Food Blogger Camp 2011

Mexican fruit juices

I’m beginning to think we should have our next Food Blogger Camp in some dark, gray place (like my apartment in the middle of the winter, back in Paris) instead of alongside a gorgeous sunny beach in Mexico. Because as much as we were all having fun learning about food styling and photography, and talking about the nature and intricacies of blogging, there’s also a considerable amount of time we are obliged to spend poolside or on the beach, taking a break from the arduous studying everyone is deeply engaged in.


Okay, that’s not really true. We’re finding a good balance between playing and learning some photos tips, practicing with Mexican fruits, breads, and Kerrygold butter, which was especially good for me because I think there must be a few hundred posts on my site alone that feature butter.

I’ve done everything from whipping it up for a batch of cookies to melting it down for a cake batter. It’s so beautiful on its own, sometimes it’s best just to lay the block down and grab a snap. Then head out to the beach, and take a nap.

Kerrygold butter styling pouring chocolate

Another reason to go indoors is the spectacular Mexican food. Last night I had dinners and we just gorged ourselves on everything from corn fungus quesadillas to panuchos (a specialty of the Yucatán) covered with the spiciest Scotch Bonnet salsa imaginable.

I am convinced that hot sauces are like drugs; it’s so easy just to keep spooning them over everything, even though you know the payment next day will be cruel and painful. And when there’s fresh lime margaritas to ease their entry, the next morning can be a little rough for la cabeza as well.

me and elise

What makes Food Blogger Camp so rewarding is meeting everyone from around the world, making new friends and seeing ones I don’t get together with nearly enough. I was joined by the lovely Elise Bauer, as well as my guy-pal Matt Armendariz and his partner, food stylist Adam Pearson. Jaden Hair was along, too, although she did her best to finagle some “special attention” from the staff. And Todd and Diane made sure we ate well at every meal and kept our lenses pointed at the food, rather than some of the other goodies roaming the beach.

molecular gastronomy

Our “classrooms” were everywhere, from kitchens where chefs demonstrated molecular gastronomy for participants to practice their photo skills with a real, live chef (using a real smoking gun), to understanding how their cameras worked.

Grand Velas resort fruit salad

I spoke to the bloggers about how to have fun blogging and finding their niche. The group was composed of folks who have been blogging for a while, as well as a few newbies. So it gave everyone a chance not just to meet up in person, but to trade tips on layouts, usability, writing compelling content, whipping up recipes, and even learning how to deal with those peskie typos.


mexican beach

I was joking that I could never live in Mexico, because all I would do is eat all day long. And when I got my first taste of the Mexican food at the hotel, all I could say was “¡Ay Caramba!”

cocktail Mexican breads

You can keep your American or continental breakfasts composed of a measily croissant or a stack of flapjacks; the best eye-opener is a plate heaped up with spicy chilaquiles.


Crispy squares of corn tortillas, a drizzle of cooling crema, and red chile sauce made me (almost) leap of bed in the morning and wait patiently until the magic hour of seven o’clock when the restaurant opened, where I’d be patiently waiting at the door, ready to load my plate up on huevos, chiles, and tortillas.

quesadillas nicole of pinch my salt

Plus I feel like I needed to rejuvenate my slowly-reawakening digestive system after the bleakness of winter back home with platters of sparkling fresh fruits like prickly pears, carambola, juicy berries, and kiwifuit. But we still have a few more days to go: Nicole and I have a date at the swim up bar this afternoon to discuss the finer points of drinking in-pool margaritas, and I think Marla is going to kick my backside to prove that hers is better than mine. So if you don’t hear from me for a couple of days, aside from being permanent planting myself in one of the Mexican restaurants here at the resort, you’ll know why.

But proof that wherever you go, there you are (or however you say that in Spanish), the chef here at the resort is French. He left his homeland a few decades ago for the sunny climes of Mexico and although I haven’t submitted by resumé for a pastry chef position—preferably one that doesn’t involve firing a gun—I’m heading into their kitchens next week to learn from the masters of Mexican cuisine. Hopefully I’ll come out with a few sweet recipes to share.

lifeguard injured jaden hair

And speaking of sharing, Jaden took a tumble while racing (as usual) toward lunch. While I’m sure the blinding Mexican sun had something to do with it, she was blinded otherwise when the lifeguard came to her rescue. Because we’re not close to a hospital, she had to grab the closest medication at hand.

jaden and lifeguard

After a soothing foot massage involving some sort of crema to reduce any swelling, we’re hoping Jaden will be back on her feet shortly. If not, she’ll miss this afternoon’s session at the swim-up pool bar. But since the pool bar isn’t ideally reached via wheelchair, I’m predicting a speedy recovery.

