Gala-vanting at the Ferry building

Up to this point in the weekend, the food at the festival had been good.  Just good.  Not great.  Nothing had wowed me.  In other words, I was still waiting to go gaga over something.


In spite of this, I strutted into the Ferry Building with my chin up high.  Brush that dirt off yo shoulder.


Having seen the menu beforehand, my expectations weren’t high.  In fact, I was a bit nervous about how vegan-izable the meals would be.  Especially given the minimal veg-friendly options available at the previous Foodbuzz events.


From left to right (back) Mama Pea, Holly, Meghann, Brittany, Cara, (front) Susan, Janetha, me, Marci

Things got off to a rocky start as there were zero vegan appetizers.  I didn’t really care since I was still full from the tasting gala – ha!  Instead, I sipped on a glass of white wine before we were led upstairs to the second floor above the Ferry Building to be seated for dinner.


I’m happy to say, the tides turned at the gala dinner.


You know things are looking up when your table setting has more wine glass than you can count on one hand.  Wine pairings for each course?  Yes please.


If there’s one thing I learned from Julia Roberts, it’s how to approach fancy shmancy silverware.

The food was prepared by Paula Leduc Catering and the wine was from Bonny Doon Vineyard.


The first course was a Roasted Golden Beet Salad with Wild Arugula and Basil Puree which was paired with a 2009 Bonny Doon Vineyard Ca’del Solo Albarino.

It was simple and tasty.  I love golden beets but rarely eat them, so I was quite pleased.  The Albarino was also probably my favorite wine of the night.


The second course was Seared Tofu “scallops” with Braised Fennel and Garnished Fried Fennel Fonds with a 2007 Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Blanc.

Since the non-vegan option was scallops, it was so clever how they made mine look nearly identical.  Unfortunately, the tofu was a bit bland.  I used the sweet candied orange to add flavor, but I steered clear of the fennel.  I know others love the stuff, but I really don’t like fennel.  It’s one of the rare exceptions to my I-like-every-vegetable claim.  I suppose it’s more of an herb than a veggie, but whatever.


For the entree, they brought me a Mushroom Stack with Local Wild Mushrooms and Butternut Squash Puree and was paired with a 2006 Bonny doon Vineyard le Cigare Volant.


The mushroom tower was so good!  I love mushrooms!  Love love love them.


The butternut squash puree was also perfection.  It was about as pure as it gets, and I loved that it didn’t have any complex seasonings detracting from the squash.  Butternut may have usurped pumpkin in my seasonal obsession rankings after this meal.  Straight up.


And then there was dessert.


The night ended on a sweet note with a Poached Pear filled with Sorbet and served with Orange, Grapes, and Medjool Dates.


The final wine pairing was a 2008 Bonny Doon Vineyard Vinferno dessert wine.


If I could have made love to the dates, I may have.  The pear was also perfectly caramelized, and somehow the sorbet accented it without making it too sweet.

After dinner, we were eager to hit the town.  The first bar we went to, Clock Bar, was nearly at capacity and our feet were way too sore.


Since nobody else seemed to be in the mood to stand either, we all made our way back to the Sir Francis Drake lobby.  But not without a bathroom photo sesh.


















Roomie love.

Although I was ready to rock when dinner ended, after trekking from bar to bar, my motivation to rally was waning.  In the end, the 50 year old in me won, and we all made our way back to our room where I happily face planted onto my bed.  At least I managed to change into pajamas, which is more than SOME people can say [cough, cough, Holly].

Thank you Foodbuzz for a perfectly wonderful vegan meal.  This was the kind of food I was hoping for, and as a result, Saturday’s Gala was a night I will never forget.

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Comments (38)

  1. lynn @ the actor's diet

    i was so curious about those tofu “scallops” – too bad they weren’t tasty enough!

  2. hippierunner

    Mushrooms are so good! I would love a life-sized mushroom tower!

  3. MarathonVal

    I also looooove mushrooms and that dish looks phenomenal.

    So the question remains: would you recommend Foodbuzz to vegans? I’m wondering if it’s worth the pricey airfare, hotel costs, etc…

  4. elise

    if i had to fly, probably not. i have family in the bay area, and kyle was already heading to SF, so it wasnt really a big deal…if i still lived in NYC i may have thought twice about it

  5. Jessie

    I was at the foodbuzz fest as well and I’m with ya on the tofu “scallop” dish. It was curiously lacking a sauce and the tofu itself wasn’t seasoned at all. I was a bit bummed but the rest of the meal was pretty excellent so I didn’t mind. That portobello mushroom creation was outstanding!

  6. Jessie

    I’m a vegetarian (not vegan) and, while everyone else left the Friday night event stuffed, I stopped for a slice of pizza on the way back to my hotel, if that tells you anything…

  7. Mama Pea

    I was totally with you on those scallops. I want to try to remake them at home. But with a little thing called FLAVOR.

