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BlogHer Food – Weekend In San Francisco

Did not mean to be silent since I got back from San Francisco but I barely had a moment to kiss Bill "hello" (literally) that work started back again full swing. It’s a good thing really since the utilities company already told me macarons were not a viable source of payment. Idiots. Drats.

It is taking me longer than expected to sort through all the pictures from those five days in San Francisco. A part of me has a hard time selecting among all the ones that could make you cry or laugh, and a part of me just revels in the emotions that each pictures of this trip makes me feel.Good times. Lots of laughs. Tons of people.

But first, I must announce the winner of The Hip Hostess apron. I was supposed to ask Bill over the phone to pick a number but one cocktail party and one strong cocktail later, I forgot to and turned to Lara standing next to me to pick one. Congratulations Megan from Life As A Dill! Email Debbie at info[@]thehiphostess [dot]com to claim your prize.

Now let’s start this BlogHer thing…


Jen at Akiko’s

I met Jen right at the airport since our flights were getting in close together and it was like picking up where we had left off the night before. We had the same dynamic that makes us talk throughout the day via emails, twitter, direct messages and sometimes all of these at once.

Sushi With Jen

Unagi sushi, raw shrimp, fried shrimp heads.

After checking into the hotel, we headed to Akiko for lunch following Anita's recommendation. We were not disappointed. Loved it all but raw shrimp and me won’t be friends for a while.

Miette At The Ferry Building

Miette’s macarons at the Ferry Building.

Not sure how it became my "mission" but when we started talking about things to see in such a short period of time, I drew a blank on the museums and exhibitions and my brain tuned in patisseries and bakeries. Go figure. We headed out to the ferry building and found Miette’s (or a portion of their place given the market layout) right off the bat. Cute and whimsical little place!

Miette At The Ferry Building

Whimsical Musings at Miette’s.

Got a couple of macs and headed off to the 39th floor of the Marriott. Check Jen’s post for pictures of our blogger meet up. I think I was feeling my "2 hours of sleep in 36 hours" moment and just starred at the gorgeous views instead of clicking away.

Finally got to meet my long time crush Ashley from Not Without Salt (the girl seriously looks like a porcelain doll), crazyAlice from Savory Sweet Life and the wonderful Susan from Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy. We were later joined by Anita from Dessert First and Lisa from Lisa Is Bossy (and she is…in a very funny way). Jumped from joy to see Todd and Diane again since I could literally squeeze these two forever.

We headed off to dinner at Anchor and Hope and hooked up with Chuck from Sunday Nite Dinner and Food Gawker and his lady, Michelle from Tuesday Night Smackdown, Karen from Off The Meat Hook. Everything was delicious and prepared just right. Loved it all but sea urchin and I won’t be friends for a while. I promptly passed out once my head hit that fluffy pillow at the hotel, which was just fine since we had to gain strength for the next day’s activity.

BlogHer - In Session

First visual track session with Matt and Heidi.
This is pretty much what a session would look like: computers, iphones, cameras, people, good people. Lots of them.

Made it to breakfast slightly refreshed and stunned. No, no seriously: it is stunning to see words and people behind emails and computer screens becoming alive before your eyes. I am thrilled I got to meet many people and regret that I did not meet all of them. Between preparing for my panel and dealing with work and family stuff via computer, my brain was in overload and overwhelmed at times. Finally met bloggers who have inspired me to start mine and this was extremely special to me. Beside all the people mentioned in this post, thank you Sam, Pim, Jen, Anita, Tea,

Shauna and Lucy

Where there is love you will find Shauna and Lu.

I had many "fuzzies" during this trip (moments when your heart gets all warm and tingly you’re so happy) and one of them was definitely meeting Shauna, Danny and Lucy. Shauna was one of my first blog reads and growing closer this past year made it all the more special to finally talk in real life. Lucy was the name I wanted to give my daughter but that did not happen as planned and I feel like this little one is my remote gift from life. I was very fortunate to spend more time with them after the conference.

BlogHer Conference - Closing Keynotes

Lisa Stone from BlogHer, Ree from The Pioneer Woman, David Lebovitz, Elise from Simply Recipes.

After a whole day of sessions, brainstorming and powerful messages (you can check transcripts of the sessions on, we all met up again for the closing keynotes. I could write paragraphs after paragraphs about photography, blogging, writing, food politics, etc… but one message that came through from these three successful speakers was to blog because you have a passion, the rest will follow. Or not. And that’s ok. Blog what makes you happy and do it to the best of your abilities.

