NYC Bloggers Unite Over Five Courses
May 24, 2011

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Over three years ago, when I met Melissa in my first ever blogger dinner, we remarked on the fact that, at the time, all of the “big” bloggers seemed to live in Florida. Or someplace south of D.C.. Where, we wondered, were all of the NYC foodies? Weren’t we living in the food capitol of the nation, and possibly the world? Where were our bloggers in arms?

A few months later, Melissa had organized a few awesome NYC food blogger meetups, and we’d gotten to know some of our fellow keyboard addicts here in the Big Apple. We’d soon formed a passionate little community. Today, there seem to be more NYC food bloggers than ever, and we have a lot in common: energy, ambition, a love for the city that never sleeps, and a conviction that, to quote my friend Leslie, we “have it all.” We’re in New York, and we’re surrounded by amazing food, faces, culture, and art: no wonder we feel that way.

Typical New Yorkers that we are, we’re often too busy hunting down dream jobs or waiting on line for theater tickets or scoping out new fitness classes or trying out new restaurants to hang out with each other. So one of my main goals before moving has always been to summon up a group of NYC food bloggers for a dinner. Lucky for me, nine agreed to dine with me on Sunday night. And even luckier, my friends Daphne and Cassie of Verite Catering agreed to prepare a five course vegan meal for us.

They set up a lovely table:

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And started our meal off with a raw gazpacho in cucumber cups, garnished with an adorable dehydrated beet chip:

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I grinned to see all of the camera’s come out—this is what happens when you dine with food bloggers. I even caught Diana in the act:

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The second course was a mushroom and sweet potato soup that blew my mind. Truly. I would never have thought of this combination, but it was hopelessly good. I stole finished Melissa’s bowl for her without shame.

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Since the meal had a wine option or could be BYOB, I brought along some “Wonder Drink” Kombucha. First time tasting the stuff, and I didn’t love it: I think it’s being marketed to Kombucha newcomers, and I found that it tasted just like fruit juice:

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My disappointment, however, didn’t stop me from raising a glass to Cassie and Melissa. These two women mean the world to me: Cassie, as I told the group, is my ideal of a “vegan ambassador.” She’s passionate to the core, but also compassionate, fair-minded, and she shares enthusiasm, not vitriol. She has also devoted her life to healing people who need help, to cooking for people who want to know how good plant based foods taste, and to being a stellar friend to people like me. She’s amazing.

And I think you guys know the story of how I met Melissa (I sent her an “I love your blog” fan note three years ago!). If you don’t, she recaps it sweetly in her post today. Melissa and I have cried, giggled, gossiped, emailed, exercised, and eaten our way through three wonderful years of friendship. We’re very similar, but there are also crucial differences, and I find that we bring out the very best in each other. I’m lucky to know her, as my verklempt expression in this photo demonstrates:

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Of course, I had something special to say to everyone at the table. Since we were too busy talking about food, dating, blogging, media scandals, career decisions, moving, and school for me to say everything I wanted to say, let me say it by introducing you my friends:

That’s Danielle and Ada. Danielle is sweet, precocious, and has just found her dream job. Ada, on the right, is a pre-med at Barnard. Ada is about seven years my junior, and I have come to her desperately in need of advice more times than I can count this year. It’s humbling and inspiring at the same time. Ada, my dear, you’ll make a killer doctor one day:

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This photo is very blurry, but the lady in the background is Katie, who grew up in Manhattan, worked at HarperCollins for a year, and is now doing a post-bacc in order to be a physical therapist.

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We have some stuff in common.

This is my D-Dove, who is known mostly for her sense of humor and fine writing, but who is also bravely pursuing her dreams. Proud of you, D:

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In this photo you can see Dori seated next to me.

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Dori is hilarious, uncensored, honest, and kind. I’m really glad I’ve gotten to know her. In the right corner of the photo is my friend Kathleen. Kathleen keeps insisting she’s not a food blogger, but she really is, even if she’s more interesting in writing about life, feminism, and the pursuit of happiness than she is in posting pictures of what she ate for breakfast. Kathleen, you’re on to something, and I adore you.

