IFBC Live Blogging and 70’s (Teen???) Idol Rex Smith

“30 seconds left to wrap it up!”

I jolt in my seat as I involuntarily twitch from a last burst of frenzied activity.  Darn medication sure doesn’t help my nerves.

Ha-ha, just tweeted in time.  One down.  Oh, oops, forgot to include the picture again.  Okay, I’ll try again.

“Time’s up.  Switch!”

No, wait.  Gotta redo this before the next one sta-

“Hi…”

I give up and figure I’ll get back to the first tweet later.  Yeah, well, I gave up after barely tweeting the second product before time was up yet again (or was that me attempting to retweet the first product?).  Blogging in real time is hard.  My tablemates and I are so busy asking questions and trying to get the best shot of the product that the 30-second call is sounded to our surprise (well, mine anyway).  I hope I got all the info I needed.  “Forget it; I’ll have to blog about this stuff later,” I think.

As I recount the experience now, the voice of Rex Smith drifts across my head, “You, you take my breath away, and I don’t know what to say ‘cause you take my breath away.” (yeah, I know I’m dating myself; well, my fellow Gen X’ers may recognize my reference)

And I thought regular blogging was hard but posting in real time takes blogging to a level of frantic motion (someone did warn us at the opening of the conference that live blogging is a little like speed dating; man, if this should bear any resemblance to speed dating, I really feel for those who engage in the activity).  Don’t get me wrong; I actually thought this was a bit cool and fun – just a bit high speed is all.  As someone who, on Day One, was fumbling with figuring out how to set up and send a tweet, doing it really fast wasn’t going to work (and I thought I was all set by making sure all social media apps I might need were installed, opened and signed into by the time I arrived at the conference).

The vendors certainly had to be ready to go so I could see the assistants setting up for the next round while the lead person crammed in as much info as s/he could get to us before the five minutes were up.  There were 22 tables in all – so 22 vendors – but only 50 minutes for the entire activity, which meant none of us got to sample all 22 products and vendors had a limit of ten tables to whom to make their product pitches.

I only got to sample five.  I’d already agreed to leaving early so Gabriel and I could rush across town to an annual brats and beer dinner put on by St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Rancho Cordova.  I said I’d be at the curb ready to go by 5:10pm so figured that would give us 40 minutes to get there a few minutes early to meet up with friends just before dinner was to start.  At the time I said I’d leave early, I didn’t figure I’d be missing much.  In fact, during that one-hour waste of time that was the avocado presentation, I seriously considered texting Gabriel to pick me up early.

In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t and am sorry I couldn’t stay for the rest.  The 25-30 minutes I participated were crazy but highly entertaining.  Also, I walked away with a one-pound clamshell of strawberries from the California Strawberries vendor and a bag of bread from gluten-free vegan bread vendor Bread Srsly (SRSLY?).  I also had a chance to sample balsamic vinegar from Modena, OJ from the same people that did the avocado presentation and coffee from Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasters (a local business).

I had time to tweet about the juice (but accidentally leaving out the picture).  I thought I tweeted about the second vendor but after reviewing the list of what I was present for, I think I only got to tweet about the juice and gave up after that, figuring I’d do a long, detailed blog post after.

Getting the clamshell of strawberries as a “sample” I liked a lot since I do a mix of green grapes and sliced fresh strawberries for our work lunches every day.  The California Strawberries’ representative, Jodi Reinman, had some useful info I hadn’t known or hadn’t remembered – like not washing the strawberries until we’re ready to use them (I learned that in culinary school but forgot about it; it’s the same with mushrooms).  She also said that eight strawberries only have 45 calories and that there’s more vitamin C in one cup of strawberries than one cup (serving?) of an orange (or maybe she said orange juice – I guess I wasn’t listening that closely).  I’ve always preferred my strawberries chilled but, apparently, they taste better at room temperature (I still prefer them chilled, even though I know a lot of things taste better at room temperature because more of the flavor comes through).

