International Food Bloggers Conference 2011: Highlights from Santa Monica

Here’s a quick rundown of highlights from my whirl wind experience at the International Food Bloggers Conference in Santa Monica November 11-13, 2011 including details from our Food Truck lunch and the dinner prepared by Chef Michael Moore from Sydney and wines from Temecula.

First, I missed out on November 11 because of my son’s birthday party. I heard dinner was a blast and that folks enjoyed wandering around with their food tickets.

On Saturday, we arrived and got checked into the hotel–the DoubleTree with its warm chocolate chip cookies, suites and for many of us, views of the Pacific on this gray, rainy, cold, fall day.

We were just in time for a food truck lunch held over at nearby SaMo High School by some picnic tables. The trucks were lined up and offered a limited but delightfully varied and tasty menu. My son, the birthday boy, was over the moon about the grilled cheese sandwiches: one half was plain and simple, but the other half was mac n cheese with rib meat. Wow. No wonder my husband had been trying to track The Grilled Cheese Truck down for awhile!

I couldn’t tell you which was food from which truck was my favorite. Honestly. I can be really tough to please but it was all so good and so nice AND they were all willing to take the onions off!  (Onions destroy my palate and I was going to be tasting wines later). Perhaps what was most memorable was the super fresh ginger in the peanut sauce from the Chomp Chomp Truck.

We also fell in love with the Voss water that was served. While I certainly would have enjoyed experimenting with wines with these foods, the Voss water in the glass bottles has such a classy presentation, and was of such high quality that I wasn’t tooooo disappointed. I usually don;t go for “water with gas” as they call it in Europe but this time I did because it went better with the rich food than a still water.

Here’s a few of my tweets with links to photos of Food Truck Heaven: Continue reading

How To Create Compelling Content: Part 1

How To Create Compelling Content For Your Food Blog About Wine
Or, How To Become a Wine Blogger Without Really Trying

This afternoon I am speaking at the International Food Bloggers Conference. Here are a few notes for my presentation.

I started blogging the November night the time changed in 2007. I was waiting for my husband—he was putting our son to sleep then we were going to watch a movie. But my husband fell asleep.  And I awoke to the wonderful world of blogging.

I’d had a newspaper column for a number of years called Art Predator, an eclectic mix following Coleridge’s definition of the aesthetic as that which engages the whole soul. I wrote about art, literature, film, Burning Man, music, travel and yes, food and wine.

I found I was writing so much about food and wine that I started another blog –Wine Predator! That year I attended the first Wine Bloggers Conference. In 2009 I attended the second Wine Bloggers Conference then I wrote an essay and was selected to travel to Portugal to the European Wine Bloggers Conference and to learn about Portuguese culture, cuisine, and wine as a guest of Enoforum.  In 2010, I wrote a series of blog posts and was selected to travel to Washington State. Most recently, I was a co-host for International Champagne Day at the Jolly Oyster in Ventura.

So what have I learned over the years about producing compelling content at the intersection of food and wine?

1)   Go for the jugular.

2)  Tell stories.

3) Be specific.

4) Experiment.

I’ll add more details in a later post!

Read more tips about writing and using social media over at The Write Alley.

International Food Bloggers Convene on Santa Monica With A Focus on Wine

Gwendolyn Alley blogger author writer poet This weekend, Food Bloggers from around the globe but especially from California will convene near Santa Monica’s famed Third Street Promenade to exchange tips on blogging, to try new and exciting foods, and to learn about how to incorporate wine into food blogs by tastings and pairings and by attending a Saturday afternoon session on the topic where I am one of the panelists! I’ll be focusing on how to create compelling content about wine.

3:30 — 4:45    Session: How to Incorporate Wine into Your Food Blog sponsored by The Crusher. Hosted by Michelle McClendon, Winemaker, Don Sebastiani & Sons, Gwendolyn Alley, Blogger, Wine Predator, Michael Wangbickler, Balzac Communications

For many cultures around the world, wine is an integral part of people’s daily lives. It is served with every meal (okay, maybe not breakfast) and enjoyed with friends and family. Walk into a restaurant in France or Italy, and you will likely see a bottle of wine on every table. In America? You are as likely to see beer, cocktails, or Coca-Cola as you are wine. Inexplicably, most Americans are intimidated by wine and are afraid of making a mistake when purchasing a bottle. But the simple fact remains that wine doesn’t have to be complicated and can be enjoyed by anyone. In this session, we’ll explore ways for you to integrate wine and wine reviews into your blog to further enhance your and your reader’s enjoyment.

Here’s the complete agenda for the 2011 Food Bloggers Conference in Santa Monica. I’ll be attending and blogging the sessions on Saturday and possibly Sunday (I couldn’t attend today Friday because of my son’s 8th birthday party!)

And I promise to post the key points of my own session–I’m thinking about putting them up before the session so people can follow along!

Who am I? Of course you can read my “about” page.  Here you can read recent press about me.

Last May, influential blogger and wine publicist Jo Diaz named me a “woman wine blogger who matters.”

PS While it’s not about food or wine or blogging, I will also have my book Middle of the Night Poems From Daughter to Mother :: Mother to Son with me for sale and signing.