This is Sophia. I had never met Sophia until this dinner, but the nice thing about blogging is that we get to know people through their voices online. I knew I liked Sophia’s voice, and I knew I’d love her in person:

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I was right.

And this is Leslie, aka my doppelganger, who I am very sad to be leaving in NYC. I trust she’ll take care of it for me:

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What a group.

After my weepy toasting came our third course: a salad of micro greens, sunflower seeds, and a bright, lemony vinaigrette:

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And some shaved jicama on top. And finally came a mushroom risotto served with bright yellow red pepper coulis. It was filling, savory, and just the right portion:

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I’m not one for desserts, but I know from experience that Cassie and Daphne make amazing dessert food. I was blown away by their offering, which was a coconut cupcake with coconut frosting and a raw mango ice cream. The whole table gasped when they dug in:

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I usually go a little berserk when food portions are too small, but even I was worried that a five course dinner would be overwhelming. Cassie and Daphne nailed the portions right along with the flavors and textures. It was totally filling, but not at all heavy. Thank you, chefs!

If you’ve never blogged, and if you don’t read blog, the idea of “blog friendships” must strike you as as a little weird. But as I’ve said before, I often find that the connections forged online—platonic, romantic, or professional—are founded in all sorts of deep similarities and common passions. The food blog world and vegan blogging community have changed my life profoundly, and this dinner was a testament to that.

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Ladies, I will be taking the spirit of this little NYC food blogging community straight to D.C. with me. I hope you’ll all visit. And with any luck, I’ll have found a new community of passionate food lovers in the District, and we can make all of our worlds collide.

xo

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    35 Comments
  1. What a lovely group you have here on those pics. And the food looks so delicious. I am sure you are grateful for the lovely time you can spend together. It is truly priceless. Blogging is my hobby to so it is nice to find a group of likeminded guys and gals.

  2. Excellent job! Thanks for the great posting and your all efforts. I think the above article is valuable for all concerned people. At least, if was very useful for me. I’ve bookmarked this page for future reference, thank you again.

  3. This looks like such a nice dinner/meet-up! I’m glad you got to have it before you leave for DC adventures! I’m sure you’ll love the DC blogging crowd too!

  4. This sounds like a truly lovely evening! I so wanted to go but unfortunately I had a concert in Central Park the same night–tickets we’d gotten a while ago. While it was a great night, I can’t help but feeling like I missed out on a really unique opportunity to meet some really amazing people–and one of the last chances to meet YOU before you leave for D.C.! I’m glad you had a great time and hopefully I’ll be able to meet up the next time an opportunity arises…..

  5. Thank you again for hosting such a wonderful evening… it was quite a fitting way for you to leave the city. And who knows, we may all have a similar meal in DC- or somewhere else!- one day.

  6. That does look like a perfect good bye group get together! I’ve tried some food from Cassie and Daphne and can only imagine how delicious that dinner must have been!

  7. This post really makes me want to start a blog!

    As a long-time lurker, I know it’s very hard for you to leave NYC, but as someone about to move there too, I am psyched for all your future DC-related advice! I ate at Le Pain Quotidien while house(closet)hunting and it was great – thanks for posting about it.

    It’s funny: when I read your post about moving that mentioned how few vegan options there are in DC, I thought, “What? No!” but then realized I’m just coming from the opposite of New York (Texas). Perspective!

  8. Now I’M all verklemt (sp?). THANKS for that. :p I’m very excited for you, even if I’m sad you won’t be so nearby all the time. I think you’ve got big things coming and that one day I’ll be able to say I knew you when. You are a strong cocktail of qualities not many people get to contain all at once, and it’s only a matter of time until your full potential manifests (that’s saying a lot, too, since you are already pretty extraordinary). Party on, G.

  9. I love this post! Thank you so much for organizing this delicious dinner. I am so happy I got to see you again before you move. You are so right about the size of the meal — perfectly filling without being too much. I wish I could always eat this well. I already give Cassie enough money as it is though! Ha.

    Thank you so much for the sweet things you said about me.

