oh yes, white dirt. I used to work in Atlanta at Grady, the gigantic public hospital downtown where many underserved and uninsured get their care. Pregnant women who were not so well educated and perhaps over-influenced by their also not-so-well-educated grandmothers, believed that eating clay (or white dirt) would make the birth of the baby easier – it’d just slide right out! That was 40 years ago. I’m sad to see it’s still so readily available. You can imagine it causes all kinds of problems, undernourishment (dirt can really fill you up) and in serious cases simple blocks you up.

    Hence the disclaimer. You eat it, your problem.

  • It was nice to meet you at BlogHer, David! I am jealous you made it to Holeman and Finch… the Booze Hound and I had heard there was a place in ATL that made only 24 amazing burgers at 10 pm, but we had no idea what the name was. Now we know, and we’ll hit it next time.

  • Wonderful read. I moved to Atlanta 6 long years ago from Los Angeles and before that San Francisco. (Full disclosure: love the Marais). Food life here has improved in that time, of course, after years in SF and LA, with it’s abundant farmers markets, bakeries, it took some adjustments.

    Next time, give us a heads up and we’ll show you ’round the town. Better yet: a home cooked.

    Cheers

  • Hi Owen: I didn’t want to say anything too disparaging about the Dekalb market because every city is different and while I was surprised to find it more like a supermarket (rather than an actual farmers market), I did see some interesting things, including the cheese selection, the nuts and grains, and the ethnic foodstuffs. And every city is different and folks are fortunate to have a place that’s offers a wide selection of things.

    And I’ll take you up on that dinner. As long as it’s fried chicken!

    Sharon: Yes, I’ve read about people who eat dirt in other cultures. (It’s called “geophagy”) I’m one of those people that hates finding sand in their spinach salad (nor will I be having a baby…) so I’m glad I didn’t pick up a bag ~

    The Food Hound: I didn’t realize that either until I got back home. Drats…along with the excellent cocktails, that’s another reason to go back…

  • Nice recap! Looks like you got up to some fun outside the conference itself. Am disappointed there is no picture of your Charcutepalooza tat, though!

  • ” Abbattoir(sic), which means slaughterhouse, in French”

    Ha, abattoir also means abattoir in English. I don’t know, this funny dialect that Americans speak.

  • So where was this barbeque truck? I live in Atlanta and work in a wonderful area – full of great little eating spots (in northwest Atlanta.) I’d like to visit that truck. :)

    I’m glad you liked it here and have so many nice things to say. We love visitors. And Mary Mac’s is a favorite spot – I used to live around the corner from there and walk up there for dinner. Now I go for pre-theater dinners.

  • I love reading you blog and daydreaming that I am all hip and full of delicious food in Paris. Imagine my surprise when I look at my google reader this morning and see that you were right down the street from me being all hip and full of good food!

    I moved to Atlanta a year ago and have been more than pleasantly surprised by the food especially- if you are ever back Buford highway is an interesting place to explore…. delicious foods in tiny hole in the wall strip malls with signs in every language you can imagine!

  • Nice to hear that I’m not the only one that goes power shopping on my trips back to the US! I’ve had 14 years of practice so my last trip was a breeze! I’ve never been to a food blogger conference before. It looks so fun!

  • Wow, I am impressed with your picture-taking mojo! I guess I was mourning my camera being in the shop, because I barely managed to take any photos with the camera I had with me. Nice catching up with you and glad to hear you did manage to score some kale.

  • That fat back looks cured. Does that mean that Atlantan eat it raw as Ukrainians do with salo?

    BTW, you do know that you could get “Georgia White Dirt” in France. Just try your local pharmacist and if you’re desperate he might be nice and throw in some morphine as well.

  • Thanks for this through recap and for sharing the back row with me in several sessions. That Hot-lanta sauce was something else!

  • So glad you had a chance to explore around Atlanta. Beautiful pictures! Every city will be a disappointment if you want it to be the same as Paris and New York, but I’ve always thought it silly to think that there isn’t food to be enjoyed anywhere you travel. As an Atlantan I’m partial to our local food, but I think there are some real treasures here.

