Dear Miami, I love you. {A BlogHer Food ’14 Recap}

mojitoIt has only been a couple days, but I already ache for Miami.

Some of you know, but last weekend I had the pleasure of attending BlogHer Food in Miami, Florida.  If you don’t know, BlogHer Food is an in-depth conference for food bloggers with a strong emphasis on, you guessed it — food!  After attending (and loving!) the conference in Austin last year, I knew Miami was a must.  And to be honest, I was a little wary — I have seen those news articles about the crazy shenanigans that occur in Florida on a regular basis, and I did not want to be a part of that.  Plus, I am a wimp when it comes to hot weather, and humidity sounded dreadful.  But, I sucked it up and went anyway.

And you guys.  I loved every. single. second.

I had some terrible flight delays the first day so I made sure I would soak up as much of this city as I possibly could during my short stay.  And I think I did pretty well!

friendsSarah from Candiquik, Alejandra from The Marshmallow Studio, Toni from Make. Bake. Celebrate, and myself.

First: the conference.  I highly recommend BlogHer Food for bloggers of every caliber.  Whether you’re starting out your blog or you’re a seasoned writer, BlogHer Food has options for every stage of this amazing, rewarding blogging career.  The classes are geared more specifically for novice bloggers but offer great tips and tricks for even the most in-the-know of us.  The best part is the Expo Hall, where you can walk around and introduce yourself to some of BHF’s sponsors, network, receive tons of swag (and I mean TONS), and meet new people.

yayyLindsay from Life, Love & Sugar; Julianne from Beyond Frosting, and me.

This year, BlogHer Food had awesome sponsors, including LG, Hamilton Beach, Kings Hawaiian, ASPCA, Kerrygold USA, South Walton, CVS, KitchenAid, Alladin, and more, and was held in the beautiful Hilton Downtown Miami hotel in their grand ballroom.  There were so many booths to stop by!

I was personally sponsored by Candiquik and the California Milk Advisory Board and want to give them a huge THANK YOU for allowing me to attend this in-depth, once-in-a-lifetime conference on their behalf!  I learned so much, met so many new people (and friends whom I’d never met yet!) and wouldn’t have been able to attend without their generous support for me and The Domestic Rebel.

cubanosSecond: the food.

Miami isn’t just a huge tourist attraction for the beach and nightlife, but for the huge variety of culture and their delicious food.  A lot of it has heavy Latin/Cuban influence since Cuba is so close — and coming from California where we eat Mexican food on a daily basis, I knew I would love Miami’s food scene.

My main goal was to try Key Lime Pie, a Cuban sandwich, and a Mojito because, when in Miami, you drink mojitos.  Capiche?

Cuban sandwiches consist of pork, ham, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles on soft, sweet bread that’s lightly pressed so it gets a lightly crispy top.  The combination of the sweet pork & ham, the briny mustard and pickles and the creamy Swiss cheese makes this an unforgettable sandwich.  Must recreate this version, from Yuca Urban Cuban, at home.

keylimeYou’re not going to find fresher Key Lime Pie than in Miami.  Since Key Lime Pie comes from — gasp — key limes, and since Key West is so close in proximity to Miami, every slice of this classic dessert is bursting with bright, fresh key lime flavor and a soft, almost custard-y base.  The crust on this KLP from Versailles was heavenly.

carbAnother amazing Miami eat was Eating House, a very cool restaurant in Coral Gables that I would best describe as Modern American with a Latin Twist.  Eating House is the home of the extremely talented Chef Georgio Rapicavoli, who was crowned the winner of Chopped and who was a James Beard Award semifinalist nominee.  I had the pleasure of dining at Eating House with the California Milk Advisory Board and am so glad they picked this fun, innovative restaurant.  This was easily my favorite food in Miami because every dish was so incredibly thoughtful, playful and seriously delicious.  One of the favorites of mine was Chef Gio’s take on Pasta Carbonara.  It was so decadent, buttery and delicious.  I’ll talk more about Eating House, Chef Gio & The California Milk Advisory Board in a later post 🙂

friendzThird: Miami in general.

