Food Blogger Camp, part 1

buttered tortillas

Yesterday was the best day of my life. Okay, it was the best day of the year. And since the year is only a couple of weeks old, there’s probably going to be a few other contenders in the next fifty weeks. But still, yesterday would be pretty hard to beat.


To any ‘normal’ person, they might think that lazing in the sun for a few hours was bliss. But for me, it’s all-you-can-eat tortillas. And I’ve been doing my best to make the buffet here at Club Med in Ixtapa live up to that designation.

mexican cuisine

It’s nice to know that even after living in France for a number of years, I still haven’t lost my uncanny ability, like many Americans, to be able to pile our plates to the max of whatever we feel like shoveling in our craws.

salad bacon

And it’s also nice to know that one certain American hasn’t lost his ability to be a bad influence on his foreign counterparts. Ever since Romain discovered crisp bacon strips, his hand has been a constant presence hovering over the overloaded dish of beggin’ strips at the buffet. Mine’s been in there, too. Although I use the provided tongs. (So not all American-style behavior can be taught, I guess.)

yogurt and granola eating

Diana has been hitting the food lines, too, And she’s certainly doing her darnest to show off her dancer past by the pool late at night, which caught me totally off-guard when I caught her rockin’ the dance line. ¡Vamanos, girl!

But it hasn’t been all play (and all handmade tortillas) and no work. This is Food Blogger Camp, and we’re trading tips and talking about how to dial up our blogs and make them more fun for everyone. I spoke yesterday with Jaden Hair (whose 4-year old son gave me my first tattoo! Pictures to come…) about cookbook writing and we’ve heard from a few other interesting voices around the web, focusing on food.

matt of

Words are one, thing. But you can’t eat ‘ands’ and ‘ifs”, so we also learned tricks of the trade from Matt Armendariz on how he gets all those stunning food shots on his blog. He gets help from his partner, Adam Pearson, who showed us how a professional food stylist works, and who knew that we’d be making lists of things like museum wax and tweezers to put on our to-buy list when we get home? (Although with the mounds of moisturizer we’re going to be needing as well.)

But I’m going to save his chat for another post, since I need to hit the beach again. With temperatures dipping to -8º back home in Paris, and the sun blazing away and the cool surf beckoning an arm’s-length away from my room, I need to get myself back to the beach. Er, back to work.

david on the beach

(For those of you suffering in a winter climate elsewhere, you are welcome to download that photo and use it as a dartboard. But please, be careful where you aim. Thanks.)

ruhlman reading sprinkles!

If you want to know why Michael Ruhlman is, well Michael Ruhlman, he works during meals. While I was satiating myself with chocolate sprinkles (again) and ice cream, he was working hard on his next project. Although I didn’t see the screen. So for all I know, he could’ve been reading Field & Stream, or Penthouse Forum.

But he gets a break, too, and can read whatever he wants because he kicked off the week with a great presentation on finding your voice as a writer, explaining how he gets his work done, and what it means to be a writer.

romain on the beach

So even though the week’s been a blast, we’re only half-done. But before I slather on the sunscreen and hit the waves, you probably want to know what made the other day so special to me?

At the end of a long day, where it’s necessary to avoid the mid-day sun (I think we passed the equator, which was the third left, just after the airport), we all took advantage of the mellow temperature and pounding surf to head out into the ocean en mass and loll in the sometimes turbulent waves to discuss important topics, like search engine optimization and photo editing programs.

beach drinks beer drink

Yes, it’s nice to eat all the Mexican food, and super-fresh sushi caught right outside, you want. And to drink margaritas and micheladas to wash it all down. (And a few Lebovitz Isles as well, between open-air seminars on food blogging.) But if there’s anything better than drifting out in the open sea, letting waves take you where they want, surrounded by wonderful friends, old and new, I don’t know what it is. And that’s one skill that doesn’t require a seminar to master.

garrett diane cu


  • January 13, 2010 11:29am

    What a great time you must be having! But, excuse for that, I’ve got to say you look pretty good in a bathing suit…;)

  • January 13, 2010 11:39am

    If you were trying to make us all jealous then mission accomplished. That literally looks like my idea of heaven! And I’ll be ordering a Lebovitz Isle at the earliest possible opportunity.

  • January 13, 2010 11:49am

    Those Lebovitz isles sound right nice on this drenched and frigid Seattle morning. And Ruhlman needs to be dragged out to the beach- he’s looking a bit too buttoned up! Glad you’re sucking the marrow out of la vita mexicana.

  • Charissa
    January 13, 2010 11:59am

    Usually I’m just jealous because you live in Paris. Today I realized that I’m just jealous in general. I’m not sure that we can go on like this David. Sigh.

