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Eat Drink Blog 2011

November 22, 2011

Eat Drink Blog 2011
Eat Drink Blog 2011

You know that eerie feeling you get when you suddenly realise you have a great deal in common with a group of people you thought were strangers?

All the familiar signs were there: gorgeous plates of food, impressive looking dslrs hovering above tables and no one brave enough to take even a morsel before everyone had a chance to take a photo.

Welcome to the bizarre world of food-bloggers: where the pictures look beautiful and where the food is delicious but most probably lukewarm!

The Eat Drink Blog Conference was held on Nov 5th, and was a great chance for a lucky cross-section of Australia’s food bloggers to meet up, chat about our shared foibles, swap tips and most importantly EAT! (after the pictures are done)

Eat Drink Blog 2011
Bloggers and their cameras

The food:

Eat Drink Blog 2011
Miss Piggy shows us how it’s done!

Thanks to our kind sponsors and organisers, the conference was completely free for attendees (hooray!) and well catered (double hooray!).

Like reverse Gremlins, it is well known that if you place a large group of food bloggers in one place and do not feed them… bad things happen.

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Coconut Tea Cakes by Brasserie Bread and Fruit platters from IMPACT Australia

Eat Drink Blog 2011
Yep! That’s a whole délice tower from Lindt for us to snack on as we pleased. As predicted, the salted caramel macarons went first… dang it!

Eat Drink Blog 2011
Milk chocolate Lindt délice, deliciously gooey

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Lunch was slow cooked shoulder of spiced lamb prepared by Noni Dwyer (ex River Cottage), in association with the Meat & Livestock Association of Australia. So tender and flavourful, gosh it was probably the nicest lamb dish I have eaten in a long time. Though the slow cooked lamb was undoubtedly the star – the unbelievably sweet just-shelled peas and broad-beans, and the heirloom tomato salad sure had no trouble holding their own.

Thanks to the MLA’s well publicised involvement in the live exports scandal earlier this year however, I know a few bloggers intended to conscientiously decline lunch provided by this association.

In addition to all this food, we also had Toby’s Estate baristas on hand to make coffees to order, and a Breville Juice bar!

It was such a funny feeling attending a conference inside a ginormous kitchen showroom. At times it kind of felt like we were intruding on someone’s home (albeit – a remarkably well furnished home that happens to have multiple kitchens in it). At least it meant there were a lot of fridges to hold drinks in:

Eat Drink Blog 2011
Drinks provided by Daylesford and Hepburn Mineral Springs

The talks:

I had no idea what to expect from the conference part of the Eat Drink Blog Conference, but I knew I was in a good place when our lovely MC, Tammi (from Tammi’s Tasting Terroir) began to set out the housekeeping guidelines for the presentation portion of the day:

  • Save your questions until the end
  • No self-disclaimers (if you are here, you are a “real” blogger. Don’t sweat it.)
  • No flash photography,
  • and PLEASE tweet, Tweet, TWEET!

Oh my goodness… what a difference Twitter makes! It made the traditionally passive media of a lecture feel so much more interactive (how much do I wish I had Twitter when I was in uni!!). Following the tweets on #eatdrinkblog2011 let you enter a whole other level of insight and discussion taking place concurrently with the presenter on the stage. My over-stimulated, attention deficit, multi-tasking gen-y brain was in heaven!

Eat Drink Blog 2011
Best slide ever

I was surprised at how relevant and interesting the lectures were though. I have to honestly say I found something interesting and engaging in every talk – regardless of how interested in the topic I thought I’d be going in to the conference. Here’s a few things I learnt:

Copyright Panel – presented by Dominic Villa

  • A list of ingredients, nor an idea for a dish are not in themselves subject to copyright – but the written form of a recipe might be!
  • Generally, you’re allowed to take photos wherever you like, however a restaurateur is also allowed to place conditions on your taking of photographs. In order for you to remain on their private property, you must comply with these conditions. If you do not comply, they are allowed to ask you to leave.

Defamation Panel – presented by Stephen Estcourt, QC

  • You may be liable for defamation due to a comment someone else has posted on your blog! Even if you didn’t write it, the fact you didn’t take the libellous comment down may be enough
  • It’s a good idea to put a disclaimer on your blog to make it clear that everything you express is your opinion only

Search Engine Optimisation – presented by Michael Gall of Terroir.Me (you’re welcome Michael)

  • LINKS LINKS LINKS make the world go ’round. Every time someone makes a direct link to your blog, you get brownie points from the big Google Page-rank god in the sky
  • In addition – I also learnt that if anyone says the phrase “pork crackling” in front of me more than one time – I will promptly stop listening to what they are saying and will start thinking instead of said pork crackling.

Writing Panel – presented by Valerie Khoo

  • Passive writing keeps the reader at a distance, active writing draws people into the action. An example from Valerie –
    Passive sentence structure: “Coriander was used by the chef to create a distinctly Thai flavour.”
    Active sentence structure: “The chef used coriander to create a distinctly Thai flavour.”
  • To make your writing more active, bring whatever or whoever is doing the action up to the front of your sentence

The workshops:

After lunch we were treated to a Butchery Masterclass run by Noni. I don’t know how many of us had seen an entire lamb carcass butchered in front of us before (I’m willing to bet, not many!) – but despite the odd small globule of lamb meat flinging to the ground from the force of Noni’s sawing, it wasn’t as gory as I’d expected!

It was plain that Noni respected the animal she was working with, and it really gave all of us a new perspective on the lunch we’d just eaten.

