Wednesday Ramblings – The Big Traveling Potluck
left top: the avocado grove at Saturday’s location; left bottom: breakfast location Saturday, overlooking a beautiful avocado grove; right: food/drink from Friday night
I spent last weekend in beautiful Southern California attending the Big Traveling Potluck courtesy of my friends at Imperial Sugar. It’s a conference – of sorts – or that’s what I thought going into it. I thought I’d go, catch some sun, eat some really good food and learn a few things, also maybe meet some blogger friends who, up until then, I’d only known via social media.
And while some of that happened – the sun, good food and amazing people part – the “conference” however, was anything but a conference. The word “retreat” really does a better job at describing it. The team of folks who organize it deserve the biggest round of applause that I can think or dream of. The whole thing was truly spectacular – from the sponsors, the location, the food, and really – the people!
I flew in to San Diego on Friday, met up with Ali & Carrian; Carrian’s sister-in-law drove us to our hotel and the minute that we stepped inside, I knew that I would leave with some great friendships. Chris met us at the door with goodie bags and a huge smile. This guy – if you don’t know him, I only hope that you can meet him once in your lifetime…he is so full of life!
We were bused to a ranch for conversation, appetizers (that we all thought were dinner), local dinner, local wine, local beer, and this view:
This Midwest/Central-time-zone native was exhausted by the time Friday was over. So we literally crashed immediately to prepare for Saturday. Saturday, again we were bused to our location for the day – a home to two of the most hospitable people I have ever met. They opened their beautiful home and avocado grove to us for the weekend and not only did they open it to us – they helped and were ever-so welcoming the whole weekend. We were met with huge smiles, huge excitement and a huge breakfast spread…including mixing bowls full of fruit which matched their accompanying mixer – how cute is that idea!
We enjoyed breakfast by getting to chat with our friends – and make new ones and then got the day started with an inspiring chat from Melissa Lanz – she recently wrote a book by which I am so inspired. Her story and her encouragement were top-notch. The other talks – by Matt Armendariz, Helen Jane (LOVED her!) and Ree Drummond – were equally as funny, inspirational and more than once did I experience a “lightbulb moment”.
Whole Foods hosted the most incredible “Beans, Greens & Grains Bar” lunch, in addition to a DIY Spritzer Bar – this was so fun! Tons of fresh fruits, vegetables, seltzer water, etc. I wish I had one of these every day!
Following some afternoon chats, we were treated to fresh margaritas and an avocado tour by Ron, the owner. This guy had such an interesting and inspiring story himself. It was evident immediately that he is so passionate about what he does and I actually learned a lot about growing avocados. And what would an avocado grove tour and margaritas be without guacamole?!
So we had a guacamole contest, judged by the avocado queen, herself, Gaby Dalkin, who recently wrote Absolutely Avocados. This book is incredible and now I love avocados even more. And I’ve been totally craving them since I stepped off the plane! Someone take me back to SoCal for fresh ones!
We finished the night off with an out-of-this-world avocado-inspired (what else!) four-course dinner hosted by the California Avocado Commission – those folks are true gems and the food was outrageous…I’m still licking my lips over the California Avocado-stuffed Quinoa Fritter and the Buttermilk Caramel Jelatina with California Avocado Fruit Salsa. Say that 10 times fast! We finished off the night with photo booth fun (see below) and a somber ride back to the hotel knowing that it was all over the next day.
left: photo booth fun with Ali and Heidi; middle top: the lovely Sandy; middle bottom: Ashley is the sweetest!; right top: bus ride with Amanda, Jenny and Carrian; right bottom: the adorable Mason (son of the most adorable Lisa & Brian in the background)
There are so many people who are not pictured that I’m so thankful to have met and I can’t start naming people because I don’t want to leave anyone out! This even was, without a doubt, the best blogging experience I have had thus far and I will do everything in my power to go back. I walked away with wonderful memories and lasting friendships only a community like this one could provide.
Disclaimer: Imperial Sugar sponsored my trip to The Big Potluck. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.