Once in a while, the universe smiles at you and decides to let you have a lovely, wonderful, joyful gift. It’s impermanent, like all things; eventually the tide comes in and washes that sand castle away. But for a moment or two, life can feel especially blessed. This is how I felt recently on vacation in the Bahamas, hanging out in the sand and surf with several of my most favorite food bloggers, and favorite people, in the world. Recognize the girl on the left in the photo above? That’s the ebullient Jaden Hair, writer of the aptly named* Steamy Kitchen blog, and regular guest author here on Simply Recipes. Because of her work for Club Med Jaden was able to invite a few of us food bloggers to join her for a Club Med food and wine festival in the Bahamas.
One of the main sources of inspiration I tap into every day, to help keep me motivated for the every day work of cooking and writing for this site, are my fellow food blogging friends. You have to be somewhat crazy, inspired, or obsessed to maintain a food blog. I thought I would take a moment to introduce you to a few of my fellow crazies, the food bloggers who participated in this trip, and encourage you to visit their beautiful blogs.
First up is the lovely Diane Cu, of the blog White on Rice Couple, Jaden’s soul sister on the Internet. Diane is one of the most multi-talented people I’ve ever met. In addition to being a professional portrait photographer, she is a master gardner, a fabulous cook (cures her own sausage!) of Vietnamese and other cuisines, and leads culinary tours of little Saigon.
Diane and I met for the first time and bonded over many things, not least of which was a love of all things sardine.
Do you like sardines? Diane and I could eat them EVERY DAY. And we did.
Diane spent most of the week running around like an Energizer Bunny taking beautiful photographs of everybody. One late afternoon she had us all meet at the beach dressed in white so that she could do a Calvin Klein shot of us. You’ve never seen such a bunch of narcissists, each of us with a humungous camera, running around the beach in white linen, saying “take a picture of me, of me, no wait, this is my good side….” Absolutely hilarious, and a perfect inspired-by-Diane project.
Next up is Matt Armendariz of Matt Bites. Now Matt might seem all tame and cuddly in the above photograph, but in actuality, he is a lunatic. Nah, just kidding. Just because he was forever making faces and leaping into the air… okay, so maybe he is a bit “touched”. (Elise dodges bullets flying out of Long Beach.) Matt Armendariz is a professional food photographer, whose works you have likely enjoyed over the years in major lifestyle magazines. I sit at his feet hoping he throws me a bone here and there, because I have the same fancy camera equipment he has, and now you know why it’s the photographer that makes the photos great, not so much the camera. I’ve been reading Matt Bites ever since he started it, usually drooling while reading, and wondering “how does he do that?” I have since learned that Matt has a secret weapon, Adam, who makes things pretty. (Hah! I want one of those!) Remember the Calvin Klein shot? Here is Matt’s collage of our white linen-bedecked selves. His shots around the resort are why I put my camera down for most the trip and just let the pros do their thing. That shot at the top of Jaden and me? Matt took it with my camera. I think.
Somehow I managed to get through the week, with plenty of pictures of conch shells and looks-like-they-dyed-it aqua water but missed catching a shot of one of my favorite food bloggers Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen or her calm and lovely husband Alex. Probably because whenever we hung out together we were too busy yakking to bother with taking pictures. Either that or we were playing bocci ball and whipping the tushes off of our opponents. (Who knew the girl had such an arm?) I rather doubt that there are many of you reading this who aren’t already familiar with Deb’s beautiful and popular blog, Smitten Kitchen, but if that’s you, get a move on! The Smitten should not be missed.
If I had an intra-spacial teleporter to transport me across thousands of miles of land and ocean in the blink of an eye, I would use it just to hang out in Paris with David Lebovitz. (Even though he apparently owns and sometimes even wears what they call in France le string.) David’s humor on Twitter and on his blog sustain me and many a food blogger. When I want to pull my hair out in frustration over something cooking or blogging related, David’s is the shoulder I cry on. Albeit virtual tears, through email. Because the boy lives in Paris. Which one can only get to with thousands of dollars of air fare, a dozen hours of flying, and major jetlag. Teleporter please! I want to sip coffee at a Parisian cafe with David, while eating croissants, and watching the elegant French ladies carrying their lap dogs stroll down the street. I want to taste David’s elegant macarons, and tie them up with pretty ribbons. I want to delight in David’s presence and wit every day, not just when the fates allow. You do know that every woman who meets David falls in love and wants to marry him, right? I’m no exception, I’m lost without him. I’m in love with his friend Romain too, even though his English is barely better than my French. Sometimes you just don’t need language.
Sigh. All great adventures must come to an end, and this one ended way too soon for me. Many many thanks to Jaden and Club Med for organizing this fabulous gathering. Many thanks also to my Best-Friend-Forever, Club Med roommate (and recipe contributor) Steve-Anna Stephens who put up with her noisy roommate. Apparently I sing. Loudly. In my sleep. (News to me!)
*To get a sense of why Jaden calls her site “Steamy” kitchen and not “Amish” kitchen, read her account on the fishing trip she took with the gang. My father read the whole thing out loud and practically fell out of his seat he was laughing so hard.