Wednesday, May 1, 2013

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. 


47 Responses to “Wednesday Ramblings – The Big Traveling Potluck”

  1. #
    Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain — May 1, 2013 @ 3:36 pm

    Great post, Cassie! I am so glad you had a wonderful experience. I cracked up at your photo booth pics. Ali and Heidi are so fun! I definitely plan on going next year!

  2. #
    Parker — May 1, 2013 @ 3:37 pm

    Can I come with you next year? Ha!
    Glad you had a great time- sounds like a blast!

  3. #
    Nikki @Seeded at the Table — May 1, 2013 @ 3:51 pm

    What a fun adventure! I’ve never been sure about this event, but you have definitely made me want to go!

  4. #
    Lisa | With Style and Grace — May 1, 2013 @ 3:51 pm

    it was so wonderful to finally meet you cassie! hopefully we get to spend more time together at blogher food.

  5. #
    Jackie @ Domestic Fits — May 1, 2013 @ 4:06 pm

    Such a great weekend! and you three were the most fantastic roommates ever. Lets do it again soon 😉

  6. #
    Averie @ Averie Cooks — May 1, 2013 @ 4:33 pm

    Cassie it was great to finally meet you in person after all these years and I am so happy you had a ball and this post is just glowing. I can FEEL the energy, enthusiasm and joy in your voice and spirit and I love it when events and trips can leave us totally refreshed like this!! 🙂

  7. #
    Liz @ The Lemon Bowl — May 1, 2013 @ 5:06 pm

    Although I wish I had been there, I am so glad I got to live vicariously through everyone on IG! The photos speak for themselves – what an incredible event!! Thank you for taking us along on your delicious journey!!! PS: I want that spritzer bar right now!

  8. #
    Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough — May 1, 2013 @ 5:18 pm

    So glad you had a wonderful time at the potluck — it was so fun to follow along on IG! Makes me super excited for BSP this summer! 🙂

  9. #
    Gerry @ foodness gracious — May 1, 2013 @ 5:38 pm

    Yes, lets do it again soooooon! It was a Great weekend and awesome to finally meet you 🙂

  10. #
    Cathy Pollak ~ Noble Pig — May 1, 2013 @ 6:18 pm

    How cute is that mixer with strawberries. Now I have to get a red Kitchen Aid with a clear bowl just for party primp!!

    I wanted to go this so bad, hopefully next year!! Glad you had fun!

  11. #
    Leah | So, How's It Taste? — May 1, 2013 @ 7:30 pm

    I have never heard of this event. Looks like you had a ton of fun! Thanks for the recap!

  12. #
    Kristin @ Dizzy Busy and Hungry! — May 1, 2013 @ 7:56 pm

    Oh, how wonderful! I am so glad you had a good time! I am fairly new to blogging (just started in Jan of this year) so I have never been to any conferences or anything like this, but now I really want to attend one! It sounds like it was so worthwhile and a great way to solidify existing friendships and make new friends. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  13. #
    Heidi @foodiecrush — May 1, 2013 @ 8:26 pm

    Cute cute cute! You were such a highlight of the trip, and your wrap-up just makes me want to go back. Thx for the talks too, you’re a special one!

  14. #
    Jennifer @ Mother Thyme — May 1, 2013 @ 8:36 pm

    What a great time! The photos are great, and that view is amazing. I have decided if I move again I want to leave somewhere where I can have a avocado tree in my yard. Thanks for sharing your experience! I

  15. #
    Laura (Tutti Dolci) — May 1, 2013 @ 9:47 pm

    What a fun weekend, love your pics! The KitchenAid with strawberries is such a great idea!

  16. #
    Tieghan — May 1, 2013 @ 11:10 pm

    Cassie this was such a fun post to read!! I am making sure I get to go to this next year!!
    I am so glad you guys had a great weekend! All the pics are too cute!

  17. #
    Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. — May 2, 2013 @ 1:22 am

    I loved see all the pictures on Instagram you were all posting. It looked like so much fun! I must go next year.

  18. #
    Julie — May 2, 2013 @ 1:28 am

    Looks like the Temecula area. Was there wine too?

  19. #
    Kathryn — May 2, 2013 @ 3:36 am

    It looks like it was such a wonderful experience – what a venue too!

