Since I missed my usual Monday post, here is your Motivation Monday quote, a la Thursday!
My trip to San Francisco for the Produce for Better Health : Consumer Connection Annual Conference was so much fun. By the end of the conference I didn’t want to go home!
I love being surround by others who are passionate about healthy eating and excellent produce! My panel was moderated by Bob Ochsner from DGWB who gave an outstanding presentation about blogger outreach and forming long lasting relationships with bloggers and brands. As Bob said…“Bloggers are the rockstars of the future…” It’s pretty amazing how blogging has evolved from an “online journal” to a full time career and main source of advertising for many brands. It has been such an honor to work with Selena and Bob at DGWB , DOLE Salads , DOLE Bananas , and Bard Valley Natural Delights Dates . I feel like the luckiest little bunny in the world!
I never imagined a conference being so much fun. I got to chat with some excellent produce lovers from marketing and PR professionals, family farmers, dietitians, produce sales representatives, and of course blog idols! The second Selena told me that Kathy Patalsky from Healthy. Happy. Life. was speaking on my same panel, I nearly had a fan girl moment! I have been reading and swooning over Kathy’s mouth watering vegan recipes for over a year now, and meeting her in person was surreal! On my second day at the conference, I walked back to the hotel and saw Kathy relaxing in the lobby with her (you guessed it, soy matcha latte). Of course me and my overly excited self walked right up to her and said “Kathy? I’m Catherine!” and the rest was history. Just kidding, but really. We sat and chatted in the lobby for a couple of hours until we realized what time it was! I was so intimidated meeting one of my favorite bloggers face-to-face (hello, she’s like serious celeb status!), but she is as sweet as a peach, and so much fun to be around. When the conference was over, we spent the entire cab ride to the airport brainstorming T-shirt ideas to promote Kathy’s blog and book 365 Vegan Smoothies that is coming out this June! I’m so excited to help her with her shirts, they’re going to be sooooo cute!
I ended up with way more photos than I originally thought, but here they are!
PREP DAY: TUESDAY BEFORE MY TRIP
The trip started off with some night before travel snack shopping at Mother’s Market . I ended up with a basket of Alive & Radiant Kale Krunch: Tarragon Dijon flavor , Go Raw Spirulina Super Chips , Justin’s Almond Butter packets , and a handful of Larabars .
Printed a bunch of new business cards. They were a big hit at the conference!
Ended up making a special RFFMBT shirt to wear for my panel. At midnight… haha Can you say procrastinating to avoid packing?
DAY 1: TRAVEL & MYCOPIA GOURMET MUSHROOM TOUR
I was up early on Wednesday morning to fly up to San Francisco. Needless to say after my night of procrastinating, business card making, and shirt creating, I needed a Skinny Vanilla Latte from Starbucks.
Boarded the plane in style… on the tarmac! Off we went to SF!
I arrived at the W San Francisco just in time to check into my gorg room and change clothes for the “veggie tour!”
My office away from home for a few days!
How beautiful is this view? My room looked right at the Bay Bridge!
I found Waldo on top of one of the buildings!
Checked in at registration and met Sharese Alston who coordinated my trip and the event! It was so fun to meet her and finally put a face to the lovely lady behind all of our emails! I wish I got a picture with her, she is the cutest thing and full of energy. Once I checked in, I got my name badge and ran to the bus for our tour.
I couldn’t have arrived on a more beautiful day. The sun was shining, the sky was bright blue, and the two hour drive to our tour destination was absolutely stunning.
Our tour destination: Mycopia Gourmet Mushroom farm.
So pumped when they brought out these suhhh-weeet hairnets for us to wear. Nothing says sexy like a hairnet.
Snapshot of all our the tour attendees entering Mycopia in their super chic hairnets.
Before each room/area we went to in the farm, we had to dip our shoes in little tubs of a bleach mixture to prevent any spores from being transferred into the farm.
Getting an intro to the soil and planting process. So not what I was expecting! I thought we would drive up to vineyards of mushrooms outside! Ha! Boy was I wrong!
Jars of soil and growing mushrooms. Totally not how I imagined mushrooms being grown.
Inside the “farm!”
Full grown mushrooms.
I felt like I was in wonderland when I walked into this room!
I’ve never thought of mushrooms as gorgeous until this day.
Had to refrain from touching them haha they look so soft and… pretty!
Getting a demo of how the mushrooms are “picked” from their jars. No cutting needed.
Mushroom packaging room.
Delicious mushroom snacks for us! The chef sautéed three different types of mushrooms in olive oil with a little bit of salt and pepper and it was absolutely to die for. On a side note, how cute are these mushroom bouquets?! Call me crazy, but I’m tempted to throw a mushroom partayyy and have some adorable mushroom center pieces! They’re too cute! Huge thank you to Mycopia Gourmet Mushrooms for the awesome tour!
DAY 2: EXPLORING SF & DINNER WITH FRIENDS
Day two started off with a nice lonnnnggggg walk. I really worked my glutes and calves on all of those hills haha.