  8. brothern8ture

    I second that! Elise, can i borrow your photography skills in a few weeks when i get my camera?

  9. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga)

    And I felt the same way about Friday….I was trolling, kid you not, a street corner deli across the street from my hotel at 11:30pm in hopes to get like an apple or something b/c I didnt actaully want to sit down to a dinner out. I called my husband and told him I was starving and he’s like huh? You were just at a food festival. And then I explained the whole vegan/veggie options situation…

  10. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga)

    Just caught up on your posts, Elise. Glad you felt the Gala Dinner was the redeeming trump card 🙂

  11. sophia

    I was actually really surprised at how many vegans/vegetarians attended the festival…I’ve been there last year, so I knew there weren’t going to be much veggie choices, much less vegan. I’m glad you still came so I got to meet you! Though we didn’t get to hang out much, I finally got to put a 3D face to the hungry hippie! You’re cuter in person, esp with the adorable freckles. 😉

  12. Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine

    I was really, really happy with the vegan options at dinner. Mushrooms aren’t really my thing, but just the fact that there was a 100% vegan entree made me so happy!

    Oh and the dates? Divine, I agree.

  13. Cara

    Lovely to meet you! And WOW do I look overly excited in that picture…clearly, enjoying the wine… 🙂

  14. Green Dog Wine

    SOOOO FUN! I’m so bummed I couldn’t go this year but it looks like ya’ll had an absolute blast! 🙂 I got to room with Janetha and Danica last year – so I know a good time was guaranteed with those two! 🙂 Glad you had so much fun!

  15. Marci

    Great pics, I like reading the food recaps of the food I didn’t eat.

  16. elise

    haha…welcome to my weekend…i feel like i was drunk or buzzed 75% of the time – no complaints though 🙂

  17. elise

    i couldnt agree more. it was amazing to get such a wonderful multi-course meal that was entirely vegan.

  18. lowandbhold

    That sucks that they weren’t more consistent about providing good, vegan options but glad you enjoyed the meal. Wine always helps 🙂

  19. elise

    hahaha…that definitely was how i felt after friday night too…i seemed to find my way to bars though, thus drinking up my dinner. not so great for a foodie festival, but oh well…

  20. elise

    you too are just as cute and fun in person as on your blog – i wish we had talked more because i wanted to actually meet you more than a hello and hand shake…good thing we both live in LA 🙂

  21. Marci

    Aww noticed my name isn’t linked to my site in the group picture. My blog wants to be part of that fun group too!

  22. Carbzilla

    Hooray for the mushroom lovahs! I met a LOT of haters this weekend!

    Maybe we should just start our own Vegan drinking festival and be done with it.

  23. janetha

    I am so glad you actually got a good, vegan meal at the end of it all! And actually I wish I’d had the mushroom stack and your dessert. I loved out photoshoot sesh! And I loved poking Holly’s forehead after she passed out. We should all move to California, yep. We should.

  24. Katie

    Just caught up on all of your yummy food and fun familiar faces! Sorry about the lack of vegan options – I would have been a little ticked.

    In other news – your cupcake post made me want to spoon frosting straight into my mouth. But all I have is carrots in front of me – leftover from my lunch. It’s kind of torture.

  25. Holly

    UH-MAY-ZING looking pics of your vegan dish! i will say that besides the dinner, the vegan options were a bit slim. however, my homegirl eclair twerked it out. plus, there was booze, so we made do.


    these pictures make me want to go back.

    like now.

    work is not nearly as much fun as spooning with you and gettin’ messy.

  26. Holly

    ***i should clarify. that wasn’t “gettin’ messy” with elise but rather “gettin’ messy drinking with elise.” just to clarify 🙂

  27. elise

    Ooo ok. I don’t know what happened -ill link you as soon as I get home!

  28. elise

    Now you’re onto something.

  29. Diana (Soap & Chocolate)

    Haha, I like the Pretty Woman reference. So true!

    This is the first I’ve seen of the veg options at the gala dinner. Looks awesome, esp. the shroom dish! NOM

  30. cbrady3

    How great that they made a vegan meal for you! I probably would have prefered yours over the regular, even though I’m not vegan!

  31. julie

    i just lived vicariously through you. and holly. and janetha.

  32. Pure2raw Twins

    I wish there was more vegan and gluten free options, LOL

    I glad you found something off the menu and enjoyed! And yes it was nice seeing all those wine glasses 😉

    I wish I got to hang out with you more in SF, but another time for sure!! 🙂 Keep in touch. ~ Michelle

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  36. Danica

    I am so glad you finally got a good vegan meal and I have to agree with you – the mushroom stack was pretty tasty. I definitely wanted the vegan dessert over the funky one they gave us.

    OMG, I didn’t even know til I started reading all of your posts that holly passed out with clothes on and you all tortured her….sooo funny!

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