  • January 13, 2010 11:59am

    Looks wonderful! I am pretty jealous, but I won’t use your photo as my dart board, that would just be mean.
    Enjoy the tortillas and sunshine!

  • January 13, 2010 12:51pm

    This looks too amazing for words!

  • Jeffrey
    January 13, 2010 12:58pm

    Hear hear to more non-food eye candy on the blog.

  • ChefDylan
    January 13, 2010 1:05pm

    You guys aren’t having any fun over there are you?

    I mean, I got to trudge to my course today in 4 inches of slush… you would much prefer that than walking down those beaches, beer in one hand, taco in the other.

    I am available to switch places if you cant cope!


  • January 13, 2010 1:10pm

    I was in Club Med in Cancun in December, and yes the food was marvelous! Hey, if you run into Mauricio, one of the managers who just transferred to Ixtapa, say hi from Lisa!

  • January 13, 2010 1:44pm

    Oh, Mexico
    It sounds so sweet with the sun sinking low
    Moon’s so bright like to light up the night
    Make everything all right

    Wish I was there!

  • January 13, 2010 1:52pm

    What a fun exciting happy post~

  • January 13, 2010 1:52pm

    Wish I was there…but thanks for the journey with you. Also thanks for that swimsuit, was happy NOT to see the banana one!

    You are such a wonderful wordsmith so hope you will appreciate this – first sentence after pic of Matt seems wrong…or is it me?

  • January 13, 2010 1:56pm

    Oh yummy!!! I have a weakness for tortillas but I’d say I have a much bigger weakness for anything that has to do with the sun so that’s where my jealousy hits.

  • January 13, 2010 2:07pm

    Sounds HEAVENLY!!! And, oh so inspiring!! Eating Tortillas (corn tortillas) is quite possibly one of my favorite things to do and of course making them is just as good!!

  • January 13, 2010 2:08pm

    Sounds HEAVENLY!!! And, oh so inspiring!! Eating Tortillas (corn tortillas) is quite possibly one of my favorite things to do and of course making them is just as good!!

  • January 13, 2010 2:23pm

    Looking very buff, David. What a blast you must be having. And when I saw that plate, I knew we were not in Paris anymore, Toto. Chilaquiles, chorizo and eggs, handmade tortillas – Delicioso!

  • January 13, 2010 2:36pm

    Great photos. I look forward to reading the articles you’ve linked to.

    It’s FREEZING in Europe, enjoy the sun.

  • Jean Marie
    January 13, 2010 3:31pm

    I used to love you but now I hate you. I know, it’s just the jealousy talking. Have fun (she said through gritted teeth).

  • January 13, 2010 4:15pm

    Tout a l’air si délicieux, surtout toi en maillot de bain!!

    Fine-looking for a fifty-something :)


  • January 13, 2010 4:15pm

    Tout a l’air si délicieux, surtout toi en maillot de bain!!

    Fine-looking for a fifty-something :)


  • January 13, 2010 4:15pm

    Tout a l’air si délicieux, surtout toi en maillot de bain!!

    Fine-looking for a fifty-something :)


  • mel in austin
    January 13, 2010 4:30pm

    the photo of matt a. taking a photo– whose skinny, pasty white leg is that in the front row? get him out into the sun!

  • January 13, 2010 4:40pm

    Heavenly. Wish I could be there.

  • January 13, 2010 4:56pm

    I am so VERY jealous!

  • January 13, 2010 5:47pm

    Que Bueno!

  • January 13, 2010 6:57pm

    Sounds like a great time! Hope to make it next year!

  • January 13, 2010 7:31pm

    you’re such a sex pot!

  • January 13, 2010 8:28pm

    Let the dart throwing commence! I’ll TRY to be nice about where I aim. :p

  • January 13, 2010 8:47pm

    Club Med. And all it’s trappings.

    J’etais un GO. Il ya 25 ans….

  • Donna
    January 13, 2010 9:00pm

    You go David! Work it, work it…………… :)
    Have fun mon ami!

  • ursula
    January 13, 2010 10:14pm

    I’m glad you’re having fun. All those tortillas aren’t messing up your physique, you lucky man. Speaking of handmade tortillas, have you been to El Torito Grill (not to be confused with plain-old El Torito) over here? It’s a chain, but it’s so much better than the typical Mexican chain food and the best part is the handmade tortillas that arrive with two different salsas and whipped honey butter. I could easily sit and eat them and have no “real” food, although I try to be more disciplined than that.

  • January 13, 2010 10:16pm

    What a great time you are having! Thanks for sharing for those of us stuck back in winter!

  • Sasha
    January 13, 2010 10:22pm

    You’re lucky that it has been warm! Even the Guatemalan coast has been cold enough that we had to wear sweatshirts. Coldest temperatures in 10 years.