How did I do on my panel? I think it went well. Feedback from the people attending was good so I am happy. And yes, it is official: I am a passionate dork.

So by now, you have probably read the fiasco that was lunch when food bloggers were served frozen foods while badly pitched by a mockery of a chef. Yes, I felt insulted. But not so much as being pitched frosting in a can from one of the sponsors in the lobby. Poor choice of product for a majority of attendees cooking and baking from scratch. We want to be challenged both intellectually and physically not spewed out of can.

Caitlin From Engineer Baker

Caitlin from Engineer Baker.

The cocktail party after the sessions were over was held on the rooftop of the hotel in perfect weather and with alcohol flowing generously.

Zoe - Author of Artisan Bread In 5 minutes A Day

Zoe from Zoe Bakes.

One of my "fuzzies" of the conference was to meet Zoe, author of Zoe Bakes and Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day. To say that the woman is hot is an understatement, to add that she is one genuinely cool lady is no exaggeration. I hope we get the chance to meet and talk many more times in the future.

After this first round of cocktails, we all headed to Tropisueno for the After BlogHer Party organized by Jaden, Ree and Elise. These women sure know how to throw a party! I had the chance to hang out with my pal Tammy from Running With Tweezers a bit more while being served glass after glass of Merlot by Hardy from Murphy Goode Wines.

I also got the chance to meet one of my baking crushes, Alice Medrich with whom I talked for a while on topics ranging from French markets and pastry chefs to blogging and writing. Precious moment.

Thanks to Emily from Foodzie I left the party with more chocolate and some really cool Nori salt. Thank you! Oh and a bottle of Pomegranate liqueur from Pama, one of the party sponsors "magically" fell into my bag.

Sunday morning, Jen and I met Caitlin, Shauna, Danny and Lucy for coffee and after parting ways with them all we both headed out to meet Tammy, Todd and Diane for Dim Sum. Again, check Jen’s pictures for that part. I was too busy eating! After saying our goodbyes, Jen and I went about town to check out more bakeries.

Paulette Macarons

Paulette Macarons.

I really wanted to check out Paulette's macarons and store. It is my grandmother’s name after all and I had heard so many good reviews (after all there is Michalak stamp on it) that I had to sample a few. Geez…Perfect. All of them.

Paulette Window Shopping

So many great flavors to chose from!

Miette In Hayes Valley

Miette’s "headquarters" in Hayes Valley.

Miette’s main store is as adorable as you can imagine. I was really like a kid in a candy store since they store a lot of the candies I grew up with. Heaven.

Miette In Hayes Valley

Tess from Miette.

Got the chance to meet Tess who writes and updates Miette’s blog. Being a sucker for design and props, I must give Tess and her team an A+ in their arranging the store to make it look so perfect.

Miette In Hayes Valley, San Francisco

At Miette.

We were running out of time before Jen’s plane and decided to skip Tartine and part ways. That was tough. Parting ways, not Tartine, doh…

I headed back to the hotel to pick up my bags and headed out to Cameron’s and Anita’s from Married With Dinner, with whom I stayed until Tuesday. After many years of chatting online, Christmas card exchanges and others, it was a bit surreal to just hang out at their house and leisurely prepare a feast of market fresh produce for dinner.

Homegrown Salad and Market Mushroom

Homegrown salad and market mushrooms.

Sausages, salad, veggies of all kinds. Anita had scored a bunch of great plums at the Marin market earlier that day and I made us a plum crisp with green coriander seeds and lemon verbana as well as a tropical inspired granita.

Making Plum Crisp & Dinner With Friends

Dinner with friends.

Cooked and ate with some wonderful people that I was thrilled to finally meet. Kick ass Laura from (Not So) Urban Hennery and fiesty sweet Kristina from Tennessee Locavore, and of course Cameron, Anita and Jen M.

I went to bed with my head filled and my heart bursting. Still.

I have a couple more posts to come about my stay after BlogHer. A trip to Napa, more bakeries, an amazing tapas dinner at Contigo and more. In the meantime, I am leaving you with a picture of sweet Lucy eating her first macaron at Bouchon bakery. I could photograph this child all day long…and I did!


The way to eat a macaron, by Lucy.