  10. i promise to take care of new york if you promise to come back and visit often! i’m so glad i was able to be a part of your send-off. the food was tasty, but the company was the real treat!

    wishing you so much luck with the move – the beauty of this whole blogging thing is that it won’t seem like you’re quite so far away. 🙂

  11. Beautiful recap. I’ve only been blogging since early April this year (and at the moment my blog is more of an online diary to keep track of my training/lack of training – I’ve yet to find my voice I think!), I can’t wait to be able to meet other bloggers. I’m hoping to get to the US at some point – I’d love to attend a conference or summit and meet everyone!

  12. What a wonderful testiment to the power of blogging. It is so true–you get to find your soul mates on line (and hopefully meet some in person at times). And the food! So beautiful! I absolutely am going to borrow that idea of serving a pureed soup in a capuccino cup . . . I have thought many times that just a few sips of “this soup” would be just right and a bowlful might be too much to start my guests off with . . . gotta run to the store and get me a set right now!

    I’m looking forward to your adventures in DC, but reliving my sadness at leaving the places and friends that I have loved!

  13. How beautiful to create on this night such a wonderful memory, which itself draws upon a stream of friendship memories, of the care and love you have in your life as you prepare to make your transition! I believe I’ve said before, on this blog, that I too treasure and value my blog friendships to an incredible extent – it’s wonderful how many of us have found inspiring people in this way!

  14. Sounds like a wonderful evening with tendrils that will last you long afterward, all of you.

    Thanks for letting us share!

  15. Aww thank you for your kind words, I know you will make an excellent doctor some day as well. Thank you again for such a lovely evening and good luck with your move!

  16. How I wish I could meet all of your friends soon. I find all of your blogs very helpful in my journey to plant-based diets.And I hope your could extend your friendship bonds all the way here in the Philippines. 🙂

  17. what a great dinner but a better group of ladies, Gena you are so lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful and amazing ladies!!

    I totally agree about blogging friendships…where would I be without you! love you

    Michelle

  18. What is Kombucha? I’ve seen it in the grocery store, but it seems sort of mysterious… What are its benefits?
    p.s.
    I just found your blog about a week ago and I love it!

    • Thanks Marie!

      Kombucha has beneficial bacteria. Some also claim it improves immunity dramatically, and some even think it can “cure” cancer. I stop short of all of the claims except the bacteria, but I like the stuff when I go to a nice dinner, because it’s tasty!

  19. Loved this post, miss Gena. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: whether you’re talking about avocados, friendships, or bizarre scandals, you certainly have a way with words that is beyond impressive. Beyond that, your passion for health and medicine will take you very far. I can’t wait to see where this next route takes you!

  20. Gena, what a fabulous meet up and how bittersweet for you that it was actually a send off. Not that DC and NYC are “that” far apart and not that this is goodbye forever or anything, just for now. But what a great “Last Meal” it was.

    Everyone looks awesome, the food looks great (thanks for the review on that ‘booch btw, not that I buy it b/c I make my own but I will remember your review anyway) but over the food looking great, I can see the joy in everyone’s faces.

    As for feeling/wondering, where are all the food bloggers in NYC? Well, I have felt that way about San Diego. There are TONS in LA but that’s a good 3 hr drive each way, not something I make often. But it wasnt until I participated in a charity bake sale right before I left for my vacation Im on right now, that I realized just how many bloggers there ARE in my area and I cant wait to get to know them better when I get home.

    Btw all links in your post that go to the bloggers’ blogs, they all have an extra “piece” of your own URL in them so they are all dead links. Just what you want to do is fix links, but just LYK in case you do.

  21. How fun to get together like that! I wish Seattle bloggers would do that! Or at least, invite me if they get together for a vegan meal. How awesome your dining companions ate a whole vegan meal with you too. Some animals were saved.

    Love that dress on you.

    Kombucha Wonder Drink is a fraud. It’s not still alive (like other kombuchas), and they add sugar after, not just in the production. They are getting so popular and I wish they’d stop tricking people into thinking it’s real kombucha.