FBC, Part 1: Thank you LORD, I’m not a freak!

And neither was the group I spent the weekend with. If you saw us having the ball we did, you’d be thankful too!

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32 hours in London. 8 locations. Everywhere from Abbey road to Marylebone farmers market, the food hall at Selfridges, Waterstones, Sherlock Holmes museum, La Fromagerie, the Natural Kitchen and even Boots!

But truly, those were all the legs of the spider. It’s body? The FBC ’09. Food Blogger Connect 2009.

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As soon as I descended the stairs into the restaurant that is Levant, …..I was embraced by the warmth and ambience, and if I had any doubts about being in for a treat, they were wiped away. At once.

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I was completely bowled away by the decor…what I could see of it – warm, glowing lights, everywhere you turned,….casting soft shadows on the walls and filling them with exquisite geometric patterns!

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Flower-filled bowls, candles, fabric…all with braids of reds and golds, welcoming you to the great feast.

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The room was about half full when I sauntered in and in no time, I was hugging and kissing Mowie of Mowielicious, Kerrin of My Kugelhopf (in the photo below),  Sarah of Maison Cupcake, and Jamie of Life’s a feast…as though we’d shared the same table at school!

Kerrin and Mowie

It was wonderful to meet Jeanne, Meeta, Deeba, Sunita, Sarka, Hilda,  and when I saw Kang’s camera….I realised Id have to ditch my ‘diapers and milk excuse’ (3 kids, a point and shoot…and so on!) So I decided on Saturday as soon as I saw Kang taking fantastic photos at ISO 6200, while I struggled with my grainy ones at ISO 1600…that my little ‘un, D would have to become potty-trained ASA. That way, what I save on diapers and wipes….can go into the DSLR pot.

If you feel terribly sorry for me, please let me know and I can send you all the details you need to alleviate my pain! Of having a great G10…and longing for a DSLR, ok? Deal!

And then it was food time. Imagine this scene – a buffet table filled with delicious food, 10s of hungry people and …at a point – no queues?

Can you imagine that? Where would this happen?

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Where could this happen? What were the starving populace doing?

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Taking photos, that’s what!

First admiring the food and then eating it. We wouldn’t be food bloggers otherwise, we would just be food eaters….and though that’s kind of fun….blogging about eating and eating too is what we (obviously) prefer and do best!

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Lunch was a spread of traditional Lebanese food – mezze and all. Fattoush, Nutty spread…. Pita breads like pillows…and more.

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My lunch consisted of 2 servings – first I had a taster selection in the first round and then I ‘focussed’ – good approach to life and living! Broaden and then narrow. Works every time.

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And to extol the virtues of the food – my focused selection was wholly vegetarian!  My absolute faves – grilled courgettes and a red pepper and nut puree…!  Amazing. The soft, cushioning pita negating the use of a knife and fork, which I’m fine with. You know me, I have NO QUALMS with finger-eating, especially when it’s finger licking good…as this was!

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To wash it down? Mint tea. Poured from on high!

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Dessert was a spread of cupcakes from Lola’s organised by Davina of the sugar bar, and thanks to my friend Beth of 990 square, I knew what red velvet was!

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Davina also brought some super-delish oreo truffles…and NO jokes, I’m planning on making them this weekend for Sinterklaas.

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On another level, I was so glad I met Beth of Dirty Kitchen Secrets. And Mowie…and Jamie…’cause they’ve ALL been to Nigeria, the land of my birth! It was super-cool to have bruvas and sistas….and not even know it 🙂

Mowie and Beth

Now on to the talks…and what we learnt! But not before you catch a glimpse of Katrina from Around the world in 80 markets!

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Like obedient kids…we all sat down and listened to:

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1) Meeta of What’s For Lunch Honey?, talking about Basic Food Photography & Styling

How to make your photos look edible!

Meeta defined a few key terms like:

Bounce: material whose aim is to bounce light back into frame, and on the food. It is set up opposite the light source.
Scrim: fabric/material which softens and diffuses light. It is placed between the light source and ‘food’. Some typical scrims are translucent vellum, egg-shell coloured fabric.

She talked us through her lighting set-ups:

For natural light conditions, she had a guerrilla set-up!