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Cannelle Et Vanille October 2, 2009 um 6:21 pm

Oh how I was waiting for this! Glad you had such a great time. It's great to put faces to all the wonderful bloggers. Miette is like a fairy tale and how precious is Lu… oh my! Thanks for sharing!

Bethie October 2, 2009 um 6:22 pm

Fantastic post, wonderful pics and beautiful people, oh how I wish I could have been there. Oh well….

tara October 2, 2009 um 6:24 pm

Thank you for this – you've captured the weekend (and Lucy!) so beautifully that we can all feel as though we were there.

The Purple Foodie October 2, 2009 um 6:26 pm

Thank you so much for this wonderful post! I could imaigine myslelf being in SF just by loooking through one photo after another. Miette looks like a store out of a fairytale!

Thanks again, Helen.

alice October 2, 2009 um 6:27 pm

I love reading your recap. You are such a loving and generous soul Helen. Thank you for the gift of friendship.


matt October 2, 2009 um 6:29 pm

incredible shots. Wish I was there! the conference looks great, and what a fantastic bundle of people to meet.

Indian Food Rocks October 2, 2009 um 6:30 pm

So glad you got a picture of Jen and her pink sunglasses. She's a rock star! I love all the pics and especially those of precious Lucy – her eyes blow me away! Hugs to you, Helen!

Anita (Married… with dinner) October 2, 2009 um 6:33 pm

You make my dining room table look so beautiful! And it really was a joy to have you stay with us. I hope you come back soon, and often — and bring that handsome husband of yours along next time. ๐Ÿ™‚ We have many more food adventures ahead, I know for certain.

Miss you already…

Jen Yu October 2, 2009 um 6:34 pm

awesome post, my dear. awesomer weekend ๐Ÿ™‚ it's too bad we can't do that every weekend ๐Ÿ™ but i'll take any time i can get with you! love that pic of lucy and the mac most of all – just want to eat her up she's so adorable!! we'll do this again. promise. xxoo

veron October 2, 2009 um 6:35 pm

Oh Miette, how I miss thee! If I open a patisserie I want it to be as cute. And you met Alice Medrich! Did you know I flew all the way to San Francisco just to attend her classes? She is no doubt the queen of chocolate desserts. Glad you had a great time !

Megan Gordon October 2, 2009 um 6:47 pm

Lovely, lovely, lovely.
Reading a few folks' posts from Blogher, I'm so impressed with how much you ladies got around town! I love Miette–you're right, from a design perspective, they do everything right. And I'm glad you made it to Paulette. Not everyone loves it, but I do.

Your line about the utility company not recognizing macarons as a source of income made me laugh out loud…at work. That's the story of my life lately. Thanks!

Kristina October 2, 2009 um 6:52 pm


What a wonderful extended weekend that was! I had such a lovely time talking with all of you that afternoon and at dinner. It's rare to meet such a great group of women who I instantly feel so at ease with. Dinner was so amazing. Thank you for the delicious Plum Crisp – I wish I hadn't had to eat and run. I hope the next time we meet, I'll have had more sleep and if you ever make your way to Knoxville, I hope you know you have a place to stay.


Jessica October 2, 2009 um 7:04 pm

Beautiful pictures and beautiful food. I can't imagine what it would be like to meet bloggers that have inspired you and are now 'friends.' I want to!

The Short (dis)Order Cook October 2, 2009 um 7:05 pm

Oh my. If envy is truly a deadly sin, my heart will stop right about now. I've been enjoying reading everyone's blogs about their time in SF, but this one really takes the cake in taking me there and making me want to be there!

Judy October 2, 2009 um 7:37 pm

What a delightful write-up! Sounds like such a fun and rewarding experience. By the way, I did the index for Zoe's latest bread baking book, due out later this month. How's your book coming along?

Maria October 2, 2009 um 7:38 pm

I enjoyed reading your recap of Blogher and SF. It was so much fun. I miss it! Your photos are amazing, like always. I am so glad I was able to meet you in person, you are gorgeous, down to earth, and brilliant. I hope we can meet up again.

El October 2, 2009 um 8:16 pm

Thank you for sharing your photos about the conference. It looks like you all had a great time. I could sure go for one of those cupcakes right now.

