Yesterday my mom and I had a wonderful day at the Sunset Magazine Celebration Weekend in Menlo Park, a beautiful city just south of San Francisco. I’m a fan of Sunset Magazine for the recipes, gardening articles, and travel inspiration. I’ve been looking forward to this event for weeks because it’s held at their offices in Menlo Park with beautiful outdoor gardens and test kitchens, perfect opportunity to play with my DSLR. And because Ani Phyo is one of the celebrity chefs this year, great opportunity to meet her, see her in action, and grab her new book to have signed.
Typically this is the perfect time of year to hold such an outdoor event, the weather is normally awesome. But not this year, we’ve been stuck in nonstop freak rain and cold temps for the last week. As I packed for the event yesterday morning, I was totally bummed to see the 90% chance of rain for most of the day – ugh! After a lot of debate, I opted not to take the DSLR camera and pack my little point-and-shoot camera instead. Rats, I wanted to take it so bad, but it just wouldn’t be fun in the rain while juggling my on call laptop.
We hit the road for the 3 hour drive to Menlo Park and it literally rained for the entire drive and was a scary downpour with low visibility at times making me question why we were doing this. But things improved when we arrived, found nearby parking and happily headed to the event with our umbrellas.
Despite the rain, there were gorgeous garden displays.
Plenty of great food samples, though not much for vegans. I snacked on what I cold – flavored nuts, pickled cucumbers, chocolate… lots of chocolate, fruit, and salads.
And I got to drool over this cool Honda Civic Hybrid display, it’s still my dream to own a hybrid someday.
There was also a great tour of the Sunset test kitchen, a cluster of four small kitchens with a mix of gas and electric appliances. The building was a 60s style ranch house renovated and I just the loved the architecture with wood ceilings, skylights, lots of windows, and wine racks every where.
One of the celebrity chefs was Rick Bayless. I only caught the end of his demo, but enjoyed his energy and passion for Mexican cuisine. He’s a huge fan of jicama and stated it takes more calories to digest it than it actually has – I need to get more jicama!
The next celebrity chef was the initial reason I decided to go – Ani Phyo! And I scored a front row seat to her demonstration of making nori wraps with fresh made wasabi, jicama rice, and sprouts.
Her demonstration was wonderful! She has so much passion about raw foods and energy on stage, yet she seemed so relaxed and confident as she discussed the health benefits and her history with raw foods stemming from her Korean family.
A few other interesting points is she’s not 100% raw currently, but is vegan and enjoys cooked vegan dishes now. She was 100% in her early raw days as she cleansed from her junkier diet days, but enjoys a high-raw, whole foods diet now. She also does most of her food shopping at farmer’s markets which makes me jealous, I wish I had access to more farmer’s markets during the week. She is also not a fan of legumes because they make her feel weighed down for a few days and prefers tempeh since fermented soy beans are much easier to digest, a benefit I’ve also noticed about it.
After the demo, she did a book signing. So naturally I had to grab a copy of Ani’s Raw Food Asia for her to sign. :-) She is very sweet and talkative in person and flattered that I had a copy of all of her books now, interested in checking out my site and talking about the recipes I post. And she was happy to let my mom snap a picture of us! Pardon my sloppy bun hair, but it was either that or a fuzzy mess in the rain. And my shabby rain jacket. :-)
What an experience! Meeting her and seeing her action made the trip worth it. And I can’t wait to dive into her new book.
Even though it was still raining, we wandered through the display gardens for inspiration, like this fun use for old tires.
I sampled so many flavored olive oils and ended up taking meyer lemon flavored and a small bottle of truffle oil – yum!
Neat idea for a box garden on top of a chicken coop … not that I’ll ever have a chicken coop.
Another cool display was an old dumpster converted into a small house and furnished by Ikea of course.
I actually liked the interior having a fascination with simple, uncluttered living. I could see making this small house work for one person.
Then I saw the tiny pantry space and realized it could never work for me. :-)
But I adored what they did in the backyard with a mini succulent garden in the table.
There was also an Etsy display in the merchant area.
After over 4 hours or walking, eating and learning in the rain, we were getting wiped. So around 4PM, we started the 3-hour drive home. But thanks to a GPS mishap, ended up on Treasure Island and marveled at the amazing views of San Francisco during a short break in the rain. Grrr, if only I had my DSLR! Next time!
What an awesome day! Even though the weather was awful, we had a great time. There were also tons of wine and beer tasting, which I would have been all over if I wasn’t driving home. For $16, this was an excellent event, completely worth it and something I’m definitely planning on for next year.