Related Links

Food Blogger Camp (Website)

Food Blogger Camp Photos (Flickr)

Food Blog Camp: Seeing the Light (Confections of a Foodie Bride)

The Greatest Job in the World (Confections of a Foodie Bride)

Food Blog Camp-Cancun (What’s Gaby Cooking?)

Food Blog Camp! ¡Hola! México! Part Uno (Kitchen Conundrum)

Food Blog Camp 2011 (Mommy Cooks!)

Food Blog Camp: Hello from Mexico! (Daily Nibbles)

What I learned…Food Blogger Camp 2011 (A Communal Table)

Playa del Carmen, Mexico: Food Blog Camp 2010 (Adventures of an Amateur Foodie)

Mango Margaritas and Food Blog Camp (Sally Cameron)

Hola from Riviera Maya (Savuryandsweet)

If You’re Happy and You Know it, Eat Foie Gras (FRANtastic Food)

Food Blogger Camp: Molecular Gastronomy Demonstration (The Recipe Renovator)

Food Blogger Camp Riviera Maya (Family Fresh Cooking)

10 Lessons Learned from Food Blog Camp 2011 (Food Woolf)

Oh, Mexico! Food Blogger Camp (Bake Cupcakes)

Food Blog Camp: The Whole Enchilada (Acorns and Apples)

Life Lessons from Food Blogger Camp (Together in Food)

Pool Time! Video (Matt Bites)

Community Across the Globe: Food Blog Camp 2011 (The Urban Baker)

Food Blog Camp 2011 (Matt Bites)

Food Blog Camp (Steamy Kitchen)

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  • January 8, 2011 5:41pm

    Looks like a blast! Have a Pina Colada for me :)

  • January 8, 2011 5:46pm

    I am following the twitter stream with great envy as I will never, ever be able to attend this event (I am a teacher in my real life and it just would never be on to take the first week back to school off).

    Having said that, I just returned from Mexico (no resorts though – a lot of travel – Mex City, Morelia, La Paz, then back over to the mainland for a trip through the Copper Canyon) where I ate some of the most incredible food I have ever eaten. Your photos make me yearn for that, even though I have only been back a few days! I look forward to reading attendees’ recaps of the sessions – they sound just like what I need at this point in my blogging career…

  • January 8, 2011 5:49pm

    I could just spread that lifeguard on a cracker.

  • January 8, 2011 5:51pm

    This sounds like such a good time, learning, meeting new people, eating good food… I would take more educational vacations all the time if it were up to me!

  • January 8, 2011 6:03pm

    Food Blogger Camp sounds amazing; have a blast!

  • Kate
    January 8, 2011 6:23pm

    Hi David. You know what they say…once you go Huitlacoche you never go back…

  • January 8, 2011 6:32pm

    This blogger camp sounds much more fun than the camps I went to when I was at school:) Have a great time and looking forward to reading more about the Mexican sweets and pastries

  • Alexis Muermann
    January 8, 2011 7:23pm

    What’s the name of this resort? I’m planning our Easter vacation.

    And oh my…I think I’m feeling faint… MEDIC!!

  • January 8, 2011 7:31pm

    crema. *snort*

  • Gen Santanelli
    January 8, 2011 7:55pm

    I truly enjoyed this post, especially since I’m missing my Father and his homeland… Merida, Yucatan in Mexico. I look forward to hopefully seeing more photos of those delicious dishes & sweets. It sounds as though Mexico has already touched & awakened your spirit… Enjoy & que viva Mexico siempre!!

  • Betty
    January 8, 2011 10:04pm

    I’m having my very first WTF moment here (Welcome to Foodbloggers)…I was just relaxing on a lazy Saturday afternoon, basking in the glow of the cozy little space heater I keep under my desk, de rigueur in these parts for turning the two blocks of ice currently in residence at the end of my long johns back into les baskets wearing wonders of bipedal locomotion. (Or at least I think they’re there, I can’t feel them precisely but the bright red color seems to suggest…)

    And I find, to my lasting shame, that the entire time I was bemoaning my inability to appreciate 6 inches of freshly fallen snow (which I actually didn’t appreciate twice since my neighbor very kindly used his turbo powered snowblower to throw all the snow from his driveway into mine) that a group of dedicated and selfless professionals, strangers to me!, were, AT THIS VERY MOMENT, converged in a small corner of the world, tirelessly studying, for days on end, under unimaginable conditions, to hone their craft and improve their skills…..for me.

