November 29, 2009 · 33 comments

Food Bloggers Connect 2009

in Blogger Events

Not so long after I joined up to Twitter I had a lovely email from Jamie (writer of the amazing Life’s A Feast blog) asking me if I’d like to attend a blogging event in London; I was stunned, me, invited to a blogging meet up. Fabulous; how could I turn that down? Of course I couldn’t so I began to get planning — travelling, getting the time off work and above all, what I was going to where – I could feel a shopping spree coming on.

Saturday 28th November came round rather quickly, and dressed in my new attire I headed off for London; the first visit to London in around 20 years (yes I was a small child when I last went) and I was headed for a real surprise, never in my wildest dreams was I prepared for how busy it actually was. Now I’ve done city breaks, visited many capitols around the world but never has anything compared to Oxford Street; crazy didn’t come close. Despite the busyness the Tube was actually a pleasant enough experience; although; again thank goodness for iPhone apps as without Tube Deluxe planning my route I could have ended up someplace I didn’t want to be quite easily.

Image Courtesy of Google Images

The event in point was the first Food Bloggers Connect meeting. It had all come about because the excellent bloggers, Bethany from Dirty Kitchen Secrets, Jamie from Life’s a Feast, Mowie from Mowielicious and Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry witnessed the buzz around this year’s plethora of US-based food blogger events, thought bloggers this side of the pond deserved a similar event and began organising. What an amazing job they did too.

The meeting was to be held at Levant, a Lebanese restaurant not far from Oxford Street London. Lebanese food is one of my favourite cuisines so that had to be a sign that this was going to be great. What a nightmare though for the restaurant having all these food bloggers and aspiring critics/writers descending upon them. I have to say the staff were excellent though, very attentive and helpful.

The food was stunning, every last bite delicious but one thing rather baffled me, how, oh how, do they manage to keep their pitta breads so puffy and fresh? Mine look grand when the come straight out the oven but go flat (nevertheless still yummy) within minutes. The secret Levant please?

Other mezze items included hummus, ground spiced nut paste, spicy chicken pilaff, challah (or at least I think it was challah) bread, kibbeh and many other mouth watering delights. If I’ve whet your appetite why not have a look at their menus? It’s certainly a restaurant I’d love to revisit.

We mingled as we ate, but, to be honest there wasn’t enough time to really get to meet and greet enough of our fellow bloggers. This is something that has been noticed by the majority of us and something the FBC team are working on for our next event; oh how I hope I can attend.

As soon as the mezze was cleared away, mint tea and mini baklava and Turkish delight (and some other yummy mouthfuls of which the name I’m unsure) were brought to our attention.

Now the nibbles were nice enough but the pouring of the mint tea, now that was an art form. We bloggers watched, mesmerised for a millisecond and then the scrum to grab our cameras and get a piece of the action occurred.

Now for a clearer shot:

After the tea and sweet bites it was time for the speakers. The topics covered included food styling, photography, writing styles, copyright and social media; or should I say life in the fish tank Kang?

Meeta made photography and food styling seem so easy and I’ve begun to put some of her principles in action today with this photo of orange cordial (recipe coming up in a couple of days time).

Jamie and Jeanne talked very openly about their writing styles and where their influences come from but as they pointed out, the key to blog success is to be yourself, find your target audience and work with it. Having fun is vital though, blogging should never be a real pain to do even though the most dedicated may still find themselves coming to face the dreaded writers block from time to time. Another topic covered was website design, no not how to do it yourself but some key issues relating to how it affects blog readership. As with job interviews first impressions are vital, clean lines, easy navigation and above all easy to read text are vital, a good dash of photography makes a site easy on the eye too. All good points for me to keep in mind as my blog design process continues.

Whilst all the talks were really useful and detailed I personally found Kang’s (from London Eater) presentations the most beneficial — the one on photography in the low light conditions surely must have been written with me in mind as that is my area of weakness right now.

Having just begun dipping my toes dived right into the Internet fish tank that is Social Media Kang really brought the value of it home in his talk — it is not just a fun tool but a really useful one too. A great way to get to know like minded folks and a great way for them to get to know you. Your blog becomes your brand, and in effect you have to sell yourself.

After the event our lovely host Bethany handed out some gorgeous goodie bags brimming with Malden sea salt, smoked salt, cheese, panettone, hemp seeds, mixed seeds (I can sense some bread needs baking soon) amongst other items, all in a lovely cloth bag emblazoned with Dirty Kitchen Secrets on it.

There certainly was a lot to cram into a short space of time but hey we did it and we had fun too. Now to start looking forward to the next meet up!