Disclosure: I attended the International Food Bloggers Conference in downtown Sacramento, CA in July 2016 at a reduced rate for “citizen bloggers and social media experts” who would write three posts about their experience at the conference. This is my third post in a series, which highlights the the eateries I visitied during the weekend, within walking distance of the state capital building and the Hyatt Regency Hotel. All opinions are mine.
When I found out that the 2016 International Food Bloggers Conference would be held in Sacramento, CA, I registered immediately. Even though I had never spent any time in Sacramento, I knew that the organizers were planning tours and sessions highlighting California’s agriculture and America’s Farm to Fork Capital. And best of all, I’d have a chance to see old friends, make new ones, and explore some of the eateries in downtown Sacramento.
I had a wonderful experience and flight with Southwest Airlines, arriving early at San Diego’s Lindberg Field and enjoying a relaxed lunch at Craft Brews on 30th Street near the departure gate. (I just love how the restaurants and shops at the San Diego airport are locally based. If you fly in or out of San Diego often, you can get coupons and special offers for dining here.)
It was a gorgeous clear day, and from my window seat I experienced a tour of the southern coast, the central valleys, foothills, and farmlands of California. The Sacramento airport was easy to navigate, and Super Shuttle whisked me to my hotel after a very short wait for the van to arrive. The desk clerk at Hyatt Regency let me check in early and gave me a list of restaurants near the hotel.
The biggest challenge of the weekend was the heat! Sacramento can be really hot, and believe me, it was hot the entire weekend we were there. We learned that the best time of the day to get out was early in the morning as the temperatures were tolerable throughout the morning. After noontime it’s best to be indoors, and don’t expect the evening to cool off much either. Everyone wore cool, casual clothing for the bus tours on the first days of the conference, and smart casual outfits for the indoor events and sessions. I carried a little sweater in my bag for the indoor sessions and events — hotel air conditioning can get chilly.
Art, Music, Drinks and Dinner: Mayahuel
Since I flew in on Wednesday evening, not many people had arrived yet for the conference, but I noticed via Facebook that a fellow food blogger from San Diego was already in the hotel. I texted her to see if she wanted to join me for dinner, and we chose a place that was right around the corner from the hotel. Neither of us wanted to walk very far in that blistering heat!
We had a wonderful time at Mayahuel, sipping our watermelon margaritas, savoring the PIPIAN VERDE CON CHULETA DE PUERCO (“A ‘mole verde’ made from sesame seed served with a juicy cut of pork, cilantro rice”) and sharing the spectacular IMPOSIBLE (‘Half flan, half chocolate. Translated ‘impossible’, this dessert is flan atop a chocolate cake bottom”). Honestly, the evening couldn’t have been nicer – from the wonderful company and converation with Ani Arambula of Confessions of a Foodie to the fun interactions with our waiter, Vince.
I enjoyed Mayahuel so much that I went back the next evening with a different group of friends. This time I ordered the ENSALADA TROPICAL (“Spring lettuce mix, mango, jícama, and pineapple, topped with dry-roasted almonds and a raspberry vinaigrette”) with grilled salmon. And a watermelon margarita, of course. I forgot to tell them to omit the chili powder on the rim of the cocktail as I had the evening before, but I enjoyed their margarita with the slightly spicy accented rim just as much.
Our Morning Coffee
Downtown Sacramento is home to a number of wonderful coffee houses and fresh bakeries. One blogger I know actually planned her coffee shop and craft beer visits throughout the weekend, graciously sharing her carefully researched findings with those of us who were eager to try the best. To my delight, this blogger happened to be my roommate.
On my first morning (before my roommate arrived) I took a walk and used Google Maps to see where the nearby breakfast places were. Ambrosia Cafe on a corner of K Street had fresh baked pastries and really good coffee. I was glad to be there early (7:30 am) because by 8:30 am there was a huge line out the front door!
I was thrilled to share the hotel room with a food blogger I met a few years ago during the largest international produce trade show in Anaheim, Ca. Lori Rice of Fake Food Free is a connoisseur of quality, a skilled photographer, writer and recipe developer, and a discerning seeker of excellent coffee, great food, and superb craft beers. I knew that anywhere she chose to go for coffee would be impressive, and Temple Coffee and Tea certainly was impressive.
After our first visit, I went back the next day just to try a different muffin, and I discovered the VERY BEST latte I have ever had the privilege to enjoy. Temple offers classes about coffee, ships their beans direct, and even shares free coffee education videos on their website.
Farm to Fork Dinner
One of the highlights of the International Food Bloggers Conference was our Farm to Fork Dinner. The evening magically cooled off as we enjoyed a magnificent meal with 350 of our closest friends on the lawn next to the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Next year’s International Food Blogger’s Conference will be held in Sacramento again! This time it will be held during Sacramento’s Farm To Fork Week, Sept. 29- Oct. 1st.
My last meal in Sacramento was Sunday brunch. Ani Arambula (Confessions of a Foodie) and I walked just a few blocks to the Firestone Public House, known for their brunches and happy hours, with a creative American-inspired menu and over 60 beers on tap. We both ordered the Firestone Open Face Sandwich: French toast, Black Forest ham, fried eggs, gruyere cheese, chipotle hollandaise with breakfast potatoes. Oh my. You just have to go try it for yourself.
I loved my weekend stay at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Sacramento and look forward to trying more of the great eateries in the area during next year’s conference. If you missed my posts about our tours to California Endive and Stillwater Pears or our American Lamb Tour, check them out here:
American Lamb Tour — Lamb Sliders with Spinach: Seasoned with Hatch Chiles