There’s something a little bit magical about being surrounded my people who are like-minded.

It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does and you all feel it; that’s really special.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of joining 80+ Australian food bloggers to talk all things food at Eat Drink Blog 2012.

It’s pretty amazing to be in a room with people who ALL get that you can’t eat the food until it’s had the paparazzi treatment,  that it’s OK to rearrange the entire tabletop just to get the best lighting and setting, and it’s totally normal to talk about seasonal/sustainable/local/downright scrumptious food for hours on end.

We started the weekend by exploring the Adelaide Central Market. The markets are one of the oldest in Australia, trading for over 140 years.

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First stop was Providore, a dessert lovers paradise. We might have broken into a run when we saw Mark Gleeson’s chocolate fountain. [Hint: We did!]. I unashamedly begged at the counter like a puppy dog and Mark kindly obliged my greed, offering a hearty slice of Apple Cake (above, bottom right).

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What really stuck me about Adelaide Central Market is how passionate the traders are. Every stall we visited the owners and staff took the time to stop and chat about their produce, explain how items are made or where they are sourced, and were genuinely passionate about their stalls. Many of the traders were family-owned, generational businesses and this just shows in the pride and warmth of the people.

Eat Drink Blog 2012 - thestickyandsweet.comThe majority of the produce sold at Adelaide Central Markets is sourced locally from farmers, bakeries or dairies, or made by the traders themselves. I found the produce so fresh and, to be honest, much cheaper than the big supermarkets and Farmer’s Markets of Sydney.

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In the afternoon we took a short road trip to the McLaren Vale wine region. I was really surprised how quickly the buzz of the city faded away and we were travelling through the stunning greenery.

d’Arenberg is one of the oldest wineries in Australia, celebrating their 100th birthday this year.

We were treated to a wine blending session led by their head wine makers and d’Arry – the main man himself.

Eat Drink Blog 2012 - thestickyandsweet.comIt’s safe to say that on my table we had no idea what we were doing. The instructions were very clear, but  we certainly don’t have a future career in the wine making or tasting business!  My shiraz blend was aptly labelled “I can’t believe it’s not vinegar” because I was quite sure that I would turn these beautiful d’Arenberg wines into an insipid mess.

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After a few cheeky vinos we were very much looking forward to lunch and enjoyed a selection of canapes.

Our excellent foodie adventures were topped off with dinner underneath the stars at Hilton Adelaide Hotel. It wasn’t until we had all sat down and I looked out over the rows of long tables that I realised just how many food bloggers had all come together. It’s quite a sight!

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Executive Chef, Dennis Leslie, created a Mexican-inspired feast that was beyond my expectations – really fresh produce and a wide variety of options to cater for all the different dietary requirements.

My favourite dish of the night was the corn (below, top left)! The beautiful garlicky aioli, encrusted with parmesan kept me coming back for more.

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The official Eat Drink Blog 2012 conference proceedings began the next day with pastries and breakfast rolls from Red Door Bakery. Like moths to the flame, the food bloggers pounced on the goodies, but not before they had been photographed from every possible angle.

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I was a bit too busy scrawling down notes to take photos for the rest of the day, but one of my favourite sessions was the food styling with Fiona Roberts. I know I’ll be asking Santa for more styling props this year! We had an interactive session styling a lemon tart and it was very interesting to see how the creative ideas came together.

I also enjoyed Peter G’s session on food photography at home, although, I couldn’t help coming away with equal parts – ‘I must learn EVERYTHING about photography’ and ‘I know NOTHING about photography’. Now, where’s that camera manual again?

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It was a soul-enriching weekend and I came away feeling vey privileged to have received an invitation.

Even after all the exciting experiences and the great conference sessions, my favourite part was meeting lovely ladies that I’d only talked to online. It wasn’t uncommon to over hear “Oh! I follow you on Instagram!” or “I’ve seen your tweets!” In any other context that would be weird stalker-like behaviour but in the world of food blogging that’s just a happy coincidence.

I would like to extend my appreciation to the Eat Drink Blog organising committee. You ladies are pretty amazing!
Thanks to all the sponsors who make the little love-fest that is Eat Drink Blog happen, particularly South Australian tourism.