Food and Light in Boulder, CO

A few weeks ago I took one of the best trips of my entire life.  I flew out to Boulder, CO with my friend Shanon so we could attend the Food and Light workshop.  A food photography workshop sounded fantastic on its own, but the fact that it was taught by my absolute favorite bloggers (Jen of Use Real Butter, Helene of Tartlette and Todd & Diane of White on Rice Couple) – well, it was an opportunity I absolutely could not pass up.  I’m excited to share the details of the trip, the workshop, and all the fun we had and food we ate in Boulder with all of you!  (Warning – this will be a long post, but I just can’t help myself, it was a trip packed full of amazingness!)

We arrived in Boulder on Sunday evening.  After checking in to our lodging (the Briar Rose Bed and Breakfast), we went out for dinner with one of my friends who lives in the area.  She took us to a great restaurant called The Med, which was perfect because I’d been reading their menu online for days before the trip.

The meal was phenomenal.  We ordered wine and an assortment of tapas including an unbelievable cheese plate with brillat, balasmic glazed cherries and bread (more on this later).  For my entree I had a seafood paella that was incredible.  It was a huge portion but I ate an embarrassing amount anyway.  For dessert I had a gooey chocolate cake with caramel ice cream.  Wow, what a great meal and a perfect way to start out the trip.

On Monday morning we had breakfast at our B&B.  I never know quite what to expect at these places and think the food is sometimes mediocre, but it was just lovely.  The little breakfast nook where we sat was so beautiful and peaceful.  The B&B is eco-friendly and serves organic, vegetarian foods.  I loved everything about it and will definitely stay there next time I’m in Boulder.

After breakfast we walked over to the workshop for our first day.  I was excited and maybe a tad nervous.  When we walked in and I saw Jen and Helene for the first time, I was seriously star-struck.  For me, this is the equivalent of meeting a celebrity and I was on cloud nine (still am, I think!)  Jen started out the morning by discussing the basics of dSLRs, shooting manually, etc.  Honestly I could hardly pay attention because the whole time I was thinking, “OMG, that’s JEN!”  (Later in the morning, a few other bloggers approached me in a similar manner as though I was some kind of special person they were excited to meet.  It was very surreal and flattering, but I’m not used to that sort of thing!)

Much of the workshop was hands-on practice time which was wonderful.  Since the workshop was held in a art gallery, we obviously couldn’t do cooking for our shoots.  They had a table full of fruits, veggies, spices, and some baked goods for us to practice with.  Another table had dishes and a few linens.  Here are a few of the pictures I took the first morning.  (You are all shocked I chose to shoot cupcakes, right?)

After the morning shoot, we had a break for lunch.  Thankfully they gave us ample time to enjoy the amazing restaurants that Boulder has to offer.  We went to lunch with a few other conference attendees and had so much fun!  We headed over to Brasserie Ten Ten, a French restaurant right across the street from The Med.  These women were all so sweet and wonderful, and it was such fun to talk shop with others who have similar interests.

We were given the assignment of photographing our lunch.  I think I chose one of the least photogenic items on the menu (moules a la marinere), but I don’t care because it tasted ah-mazing.  I ate every last bite and loved it.

After lunch we returned for a presentation by Todd and Diane on lenses, focus, and natural light.  The elements they discussed were extremely useful, and I have already incorporated them into my own practice since returning home.  Afterwards we had another hands-on practice session and these are a few of the shots I took.

(Thank God someone finally cut that cake!  I only had a little bite but it was delicious.)

After the first day of the workshop, Shanon and I set out to (quite literally) eat our way through Boulder.  Since we were only there for less than 48 hours, we did our best to make the most of our time and hit as many places as we could.  The cheese plate from The Med was so phenomenal the first night that we decided to start our evening out there for their tapas happy hour.

We had these spicy harissa-scallion deviled eggs.  I’m a deviled egg fanatic, and I just couldn’t resist!

We also tried these fried artichoke hearts with lemon aioli – unbelievable.  I need some more now, please.

And because it was probably our favorite food of the trip, we ordered the cheese plate with balsamic cherries again.  It’s just indescribable.

Hey, it’s me having the time of my life!

We made a quick stop at our B&B to change and drop our stuff, and then we headed back out for dinner at The Kitchen.

The ambience in this restaurant was wonderful.  I loved the simplicity of the decor, the menu, everything.  But my absolute favorite thing about this place was the extremely attractive waiters.  Every one of them was eye candy and Shanon and I were giggling like little girls the entire meal trying to choose the cutest one.  (It was our waiter, I have decided.)

As for the meal itself, I had a hard time deciding and ended up choosing three small plates.  One was a green salad with a lemony vinaigrette – it was okay, but a little to simple of a salad for me.  Literally just greens and viniagrette – it was too much of the same thing.  I also had their macaroni and cheese which was good but not the best I’ve had.  I also tried the chilled zucchini basil soup.  I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it but that ended up being my favorite part of the meal.  I thought the serving size was too big for something with such a strong flavor, but it was delicious nonetheless.

Much of Boulder is very eco-minded and this place was no exception.  They served all local food and even ran on local wind power.  They are also really big on giving back to the community – how awesome is that?!

After dinner, we headed back to Ten Ten since we didn’t have the chance for dessert there during lunchtime.

I ended up choosing the profiteroles which were wonderful.  Now I want to make my own (soon!)

The second day of the workshop started out with talks by Todd and Diane, and Helene covering artificial lighting, light bounce, and basic styling.  This was also extremely useful.  I loved learning from all these geniuses!

During the subsequent hands-on practice session, Helene and Diane each did a quick food styling demo.  It was so cool to watch Helene set up one of her “classic Tartlette” shots.  Being familiar with the photos on her site, I would have thought each one took hours to set up but it only took her a few minutes to come up with an amazing scene.  Talk about gifted.

