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Four and a half years ago, Diane crossed the Mexican border with “contraband” that I had requested via text from Tecate, Mexico.

She arrived at my door late at night with a small rolling luggage piece in one hand and a single, red backpack in the other that I immediately tore into.

Beef jerky, 2 bottles of wine, Doritos, chocolate bars. Oh, you were thinking of another type of contraband, were you?! We were spending a week at the legendary Rancho La Puerta, otherwise known as the “#1 World’s Best Destination Spa” (Condé Nast Traveler 2014).

It’s a wellness spa for mind, body and soul. It’s a vice-free spa — all vegetarian, no alcohol. I didn’t adequately prepare myself for the week of no vices, so it was like going cold turkey (eh….literally) on my meat-rich diet and “healthy” nightly dose of red wine.

It was over a delight of contraband consumption (perhaps overdose?)  that Diane and I came up with creating Food Blog Forum, a not-for-profit yearly event where we teach food photography, monetization strategies and writing skills to our community of food bloggers. I’m proud to say that we’ve just returned from our 7th event in Asheville, North Carolina!

 

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Three days of fun, friendship, networking, learning, laughing, EATING (of course!) and drinking. Our speakers talked about creating a tribe, writing for traditional media, food photography, negotiation skills, PR relationships and working with brands. Our hosts, The Biltmore Estates, is the true essence of graciousness and grandeur. We were treated like kings and queens throughout our stay, including a tour of the “big house” itself.

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Oh, and by the way, when you’re in front of a lawn this luscious, what do you do? Here in Florida, we don’t have nice squishy grass. It’s hard, scratchy, full of red ants (ouch!). So when my boys visited Biltmore Estates in Asheville, North Carolina, they were in awe of the soft lawn and decided to roll in grass for the very first time in their little lives.

hah! Major FAIL! The day of the conference in the Biltmore Estates Antler Hill Barn with over 100 attendees:

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Come check out Todd and Diane’s photos from the event at their site including the opening party hosted by the DoubleTree at Biltmore, Asheville Farm Tours, Restaurant Tours and the closing party at The Biltmore Estates:

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More photos from Instagram #FBFAsh hashtag (there are nearly 1,000 photos from the event!)

 

We love Asheville!

Here’s a list of the restaurants, shops, farms, producers that we got to experience during our trip in Asheville:

French Broad Chocolates / The Market Place Posana /  Ultimate Ice Cream  /  King James Public House  / The Cantina /  The Junction  / Biscuit Head  / Red Stag Grill  / 12 Bones  / Curate  / Green Sage  / Asheville Bee Charmer  / Crooked Condiments  / Smoking J’s Fiery Foods  / Annie’s Bread  / Green River Picklers  / Looking Glass Creamery  / Farm & Sparrow  / Blue Kudzu Sake Co.  / Blue Ridge Mountain Creamery / Sunburst Trout Farms  / Hickory Nut Gap Farm  / Buchi Tupelo  / Honey Café  / Isa’s Bistro  / The Lobster Trap  / Bouchon  / Nightbell  / Early Girl Eatery  / Seven Sows  / Rhubarb S / trada  / Zambra  / Chestnut  / Chai Pani  / Sante Wine Bar & Tap Room  / Asheville Distilling Company (Troy & Sons)  / Biltmore  / Doubletree by Hilton Asheville-Biltmore  / Highland Brewing Company

Batistini-LogoInt-copy1 (the best olive oil you’ll ever taste!)

ExploreAsheville TWITTER: @Foodtopia, INSTAGRAM: @VisitAshevilleBiltmoreTWITTER/INSTAGRAM: @BiltmoreEstate
KitchenAid®TWITTER/INSTAGRAM: @KitchenAidUSADoubleTree TWITTER: @DbltreeBiltmoreOxoTWITTER/INSTAGRAM: @OXO

Food Blog Forum 2015

Guess where next year’s Food Blog Forum will be held at? Here’s a clue:

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Come see if you are right!

More Food Blog Forum Asheville Posts

White on Rice Couple

Big Bear’s Wife

Love and Olive Oil

Simply Southern Baking

That Susan Williams

Kelly Senyei from KitchenAid

Feast and West

Cake n Knife

Love ‘n Flour (Day 1 and Day 2)

Southern Kissed

This Cookin’ Dad

Melangery (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

Running in a Skirt

How Dairy You

Development of Taste (Part 1, Part 2)

Sugar Dish Me

Army Mom

Jeannine’s Cuisine 

Mountain Xpress

Carolina Epicurean

(if I’ve missed your post – PLEASE LET ME KNOW!!!)