Wouldn’t be SF without a cable car photo.
My favorite Chinatown. Ever.
Another cable car photo.
Visited my old stomping grounds at FIDM SF (although I did go to the LA campus)!
After several hours of walking up hills I went back to the hotel for some hydration… andddd met the amazing Kathy from Healthy. Happy. Life. !
and dove into my snacks! Alive & Radiant Kale Krunch: Tarragon Dijon flavor & Go Raw Spirulina Super Chips . Accompanied by some work on my laptop.
Later Thursday night I met up with two of my friends Michaela and Katherine from home! We enjoyed tons of laughs, a bottle of wine, and amazing Italian food at Ristorante Milano. It was so great catching up with them. Missed these girls so much!
It took us about 10 tries to get a photo of all of us in the cab.
And here’s the final product. Look how clear the photo is! Hahaha We tried.
DAY 3: BLOGGER PANEL & DINNER AND FUN WITH KATHY
Golden kale necklace and custom handmade “EAT MORE RABBIT FOOD” shirt!
Before the panel, Kathy and I met in the lobby and explored the conference room!
My name badge and “SPEAKER” ribbon! Ahhhh!
Kathy’s pre-panel tea. Loved how the leaf on the tea bag peaked out of the mug!
Featured speakers for the interactive blogger panel!
After our panel, Kathy and I hopped in a cab and made our way to Saha for some Arabic fusion! When Kathy visited Veg News, they told her she must try Saha , and now we know why! If you are in San Francisco, you must go! plus It’s very veggie and vegan friendly. It’s safe to say that Kathy and I arrived at Saha with quite an appetite. Our feast (not exaggerating) consisted of: Cauliflower Coconut Lavender Soup, Stuffed Artichoke Hearts, Kale Quinoa Tofu Salad, Vegan Mushroom Ravioli (omg. melt in your mouth. so good that I ate them before I could even take a photo.), Vegan Tagine, Vegan Baklava, and Vegan Knaffe. See, I told you we ordered a feast!
We arrived at 5:30 for our 6pm reservation hoping to be seated early… until we found out that Saha opened at 6! Can you tell that we were starving?
Kathy and I at Saha.
Kale Quinoa Tofu Salad with cooked peaches. The menu had me at kale.
Stuffed artichoke. To die for! It was cooked to perfection and at first bite was reminiscent of a portobello mushroom.
Oh yes, I’d like to order the “Slap Yo Mama.” I couldn’t resist taking a photo.
Vegan Baklava. Holy yum. I’m such a sucker for Baklava. It’s totally my Armenian roots coming out! Love how they were cooked as individual treats!
Vegan Knaffe, an Arabic dessert!
Completely stuffed from dinner at Saha, we went back to the W… and got stuck in the revolving door. Yes, you read that right! For the brief time we were stuck, I had visions of SFFD having to come break the glass and rescue us! What was probably seconds felt like hours as the entire lobby of guests were staring! I could not stop laughing, it was so epic! This scene from the movie Anchorman can give you a great idea of what we looked like in that glass revolving door.
After the revolving door incident we decided to go get Soy Matcha Green Tea Lattes and go on a stroll to Union Square.
I told Kathy that we had to go in the glass elevator a.k.a. Oz at the St. Francis hotel to see the gorgeous city view! …and then we eded up getting stuck in the elevator. There were no buttons inside. total. fail. We had to ride it until someone else got in and pressed “lobby” with their hotel key from the outside! For a hot second, I though’t we were going to be stuck in yet another glass case of emotion .
We got back to the W and watched the new lights/light show on the bay bridge. It felt like I was at Disneyland every night watching World of Color!
It wouldn’t be the W without super out-there decor! When I got back to my room the first night, I noticed a pink and purple light glowing from above the desk. I laughed hysterically because at the Chobani dinner , Amy Keefe was telling me about the glowing Buddha when se stayed at the W SF! Of course I had to email her a photo of it right away haha. This little guy changed colors all night and I literally couldn’t turn it off! Buddha was glowing in all of his glory until I found out that he had a little door that hid him haha.
DAY 4: HOMEWARD BOUND
Since we both had flights around the same time, we shared a cab to SFO and got to hangout together at the gate before departing. We found an awesome cafe at the airport that was loaded with healthy options – so rare in the airport world. They had a yogurt bar with nonfat, 1%, and 2% Greek strained yogurt, soy yogurt, and your choice of toppings along with a big selection of Kombucha! Multi-Green Kombucha, nonfat Greek yogurt with kiwis and granola for me, and Synergy Kombucha for Kathy! It was an excellent way to end the trip!
While on my flight, I opened up my book to find a hand written note from Kathy. I totally started tearing up on the plane while reading this. She is so genuine and kind. Still speechless, I’m framing this!
Thank you so much to the Produce for Better Health Foundation for including me in your Consumer Connection Conference and for sponsoring my travel and stay at the W!
P.S. Look what just arrived!!! Can’t even contain my enthusiasm right now! I can’t wait to get them photographed and onto my online store asap!