When I was twelve, I convinced my parents to send me to Surf Camp. (You know, as one does when growing up in Southern California.) A week of sleeping in beach huts, toasting marshmallows ’round bonfires and learning to hang ten were on the agenda. I set off, my bag packed with sunscreen bottles and a freshly purchased Roxy wetsuit; I was psyched. Despite the fact that I broke my pinky toe during a particularly rough wipeout on the first day (true story…this resulted in me winning the ‘effort award’ on the last day), the week was awesome; I came home with new friends, new skills, and the joy that only comes from exploring something you love.
My next venture with Camp happened more than a decade later, Saturday the 29th of September to be exact. No surfboards were involved. Prezi presentations were on hand, rather, and the click of many a camera with an innumerable amount of tweets and status updates. Oh and food. Lots and lots of food.
When I heard about Food Camp Vienna back in summer, I knew I had to go. I was familiar with the concept of a ‘Bar Camp’ from working at a university and having seen media researchers partake in them. The premise? People (professionals and amatures alike) sharing a common interest in a field get together to discuss trends and topics, learn from one another, and do a bit of old fashioned schmoozing. (Note to my German readers, this word is NOT the same as the similarly-sounding one you may know of! Not at all!)
Held at the Bene Design Showroom in Vienna and impressively organized by Dani from Die Fruehstueckerinnen and Nina from Foodisten, the day was wunderbar from start to finish. Due to the fact that the event was generously catered by companies like Conte DeCesare, Ja!Natuerlich, Joseph Brot, Paolo’s, and Sonnentor, attendees (campers?) were fed royally between sessions. The day was long but the delicious coffee on tap kept us going. Here, some impressions of the food and sessions.
Frühstück: Coffee and tea, bread, and an assortment of spreads and jams, all of which were delicious.
But what I need to talk to you about is this cheese.
Apart from looking almost too pretty to cut into, it was just…beyond. After trying the one topped with elderberries(!) and proclaiming it to be the best ever, the guy next to me turns around and says “Thanks! I made it.” Let’s just say I was cheesestruck, if there were ever a word. I’d later learn more about said guy and his passion and craft at his joint session on raw milk cheese making. Stay tuned.
Mittagessen: Oh mann, how to choose? Foccaccia sandwiches, mango curry soup, couscous salad, gourmet hotdogs. Oh, and the prettiest little chocolate mousses I ever did see. All enjoyed in the ambiance of a live DJ spinning some tunes.
Snacks: Gummibärchen. Did I mention this event was organized in just the most wunderbar way?
Successful Food Blogging:
To what extent does social media help your blog readership grow? Answers ranged from ‘I use everything!’ to “Only this” or “Only that”. (My take? I’m quite zufrieden with this blog’s extended presence on facebook and wonder sometimes if I should extend it to Twitter. I’m curious to hear if any of you have an opinion on that, by the way.)
Making Raw Milk Cheese:
Wow! Sarah (whom I met here) and Christian (see breakfast, cheesestruck) worked with a Swiss cheese company making cheese from raw milk. Controversial to some but delicious to all, their cheese was then sold at London’s Borough Market. They lived to tell the tale and shared their experience (and cheese samples!) with us.
What’s Really Healthy? Three different takes on nutrition.
The speakers, interestingly all men, shared their take on different nutritional trends, fads, and diets. The big focus seemed to be on reducing carbohydrates. I’m all about choosing carbohydrates wisely, but to do away with them altogether? In Austria? That sounds like the saddest thing I’ve ever heard of in my life. I mean, have you tried the bread here? Sure, it might help a bit with the waistline, but my mental health is frankly more important:)
KochAbo: No Time to Cook?
KochAbo is an Austrian company with a premise you may have heard of before. Fresh ingredients with handy recipes are delivered weekly allowing your family of 2, 4, or 6 to easily enjoy delicious meals. Presto! Home-cooked food in half the time. I’ve always wanted to try something like this, so it was interesting to learn more. Let’s be honest though. The real reason I see this working in Austria is not because Austrians are ‘too busy’ to cook. Quite the contrary. The challenge is getting to the grocery store on time before it closes to buy the ingredients to do said cooking. Oh, and having to go to four different grocery stores to complete your list. If a company or product can make these conundrums easier, then SIGN ME UP!
Cook It, Shoot It, Eat It
Hosted by Cliff Kapatais, this was a fun and informative session about well, photographing food. Some things I knew already, some I didn’t. He broke it down in a simple, accessible way and I ate it up. (Mah ha ha.) This was the session I was most looking forward to, being a total amateur in possession of a rather professional camera. The best take-home message for me was that I needed to invest in a better lens (50mm) to get the types of photos I desire. Lucky me—-my birthday happened to be a week after Food Camp and I knew just the present:) Having now photographed with the lens for just under a week, I can honestly say it is der Wahnsinn. Danke, Cliff.
New Nordic Cuisine: A Culinary Journey
Katharina Seiser, a food journalist, cookbook author, and fellow food blogger shared her trips to two of the world’s best restaurants, Noma in Copenhagen and Faviken in the middle of nowhere, Sweden. Through many photos and anecdotes, she captivated us with her stories of innumerable courses, New Nordic Cuisine, and meeting the enigmatic chefs central to these restaurants’ success. Time to face my fear of eating game and book a trip up north, methinks.
And that does it for the sessions. Whew. T’was time to wind down with a sip or two. Specifically, through a tasting sponsored by You Grape. Champagne, white, red, and an egg liquor to boot. After many generous pours, the need for food to counterbalance was crucial, so off we sauntered down to the Wrenkh Salon where, well, we cooked! Divided into groups, we all had access to the same ingredients but were told to ‘get creative’. For us, this meant Strudel! (No coercion necessary from yours truly. It just happened.) We made mini pumpkin-vegetable strudels and bruschetta as an appetizer. Lecker.
So that was the first ever Food Camp Vienna. Informative, exciting, delicious, and fun. Ever the camper, I finished downright exhausted. I bid adieu to my newfound friends, promising to write and the like, and collapsed into bett. Here’s hoping that the next Food Camp (slated for summer 2013) is as full of Spaß as this one was.
*If you’d like me to add yours, just let me know.