Should I or shouldn’t I?
That was the question. I had been following the foodie website Foodista promoting the International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC). The agenda looked interesting, chock full of information I needed to improve this blog. The speakers on the agenda were people I wanted to learn from, some of them I have been following for a while on Twitter or PBS.
This was a three day conference; I would just be coming back from my vacation, and had tons of work at work. These were the big issues keeping me from going to this conference. What swayed my decision was that the meeting was in New Orleans. Just about the best food anywhere. I figured that with the worst case scenario, my husband and I could go eat to our hearts content. This would be our second trip to NOLA, we KNEW the food was good, and we like food. We decided that it was a good opportunity to learn and have some fun.
Yes I dragged my husband with me. And he loved it!
When we first got to the city I was a little dismayed. Although we had been there before it looked a little worse for wear than the last time we were there. We knew that the hurricane had caused damage and were still surprised that the city looked so run down. We got to the Hotel Monteleone and we instantly started to change our mind. The hotel just celebrated its 125th anniversary and is just beautiful and the staff was fantastic. We were starving so after checking in we went for brunch. After a great breakfast (and a Bloody Mary to go!) things were beginning to look better.
We signed up at the conference and this set the pace for the rest of the weekend. I have been to my share of business conferences, continuing education conferences, technical training, etc. This conference blew all the others away. Foodista and Zephyr Adventures delivered as promised and then some. The Project Manager in me was impressed. They were professional, started on time, ended on time, promoted networking, provided great information, and arranged for the best food EVER.
I am not a big fan of seafood and the little I do eat is fresh from the Florida Keys caught by my husband. Believe me this seafood was FRESH, you could only smell the exquisite tantalizing smells of herbs, spices, and the sea. I tried everything that was served for lunch and dinner and can honestly say that just about everything was fantastic. I even ate oysters, raw and grilled…delish. I am now an oyster convert (Acme Oyster House for grilled oysters yum.) For pictures of the food, list of these restaurants and conference details click here: Foodista IFBC NOLA
All the presenters were great, John Folse and John Besh were inspiring, Andrew Scrivani, Marissa Brassfield, Brona Cosgrave, and Scott Heimendinger provided tons of useful information and we met lots of friendly, helpful people. What else can you give to food bloggers to make them happy? Thank you Foodista and Zephyr Adventures. You know your stuff and you will see me again.
But the one thing that will bring me back to New Orleans is the people. They were friendly, knowledgeable, helpful, and oh so proud of their city and their heritage. You could see it in the streets, hear it in their voices, and of course, taste it in their food. They love their city, they all know each other, support each other, and are willing to share a piece of themselves to make visitors happy. NOLA is really just a small town. You feel right at home and it grows on you by the minute. New Orleans has to be experienced, you have to walk it, smell it, hear it, and of course taste it. When (not if) you go to NOLA, feel confident that you will enjoy your meal at any of the restaurants at the Foodista IFBC NOLA web site. For information on what is happening in NOLA go to 411NOLA.
Now how does Cuban heritage fit into all of this? Many of the same ingredients and techniques used in New Orleans Cuisine are used when cooking Cuban foods due to the influence of Spanish, Caribbean, and French cuisine. There are lots of dishes that I will show you how to make that New Orleans “copied” from the Cubans
One of the speakers, Poppy Tooker , told us about a cheese made in the old days which is being made again. This cheese is made specifically from the milk of cows that were brought to NOLA from Cuba! They would not have had Creole Cream Cheese if not for the contribution of Cuban cows. We just had to try it so we went grocery shopping before going home. The cheese is delisioso. I found a recipe for this cheese and will make it soon; without the Cuban cow milk of course. I’ll let you all know how it goes.