Bron October 2, 2009 um 8:29 pm

Wahhhh! I've been looking forward to your recap all week, I'm like… …there is far too much gorgeousness in your post for 1 visit, your gorgeous words, your gorgeous photos and most of all the gorgeous gorgeous food loving people, loving gorgeous people, gorgeous people…. phew! I truly hope I get to meet you all too one day!! Lucy is a gem! xxx

Irina@PastryPal October 2, 2009 um 8:56 pm

I loved reading about your time at BlogHer. Thanks for the detailed recap. I'd love to have been there.

steph- whisk/spoon October 2, 2009 um 9:12 pm

sounds like a dream trip! and that's wonderful that you got to meet all these lovely ladies in person!!

Asha @ FSK October 2, 2009 um 9:57 pm

You obviously had fun at the conference! :))) Lovely photographs

Asha @ FSK October 2, 2009 um 9:57 pm

You obviously had fun at the conference! :))) Lovely photographs

Barbara October 2, 2009 um 10:11 pm

Really great to see SF from your eyes Helene. There are some bloggers in there I had not herd of so off to check them out. Hugs

Kelsey B. October 2, 2009 um 10:22 pm

Helen — It was great to hear your speak at BlogHer, I got a lot out of your panel. I also love this post – I too wrote about Miette on my round-up! Such an amazing store with great treats!

nadia October 2, 2009 um 11:09 pm

it looks lie you had a wonderful time! helen the picture are a fantastic all those smiles and colors delicious!

Zoe Francois October 2, 2009 um 11:20 pm

Helen, it really was magical to meet you. You are as radiant and warm as I imagined. I feel so lucky to have spent time with you in SF!

Those pictures of Lucy are just fantastic! What a charmer! ๐Ÿ™‚

Cookie baker Lynn October 2, 2009 um 11:38 pm

Thanks for posting all the pictures and descriptions of your wonderful trip. For me, it's a wee bitty bit like being there. It sounds like it was all fabulous!

Char October 3, 2009 um 12:00 am

what a whirlwind of fun!

The Cookie Blog October 3, 2009 um 12:10 am

I have to say, it was refreshing to read a candid review of the food at BlogHer. I think most folks were afraid to say anything about it.

It was insulting, to say the least.

But all in all, I really enjoyed blogher, and I would definitely go again.

I really enjoyed hearing you speak. I had never been to your blog before this, but will be a regular reader now.

Take care,

Anita October 3, 2009 um 3:38 am

It was so great to finally give you a hug Helen! I'm so glad you enjoyed your time in SF – the city has never prettier in your photos! Looking forward to the next time we meet!

Chef Gwen October 3, 2009 um 3:40 am

You capture the most beautiful light. I'm hidden behind someone in the shot you took at the first session (2 over from the beautiful Ashley). I'm wondering why you weren't up front, talking about how you manage to paint pictures with a lens. Just beautiful.

Kalyn Denny October 3, 2009 um 4:26 am

Great post! OMG, your photos are amazing. I need to come and live with you and take lessons!

Ashley October 3, 2009 um 4:29 am

Loved your recap.
Meeting you was such a dream. I wish the weekend could have strolled on so we could continue the conversations we have started through the years.
You are a joy and I'm so happy you're a part of my life.

Elise October 3, 2009 um 4:29 am

Absolutely beautiful photographs. So glad I got to meet you in person finally!

Helene October 3, 2009 um 5:28 am

Chef Gwen: you are much too kind! Just taking my equipment to the max of its capabilities ๐Ÿ™‚

Ashley: the feeling is mutual dear!

Kalyn: well, it's something we can think about for a future panel "take your cheap stuff to the max" but I am just enjoying the process of thinking each shot through and through, even on the fly!

Alexandra October 3, 2009 um 6:03 am

Lovely! Awesome energy, even from the photos!
A passionate dork? I don't think so, lady! A truly passionate soul, absolutely!

David October 3, 2009 um 7:52 am

Great to finally meet!

Finla October 3, 2009 um 9:22 am

This is one of the best party reads i have read, i just had the feeling i was thee with you all . And i just loved all the oictures you have addded of you trip.
I wish i would be able to visit these places once.

Ilva October 3, 2009 um 4:13 pm

Helene, Thanks a lot for this virtual journey, it is sooo frustrating to be stuck in Europe when you see these things going on. So being able to see the BlogHer conference through your eyes is invaluable for me!

