May 2, 2011

Wild (gluten free) Weekend!

I'm exhausted.  Seriously.  It feels as if this past weekend has been the longest weekend of my life!  It was the Gluten Free and Allergen Free Cooking Expo and this year it felt like a blogger reunion of sorts.  I was *so thrilled* to meet all of the talented bloggers I've been following for the past couple of years, it really was great!

The weekend activities kicked off Thursday night at Wildfire Restaurant in River North.  Rudi's Gluten Free Bakery hosted a small dinner party for a handful of gluten free experts and bloggers.  It was hands down the best gluten free event I've ever attended.  The Rudi's folks are just so down to earth and welcoming, it felt like I was sitting down to dinner with old friends.  Although the dinner was unrelated to the expo, it was perfect timing since everyone involved was in town for the weekend event.  Rudi's hosted the dinner to preview their new gluten free hot dog buns and hamburger buns.  Together with Wildfire, they planned a wonderful meal.  Take a look....

Wildfire's Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Pizza
House Salad Bowl
Black Angus Burger (with grilled onions!) served on Rudi's Gluten Free Bakery Hamburger Bun
Flourless Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream and Hot Fudge

Yum!  Everything was delicious and we were sent home with goodie bags filled with gluten free bread and the new gluten free hotdog buns.  The night couldn't have been better.

Continuing the fun, a tour of the Enjoy Life facility followed next. I had a lovely time on the ride over chatting with my fellow shuttle van riders Chelsey from Clean Eating Chelsey, Jennifer from Raw Jenergy, and Alicia from Living Without magazine.  We had a great time talking about blogs, food and the vegan diet.  I can't wait to catch up on their should too!

The tour at Enjoy Life was really fun.  It looked like the funnest place to work and everyone who worked there was really nice.  I felt like I was at a family's home and meeting each member as they each explained their job at Enjoy Life. I always loved Enjoy Life products, but hearing each member speak passionately about the products and the great strides they go through to make sure everything is free of allergens and tastes great made me appreciate them more.  I'm obsessed with their Snickerdoodle cookies and lucky me...they were making them when we walked through the factory.  The delicious smells of cinnamon and sugar filled the air which reminded me of when my friends and I would drive past the Nabisco factory just to get a whiff of the cookies baking.  This was 100% better, because I could eat what was baking.  After a learning the history of the company, tasting the new products (um...the crunchy chocolate chip cookies are to DIE for!!), and the tour we were sent off on our merry way....with a giant bag of all their new products, which I will be reviewing very soon.

Did I mention I was passing out goodies at the Udi's Gluten Free table?  Yep.  I was helping the famous Heather Collins work the crowd and doling out samples of muffins, sandwiches from Jason's Deli, and hot dog buns. It was such a joy to see everyone so excited about Udi's Gluten Free products, especially the hot dog buns.  I loved hearing every one's story about how Udi's changed their lives and even meeting a few friends who stopped by. What a fun day!

Heather and I, photo courtesy of Celiac in the City

It was a great time and I ended my expo experience at the VIP party with bloggers and experts galore.  Please check out the blogs from everyone I met this weekend!


gfe--gluten free easily said...

Betsy, it was such a delight to meet you finally at the Rudi's dinner! That was a really lovely dinner. So relaxing, fun, and delicious! The whole Expo was quite energizing with all the gf folks there ... bloggers and others. :-)

Hope to see you again in the near future, dear! xo,

Paula - on behalf of Rudi's Gluten-Free Bakery said...

Betsy - I'm so glad you were able to join us at Wildfire and that you enjoyed the dinner. I had such a great time chatting with you and Alexandra...I hope we can hang out the next time I'm passing through Chicago. And, if you're heading to Colorado, you know how to find me! The Sangria is on me!

-Paula Berg
on behalf of Rudi's Gluten-Free Bakery

Heather said...

It was so wonderful to meet you, Betsy!!! I've been following your blog for a while now and I had no idea that was you behind the Udi's table until we connected on Twitter! Too funny.

Betsy said...

Shirley - It was so great to finally meet you! I agree, the dinner was the most relaxing time at the expo.

Paula - Thank you again for hosting such a wonderful event. As far as Sangria and Colorado? Done and done!

Heather! I didn't realize who you were until you walked away and I saw your badge! It was fun to run into all of the GF bloggers, just wish we could have chatted more.