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And using artificial light, she availed herself of  a set of swish Lowel Ego lights, admired and used by food bloggers the world over. Need I say it, but I’m getting a set soon. Apparently, the cheapest place to get them is Amazon.com and it is cheaper to buy them singly. I haven’t quite worked out my purchase options but I know for certain, they will be mine. Soon.

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2) Finding your voice – Jamie, Life’s a Feast and Jeanne, Cook sister

Jamie and Jeanne had us in stitches with ‘Finding your voice’.

The super basics like post structure (every post should have the basic outline of a story – beginning, middle and end….all connected would be nice 🙂 ) were reinforced. Along with grammar and punctuation.

I was struck by Jeanne’s words on finding focus. Are you a writer who loves food? or a foodie who loves to write? Believe me, I’m pondering those words as a shape my vision for KB!

And Jamie’s call to use all your senses when talking food, to describe it. What you see, how you see it (colours),  the accompanying sounds (splattering, sizzling), its smells. Has it got texture? What does it taste like? That’s one piece of advice that resonates strongly with me. Words that will henceforth guide my recipe narratives. Thank you.

3)Photography in the Dark and Social Media by Kang, Londoneater

And when Kang started waxing lyrical about light….I sat up, listened and took notes, for the jongen (guy, in Dutch) knows exactly what he’s talking about! My take-away? Buy a DSLR. 🙂 and do your best to understand the relationship between focal length andshutter speed.

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When he spoke about social media, I was struck at the value of his words – so young and yet so wise :-)!

He said:

Create your brand – your voice is your brand;

Become your own spokesperson – you’re unique, you’re an individual – sell yourself…for no one will;

And create value in content, see your content as a packaged product, designed to generate customer satisfaction!

4) Copyright info by Jeanne

And yes, Jeanne, I did value your copyright talk. A lot. Realising that I should treat my IP with respect by establishing and publicising my rights – on my photos and my blog was a good and timely reminder.

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Other bloggers/foodies were Caroline of the sugar grain, Michelle of Greedy Gourmet, Carla – can be bribed with food, Food Rambler, Jassy of Gin andCrumpets, Solange of Pebble soup, Georgina, Kavey of Kavey eats, Paul, Aoife of The Daily Spud.

I met all the Sarahs in the blogging world – 3 in one day! Sarah of ‘food for think’ (interesting story on the origin of the name: be sure to head on over to her blog and ask her why!), Sarah of Maison cupcake & Sarah of Meals with Sarah at Simply Cooked.

Nora of Nora the kitchen splorer, Greedy Diva, Alessio of Recipe Taster, Mark of Food by Mark and Catty of the Catty Life. Sunitaof Sunita’s World and Pam of the Cooking Ninja were there too.

Colloquial kitchen and Nic of  Cherrapeno were there too. I just love the name Cherrapeno! And Christina of the Thorngrove table …talk about Medieval feasts and she’s your lady. Georgina of Culinary travels too was there!

IMG_0622And then things started to wind down. Beth did the speech, and then sent us off to grab out DKS bags….brim full of goodies!

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My fave sea salt – Maldon, perfect for Millionaire’s shortbread….and more; Panettone, cheese, organic hemp and mixed seeds….and olives.

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I had a time of joyous awakening…to the world of the elite…the passionate…the foodies. And there’s no going back!

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As I descended the staircase and headed to Selfridges…I knew I was on the right track.

And that’s all for this first part. Best leave it so, for I fear….it would be too much for a day!

Oh did I tell you my camera can go up to ISO 3200….and I completely forgot that…till this morning! Haaaah, not good!

Part 2 and 3 to follow (my trip to the food hall at Selfridges, my museum visits and the FBC Marylebone farmer’s market visit and lunch. Come back on Thursday for the rest or sign up for email updates! PLEASE!!

[wpurp-searchable-recipe]FBC, Part 1: Thank you LORD, I’m not a freak! – – – [/wpurp-searchable-recipe]

41 Comments

  1. ISO 6200. Oh my lord I have a bad case of camera envy now. Love the summary of your FBC. Maybe one day someone will decide the Caribbean is a nice place for an FBC and decide to come so I can attend one too.