Sam October 3, 2009 um 4:22 pm

Fantastic write up, Helen. Thanks so much for sharing. But. but? but?! Alice Medrich was there? Just as well I didn't know that as I would have been rolling around on the floor slobbering like an idiot as I tried to kiss the ground she walks on.

anadelicias October 3, 2009 um 9:04 pm

Amazing photographys!! Lovely meeting!! I would like to stay there in San Franciasco…

Pattern Patisserie October 3, 2009 um 10:39 pm

Thanks for this inspiriing and wonderful post, I wish I had been there!!
a. The utilities company is insane not to accept macarons for payment.
b. You are SO not a dork.
c. I need to design a macaron t-shirt!!..they are so cute,neat and colourful!!

Tiffany Rieder October 3, 2009 um 11:09 pm

What a great post! Who needs food magazines when you have blogs like these…I am also not a fan of raw sushi and all things raw but that slimy texture is just too much for my somewhat adventurous palate.

angela@spinachtiger October 4, 2009 um 2:38 am

Great post. I lived through your eyes for a moment. Thank you.

Aparna Balasubramanian October 4, 2009 um 1:15 pm

So you had a wonderful time. Remember all the excitement in the pre-trip tweets! ๐Ÿ™‚
Thanks for the virtual tour. Love the pic of Lucy and the macaron. She's adorable.

Kris Mulkey October 4, 2009 um 3:57 pm

Great recap. I was lucky enough to hear you speak at the conference. Your love and passion for sugar has me inspired! I'm a relatively new blogger and felt like a "fish out of water" at the conference. But your comments set the tone of the day for me. Be yourself and talk what you're passionate about. Thanks.

lauresophie October 4, 2009 um 7:07 pm

Quelle chance ca devait etre passionant et riches en rencontres et saveurs!

Paula Maack October 4, 2009 um 8:01 pm

Beautiful post, Helen! It was such a pleasure to meet you at the after party. I just wish we had more time…

I am glad you got to go to Miette and Paulette. I blogged about both a few months back – such a great corner in Hayes Valley.

Paulette's macarons are wonderful, aren't they? Oh, and I love anything involving caramel at Miette – especially their handmade bergamotte caramels. They also offer some incredible caramel panna cotta pots at their Ferry Bldg. outpost, which I stock up on whenever I am there.

I'm looking forward to your next Bay Area installment. Can't wait!


~ Paula

Simones Kitchen October 4, 2009 um 9:46 pm

What a joy to see all those photos from the conference…! Beautiful pics too… Looks like you guys had supertime there!!

Julie October 4, 2009 um 10:23 pm

Ah, I'm still so envious! I can't wait until next year. Thanks for letting us live vicariously through you!

Kitchen M October 5, 2009 um 2:14 am

Great post, Helen. Looking forward to more photos from Napa!

pastry studio October 5, 2009 um 3:51 am

So glad you enjoyed my home town. Wow, you really did so much in so short a time period! Can't believe I was out of town for the whole thing. Looks like I really missed several great parties. Hope you'll feel the urge to return. There are lots of incredibly fun things to do here in this gorgeous place!

RecipeGirl October 5, 2009 um 4:35 am

Helen- it was so, so nice to finally meet you. Really, it was such a thrill that you were there. Wish we could have had more time to chat. Hope you're considering coming to Mexico for the food blogger camp, if anything to have a fun vacation!! Your pictures of BlogHer are fabulous!

NKP October 5, 2009 um 6:33 pm

Such a wonderful adventure you had! Your photos are gorgeous – who knew how good looking all these foodies are!!!

Joyce Siew October 6, 2009 um 4:24 am

Lovely photos, always love your work. ๐Ÿ™‚ I esp. love photos of bakeries,cafes,restaurants…wow!

Engineer Baker October 6, 2009 um 1:08 pm

I am so glad I finally got to meet you – it was wonderful beyond words! And no worries, my mission wherever I go is to visit as many patisseries and bakeries as I can ๐Ÿ˜› Wonderful recap of a wonderful (whirlwind) weekend!

melissa loves October 15, 2009 um 1:24 pm

How INCREDIBLY sweet and lovely and heart warming. It all looks so fun, so festive and I am so happy that you had such a great time!

Anonymous October 26, 2009 um 2:03 pm

I still haven't figured out how to subscribe to your blog since I am relatively new at this "blogging" thing! But i venture through your site often and absolutely love love love your photography and food. you are a wonderfully talented artist ๐Ÿ™‚

Nisrine@Dinners and Dreams March 22, 2010 um 12:58 am

Great post on what looks like a great conference. I'm glad you had fun.

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