    My space heater and I salute you. You are not forgotten, o brave ones.

  • Jean Marie
    January 8, 2011 10:31pm

    It is 30 degrees and we’re having chili for dinner. My eyes are green and I am feeling very very sorry for myself. The day is ruined and it’s all your fault with your pretty photos and words.

  • January 8, 2011 11:01pm

    I want that gorgeous top photo to hang in my living room! And don’t even try to keep up with Marla. Have another margarita, a siesta, and then call it a day (until lunch, afternoon snacks and dinner, anyway).

  • Lisa
    January 8, 2011 11:21pm

    Adonde va, esta. I really miss panuchos. Almost as much as I miss el Garrafon and Cozumel and Playa del Carmen and Merida and Chucho and Armin and las ruinas and Kaluha con crema and …….. the list goes on and on. Me encanta el Yucatan.

  • January 9, 2011 12:24am

    This adventure looks like so much fun (except for Jaden’s mishap!). Sorry I had to miss all the great company, fabulous food and umbrella drinks! I could have been rolling around with Jaden in a wheelchair…guess I should have come after all! Looking forward to more photos and stories to come.

  • I love those handblown glass mini carafes. How do I get involved in these events? It sounds wonderful.

  • Maureen
    January 9, 2011 1:31am

    I want to be a food blogger when I grow up!

  • January 9, 2011 2:15am

    I’m missing all of you and kicking myself for thinking that I didn’t need to attend two years in a row. What was I thinking?? Next year, I’ll be back!

  • Claudia
    January 9, 2011 2:22am

    This brought back memories of being a teen over the summers in Mx, loved the street food, ask for a quesadilla de flor de calabaza! Have never seen the glasses in green and definitely prettier than blue or red. Wish I too could drink the fresh carrot juice.

  • Margaret
    January 9, 2011 3:03am

    I never got past the swimming up to the bar for a margarita….oh and Jaden doesn’t look she’s in too much pain :)

  • January 9, 2011 4:15am

    sounds lovely! would love to join food blogger camp next year! hijole! la comida mexicana es riquisima! looking forward to your post about what you learn in the mexican kitchen.


  • January 9, 2011 4:27am

    What fun was had… and hey.. I wouldn’t mind being rescued by the looks of him… I don’t know if I even qualify as a foodie blogger.. I like/love to bake, (not so much prep) cook, but I equally blog about my other two passions…

  • January 9, 2011 4:27am

    opps.. I meant fun!

  • January 9, 2011 4:33am

    Wow – looks like a lot of fun – as I sit here with snow falling, your pictures make me hungry for sunlight!!!

  • January 9, 2011 4:40am

    How come you’re not fat? Please write about that.

  • January 9, 2011 4:49am

    This post just makes me feel so happy inside. That lifeguard, and the food… the world can’t be such a bad place after all, with those things in it!

  • January 9, 2011 5:05am

    Mira, David! Please let us know which resort you’re visiting (maybe after your departure, for privacy’s sake)… that looks like the most beautiful beach, and the most delicious Mexican food & margaritas (and a swim-up bar? Sold!), and I have a birthday coming up to plan for. Would love to be THERE!

  • January 9, 2011 5:24am

    I really would appreciate a recipe or two as I sit in snowy, ten below zero (yes, F!) reading the Sweet Life in Paris while you yuk it up in Mexico. I know better than to use wind chill to gather sympathy.

  • January 9, 2011 6:31am

    Tremenda bonchadera que tienen en Mexico!

    Translation: More Margaritas please… jjejejeje

  • January 9, 2011 6:46am
    David Lebovitz

    annie: We’re at Grand Velas resort, which is linked in the post. The Mexican food in the two ‘casual’ restaurants, Azul and Chaka, is excellent. I am officially addicted to the duck tacos!

    Claudia: I love the fresh fruit juices, but someone told me today to try the soy milk-apple juice combination, which was pretty great, too.

