One of the most special aspects of food and eating is that it brings people together. Family meals, dinner or drinks with friends–sharing food with others is an intimate way to connect and create memories that can last for years. Oftentimes, people ask me why I started this blog. My answer is simply that I like food and found that I was always taking pictures of what I ate. Once I started blogging, I slowly began meeting people in the food community who were just like me. It was liberating to discover that I wasn’t the only weirdo who had to take photos of any and everything food-related before it went into my mouth. I began to gather a consortium of friends who had one prominent, similar interest: food.
One of those friends is Wendy of the fabulous La Phemme Phoodie. A lawyer by day, Wendy has taken to organizing area food bloggers meet-ups. The first was at Supper earlier this year, another was a food photography class and the most recent was a joint effort between Wendy, R2L Restaurant, VisitPhilly.Com and local photographer Eric Mencher.
As we stepped off the elevator at the 37th floor and into R2L for the first time, we were greeted with glasses of bubbly. We sipped and mingled, meeting and greeting friends old and new. As we chatted, we were treated to a variety of passed h’ors d’oeuvres such as steak tartare on a potato chip with beef butter (my first time eating tartare,) skewered tuna au poivre, truffled flatbread, crisp risotto balls with truffle soy (the server told me not to be shy with sopping up the truffle soy. I wasn’t,) and smoked salmon with mustard cream cheese on a pretzel crisp. An unmentioned surprise was this take on the chicken cheesesteak.
The hungry bloggers pounced on these delicious offerings.
Just as we started to get sated, out came the drinks. The R2L-Evation with gin, parfait amour, luxardo, fresh lemon, cherry
and the Sidecar with hennessy vs, pallini limoncello, cointreau, fresh lemon.
I didn’t try the R2L-Evation because my body has had a no gin mandate since high school, but those Sidecars certainly were tasty–and potentially dangerous–cocktails.
After some intial mingling, we made our way to the photography workshop conducted by Eric Mencher, a former Inquirer photographer who spent many years eating with Inky food critic, Craig LaBan. Before the workshop began, Chef Daniel Stern spoke to the crowd of excited bloggers and food enthusiasts, thanking us for “keeping the food conversation going.”
We were then greeted by Caroline and Alethia of VisitPhilly.com and Philly Homegrown, co-sponsors of the event, who spoke about local food and gastronomy.
Once Eric began, he regaled us with stories and jokes. Rather than discussing detailed camera function, he spoke more to the art of taking a photo and the eye with which we view our subjects. After his brief, yet informative talk, we were set free to take photos of all the beautifully plated dishes that Chef Dan created for the event. Between my husband and I, we have over one hundred photos which you can view on our Flickr page here and here. We were lucky enough to have two cameras thanks to my co-worker and extremely talented photographer, Doug Herman.
Here’s a snapshot (no pun intended) of our lovely Saturday afternoon.
HUGE thanks go to host R2L and Chef Daniel Stern for hosting the event and providing us with phenomenal food for tasting and shooting (can’t beat the view either,) Caroline and Alethia from Visit Philly and Philly Homegrown for helping promote local food initiatives and for the neat swag bag–including a beer koozie and “Who’s Your Farmer?” apron and Eric Mencher for his sharing his expansive knowledge with a group of crazy food lovers like us. Last, but certainly not least, MAJOR love to La Phemme Phoodie for, as Chef Dan put it, helping us to “keep the food conversation going.”
If you’d like to check out what some of the other attendees had to say, check out La Phemme Phoodie’s blog roll. So far, the list includes:
A Culinary Journey with Chef Dennis
Cleanliness is Next to Godliness
Eric spoke about things we can do to make food look more appealing in photographs. One tip he mentioned was the use of a fork or spoon so that the eye follows its curves. After the restaurant let us loose on the gorgeous dessert cart, all that was left was this.