  20. #
    Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious — May 2, 2013 @ 3:58 am

    So glad you made it out here! It was great to meet you (in person!) and you are the sweetest thing ever! Please do come to LA soon so I can see you again soon!

  21. #
    DessertForTwo — May 2, 2013 @ 7:24 am

    I really should have gone to this. Maybe if I do though, I would have never got back on the plane to come home! hah!

  22. #
    Ali | Gimme Some Oven — May 2, 2013 @ 7:35 am

    Such a great roundup!!! So glad to have experienced this for the first time with you. Thanks for being a great roomie!

  23. #
    Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen — May 2, 2013 @ 8:07 am

    Looks like a wonderful trip! Thanks for sharing.

  24. #
    Laurie {SimplyScratch} — May 2, 2013 @ 8:20 am

    How fun! Next year I so have to go!!

  25. #
    Meagan @ A Zesty Bite — May 2, 2013 @ 8:44 am

    I’ve been waiting for this post since I found out you were going! So glad you had a great experience!

  26. #
    Carla @ Carlas Confections — May 2, 2013 @ 10:42 am

    Looks like a seriously amazing time! I want to try and go next year! Looks so much fun!!! 😀

  27. #
    Victoria — May 2, 2013 @ 10:59 am

    I’m so glad you gave some more details! I was so curious via Instagram!

  28. #
    Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts — May 2, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

    What an amazing experience! Sounds like a wonderful weekend!

  29. #
    Kiran @ — May 2, 2013 @ 6:03 pm

    A wonderful experience! I am glad that IG and various social media sites allowed all of us who couldn’t attend to relish in the awesomeness! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  30. #
    Reem | Simply Reem — May 2, 2013 @ 10:56 pm

    It was so good to see all this fun on IG…. Looks like you all had such a great time!
    Thanks for sharing

  31. #
    Gerry @ Foodness Gracious — May 3, 2013 @ 3:09 am

    Awe-some!! Great weekend and great food 🙂

  32. #
    Audra | The Baker Chick — May 3, 2013 @ 11:04 am

    Beautiful pictures Cassie! It looks like an amazing weekend!

  33. #
    Kathy - Panini Happy — May 4, 2013 @ 9:01 am

    I was so glad to finally meet you in person, Cassie!! What an inspiring, memorable weekend. 🙂

  34. #
    Lauren at Keep It Sweet — May 4, 2013 @ 10:20 am

    Was so jealous of everyone’s photos last weekend, what a fun event! I love the idea of a food blogger “retreat”

  35. #
    Melanie @ Nutritious Eats — May 4, 2013 @ 6:12 pm

    Um, can you hook me up for next year? 😉 Lol! Sounds amazing! You can’t beat the beautiful Cali sunshine!

  36. #
    Sandy@ReluctantEntertainer — May 6, 2013 @ 9:30 am

    I SO loved meeting you. Can’t wait to see you again … soon, girl! xo

  37. #
    ashley - baker by nature — May 6, 2013 @ 7:03 pm

    I finally had time to sit down and really read this post, and man, it was sweet, Cassie! It made me miss Cali, and even more, YOU!!! I hope we cross paths again soon, girl!!! xx

  38. #
    Amanda — May 7, 2013 @ 12:52 pm

    Love this recap Cassie!! Your photos are simply stunning. Loved getting to chat with you this weekend. When do I get to see you again?? 🙂 xoxo

  39. #
    Erin @ Texanerin Baking — May 7, 2013 @ 2:49 pm

    It looks like you had an incredible time! I think it must be so incredibly fun to go to something like that. I’m happy you shared a little with us!

  40. #
    Diane (createdbydiane) — May 8, 2013 @ 11:37 am

    What a fun recap Cassie, it really was like a retreat. I’m so glad we met! Hope we get to see each other again!

  41. #
    natalie@thesweetslife — May 9, 2013 @ 12:10 pm

    it sounds like an AMAZING event!! beautiful views too 🙂

    Are you going to Food Media Forum in STL this year? Hope so!! I think I am!

  42. #
    Nutmeg Nanny — May 10, 2013 @ 11:44 am

    Gorgeous photos! Looks like a blast 🙂

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