This past weekend, I was in New York City for Saveur Magazine's Blog Awards, where I was a finalist for the Best Baking & Desserts Blog of 2015. Even when I heard that I was a finalist many months ago, I already knew that I wasn't going to win the award — my category, like all others, was full of incredibly talented bloggers, and Editors' Choice rightly went to the lovely Yossy of Apt 2B Baking Co while Readers' Choice again rightly went to the unstoppable Molly Yeh, who also took home the grand prize of Blog of the Year — but still! I wanted to come celebrate the winners and meet all the talented folks who have been an inspiration for so long.
The weekend was a blast and most events took place at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The building itself is a beautifully restored factory, with gorgeous industrial chic details like concrete floors, exposed brick, and custom vintage wallpaper full of illustrations of nearby local landmarks:
One thing lead to another, and our morning quickly became a tour of the nearby bakeries. After Bakeri, we headed to the nearby Momofuku Milk Bar where we shared a collection of pork belly buns and bagel bombs (all of which we decided were too dry and bland — shame on you, Milk Bar!!!) and were joined by Phi of Princess Tofu, Alana of Fix Feast Flair, Brooke of Chocolate and Marrow, and Samantha of Love, Cake. We then headed to the Bakeshop for some traditional French and "old-fashioned macarons" (which, really, were more like miniature whoopie pies) and Peter Pan in nearby Greenpoint for old-school, all-shortening yeast donuts.
And despite all the baked goods, we still had room for a late lunch at the Wythe Hotel's beautiful restaurant, Reynard, where we were joined by Molly of My Name is Yeh, Kristin of A Pastry Affair, Linda of The Tart Tart, and Phyllis of Dash and Bella:
The rest of the next two days were a crazy whirlwind. Powered by a lack of sleep (that East Coast/West Coast time difference is brutal) and a ton of coffee, the moments I remember most are these: welcome drinks at the Wythe's rooftop bar with a backdrop of the setting sun and the Manhattan skyline; sneaking out to grab Van Leeuwen ice cream with Steph, Kristan of The Broken Bread, and Julia of Sassy Kitchen; and getting ready for the Awards Ceremony with Molly, Alana, Steph with Haim blasting on my room's surround speaker system while I helped Molly stalk this guy I went to college with (long story):
As for the ceremony itself, it was a blur of hugs, orange Le Creuset pepper grinders, fried chicken (at one point, the incredibly sweet and unbelievably talented Renee Kemps and I camped out by the food table, stuffing ourselves silly with wings and skewers from Wilma Jean), and tequila shots. And as if the night couldn't get anymore decadent, Yossy of Apt 2B Baking Co managed to herd us to a nearby dive bar to continue the party with cheap beer and hot dogs.
On Friday morning, despite the previous night's bacchanalia, we managed to make it to the Whole Foods Market in Gowanus for a tour of Gotham Greens' epic and groundbreaking greenhouse facilities.
But wait — more on that for a second. Gotham Greens designs, builds, and maintains several greenhouses in urban areas like New York City and Chicago that use cutting-edge urban agriculture technology to maximize their output with fewer resources. Using more sustainable methods like hydroponic technology to re-circulate and recycle water, Gotham Greens' processes can yield 20-30 times more product per acre than typical farm field production. I can go on and on about this (it really was that freaking cool!), but I'm probably not doing a good job of explaining it all properly — you can learn more about their sustainability practices on their website.
Other highlights of the trip include a wonderful lunch of pizza and avocado toast (which, by the way, pro tip from Instagram-famous Patrick Janelle: the fastest way to grow your Instagram following is to post photos of avocado toast) at Isa restaurant with Renee, Phi, Nik, and the incredibly sweet Elizabeth from Brooklyn Supper:
But that's all for now. I cannot stress how wonderful it was to finally meet everybody who has been an inspiration for me for so long. I know that sounds majorly cheeseballs, but it's the truth. Everybody was as warm and sweet and talented as their blog would have you believe. Congratulations to all the winners and finalists once again! And of course, thank you, wonderful readers for supporting this little blog of mine — I wouldn't have made it out there in the first place if it wasn't for you guys. Really and truly.