Set the Table: The Food Bloggers are Coming.
Sacramento hosts the International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) on September 29 – October 1, 2017. This marks the second consecutive year that America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital is hosting IFBC. I attended the conference last year for the first time, and was blown away with the excitement of meeting other Food Bloggers; attending Farm-to-Fork centered presentations and excursions; and partaking in a spectacular outdoor street dinner event under the canopy of Sacramento’s trademark trees. I must admit that I am deeply disappointed with this year’s agenda, lack of food and wine pairing excursions, and heartbreaking absence of a dinner gala event.
I am still happy, however, that the IFBC returns this week to America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital to celebrate the passion and relevance of Food Bloggers. I hope that although there are no sessions primarily focused on discussions on how Food Bloggers could make a difference in the world, that each of us would reflect or engage in small group discussions – to inspire one another, to prompt action, and to hopefully make a positive effect in our communities and the world.
That being said, I am excited to be in the midst of fellow Food Bloggers again. Last year, I met so many incredible individuals who are filled with joy for food and life. I have become friends with many attendees from last year and I hope to develop meaningful relationships with other Bloggers this year, too.
As a local of Sacramento (for the last eight years), I have some insight I would like to share with visiting Food Bloggers:
Transportation from Sacramento International Airport
If you have time, walk around for a bit at Sacramento International Airport (SMF), especially if you’re flying into Terminal B. It is one of the most beautiful small airports with superb art and fabulous dining options. The airport is about 11 miles away from Downtown Sacramento, and I recommend that you take Uber or Lyft. Depending on the time of the day, you will spend approximately $14-18 to reach Downtown Sac. From my experience, Lyft was a little less expensive than Uber on non-peak hours, and has a lower surcharge on premium hours. Please note that the ride sharing algorithms automatically raise the surcharge during peak hours and this includes rush hour times of the day, late nights or early mornings, and also arrival peak times. If you could patiently wait for a moment until the arrival rush has calmed down before ordering your ride, you will see a significant difference in cost. Regardless of which ride sharing you prefer, you will save at least half the cost of a cab, and a lot less hassle than taking the Airport Shuttle or renting a car. If you rent a car, be mindful that it will be costly to park downtown.
Last year’s conference was in the midst of summer and high 90’s welcomed attendees. This time of the year is beautiful weather-wise, as it is bright and cheerful like summer, but with refreshing coolness. Although we will be mostly indoors in a temperature-regulated Convention Center for the conference hours, the in-between moments must be beautifully spent outdoors. That being said, dress accordingly; ideally in layers. It may be a little chilly in the morning, but the moderate heat usually returns in the afternoons. Sacramento is pretty casual, and although during the week, you will see men and women in formal business attire, especially since we will be close to the State Capitol building, we could forego formal attire. But still look good.
We may not be Fashion Bloggers, but we still need to represent our community as classy and attractive to help promote engagement. Last year, I said, “Fortunately, we are a community of foodies and not fashionistas, so I don’t foresee casual, comfortable attire being shunned.” Well, I take that back. We represent the Food Blogger community, and a big part of our craft is our discerning taste not only for flavors, but also for aesthetic qualities. We all know that if something does not look or smell good, it mostly will not be consumed. We must apply a similar standard to how we present ourselves. Last year, there were a lot of well-dressed Bloggers and presenters, however, there were presenters, too, who wore a pair of T-shirts and shorts on stage. That was quite inappropriate. There, I said it.
Conference Location and Parking
The Sacramento Convention Center and the host hotels are located in the heart of Sacramento. Despite being at city center, accessing the conference location will not be as intimidating as downtown locations in other big cities. For non-city drivers, don’t worry about the one-way streets that may be intimidating to others; it’s nothing. Downtown Sacramento is very laid back and most drivers are polite and tolerant. Parking, like in any other downtown city locations will NOT be inexpensive, so just expect that. Aside from the hotel parking garage, there will be surrounding Parking Structures. There will be meters and free two-hour spaces BLOCKS away from the hotel, but unless you would like the lovely interruption of moving your car every couple of hours, I highly recommend that you use the hotel garage or surrounding parking structures.
If you are like me, you will need coffee to revive you from a zombie state. The conference will have coffee available, if you are a Starbucks regular, there will be one at the Convention Center. This Starbucks, however, charges airport-rate taxes, so if this is a concern, you may want to walk to another location. Aside from Starbucks, there are so many small business owned coffee shops around. Sacramento prides itself with vibrant coffee shops, so you have plenty to choose from. These are some within walking distance: Temple Coffee, Naked Coffee, Insight Coffee Roasters, and Fluid Espresso Bar.
Wine and Beer
Within walking distance or a very quick Uber or Lyft ride from the conference location, you could reach many wine bars and brew houses. These are some of my favorites of the ones a few blocks away from the hotel: 58 Degrees & Holding, Co., Block Butcher Bar, The Rind, Downtown & Vine. These wine bars all serve food and at spectacular quality and value. Another great gift of having Sacramento as the host city is we are right in the center of so many fabulous Wine Regions – Clarksburg (about twenty minutes away), Amador (an hour away), Apple Hill (about 45 minutes away), Lodi (45 minutes away), and Napa Valley (about an hour and a half away) among others. Please contact me for particular recommendations in any of these Wine Regions. Beer culture thrives in Sac Town, too, and these are some of my local picks: University of Beer, Karma Brews, Kupros Craft House, Firestone Public House.
I have so many local favorites and so many of them are of walking distance from the hotel. They are also mostly (if not all) farm-to-fork and beautifully celebrate the best quality ingredients in whichever cuisine you desire. I will work on a list of favorites and post them soon. Please contact me if you have any questions. Here’s a link to the list of restaurants in the Downtown Grid.
This Blog, by no means is comprehensive, so please feel free to connect with me if you have any questions. I would like to contribute to making your visit wonderful and memorable. I look forward to interacting with you all! Cheers!