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An Overview of Eat Write Retreat in Washington, D.C.

Last weekend I attended the Eat, Write Retreat which is a weekend event for food bloggers, photographers and other foodies in the industry, thanks to the generous support of Saffron Road Foods who sponsored my attendance and for the t-shirt and coupon giveaways they provided for me to distribute to my new food blogger friends.

eat write retreat photo shoot

Every table had a little practice time on the stage to style fresh foods

food photography course on screen

One of the best things about the weekend was simply meeting the people there: the fabulous and hospitable organizers, Casey Benedict and Robyn Webb, the interesting speakers like Monica Bhide and Michael Natkin, and other food bloggers who also share a passion for food, photography, health and nutrition.

Casey and Michael Natkin at Elizabeth's Gone Raw

It was almost comical to see everyone’s cameras come out every time food was presented because it’s something I always do at home and when I’m eating out. With a table full of food photographers, it felt like we were food paparazzi capturing culinary presentations on a plate..

The swag bag and the additional giveaways from Calphalon and Oxo were phenomenal and generous and kept coming all the way up until the last moment of the retreat. I still can’t get over the fact that I came home with a Panini press…

In addition to the workshops on food photography, we also had a motivational presentation and exercise by the well-known and respected food writer Monica Bhide who I was able to finally meet in person- one of the highlights of the entire weekend for me.

The cooking challenge we participated in at Culinaerie on Sunday gave me a glimpse into what it might be like to be on one of the reality cooking shows where the pressure is on to create, perform and present to judges, which although it can seem nerve-wracking, seems not too much different than any mom putting dinner on the table for a crowd.

cooking challenge at Culinaerie

In the red shirt is Chicago-based Jenn Sutherland who writes The Whole Kitchen blog on gluten-free cooking and in the back on the right is Beth Pav of Austin, Texas who I got to know. She’s a talented and well-seasoned chef who owns the Cooking by Design Culinary Studio. (above)

Arianna of Oxo

That’s Arianna of Oxo Good Grips tasting our dish during Sunday Morning’s Cooking Challenge. She seemed to really like our dish, which was a uniquely spiced watermelon jam over quesadillas. (above)

Laura Kumin of Mother Would Know

Laura Kumin of the blog, Mother Would Know, has a nurturing way of presenting the how-to’s of cooking. Please check out her site. She had me laughing for more than half the weekend with some of her stories and fun conversations we shared. (above)

Renee made the watermelon jam in our cooking challenge

 Miami, Florida-based Renee of Flamingo Musings shared her recipe the watermelon jam in our cooking challenge, which got an honorable mention and everyone asking for her recipe. She actually sells many of her jams on line and at local Miami farmers markets.  (above)

In the evenings, I was able to scope out some of the nearby halal food destinations I came easily across which reminded me of the time I spent living in DC over ten years ago. It was so great to be in this international city once again. Try George’s in Georgetown for wonderful falafel sandwiches and shwarma plates, all for a really decent price. You can even eat outdoors…

Overall, it was a jam-packed weekend with events from Friday evening thru Sunday afternoon. The food was either catered or served to us at the restaurants we visited, much of which was healthy and light- plenty of vegetarian options around, which was a great alternative for me all weekend.

Vegan Food at Elizabeth's Gone Raw

Thank you again, Casey and Robyn for making me feel more than welcome to be there, and Saffron Road for helping make the trip possible…

 

Now, as a thanks for your support and for reading this blog as much as you do, I’m giving away something from Oxo Good Grips that I received from the event- just leave a relevant comment to be entered into the random drawing. I’ll pick two winners. Deadline to enter is May 19, 2012 at 12:01 a.m.

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17 comments

  1. I would love to try the new recipes you came across. I have never tried watermelon jam. It would be great if you could share the recipe for us to try.

  2. What a wonderful recounting of our time together. The best part of the conference was getting to know other food bloggers and learning an incredible amount from each of you. Hopefully just the start of many lovely friendships – in person, online, and whatever other ways we find to connect.

  3. Heather E. Caparoso

    What an exciting-sounding weekend! I’ve had watermelon pickles before, but never watermelon
    jam. BTW, I’ve never commented on this site before, but I really like it! It’s wonderful to see halal food presented in such a beautiful, nutritious, and dare I say mainstream way!
    Asalaam Alaykum,
    Rihana

  4. Salaam! I’m so happy you were able to have this valuable experience. Personally, as I am trying to make changes in my own diet from the nutritionally vacant properties of processed foods to more natural, locally grown, nutritious foods I have found your blog to be a very valuable resource. Thank you for filling the gap for those of use who adhere to halaal diets and please keep up your good work. All the success to you in your endeavors.

  5. @Mary- I’m just waiting on Renee to give the go-ahead to pass it along and then I’ll be sure to do so :)

  6. I loved following your tweets during your trip. What a great conference, with amazing food!!

  7. @Laura- I think so, too. I am so glad to have met you there!

  8. @Heather- thank you for commenting- I am glad you did and hope to hear more from you in the future :)

  9. Wonderful recap of an amazing weekend…wish we could go back and do it all over again, too! This was my favorite food conference I’ve ever attended, and it’s because I got to meet you and all of the other amazing bloggers!

  10. I luv reading your blog and am looking forward to meeting with you and attending your session this weekend at the Halal kitchen workshop, Insha’Allah.

  11. ASA,
    Love reading your blog, and learning new recipes. Jazakallah Khair

  12. Looks like an awesome event! I love seeing posts from food blogging events like these… it is awesome to see so many bloggers bonding over what brings us all together, food!

  13. Maybe you can share with us some tips on taking those great food pictures! I never seem to get that “professional” look.

  14. Salamz Yvonne and thank you so much for sharing your experience with us.. I always look forward to your blog… Ive never had watermelon jam before and would love to try it… Regards…