  • Bernadette
    January 13, 2010 11:17pm

    Way to rock those bathing skivvies, David!! 51? Nah!

    Romain, wake up! lol

  • January 13, 2010 11:21pm

    If you like lxtapa, you have to go to playa del carmen or cancun :)

  • lona
    January 14, 2010 12:13am

    Will they make you buy two airline seats to return? one for you and the extra pounds of slovenly living? By the way, where’s your camoflage thong from last year?

  • January 14, 2010 1:00am

    David, you have to walk across the road into the strip mall and go to Momma Norma & Deborah. Great food, and the chocolate cake is fabulous.

    I miss Ixtapa & Zihuatanejo, I’m quite jealous right now.

  • January 14, 2010 1:36am

    brilliant portrait of diane. THAT is diane.

  • stephanie
    January 14, 2010 3:09am

    While you have maintaied many of your Americanisms, I see you have adopted the French bathing suit. You do have the body to carry it off, but as a woman I prefer a nice, knee length board short (though I do realize I am not your target market). Sometimes seeing less is more exciting. I am raising my two sons in Paris and my goal is to keep them in American bathing suits! lol.

  • January 14, 2010 3:20am

    Thanks for sharing your camp stories and adventures with us – and by that I don’t just mean those of back home in frrrrreezing climates. It will be great to get a glimpse into the presentations for sure. Do you know if info from each one be posted, perhaps on the Club Med site ? Have fun with your blog to book workshop !! And at the buffet of course.

  • January 14, 2010 5:35am

    What a fabulous way of starting the year! I loved your tatoo BTW ;-)

  • January 14, 2010 6:52am

    “(For those of you suffering in a winter climate elsewhere, you are welcome to download that photo and use it as a dartboard. But please, be careful where you aim. Thanks.)

    Wheeeeeee! Lookin’ gooood in the Ixtapa neighborhood, brother! I am way impressed with your not-so-51-year-old-ness. I’m with Bernadette: you rock those skivvies indeed.

    I am so glad to know you are not only getting some R&R away from Paris but learning at the same time. It looks and sounds like a wonderful event, and you are a gem for actually posting about it all *while* you are still there!

    I read the link about the Michael Ruhlman presentation at the White on Rice Couple blog you linked. I don’t write about food (well, sometimes I do, however it is not my focus), but the tips were good for anyone who blogs, too. I was inspired, and OMG, is this ever true: “Time management is of the utmost importance. Turn off the email and remove yourself from other distractions like Facebook and Twitter so that you can purely focus on your writing.” I love to read blogs, too, and as my Google Reader fills and as I try to keep up there, I find my writing goes to the wayside. I gotta get better about this.

    So. There’s where I am going. To the virtual page, to write. Keep on rockin’ with your bad self there in Mexico, and with the buffet, lol.

  • Robert
    January 14, 2010 8:55am

    Thanks for the life escape. I applaud Club Med for its focus on high quality, local and interesting cuisine. My experience is that Club Med doesn’t have lavish facilities but has quality food and entertainment. Too many other resorts follow the path of “lots and lots of pretty but low quality food for the dumb tourists.”

    Does anyone know other Mexican resorts with commitments to quality cuisine? Maybe David can blog about this? Thanks and enjoy!

  • The Paris Food Blague
    January 14, 2010 9:17am

    Hmm. I’m more jealous of the homemade tortillas than the beach. What’s wrong with me?

    In any case, both look good…profitez-en!

  • David
    January 14, 2010 10:34am

    Paula, my spatula, PFB, etc: I only posted the pic because the light and shadows were particularly flattering. I’m sure some other pics will surface shortly that portray me otherwise (especially with all the tortillas I’m cramming in)

    Kerrin: Diane and Todd of White on Rice Couple are posting more in-depth stories about the presentations. So check ’em out over there.

    stephanie: Good luck keeping your kids in regular swimsuits in France. In all public pools, it’s Speedos only. I tried wearing a suit like the one I’m wearing in the photo and they wouldn’t let me in the pool. Which they say is because of “hygiene”…so I guess a skimpy swimsuit is more hygienic?

    Rbt: The Mexican food is, indeed, great. All the staff eats it as well. So you know it’s good. They do have sushi, which is often from the fish that are caught in the ocean a few miles away. I haven’t tried it, because I’m seriously hooked on the tortillas…

  • January 14, 2010 10:51am

    This week was so necessary… I can’t believe we’re leaving in two days! Heartbreak!

    And did someone up there just call you a sex pot?

  • January 14, 2010 11:38am

    I started my food blog in 2 1/2 months ago, and seeing you uber bloggers all in one spot together is pretty exciting. I read all of your blogs for ideas, inspiration, and how to navigate the food blogosphere. Looking forward to your next posts.