The orange juice sample was okay; it didn’t really taste any better than any other OJ I drink.  To be fair, the beverage we were provided wasn’t pure orange juice; it was something they called a “Chilean Clementine Cooler.”  It was made up of Chilean clementines, lime juice, simple syrup and club soda. Amanda Shepherd, Citrus from Chile’s social media manager, presented the product pitch, but I really don’t remember anything she said (or she didn’t really say anything other than what I wrote that I thought needed to be noted for later).

Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasters were next with the owners making the presentation.  I’d heard of them but never visited their shop (somewhere around downtown or something like that).  They gave us a shot-like sample of something called “nitro coffee.”  They explained it’s coffee that is flash brewed then infused with nitrogen.  I’m not a big coffee drinker so I could really only say it tasted like coffee but, at least, it didn’t taste like bad coffee.

Product #3 was from California Strawberries.  See earlier paragraph.

The fourth product was from Bread Srsly.  Melissa Something made the pitch, but I didn’t get the impression that she was the owner.  I recall hearing a backstory of how the owner started making gluten-free bread, but we didn’t sample anything.  We each were given a full-size bag of their gluten-free vegan sourdough sandwich rolls.

I’ll just say it – I’m not a fan of gluten-free, and most things I taste that are gluten-free representations of baked goods that normally have gluten are really not very good (the one exception being a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie a guy I used to work with gave me that he baked – that was a pretty good cookie and didn’t taste like it was gluten-free).  I gave the rolls a fair try once I got home (well, this morning; I did go out to dinner after all).  Gabriel tried one first and hated it.  I tried a small bit at first.  I’ll say that the visual was okay; it looks like a small bun.  I sliced it in half.  The halves, for the most part, had the same textural appearance of regular bread with yeast, except the center seemed moist in feel and in appearance, which bread shouldn’t look like.  I broke off a piece at the edge.  The roll had a crust akin to a regular loaf of bread, but the mouthfeel was noticeably different.  Without the familiar gluten, it lacked the chewiness and springy nature you get with standard bread.  However, the roll did emit the familiar sourdough scent and tasted like sourdough.  Overall, I really didn’t care for it, either.  I did give it another shot several hours later as I wanted to see if it would taste better with the sample I got from the balsamic vinegar people.  It did but, really, good bread doesn’t need another flavor to mask it.  I would definitely not recommend this for people who don’t have to be gluten-free.  For others, I’d say it might be a workable substitute for regular bread when you just can’t consume gluten.  Printed directly on the packaging on the outside were words that would prevent me from recommending this bread to anyone (at least without further research).  It said that if the bread is sticky in the middle, then that means it’s “extra fresh” and to refrigerate it for another day.  Baked goods don’t get any more baked in the fridge if they seem like they’re still raw so the claim of it being “extra fresh” doesn’t work for me.  It tells me it wasn’t baked (processed) long enough.

The final product I got to taste before I left was my favorite.  Another Rex Smith song comes to mind when I reminisce about the three-year-aged balsamic vinegar sample.  My mind sings, “Open up your eyes, then you’ll realize here I stand with my everlasting love.  Need you by my side; there’s no need to hide.  You’ll never be denied everlasting love.”  We were given regular balsamic vinegar as the second sample, but it was a fleeting memory and just didn’t compare to the richness and sweetness of the aged vinegar.  The pitchman didn’t know the answer when I asked where I could buy their balsamic vinegar, but one of my tablemates came to my rescue and let me know Corti Brothers carries it.  I must get over there in the next day or so and get a bottle…or two or three.

Just before I rushed out to meet Gabriel downstairs, the Chile people were coming back round with guacamole on toast.  Oh, well.  I already gave them an hour as part of a captive audience so I really wasn’t missing anything.

As I look forward to attending next year and experiencing another shot at blogging real time, my last thoughts of live blogging are conveyed in the crooning of Rex Smith:

“Honey, listen, it’s true.  No one ever loved you better.  Love you, Honey-y-y-y.”

I, Rex Smith (and Elvis) have left the building.

#kakainna #IFBCDayTwo #IFBC #liveblogging #socalval

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