  2. Sorry I’m so late to reply to this, but I wanted to say that I really enjoyed meeting you, wish we had longer to chat, I don’t know where the time went!
    Your post is brilliant, very informative and interesting.
    I will be back to read your blog when I have caught up with things, hope to see you in 2010!

  3. What fun you had!! I envy you …all of you. ..:))the camera tips were so helpful too and I can only imagine the food served! :))tq for sharing.

  4. Wow, Oz this is wonderful, love your pictures and the details from presentations! You did a great job here. It was so lovely to meet you, you are such a sweet person. See you at the FBC10!

  5. Waw,…it looked that everyone who joined had a fabulous time over there!! I couldn’t come, maybe a next time, hey??

    Lovely story & great pictures!!

  6. Hey Oz, I’m so so glad you saw my post at the last minute and could make it! I didn’t get to speak with you much but your obvious enthusiasm was a highlight of the activities, and thank you for your parting words at the Natural Kitchen. I’m really happy you feel much better about food blogging. Looking forward to seeing you again for the next one! =)

  7. What a great post!! It’s so nice to meet fellow foodies!! I fear sometimes they are the only ones who understand us! hehe

  8. Wow, what an amazing event! Your pictures of the restaurant setup were breath-taking, and believe it or not, I JUST ordered a lowel ego light! Your pictures are already wonderful. I’m assuming they are taken with SLR? I refuse to believe a point & shoot can achieve this quality!

  9. Oz, thanks for the post. It looks like you all had a wonderful time and learned a lot. I wish there was something like this on the East Coast of the States, I would be there in a heartbeat!

  10. Oz – Thanks for stopping by my blog. This is a terrific post – thanks for sharing your insights! With any luck, maybe I can make it to the next event, but in the meantime, your schematics of Meeta’s photo tips were so great. I now have a better clue as to how to do food photography.

    I wish you a DSLR in the VERY near future!

  11. Thank you. If you got a tape and measured the circumference of my head, you’ll find there’s been an expansion!!!!! Serious, you guys are fab. I keep getting flashes while sitting at my desk,..and then laughing and basking in the warmth of love and kindness in the room. Stay blessed y’all. Tot zies (till we see,Dutch)

  12. Ooh wow Oz!! What a marvellous write-up 🙂 I love how you shared the top tips that you learned from each presentation, and I LOVE your photos of the lights! It was really lovely to meet you & I still could swear I’ve met you somewhere before… although probably in a previous life 😉 I just remember your smiling face and enthusiasm throughout the afternoon, and the genuine warmth that follows you around like a cloak. Groete uit Londen, tot volgende keer!

  13. Hi Oz!
    I was so happy to meet you we had a wonderful time! This is an amazing collection of pictures but from you I would expect nothing less.

    I am seriously impressed with those diagrams from Meeta’s talk. I would never have remember that otherwise. Now off to Amazon to check out these lights!
    Sarah xx

  14. OZ how lovely! I love this review! incredible and love the way you have taken time to write it up! OZ you were brilliant. I loved meeting you and so look forward to continue our friendship virtually and eventually meet at the 2010 FBC!

  15. Such a great post and lovely pictures Oz. And this post is only part 1? Can’t wait for the rest! Great summary of the speeches too =)

  16. Thank you for this wonderful summary. I feel as if I were there–except that I didn’t get any hugs! Next time.

    I recently bought my first DSLR, but before I did that I made sure that I had done everything I could do with my bridge camera and Photoshop. Now I’m trying to figure out how to transfer what I’ve learned to the SLR. There are so many more settings and options, but I can tell it’s going to be amazing…

  17. Great post, Ozoz. I too am still pondering the writer who cooks v. cook who writes question! There was so much good food for thought.
    And I’m glad that you found me and recognised my round-ups. We’ll have to have a proper chat at FBC 2010! (Oh, and if you ever fancy doing a round-up, do let me know – am always trying to recruit people to contribute.)

  18. aww you sweetie! was so lovely to meet you 🙂 and very pleased u liked the truffles. i was a little worried bout how they’d be received!

    sweet photos you’ve got there. oh u got shortbread? i got pannetone in my goodie bag and they were yuuumm. all gone now. xx

  19. This jongen is really impressed with your writing style and your eye for photography. That was a really slick summary of the day, and the shot of the metal light thing emanating geometric patterns onto the walls is an excellent capture!

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