  • Rebecca
    January 14, 2010 4:26pm

    Congratulations on a well-earned vacation. While all of you bloggers are assembled, please see if you can figure out how to make your recipes printer-friendly. The Pioneer Woman has recently added some sort of widget to render her recipes easily printable and all food bloggers should aspire to the same convenience. Somebody in that bunch you’re lounging with, must know how to do it.

  • January 14, 2010 7:04pm

    Please tell me there will be a second Food Blog Camp?!?!?

  • sarah
    January 14, 2010 7:10pm

    club med ixtapa is one of my favorite places in the whole wide world. i love it. also, what kind of camera do you have that takes such exquisite photos?

  • January 14, 2010 7:27pm

    Rebecca: Since my site was started a long while ago (in 1999), before printer-friendly templates were available, to add it now would not only be very costly, but I would have to go back, search through nearly 1000 posts, and re-format all those entries.

    I did see that Ree now offers that option, and that is sponsored by a major printer company. Unfortunately I don’t have the time to do that, since I’m mostly a one-man operation, but sites like Print What You Want allows you to do is easily. If anyone has any connections to a company that will sponsor that, I’d be happy to get it going, pronto!

    teryll: We’re thinking of doing another one next year. I’ll announce it on the site when we do.

    Stephanie: I thought it was you!!!

    January 14, 2010 8:29pm



  • January 15, 2010 2:01am

    Wow, this sounds like an incredible experience!

  • January 15, 2010 2:33am

    I envy the beautiful places you can visit any time you like in Paris, but, well, I can eat tortillas any time I want :D

  • January 15, 2010 3:26pm

    Sounds like an awesome time! What’s better than a vacation where you get to meet cool people and learn all sorts of stuff. That’s my kind of break. Of course, the all-you-can-eat tortillas aren’t bad either ;)

  • Peggy
    January 15, 2010 8:53pm

    The food was fantastic when we stayed there 16 years ago and it sounds even better now. I’m hungry.

  • January 16, 2010 12:14am

    Man . . this looks incredible. Good food, awesome food blogging tips, and amazing scenery.

  • January 16, 2010 6:08pm

    Nice prickly pear! Did you go to any markets?

  • January 16, 2010 7:17pm

    I hope there is a second food blog camp because I really want to go!

  • Jonathan
    January 16, 2010 11:46pm

    Mr. Lebovitz,

    You are in great shape. What’s your secret? :).

  • January 17, 2010 2:19pm

    Great post! A food blog camp at Club Med – one word – perfect. Traveled to Cancun and Huatulco Club Med several years ago. Look forward to reading more.

  • January 18, 2010 9:42am

    Great post!! How awesome is that photo of you?? Doesn’t look like you munch on those fab pastries and goodies you create! Glad to read how much fun and inspiring the trip to Ixtapa was for you guys. I love your last few words regarding your new & old friends and memories created together.

  • evy
    January 19, 2010 1:35am

    In one word..oh I mean two words: thank you…for being a super duper writer..subject: food: but so much more…thank you so much!…love your writing/blog.

  • January 19, 2010 12:49pm

    Oh David, you are NOT endearing yourself to me!! ;-) Colour me absolutely lime green with envy as we shiver our way through a cold dark January here in London… Might have to take you up on the dartboard thing ;-)

  • January 20, 2010 9:02am

    Wow, looks like your having a great time, am I jealous!

  • Brooke
    January 26, 2010 8:02am

    WOW! David…..I don’t log in very often…..have way to many email to go through as it is….but I do enjoy looking you up now and then for a good laugh and good food! One, I can NOT believe you are 51! I totally believe that age is just a number…..and it’s how you FEEL and act! You’re doing GREAT! OK, enough mushy stuff! I too LOVE tortillas!! ANY kind…flour or corn…those thick flour tortillas, made my mouth water……just a little butter with some great salsa……OMG!!! I could LIVE on those!!

    Personally, I THANK you for NOT wearing the “speedo” bathing suit. My boys are in Swim and Water Polo in High school, and to watch those poor boys walk around covering themselves is torture! I know it is the European way, but you stick to your “guns”, LOL!! You look FABULOUS!

    HMMM, I’m imagining a flour tortilla with some great sauce and a slice of Ahi Tuna in it………..WOW!!! With some of that lettus??? or cabbage?? YUMMY!!

    Thanks for all the great experiances and recipes you give us all!!

    Brooke, from a very saturated So. CA City!

  • January 29, 2010 11:26am

    wow!!!! I saw George Michael in the beach chair!

  • LeeAnn Sandefer Lyman
    February 15, 2010 6:53pm

    Would love a chocolate tour in July, David. Any chance?
    Remember me? Your friend in crime at Chez Panisse,


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