Upcoming Event: The PopUp Dinner SF

Have you heard of pop up restaurants? This is usually where a small gathering of people share a meal cooked by a well-known or amateur chef in a temporary location. They are often relatively impromptu, and generally focus on community and hospitality. The PopUp Dinner hosted by Handmade Events takes this concept to a whole new level by gathering thousands of people together to share in a picnic dinner for one evening of the year. The catch? The location is not disclosed until 3pm on the day of the event.

sfpop2

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Events: Scharffen Berger Chocolate and Wine Pairing

Last week I was invited to a Scharffen Berger chocolate and wine pairing event at a local waterfront restaurant, Waterbar. As you might imagine, I accepted this invitation immediately. As is the norm, I wasn’t sure the actual format for this event (dinner? snacks? sit down or mingling? small gathering or large? bloggers only or others?), but it did not disappoint. And they told us about their new advertising campaign, which is actually really creative and engaging.

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Giveaway: Eat Drink SF — An Epic Foodie Festival

Yes, it seems that every other weekend there is some amazing food or beverage festival in this grand city of ours, and next weekend is no exception. The Eat Drink SF festival (formerly SF Chefs) will be taking place at Fort Mason August 1-3, 2014, with a huge variety of events from classes to dinners to parties spanning the three-day event.

eat drink sf

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Events: SF Chocolate Salon 2014 — Recap

I was kindly invited to this year’s Chocolate Salon held at Fort Mason. It consisted of dozens of vendors, each with their own table displaying their goods and with samples for patrons to try. Since I was invited as a judge, I was requested to vote on my favorite vendors after the event. All the winners are listed on their website — click the blue circular award in the right margin (why no link, guys?).

chocolate

 

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Events: SF Street Food Festival 2013 Preview Dinner

It’s that time of year again. Time for the San Francisco Street Food Festival sponsored by La Cocina. This year’s main event is on Saturday August 17, 2013, in the Mission district of SF. And like years past, it will be filled with great local vendors. I was invited to the media preview dinner again (year three — w00t!). My personal highlights are listed below.

st street food festival 2013 flier

Let’s just start with the winner. The best thing at the preview dinner, IMHO, by a long shot. It sounded gross, but it was incredible. Most interesting, delicious food ever. The winner is: Hella Vegan Eats with their Mini Vegan Doughnut Burger. A beet patty, pickled onions, pickles, kale, tomato, and secret sauce, all between two sugar doughnuts. Amazing. Believe it.

Hella Vegan Eats - Mini Vegan Doughnut Burger

Hella Vegan Eats – Mini Vegan Doughnut Burger

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Nespresso

Nespresso. Have you heard of it yet? It’s like espresso, but with an “n”. It’s a Swiss brand of single-serve coffee makers that markets to high-end clientele. Starbucks has gotten on the single-serve bandwagon, but, come on, they’re not Nespresso.

I was invited to the grand opening of Nespresso’s newest flagship boutique in Union Square in SF a few months ago. When I showed up, the place was still sorely under construction. I later found out that I was somehow not on the list when they told everyone about the cancellation of the event. I was sad. They sent me a $200 Nespresso machine and probably another $50 worth of accompanying paraphernalia. Apology accepted.

My very own Nespresso U machine

My very own Nespresso U machine

I recently went to the real Grand Opening Event which went quite a bit better than the first one. Indeed, it was most certainly one of the best media events I’ve yet experienced. Let’s discuss.

The sched:

5.30 – 6.30: Press Preview & Executive Remarks

6.30 – 9pm: Evening Event

Based on this description, I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea that there would literally be a red carpet out front. That they would be renting a cable car (the kind on wheels) decorated in Nespresso banners to be parked out front of the store as a photo op spot and gift bag storage location. That they would have wine, roving photographers and videographers, demonstrations, and a huge spread of food. I was woefully unprepared and pleasantly surprised all at once.

Upon check-in at the red carpet, I received a pre-printed, magnetic, uber-plush name tag. There were only a handful of them; the “Press Preview” was apparently relatively exclusive. The woman informed me that I should come by to receive my gift bag at the end, and to fill out this form to receive my very own Nespresso machine. My first mistake: painfully detrimental honesty. “Oh, I already have a Nespresso machine! You guys sent me one.” Smart, Angie, very smart. You can’t just accept a free thing and give it to one of your deserving friends? No, your first instinct is to be honest, barring all consequences. Like an idiot. Good work. Empty handed, I proceeded into the boutique for the event.

Do excuse this exquisitely awful photo, I let my phone do the photographs this time. Never again.

Do excuse this exquisitely awful photo, I let my phone do the photographs this time. Never again.

