Most people have a preference for either large parties or small. Me? I'll always pick a dinner for 8 over a banquet for 80, even if I know most everyone there. Larger gatherings foster surface chit-chat with lots of small exchanges that don't always seem to go anywhere for me, while a smaller group can encourage longer, more personal conversations. A room can be filled to bursting, wine flowing with abandon, and chatter growing into a crescendo punctuated with lots of laughter, but I'm still most comfortable finding a quiet nook with my mojito and a few close friends. If I'm going to a large function of any kind, I look for ways to break the crowd down into bite-sized chunks for more personal interaction. Else, I feel untethered and scattered.
A great example of this is the upcoming IFBC (International Food Blogger Conference) I'm attending later this month in Sacramento. It's organized by the folks at Foodista.com and Zephyr Adventures, and offers sessions to food bloggers to kick up our game in the areas of food, writing, and technology.
This year's theme is Farm to Fork, perfect for the fertile Sacramento Valley, and I imagine there will be a big crowd in attendance. Throngs, actually, and thankfully, an abundance of opportunities for those bite-sized chunks of interaction.
There's a handful of fellow bloggers I know who are attending, and it will be wonderful to visit with them, trade stories and blogging tips, and generally catch up on our lives outside of Facebook (LOL). There are some great sessions planned on food photography, a class on SnapChat (which I totally don't get), and food waste - a very hot topic these days. A special feature for me are the farm tours being offered on a couple of the days. This is always a huge draw for me, as I love hearing the stories behind the farmers and ranchers who supply the food on our table.
I know, I know. You've all heard that before, but I never fail to learn something new at these meetings, and I always walk out inspired, and full of ideas. So, consider yourselves warned...
In honor of IFBC's Farm to Fork theme this year, and since we're into the preserving season now, I thought I'd share my favorite recipe (so far) for pickling asparagus. It's the perfect, healthy munchie to include with your appetizers. Just try to remember to make them the day ahead, as they're better when you do.
- 1 lb asparagus 1 bunch
- ½ cup white wine vinegar
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
- 1 shallot thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh dill
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- Wash and trim the asparagus to fit into a sterilized 16-ounce mason jar. To sterilize the jar, place in boiling water, along with the lid, for a few minutes. Arrange the asparagus in the jar pointing upwards.
- Bring all of the remaining ingredients to a simmer in a small pot over medium heat. Pour over the asparagus, and screw the lid on. As they cool, the lids should seal. Let them marinate in the pickling juice overnight before serving. Once the jar is opened, refrigerate for up to one month.