The Blogfest Backlash is in full gear as critics snipe that this was the year the gathering of Brooklyn bloggers sold out to Absolut Vodka, the event's sponsor.
Controversy aside, for a first-time attendee like myself, it was an opportunity to meet fellow bloggers and to be inspired by the community. Sure, Spike Lee's chat made it clear he was there to shill Absolut Brooklyn, the new vodka blend "inspired" by Brooklyn. And it was also painfully apparent that he knew nothing about blogging or the purpose of the event. Still, I appreciated the fact that Spike Lee attracted a more diverse audience to the blogfest.
And, to be honest, I also appreciated the free entry fee, vodka, and food (and no, I didn't get a flip camera or a bottle of vodka to take home). Producing an event like this isn't cheap. Kudos to blogger/Blogfest founder Louise Crawford for helping to make it accessible to all.
Ultimately, the cocktails were not as memorable as the conversations. During the "Blogs of a Feather" sessions where bloggers broke up by subject matter, I got to know fellow food and home bloggers, including:
Carolina Capehart of Historic Cookery, who cooks over an open fire, using the equipment,the ingredients, and the receipts (recipes) of the early 19th Century.
Phyllis Bobb of Reclaimed Home, who blogs about low impact housing and renovations options for thrifty New Yorkers.
Heather Johnston of SoGood.tv, which features videos about wine and food for the home cook.
Susan LaRosa of A Cake Bakes in Brooklyn, who revisits American home cooking in the era before convenience foods became popular. LaRosa bakes and cooks from old cookbooks and recipe cards of home cooks purchased at estate sales in Akron, Ohio, and other "exotic" locations.
Chattting about the state of blogging in Brooklyn was fun, but the highlight of the night was when I stumbled upon an inflatable couch on the sidewalk outside the Brooklyn Lyceum.
It was after 11 pm and the man reclining on the couch was handing out free cookies.
"Want a cookie?" he asked.
I eyed him suspiciously. My mom always warned me about taking cookies from strangers, but it was a homemade orange chocolate chip cookie and he assured me that not only was it safe, but it was gluten free. I couldn't resist. It was delicious.
He handed me his card. Turns out the cookie man's name is Scott Alexander. Apparently, he's a musician who makes friends and contacts by setting up his couch and handing out cookies. He's got a 24-hour Free Cookie Hotline, 347-829-4YUM and a web site, FreeCookies.Net.
Scintillating conversation with old friends and new, strong cocktails and free cookies. I couldn't ask for much more in an evening out in Brooklyn.
Photo: Hugh Crawford/otbkb.com