As I walk thorough the front doors, a series of waiters holding trays awaits to my left. I take a champagne flute from one tray, the next server pours a bit of raspberry liquor in the flute, the next champagne. The final server puts a finishing raspberry in my glass, and now I have a super fancy cocktail served by no less than four people. There are more employees and PR people than guests. I would estimate there were probably 30 staff total in a room the size of about two large Starbucks cafes. It was ridiculous.

The staff were all dressed up. Hair, makeup, ties. Nametags. Smiles. They would approach me and offer to show me things. “Shall we step downstairs to the boutique? Our President will give you a tour of the store.” Except they most certainly had a fancier name for the store, I just don’t remember it. They had flown in Nespresso higher-ups from Switzerland and a PR team from New York for this event. I received a private tour of the extremely swanky purchasing room from the President of Nespresso USA. In showing me how the place worked (super techy-rad — self-refilling shelving, check out stands that automatically detect what items are in your bag, super speedy digital self-check out), he let me pick out a half dozen boxes of Nespresso capsules which he then bought for me and let me take. It was kind of amazing.

High-tech self check out area at the Nespresso SF boutique

High-tech self check out area at the Nespresso SF boutique

There were then three short speeches by the president, head of marketing, and the president of the America’s Cup, of which Nespresso is a sponsor this year, followed by a few brief and unintentionally fumbly tours of the products. I had been there for an hour thus far and was already pretty overwhelmed.

Then it was time for the real party to start; 300 people were expected for the “Evening Event”. People started pouring in the front door. Everyone is dressed to the nines. There is complimentary valet. I feel like I’m at some sort of movie screening. I’m wearing slip-on shoes and my North Face fleece; I came straight from work. And I have no one to talk to because I had a bit of a plus-one snafu. So I started to feel kinda awkward. And hungry.

The food was coming out, but it was getting so crowded that I couldn’t move anywhere. I wished I had been better prepared (dressed nicer, brought friends, had somewhere to put my jacket, handbag, and Nespresso bag), and decided to head toward my gift bag instead. Since I was leaving as most people were arriving, I had to ask about the gift bag, which is always a classy move. “Can I have my free things now? Remember, I’m the one who turned down the free machine, but now wants other free things. Gimme!”

The newest Nespresso machine, debuting in the US later this year. Yeah, we got a preview.

The newest Nespresso machine, debuting in the US later this year. Yeah, we got a preview.

I was given a gift bag that literally came up to mid-thigh if you set it on the ground. It wasn’t full or anything, it was just giant. I suppose they expected me to stow it gracefully in the ample trunk of my valeted vehicle. They likely did not expect me to be walking 25 minutes home with it in tow, trying hard not to let it scrape on the ground the whole way. Why do I seem to always have the privilege of feeling like a goon even when things are supposed to be nice?

Regardless, the event was relatively amazing. It was well-executed, professionally done, and totally gave off the high-end, fancy swank vibe they were going for. And all the people who looked totally prepared for it seemed to be having a great time. The only thing I want from that event is a do-over.

Either way, now we can have a Nespresso party at my place. I have all the flavors. Booya.

Thorny Rose Wine – Media Event

Dear purveyor of every other brand of everything, ever:

Hi, thank you for coming to my website. I hope you get a moment to look around before racing to my contact page and immediately emailing me about events and products that may only be mildly relevant, if at all, to my blog topic. I will try to respond, but only because I’m sort of anal-retentive about responding to emails. I will probably say no thank you politely. For those of you in the food and restaurant industry, thank you for your email; I really appreciate the invitation to your event, tasting, or product trial. You guys rock. Now, listen up.

thorny rose logo

You’re having a media event. For one reason or another, you’ve invited me! Yeay! I have no idea what to expect from this invite. I will probably ask you. Can I bring a guest? Will there be food suitable for a pescatarian? I won’t ask the 589 other questions that my over-planner brain has thought of, but I will decide whether to go or not. And if I’m very very lucky, your event will be like the Thorny Rose bowling night a few weeks ago. And then I might even blog about it. I present my case:

Exhibit #1: The invite to the Thorny Rose event:

Thorny Rose Event Invite

Thorny Rose Event Invite

This invite is rad. Look at the fonts! Aren’t they fun? Read the content. Cheesy puns, Instagram-esque pictures, reference to The Big Lebowski. I mean, I suppose this is really a marketing lesson in catering to your audience, but dang, well done. Also, I love bowling. And The Big Lebowski. And I don’t even hate wine anymore. And they said I could bring a plus one (they even said “or two”!), which makes most media events wayyyy less awkward. Rad.

Exhibit #2: The event:

thorny rose

Look at everyone having fun!