    It’s true that the Dekalb Farmer’s Market isn’t a farmer’s market, which can come as a surprise to people who don’t know the history of that place. There are, in fact, actual farmer’s markets in Atlanta, but it isn’t one and isn’t taken to be one by people who live here. It started in the 1970s as a more farmer’s market-like establishment and has kept the name in the decades since. It is a much-bloved super market owned by one (eccentric) individual, and although it has some serious quirks, it’s one of the best international markets I’ve ever encountered. But it will be disappointing if you take it at its name!

  • Glad you enjoyed Atlanta! It’s good to see people realizing the food gem that it is. The burger at H&F is definitely a must-have, a shame you couldn’t get one! As for YDFM, others have already defended it, but I’ve got to say, it’s the number 1 thing I miss about the city–a place where one can actually buy fresh, varied, international produce, dry goods, seafood, meat, plus that by the pound hot bar–be still my heart it’s the best part of the city. The golden pecan bread and fresh injeera would be enough to sway anyone over–not to mention the whole fish! On the whole, I loved reading your view of the city that I love (and miss) so dearly!

  • just love each and every one of your posts sprinkled with your unmatchable sense of humor…………

  • I wasn’t really laughing at your salad, it was more the the reaction to the shock of actually seeing a non-fried item at our table.

  • lucy is right— a trip down buford highway really completes the atlanta experience. i’m sure all the other ATL-ers could rattle off a list of places you must visit if you swing back through at some point. i’ve got my own go-to list for visitors. and didn’t anyone try to convince you to experience the.. ahem… “ambiance” of the clairmont lounge?

  • Hi, reading your column has become a daily lunchtime ritual.

  • I love your website and hearing about the conference. Question: when does a recipe become your own? Is there a good online resource that discusses this topic if you don’t have time to respond? I find, when looking for a recipe, I collect 3 or more recipes from various sources, and then build my own.
    Merci beaucoup!

  • I lived in Atlanta for many years and enjoyed reading about some familiar things and some new ones.

    Since leaving Atlanta I’ve moved to the California central coast (San Luis Obispo) and we have some great farmers’ markets. You need to come for a visit. Several of us around here are big fans!

  • Such a thrill to see you at BlogHer Food, my friend, and I’m impressed by the thoroughness of this post and how fast you got it up. My food highlight of the trip was the fried chicken at Mary Mac’s that night — so crisp and crunchy.

    Thanks for the link and for the contributions you made to our panel on recipe etiquette. I wish you were going to IACP so I could spend more time with you, but you’ve probably had enough of the US for now. XO

  • I almost shied away from that feta spread too. But eventually some fellow BlogHer employees convinced me otherwise, and I was glad that they did! Anyway, it was great to meet you briefly at the end of the social media session (before the rest of the crowd surged the speaker table, and before I had to run off to mic wrangle another session). I’m glad you took pictures reflecting the wide variety of pork products at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market because I inconveniently left my camera in the hotel room and no one I’ve talked to seems to believe that my account of pork fat back is real. Now I can show them otherwise.

  • My favorite quote at Holeman and Finch came from Hank who said, “That mortadella is what bologna thinks of when it j—- off. ”

    Really fun conference, and like you, I enjoyed seeing the small bit of Atlanta we got to. Would be fun to see (and eat) more.

  • I’m glad that you had a *mostly* positive experience in my adopted city. Unfortunately I was in Seattle all weekend, but next time one of us ATL natives can point to better Southern food then Mary Macs. It’s here, along with much much more; the ATL food scene is surprisingly vibrant but it helps to know where to look.

    And yes, we do have lots of great markets around the city including a huge, true state farmer’s market down by the airport. In fact you passed a great farmer’s market on your way to Your DeKalb Farmer’s Market.

  • Loved your recap and your sense of the event from the perspective of someone others see as a celebrity. Did you not suffer the caste system they felt existed because of that celebrity or because of your gender or maybe both? Does make me wonder.

    One of those recaps…talked about standing next to you when you ordered that english muffin and how embarrassed she was that her’s was not so simple; small world, huh?

    I missed not getting to Atlanta as I lived for 10 years in the south and it would have been a nice homecoming. Your photos helped; thanks!

  • So great to meet you at BlogHer Food David! I enjoyed our colorful conversations while you waited for your offal restaurant experience ; )

  • David, how did you even sneak kale back to Paris? I thought that (bring in any fresh veggie or fruit) was a No-No. Maybe not an issue with French customs officers?