Eat Drink Blog 2011

During her butchery demonstration, Noni highlighted the lamb breast and the lamb neck as two cuts of meat that are less popular than they deserve to be. She showed us a few ways to prepare them – including LAMB BACON…

Eat Drink Blog 2011

Yep. Deep fried lamb bacon. Deep gasps were emitted from the crowd as we all considered the magical possibilities. If she hadn’t already won our hearts over with her dexterous use of a hacksaw, then after showing us lamb bacon we were definitely smitten!!

After Noni’s demonstration, we were split up to go to our chosen workshops. I chose to attend Souvlaki for the Soul’s Food Styling workshop, and Brasserie Bread’s sourdough appreciation workshop.

Food Styling Workshop

Peter from Souvlaki from the Soul gave away some of his secret hints and tips on food styling.

  • Source props from everywhere. Op shops, chain stores, markets, the side of the road. It’ll become an addiction before you know it.
  • Don’t forget the little touches – powdered sugar hides a lot of ills, and an atomiser of olive oil can give a nice sheen to savoury dishes.
  • A tripod that can point down is a great investment

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Eat Drink Blog 2011Eat Drink Blog 2011

I was so impressed by his collection of props – definitely inspired to start looking for my own!

Brasserie Bread’s Sourdough Masterclass

Eat Drink Blog 2011
Having recently attended a Brasserie Bread masterclass at Masterchef Live – I knew exactly which other workshop I wanted to take, even if a lot of this would be welcome revision for me. Matthew Brock again took the class, and he was as great as ever!

Unlike the previous class I took which had an emphasis on home baking techniques, this class was about making sourdough. Matt took us through the process of creating a starter (wild yeast) to create our own sourdough. We even tasted the starter (Yep…. it is very sour).

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Eat Drink Blog 2011

Maintaining the starters sounds like a lot of work. Matt joked that having 3 starters was like having 3 extra children! You have to feed it every day, and it can take up to 4 weeks before you can start baking with it!!  But hopefully I’ll get to try making my own sourdough myself one day.

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Tasting time hooray!

The final panels about food culture and ethics allowed for a lively discussion about what is acceptable behaviour from bloggers. There will never be complete consensus with such a large and diverse group of individuals but it was really fun to listen to everyone’s point of view on this contentious subject. The general agreement was to: be respectful and constructive in your criticism, remember that these are people’s livelihoods, tell the truth, and always disclose when you accept complimentary things. All common sense really.

FINAAAALLLYYY… we ended with lucky dip prizes, and GUESS WHAT! I won a coffee hamper from Toby’s Estate.

Coffee Hamper from Toby's Estate

It had a lovely coffee table book (how appropriate) called “Coffee Trails”, 2 bags of Toby’s Estate coffee beans, a tin of hot choc, a tin of sencha and a bag of chocolate covered coffee beans. Given how little caffeine I have to drink for me to get buzzing I predict this will keep me awake for WEEKS.

It was a great day (with the lucky dip prize to top it off). Blogging can be such an introverted activity, but it’s events like these that truly remind us of what a lovely big community we are. Despite all the crazy fun diversions of the day, meeting new and old friends (and meeting some old friends for the first time IRL!) is always a pleasure and a highlight.

I have to thank the incredible and seemingly tireless Eat Drink Blog crew – Simon, Jen, Reem and Trina – for their amazing work with the conference. None of it could have happened without you, and I hope you all got to have a well deserved rest the next day!!

17 Comments leave one →
  1. November 22, 2011 10:41 pm

    Thanks for the links Mel! Sounds like you enjoyed your day, and I hope my talk was helpful. You are right to thank Simon, Jen, Reem and Trina, they did an awesome job pulling it all together.

  2. November 22, 2011 11:58 pm

    love the shots of all the bloggers with their cameras hehe

  3. November 23, 2011 6:24 am

    This looks like an incredible day, food and photo heaven!

  4. November 23, 2011 8:16 am

    I’m so sad missed it. I love your description of the bizarre food blogger world.

  5. November 23, 2011 8:52 am

    I really shouldn’t have waited til the afternoon to hit up the Macaron Tower – I totally missed out on the salted caramel, but I did grab a big handful of Lindt Balls for later on…bwahahaha. I agree it was a GREAT day – I particularly liked the sessions on ethics and legal stuff.

  6. November 23, 2011 9:54 am

    Beautiful pics!! I especially love the photos of the Lindt balls and the macaron tower. You have me convinced about shooting in RAW now.

    I also found it amazing to be in a room full of people into food and blogging – you’re right when you say blogging is quite an introverted activity. So it was marvellous to make so many new friends who are all into the same things.

    BTW, I am very glad I am wearing a looseish dress in the top pic. The major occupational hazard of being a food blogger = eating way too much good food 🙂

  7. November 23, 2011 10:58 am

    Ooo thanks for summarizing all this info, good to know.

  8. November 23, 2011 11:03 am

    Haha check me out front and centre at the Brasserie Bread morning tea. NOM! Was such a great day! Fab to meet you 😀

  9. November 23, 2011 11:14 am

    Great run through of the day! And wasn’t it a great one?!

  10. November 23, 2011 2:26 pm

    love the first photo! and i see myself in your blog too..damn!
    need more cat slides 😛

  11. November 23, 2011 9:29 pm

    whoa Mel great overview on the day 😉

    lol @ miss piggy’s hand

  12. November 24, 2011 5:09 pm

    Your pics look great! Will need to do my post soon >< shame you couldn't join us for dinner!

  13. November 27, 2011 4:17 pm

    Lovely summary, was such a shame to miss it.

  14. December 14, 2011 12:40 am

    This is really a nice blog! I so love the photos.


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