They rented the entire Mission Bowl facility. Private party, biatches! My name wasn’t on the list for some reason, but someone who seemed important waved me in after asking me my blog name. I’m sure they had no idea who I was, but since I knew to give a blog name, they probably knew I was invited. So I felt vindicated and welcome. Good move TR.

Exhibits #3-12: Free wine at the bar. In rad custom plastic cups a la Wine Lands. And free bowling. And t-shirt prizes if you got a strike (I got FIVE — yeah, I was in excellent form). And roving appetizer attendants. And a necklace making station. And silly props to use for the photos that the prof photog was taking of you while you had an awesome time. And Jenga and other board games at the tables. And the Creme Brulee cart — yes, they rented the Creme Brulee Cart — for your personally crafted dessert enjoyment. Do you see how this was successful?

Also, they happened to take this awesome pic of my +1, Ms. Smalls.

Also, they happened to take this awesome pic of my +1, Ms. Smalls. Look at that form!

In conclusion, this was obviously the Best Media Event Ever. I mean, maybe these rad events happen all the time and I’m just not invited. Fair enough. Either way, this was pretty much perfection. And then they followed up by sending out the professional pics, and even sent me a free bottle of wine. Nicest. People. Ever. Thank you Thorny Rose, you really know how to show a girl a good time. I would go on a second date with you, fo sho. Everyone else: take note. And don’t forget to invite me.

Sincerely,

~broccoli and chocolate~

Foodbuzz Blogger Festival 2012

Oh, wow, did I really not blog about the festival last year? That’s sad. Well, some shit was happening in, like, my real life right around then. Do excuse me.

So… though I only have a 2010 blog entry to prove it, this was my third annual Foodbuzz Blogger Festival. This year’s fest was by far the best in my opinion, and I say that not only for rhyming purposes.

“Spiked” watermelon at the Starlight Room. They were weird.

This year they condensed the festival to two days instead of three. Good move. I don’t need my entire weekend monopolized. And the upped the quality of each event, save the Tasting Pavilion, which is still my least favorite event, I’d say.

The event consisted of:

I have never been to the Starlight Room. It looks hokey and for old people. That may be the case, but I loved it. The decor was ridiculous but awesome, the view was great, and there was an open bar. Also, my good friend, Mr. M. Quinn Sweeney, accompanied me thusly:

Quinn eat food!!!

After the Starlight, Q and I made our way to Baker and Banker for our dine around town experience. I think the idea was that you go in some sort of group and get to know people. If you’ve met me, you know this is not likely my first choice. Though, Q did point out that talking to a stranger at a Foodbuzz festival was indeed how we met two years ago. (Side note: we are not a couple. This was confusing to people at times throughout the festival.) Basically, this was Q and my friend-iversary. Adorbs.

The spread at the Starlight Room.

Baker and Banker will receive its own separate regular b&c entry. We had a good time though, fo sho.

Saturday morning’s scavenger hunt was at 8am. WTF? That is too early for a Saturday morning even though it sounded fun. I slept through that biz, then cleaned my house so that I was suitably “omm” for the Tasting Pavilion in the afternoon.

The Tasting Pavilion is a fixture every year, it seems. The venue is rad, and some of the food is good, but mostly, it’s just a big gauntlet of generic vendors giving out food samples. There are some local places (Kika’s Treats!!!), the ubiquitous Three Twins Ice Cream, and a few more good things, but generally it’s just a lot of packaged food and lots of repeat vendors (how much biscotti does a person need in one session?). Anyway, not my fav, but I went anyway.

Saturday night was the Gala dinner. They rented out the entire Cal Academy. It was unnecessary. It was ridiculous. It was amazing. I only wish we could have frolicked around in the aviary in our socks. Alas, that will have to wait for another time.

Q, M, and me in the aquarium tunnel at the Cal Academy. Notice the lack of people elbowing us in the face and children screaming. Private party, biatches.

The reception was downstairs in the aquarium. Drinks and appetizers in the aquarium! Best ever! Dinner was upstairs in the back directly across from the main entrance to the building (but before the albino crocodile enclosure… you know what I’m talking about, right?). There were a dozen or so round tables set up and we seated ourselves freely. I brought the Mala-monster to this event because she’s awesome and they let me.

This gala was buffet style, which I much prefer. Some peeps were saying the sit down dinner is classier, but I thought the buffet was much more appropriate. And I didn’t waste nearly as much food because of it. Still open bar, pretty good catered food, and good company at our table.

Yummy ravioli and squash soup was served hot and fresh in individual servings cooked to order at the buffet.

The night went quickly and was over before we knew it. We had a really good time. Then my other friends came and picked me up and I went bowling in Pacifica. Because that’s how I roll sometimes. Thanks again, Foodbuzz. See you next year.