  • I’m fascinated by those bundles of cure-all sticks. You cleverly cut off the top of the sign (bad David)…do you recall what they were? Yellow ? something??

  • Great atlanta food round-up.

    Thanks!
    -Judith

  • Hi from a big fan in Atlanta. I’ve yet to make the pilgrimage downtown to the Auburn Curb Market from the Atlanta suburbs, but I’ve heard great things about it.

  • As a resident of Atlanta (20years here, originally from the midwest) I have only found the variety of restaurants equaled by Georgetown and San Francisco. There are so many immigrants to Atlanta who can cook up some of the most amazing foods! My kids chose to try Ethiopian cuisine for their last day of school treat. We formed a dinner group with 4 couples to “eat our way around the world” and hardly need to leave Buford Highway!

    I’m glad you got to Mary Mac’s for some traditional southern style foods, and could check out the markets. Many open air farmers markets are springing up around town with produce straight from the farmers. DFM is a great place, but much of the produce is shipped from around the world. I go there for cheeses, fish (!) the bakery and interesting dry goods but try to keep my produce more local.

    I think the American South still gets a bad rap for bad overcooked vegetables and lots of fatty pork products. I’m happy a group of food bloggers now knows we have much more.

  • I’m a strong believer in what Michael Pollan says about, “Never trust a food that makes a health claim.” So seeing photos of whole foods with health claims bothers me a great deal.

    Shouldn’t it be possible to eat healthy without stealing the marketing playbook of pharmaceutical companies?

  • Great to meet you (again) at BlogHer! Glad you enjoyed the food at Sweet Auburn Curb Market…I had the oxtail stew from one of the vendors inside and it was quite heavy, yet quite delicious. I second Dianne Jacob’s comment…such a thorough and FAST post. Impressive!

  • Have to say that I am bit jealous of all this wonderful food- especially the fried chicken! Next to chicken fried steak and chicken & dumplings, it’s the best comfort food and I’d love to eat it more often (if my Dr. wouldn’t scold me). Glad you made it home alright- hope you took Airborne or something to ward off the coughing man’s germs. And we are totally up for a conference in Paris (or Italy, or Thailand or…) :)

    P.S. Thanks so much for making sure Ari was so well fed and in such great company!

  • You are right to have spent little time in the American South. I went to college there (a reputable unniversity that I will not name) and even though I studied abroad for a year and graduated in exactly 4 years, it seemed like 100 years!!

  • Such an enjoyable read :) I visited Atlanta last year for for work and though I didn’t get to as many places as you did, we did make it to Abattoir and it was fantastic. Totally worth the charcuterie hangover I had the next day. Particularly memorable was a little mason jar with baby vegetables and the most delicious housemade ranch dressing I have ever tasted!

  • Kalyn: While you were telling the waiter at the Buckhead how handsome he was, I was taking pictures!

    nancy: We had some sort of pâté in a small mason jar with a citrus jelly that was unbelievable, too. And I hear ya on the pork hangover. And am sure the Manhattan I had had nothing to do with it…

    Renee: You are a wily one, giving Ari Atlanta while you went to Greece. But we had a good time. Let me know if you need someone to go to the Greek Isles with. I might be available : )

    Batterlicker: I think they were giving out the recipe but I assumed it was on the Bay’s English muffin site, but I didn’t see it. I dropped them a note and hope they respond. It was really good.

    Alonna: I wrote an article on Attribution for Food Blog Alliance but the main point is that if you’re going to adapt a recipe you should completely rewrite it in your own words, as you made it. (Some people think they can just change or add a few words, which really isn’t right – it’s just trying to get around it, doing as little as possible.) But there’s lots more information at that post.

    Barbara: Events like conferences are always a bit crazy. People are busy, tired, overfed, overexcited, and there’s just too many people. I think it’s like being in a pinball machine. Everyone wants to meet others and lots of folks came up to me to say hi, which was very nice. But with 500 people swirling around, it’s not possible to spend a lot of time with everyone you want to. (There were a few friends I only saw for minutes, unfortunately.)