  • January 9, 2011 7:28am

    cheers to you, david, and your other 6 co-horts for a fabulous five days. many laughs, gallons of margaritas, a bucket full of knowledge, and an overwhelming amount of inspiration. chatting and getting to know you was a highlight. regardless if I am sitting alone, in my kitchen, reading ready for desserts or sharing a beach with you in the middle of central america, you WILL continue to inspire me!

    muchas gracias para todo!

  • lynne
    January 9, 2011 9:29am

    I love the expression on Jaden’s face as the lifeguard helps the injured ankle. I think I would trip and flip just for that moment…..he is beautiful :-)

  • suedoise
    January 9, 2011 10:57am

    one is delighted to meet Mexico as a grand culinary paradise considering how European media prefer marketing Mexico as
    a druginfested hellhole ruled by triggerhappy gangsters when not detailing Cancun as an ecological scandal.
    Thank you David.

  • January 9, 2011 1:23pm

    The pictures are gorgeous, please keep them coming! Looks like there is no shortage of inspiration when it comes to food or photography – certainly a GREAT choice for the event!

  • January 9, 2011 1:26pm

    I lived in Mexico for 20 years — now you know why I miss it so much and why I’m going back some day.

  • Sigh… so jealous. Another 3 inches of new snow on the ground here, and my favorite foodbloggers – yes, dear, I love Elise almost as much as you – are in the warm sunshine down Mexico-way…

    Can’t wait for the recipes! Any photography tips to share with us newbies?

  • meme
    January 9, 2011 3:49pm

    Why avoid the eye candy on the beach??? Last year’s pictures of the camp staff took my breath away…..what’s a fully dressed lifeguard to the 2010 guy with the low rider shorts? Keep up the good work, thanks for the smiles!

  • craigkite
    January 9, 2011 4:41pm

    Your old sparring partner Michael Ruhlman is not there this year? It is always good to see what you are up to in the world of food. Thanks for the updates.

    January 9, 2011 10:21pm

    David, you are my favorite, favorite blogger. You are funny, talented, a great writer and I love your recipes. From, Suzanne

  • January 10, 2011 12:15am

    This sounds like so much fun! I feel like I’m an attendee just by reading this!

  • mugsy
    January 10, 2011 12:32am

    Just finished The Sweet Life in Paris, couldn’t put it down. A delicious and hilarious traipse thru Paris it was indeed!
    I am here not just to flatter but have a BUTTER question, since you brought it up. I used the higher fat/higher priced specialty butter for my usual classic shortbread cookies (thinking they would be even more divine) and they came out clunky and greasy! How does one determine when and when NOT to use it?

  • January 10, 2011 2:18am

    Don’t worry about any typos, your content is worth it’s weight in tacos! Loving the pictures and your post has really given me something to look forward to when I visit Mexico in April.

  • January 10, 2011 3:00am

    Look at that photo of the fruit juices and of you and Elise and Jaden in a wheelchair! Well, although Jaden in a wheelchair is not something to laugh about, her tweets about it sure are. I hope she gets well soon.

    I hope you all are having an awesome time! Eat lots of delicious Mexican food! :)

  • January 10, 2011 3:21am

    Wow, going to Mexico to learn about food!? I am so surprised, I was there 1 month ago and we were escorted by army to move from town to town safely due to the high street shooting rate between drug gangs and police.
    Geez, I am impress to see so many people going there for fun. I guess I should stick to the tourist spot.
    I enjoy reading your blog from anywhere I am in the world.
    Great blog!
    ps: Never look anybody in the eyes while in the street, especially the army and police, they will wonder if you plan to shoot them, they’ll shoot you first, whoever you are. Not kidding.

    ps2: Mexico is beautiful

  • January 10, 2011 3:23am

    Looks wonderful. I so wish I could have come. I hope you will consider a new location for next year, but some place still warm and tropical. Cheers!

  • January 10, 2011 4:22am
    David Lebovitz

    Susan: So glad you came along and had fun. But I didn’t see any “gallons” of margaritas. Just a few glasses ; )

    Leon del Dol: Although I’m staying at a resort, I haven’t noticed anything amiss. It’s so unfortunate and sad about the problems that exist in parts of Mexico but the people, the ocean, and the food are truly spectacular.

    mugsy: When using higher-fat or premium products, you often have to make adjustments. You might want to consult the website of the butter company to see if they have a recipe that’s specific to their product.