Coming from Sacramento, CA, I am used to living in a city that is extremely diverse, colorful and cultured.  So visiting Miami was like being in a brighter, louder, larger melting pot and I loved it.

The white sandy beaches of South Beach look like they’ve been Photoshopped.  The music is live and loud and the people are colorful and beautiful.  At first I was self-conscious of the fact that everyone appeared so lean and tan; seasoned beach bums whose job is to look gorgeous.  But upon walking the streets of Downtown and South Beach, I realized that Miami is a melting pot of all different people, cultures and beauties.  People of every shape, size, color and ethnicity encircled me at any given time.  Languages blended together into its own unique language — the language of Miami.

champsOn our way to Eating House, our Haitian cab driver got lost.  The other passengers tried communicating the directions to him, but the poor guy didn’t understand us.  I quickly realized that French is the first language of Haiti, so I told the cab driver how to get us to the restaurant en francais.  He understood me completely and thanked me in French.  It was an experience so small and seemingly insignificant, but I’ll never forget it.  I never would have thought I’d be giving directions in French in the middle of Miami.

flowerMiami operates on its own time.  For being a huge metropolis that buzzes with energy, it tends to function on a leisurely island time.  It takes forever to get the check at restaurants, people walk slowly on the boardwalk, and there’s a general laid-back, relaxed vibe.  For someone who operates at an extremely high-speed, it was hard for me to get used to the unhurried pace of Miami… but in the end, it allowed me to take a step back, relax, and enjoy the little moments Miami had to offer, like people-watching, watching the waves roll in on the sparkling sand, savoring a beer on the beach.




Miami, I love you desperately.  I love your vibrant colors, your bright food, your fruity drinks, your pristine beaches, your eclectic people, your unique vibe that’s a mixture of relaxed and brimming with energy.  I love your sun, your breeze, your shops, your potential.  And I cannot wait to return.

drankCheers to a very successful BlogHer Food ’14.  Thank you to the brands who made it possible for me to attend, and for my friends who helped me create beautiful memories I’ll remember forever.

So.. who wants to book our flight?

xo, Hayley

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  1. BlogHer looked like soooooooo much freaking fun, Hayley! I was totally jealous over everyone’s amazing photos on social media. This is on my list for next year – I hope I can make it and will get to meet you ‘n everyone else! I’m glad you had such an incredible time and were able to slow down a bit ‘n enjoy the relaxed Miami vibe. I’m sure the mojitos helped with that 😉

  2. oh my gaaaaaawd I want to go back. I had so much fun hanging out and thankful we were on the same flight home! xoxoxo

  3. So glad you had a great time, especially after your awful flight delay! I was so worried you wouldn’t make it there until Friday. And it sounds like you totally made up for all that too. Hooray! Next time you go to Florida, I’m totally tagging along too!

  4. I am so bummed I missed it!! I wanted to meet you so bad at BYB in SLC and now I missed you at BlogHer Food 🙁 One day!!! Looks like so much fun 🙂

  5. I have NEVER been to a conference, this is now something I am concerned about and need to remedy! I wanna go, looks like sooo much fun!

  6. Despite all the flight problems and Thursday being a complete wash – Miami’s BlogHer Food was amazing! I think I’ll recommend your post to anyone wanting to visit the city – you hit it right on! Have you ever considered a career as a travel editor? Haha. ‘Til next time…

  7. I’m so ready to go back! The Key Lime Pie there was amazing! I just fell in love with the beach, the artwork and the food in Miami!

    Ps. That’s so super cool that you were there to help with the directions! Who would have thought that you’d be using french in Miami!

  8. I’m so bummed I didn’t run into you while at BlogHer Food! Love this recap and yes, Miami is such a melting pot. On one of our cab rides, Lisa Le ended up chatting up our Haitian driver in French the whole ride. Beautiful beaches, great food, fabulous drinks… such a great time! Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  9. Freddyp says:

    Donut definitely a donut………………!

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