    One person did write to me that the conference was to emphasize the “Her” in BlogHer, but that’s not what BlogHer is all about or in their bylaws. And as someone who has working for, and with, women all his life, I don’t draw lines between what women and men can and can’t do. It’s 2012 and I think that conversation should be put to rest.

    In terms of any hierarchy, the best thing about blogging is that everyone is really on equal footing. There are people with amazing blogs who don’t have a lot of readers and others who have lots of reader for whatever reason. Neither one is better than the other and being part of the mix is what’s important. I have friends that have huge mega-blogs and others that have blogs that few people read. I like them equally.

    I had a wonderful e-mail exchange by someone who felt slighted at not getting to participate in some of the outside activities & I think that people need to make more of an effort to network before the conference. Now with things like Twitter and the BlogHer bulletin board they set up prior to the conference, it’s possible to round up a group of like-minded people in advance and not feel left out of anything.

  • A couple years ago, my husband and I went to Atlanta to visit some of his family. They were so excited to take us to the Dekalb Farmers’ Market, but I, too, was so confused by the fact that it’s just a big store. To me, “farmers’ market” means farmers (or their representatives) selling locally grown food. The Dekalb Farmers’ Market was pretty interesting, mostly because of the variety of foods and variety of ethnicities of people shopping there, but it wasn’t what I expected.

  • Great post about Atlanta; but I had to question your choice about taking a bus from CDG at 7am to get into town when you’d be guaranteed a huge traffic jam into central Pairs. Wouldn’t the train have been a better option at that time of day?

  • Mike: I normally take the RER train but at rush hour, since the B train is quite grimy and unventilated, the idea of standing on a hot, packed train during morning rush hour for 30 minutes was just too much. (Plus the pickpockets on that train are annoying, and legendary.) So I opted for the Roissybus to preserve my post-transatlantic flight sanity, even though it took considerably longer.

  • I so wish I got to you meet you at the conference. Maybe next time! What a great summary of your experience. Still can’t believe you schlepped kale across the pond!

  • Sounds like a great time. My grandmother ‘Cille used to make the best fried chicken. My mother taught me to make it. Do you have a real cast iron skillet?

  • Mmm, fried chicken. When I was in Paris this Easter, I was mildly surprised how “popular” (I guess) fired chicken is there. Our hotel was on la Rue de Turbigo and I think while walking home on le Rue de Sébastopol there was a halal Euro Fried Chicken shop on the street. It seemed to be doing good business, but we never ventured in, because fried chicken wasn’t exactly on our French culinary radar. There was a great Japanese food place down the street though!

  • David, I absolutely fell head over heels in love with you (from afar) at the Social Media session. I only wish I had the nerve to come introduce myself… maybe next time.

    I’m glad you enjoyed my adopted city… it sounds like you were in good hands. Come back South, soon, ya hear!

  • Abattoir also means abattoir here in Oz, David – must have been handed on from the Poms.
    Sounds like you had a fine time eating while at the conference!

  • Hi David!

    It was a great conference, if any other blogger is thinking if it is worth it going to a BlogHer Food conference I will say YES!
    You and Jade were so generous! I really like the session.
    I’m been blogging for 3 years in Spanish and I didn’t feel left out at all, the majority of the content was very inspiring and I feel I have a better understanding of how I can improve my blog and reach more people.

  • So relieved that you had a good experience in my hometown. Was anxiously reading your tweets last week hoping you were going to good places and not the obvious tourist traps. As an avid reader of your blog, I was hoping we would pass your “test” and was thrilled to read of your endorsement of our relatively young city. There are lots more places that you should try out for authentic, inventive, original southern food. Y’all come back soon, hear???

  • David, it’s really easy to grow kale in a 5-gallon container or,as I did last year, in an elevated(table-height)4×8 foot 12″inch deep containers filled with organic compost. The productivity was astounding! You can grow different types–my favorites are Red Russian and Lacinato; they’re way more tender than the kind you got in Atlanta. it’s also very easy to grow Swiss chard; this keeps growing new leaves the entire season . I love both chard and kale, cooked the same way, but chard is much quicker to prepare. kale will taste even better after frost and you can keep picking pretty much through December. I live in Vermont, so Paris’ climate is not too different, I think. For awhile, I was so in love with kale, I wanted to eat it every day . Both kale and chard are super nutritious. Thank you for your wonderful writing and superb photos!