  • Claudia
    January 10, 2011 4:41am

    You probalby know already that French and Mexican cuisines were awarded by UNESCO as World Heritage cuisines so enjoy it!!!!! particulary the Mayan cuisine with the habanero chile. try the xnipec sauce wich translated from mayan language means dog’s nose (that’s how you end up after eating it)
    Enjoy the beautiful Riviera Maya

  • January 10, 2011 6:28am

    That is the most perfect looking taco I’ve ever seen.

  • January 10, 2011 6:42am

    I have so enjoyed reading all the tweets and posts about Food Blogger Camp and the Grand Velas. I was lucky to vacation there this past July. We were referred to the resort right after it opened but I was so afraid of the all-inclusive concept and the usual mediocre food. But my friend assured me the Grand Velas was different. And she was so right. The service, views, and food were just outstanding. We enjoyed all the restaurants but Cocina de Autor was really a stand-out. Just an amazing food experience.

    I regret not being able to attend camp and learn from all of you but appreciate the opportunity to live vicariously through tweets and posts. Looking forward to any recipes you share. Enjoy the rest of your stay!

  • January 10, 2011 4:02pm

    I would have loved that camp!!! I enjoyed reading all the blog posts on this, what a treasure. My wife is inspired and has a blog of her own for special recipes that are meaningful to her..

  • January 10, 2011 6:07pm

    David, thanks for capturing all the sights and sounds of Camp life… especially the lifeguard, who was indeed a tasty sight for all of us. And thanks for sharing your considerable wit and wisdom, and giving our blogs your critical eye.

  • January 10, 2011 6:43pm

    First of all, that taco?! I’m ready to get on a plane in search of the exact one in the pic. Secondly, my husband and I are headed to Riviera Maya in the spring. Hope you’ll post some tips for places to go get something to eat?? I just want to be there now..Thanks! Elizabeth

  • January 10, 2011 8:37pm

    Thank for all the holp – especially finding that peski TiePo in my header – still searching for my Nitsche

  • January 10, 2011 9:41pm

    I wanted to go to this so bad, but I was out of vacation days. Next year, though. Here’s hoping for another Mexican location. Maybe somewhere deep in Mezcal and Tequila country?

  • January 10, 2011 9:56pm

    Hi David,
    I saw some of your envy-invoking tweets while you were at this event…incl the shot of the beach-SO NOT FAIR to those of us in unseasonably cold Ireland at the moment! Loved this post…esp the Kerrygold butter mention. The milk from our dairy is used in making Kerrygold butter, and last week I also tried my hand at home in making my own with an added a touch of our honey to love it up a bit. {}
    Maybe next time you come to Ireland, you can stay for a night or two at our farm. I promise good food, company {and perhaps a country game or two}
    All the Best,
    Imen x

  • Owen Rubin
    January 11, 2011 2:04am

    Fantastic photos and descriptions David of what sounded and looked like a fantastic time. Wish I could have been there, but thanks for the peek. Now I’m hungry for a good Taco! Maybe Wednesday on Los Angeles! Cheers!

  • January 11, 2011 9:24pm

    I love love love the picture of the juices. I would love to put that up in my kitchen. :)

  • January 11, 2011 10:48pm

    Yes, please, chilaquiles!! I always get some at the Ferry building when I’m back in SF…so good.

  • nina
    January 12, 2011 11:35pm

    Talk about typos! “Carumba” if pronounced in Spanish would sound “caroomba”.
    I cringed every time I saw the Bart Simpson t-shirts, because the correct spelling is:

  • January 13, 2011 3:56am

    Could those pics of Jaden be any more hilarious? Dang that life guard was hot. Next time I need to sustain some kind of injury – that is all there is to it. Perhaps a bug bite to the hip??!!
    Amazing meeting you & I look forward to catching up again later this year. xo

  • January 15, 2011 1:57am

    That smoke gun really was impressive! I wonder what would have happened if we loaded it with delicious Kerrygold butter?? So wonderful to have met you and played in the pool with you. And I especially appreciate your feedback on my own blog. I look forward to staying in touch!

  • Mali From ATX
    January 16, 2011 1:49am

    Almost everyone of you bloggers have commented or taken images on your posts about the guacamole. I have a ton of avocados and would love to know if there was anything special about it.