  • Thanks for the great Blogherfood ’11 recap – I was the geek that asked for your photo with Jaden. Unfortunately, my photo is a little out of focus, but it will still go on my wall of fame with Julia, Alice, and Martha.
    Following your blog, fb, twitter ALWAYS gives me much comic relief. Enjoyed your Social Networking session and honest and refreshing points of view.
    Oh by the way, thanks for the fifteen seconds of fame – I made a cameo appearance on your blog post with my new friends @kathyshecooks, @omgyummblog and @Bibberche by those southern greens at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market! To Kale!!!

  • Good to see you in Atlanta. I’m sure you must have typed and photoshopped the whole way back to France. Good grief–how did you get all this together and posted? The clone working again?

    I learned a lot from this post even though I was there and went to Sweet Auburn market, too. Gotta say I like the peppery North Carolina barbeque a lot better than Atlanta’s (too bland)–but then my hubby (from NC) took me to the really good bbq joints there, so I got spoiled.

    Thanks for the mention/link in your post–very nice.

  • Great recap,David! I was hesitant to come to the conference at first because “I didn’t know anybody”! What do I know??? I made new friends, and I got to meet you and many other great names. I am so glad to learn that you made to Istanbul in the past and I do hope you make it again! Thanks for the mention in your post an FB page. It means a lot!

  • Korean fried chicken is definitely on the rise in northern California. Always fresh, all dark meat, always delicious.

  • Looks like you did it up right in Atlanta. Wish I had come a day early and hung out w/ you & the girls. It’s been sad to read about the negative press that this conference is getting. I had such a wonderful time… was so happy to see old friends and have time to visit… and I feel like I met a zillion new friends too. I need to go back and experience more of the great food that the South has to offer. Great to see you again- you always make me smile :)

  • Andrew: I love Korean fried chicken. The spicier, the better!

    Lori: In a group of 500+ people, not everyone is going to be able to do what they want to do or meet everyone they want to meet. (Try going to those conferences of 5000 people!) I’ve been to conferences that cost a lot more and those that are far bigger, and I get more out of this conference and meeting others than I do elsewhere. As you know (since you were a ‘camper’ once…) I organize Food Blogger Camp which is very small and a lot of fun, but has a different vibe. And the response after the last one was that the group bonded very well, launched a Facebook group to keep in touch and network with each other, and best of all, just about everyone came away from the event and changed their blogs for the better, integrating the advice they got from some of the leaders and others, and it was nice to see people taking the initiative to “dial up” their blogs and make them more interesting to write, and more readable for visitors.

    I’ve been to other conferences and once sat with Julia Child, and everyone kept swarming her and not me, but that’s the nature of the business. And that’s fine. I’m comfortable with that. (People really shouldn’t compare themselves to others because it’s going to make you crazy if you do.) It’s just food, and we’re all there to have a good time.

    A few people talked about sponsorships, but I doubt they have experience running and organizing a conference. Unfortunately these things cost money to produce and unless people want to pay the actual cost of the events, there will be companies sponsoring conferences. I was happy to have Bay’s English muffins, Bob’s Red Mill, Oxo, POM, ScharffenBerger chocolate, and Quaker Oats there because those are products I like and actually use. (Now if I could only get that feta spread recipe…) And I thought it was nice of them to support the conference, but that’s just me. Perhaps next time they can have a two-tiered price structure for conference goers; one for those who don’t wish to try any of the products on offer, and one for those who do.

    Ilke, Nancy and Jane: That’s what I liked about the conference – I got to meet all of you! That wouldn’t have happened if I stayed home and from Ilke, I learned about a lovely lavash bread from your blog, and Nancy (and David Leite’s) seminar on food writing was really great, and Jane, that was a fun time at the market, wasn’t it?

    I do agree with Nancy that the bbq wasn’t as highly seasoned as that which I’ve had elsewhere, but like the other market, instead of complaining, I’ve kind of learned that people are doing the best that they do, and that different parts of the country vary wildly in what they eat and what’s available, and it’s just nice that people are making the effort no matter where they are. I did love that market, though; the kale, the huge displays of fat back, the jumbo piles of leafy greens, and the cheerful people in the coffee shop.

  • Southern Fried Chicken ‘n biscuits! *heaven*
    Should you ever venture to Vienna, let me know. I’ll show you the best fried Viennese chicken. A bit different from the American Southern one, but finger-licking good.

    Those little bundles of sticks, was that Sweet Wood (Licorice)?

  • Thanks for sharing – love the photos. Sounds like a fun & delicious trip

  • Fantastic round-up from the weekend! I’m still thinking about those frites, and the ultra-creamy chicken liver pâté, and the pulled pork, and the crackling chicharones, and the 97 desserts…

  • Don’t know who told you that Atlanta wasn’t worth a visit and to “get in and get out”
    but they were wrong. Glad you had a nice time, Dekalb Farmer’s Market aside. They actually do have a good cafeteria. Dekalb is good for bulk purchases, catering parties, such as that. The farmers are at Morningside or Peachtree Road. Best burgers? Bocado, Shauns, or Farm Burger. BBQ? That could start a fight, but I prefer Harold’s down by the pen – as in jail, not writing implement. Fried Chicken? Sadly, the economy killed Son’s Place. Hands down the best skillet fried chicken in ATL. Not sure about Mary Mac’s. I haven’t been there in decades. H&F is great – as are a lot of new Southern places such as Empire State South, Miller Union, or Watershed. Too bad you weren’t able to check those out. There’s a thriving food scene here. Glad you enjoyed the Big Peach. Best VA

  • virginia: I don’t remember who it was, but it’s better to be happily surprised, rather than being disappointed!

    I was happy I came a day early, which gave me a chance to hit a few different places.

  • I lived in ATL for 8 years and loved the Dekalb Int’l Farmer’s Market. True, it’s not a traditional farmer’s market but at the time, it was as close as I could get to good produce and international flavors. Not to mention the fresh seafood. I can understand how you’d expect something a little different from the title but it really is an Atlanta treasure!

  • Wow. Sounds like a genius adventure on every level!

  • Thanks, David, for linking to my Bay Area Bites post for KQED. Generous of you.

    This post took me back to the first BlogHer Food conference in San Francisco where we mingled over cocktails on a hotel rooftop on a (rare) balmy and fog-free evening. I was a newbie then and remember being struck by how welcoming folks were, including you.

    Glad to know attendees in Atlanta this year got out and about to sample local food, so important when you’re in a city for a short visit.

  • Great wrap-up post. Loved your take on social media during your panel – strategies are creepy. Also, thanks for linking to me and my “under 20″ friends! Made me smile, I’m sure it made them smile too (although Hannah of Honey & Jam and I are technically 20).

  • Fried chicken is one of my favorites foods. Up high on a long list, next to lobster.
    Atlanta, what fun! I want to go next time…..

  • I JUST SO LOVE THOSE PICTURES….I COULD LICK THE SCREEN, SOOOO MANY TIMES. THANKS FOR YOUR GREAT WRITING AND THE “PICTURES”.

    ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER….WOULD JUST NOT FLY…THE SAME WAY!!!

    HAPPY HOLIDAY WEEKEND.

  • Next time you’re in Brooklyn, get thee to Pies n’Thighs!

  • Atlanta looks amazing! I’ve added it to my list of places to visit when I retire.
    Thanks.

  • I adored reading your take on BlogHer. I would love to attend one day. Your pictures made the whole event come alive! PS I used to work for Burger King’s ad agency and regularly traveled to Atlanta to work with their marketing partner, Coca-Cola. It certainly is a lovely city and true that there are some amazing local restaurants – just thinking about peach iced tea and fried chicken has me drooling! PPS I also love that you take the time to reply to so many comments here – it’s something that surprisingly few bloggers take the time to do.

  • Great recap! Sounds like you were able to squeeze a whole lot of living out of a few short days in Atlanta! Next time I’m there, I’m going for those pretzels!

    I really enjoyed your presentation at the conference. Social media is one of the areas I need to work on the most.

  • David, it was great to meet you even though it was brief at the RockHer party. Yes, the farmer’s markets in Atlanta are not what we imagine them to be but they have tons of stuff that I wish I had access to in my small town in Florida.

  • Wow, great article! Keep up the good work and we will keep reading! :)