These are a few of the photos I took that morning.

For lunch on day two, we made a beeline for Sushi Tora.  We’ve been excited about eating there for months.  It did not disappoint.  We had roasted edamame and four different sushi rolls: shrimp tempura (my standard favorite), spider roll, orgasm roll, and another that escapes me at the moment – maybe spicy tuna.  We ate it all.  My stomach is a bottomless pit when it comes to sushi.

After lunch we came back for a bit more practice shooting and a wrap-up session.  Oh, and I must mention that we received totally rockin’ swag bags.  I can’t even begin to list all the things they included, but they were so bountiful that though we had only carry on luggage on the trip to Boulder, we had to check a bag on the way back because of all our stuff!  (Including Wüsthof knives – I’m pretty sure that’s not allowed to be a carry on.)

And this is probably a life highlight for me – a picture with Jen and Helene = coolest thing ever.  I was in heaven.  This trip was truly life-changing.  I met so many kind and talented people, ate a LOT of really amazing food and learned so much useful information.  I only wish I had had more time to interact with everyone, and definitely more time to spend eating and exploring in Boulder.  Since returning home my shooting methods have already changed quite a bit for the better, and I am so thankful I had the opportunity to attend this workshop.  Way to go, guys, you did a truly outstanding job!

PS – I also have to give a quick shout out to my new blogging friend Paula who so graciously offered us a ride to the airport so we could avoid taking the shuttle bus.  She is a genuinely nice person, and I love her blog.  Thanks again, Paula!

61 Responses

  1. Great summary of a fun and informative workshop! So nice to meet you and Shannon. Did you submit the picture of the pea pods on Flickr? I love it!

    Re: the post script. You’re welcome. 🙂

    • Paula,
      I believe I uploaded that pea photo to the Flickr stream. I definitely did upload one, though I’m not positive it is the same one.

  2. Hi!!Came here thro’ Sana’s blog.Lovely space and wonderful clicks!!!It was so wonderful to read your workshop experience.Will be coming back to ur blog to read in leisure 🙂

  3. They’re all on my list of favorite bloggers (though I have to admit to loving Jen best because she’s so much more than just food), so I am envious! I almost thought about starting a food blog so I could go too. Glad you had such a great time.

  4. Really does sound like a dreamy trip!

  5. What a fun trip! I already think your food photos are wonderful- but it will be neat to see how you incorporate what you’ve learned. There is a fabulous recipe for profiteroles in the Balthazar Cookbook, from the restaurant in NYC. It has a neat story about how the waiters make a big show at the table as they pour on the chocolate sauce!

  6. What an amazing experience! Thank you for sharing. I didn’t realize they had workshops like this and I hope one day I could attend one. You have been an inspiration to so many (including me) that I’ve started my own blog. I will work hard to be able to get the quality of photos that you continue to share with us. I know the first step is a better camera. What camera do you use?

  7. Dang, I am super jealous!! All of this sounds like heaven … and only about 20 min from where I live. Too awesome!! Love the photos, they look great!!

  8. Looks like you had so much fun!! And your pictures are awesome!!

  9. it must be a wonderfull time for you!

    have a nice day,

  10. You are so lucky, Annie! I wish I could have gone too! You’ve clicked some gorgeous photos, I especially like the blueberries and peaches! What camera do you use?

  11. You went to some fine places in Boulder (I’m just down the pike in Denver) and clearly benefited from the camera advice. Some really lovely pix. Did you see the street performers on the Pearl St. mall?

  12. I have tried more new recipes from your blog in the last 6 months than I have tried in the last 40 years of cooking. You inspire all of us to experiment and break away from the norm.
    I always link to your many suggested sites but have yet to add one to my bookmarks.
    My first task each day at work (self employed thank goodness) is to check out your latest entry, and then plan my next cooking adventure.
    Thank you for sharing your skills and your anecdotes, and you really didn’t need a photo workshop….your pics are perfect.
    It is always the most modest amongst us that search for improvement never realizing that they have attained a perfection that is admired by so many.

  13. Wow- I thought your pictures were already good but these are even better!! It looks like you really learned a lot! Can’t wait to see how you apply all of this to your normal posts 😀

  14. I wish I had heard about this since it was so close to home! I would’ve totally attended. How awesome that you were able to go. I love your food photography and can only imagine how much better it’ll get in the near future. Love the photos you shared here.

  15. God you ate at all of my favorite restaurants! This post amde me so, so homesick! I’m glad you had a great time- but how couuld you not?

  16. Thanks for taking us along on your trip. What a fantastic opportunity.

  17. This does sound blog (life) changing! I’m so glad you had a good time and got so much out of it.

  18. Oh wow! Sounds like you had a great time! I kept reading about the upcoming workshop on Jen’s blog but I had no idea it would be THAT involved! I’ve never been to Boulder, but my DH has and quite a bit, and he said your assessment of the places you ate at were spot on. (Except the cutest waiter – he said he never noticed. 😉 )

  19. what an incredible experience! I would LOVE to learn some food photo tips. And you definitely got some amazing meals out of it too 🙂

  20. Ooops. I look kind of spooky in that picture. 😉

    But, the post still brought tears to my eyes because I am in a sappy mood right now, and it meant a lot to go with you (you know all this already). And of course, it was one of the best experiences of my life, and I am so proud to jumped aboard this food blogging ship. It was great to meet so many other creative and inspiring people, too!

    P.S. Still giggling about those cute waiters.

  21. I’m in awe of your trip. I can’t even imagine how wonderful it was! I met Helene the week before at Evo, and I believe she was on her way to this!

    Your photos are stunning!!! The food looks mouthwatering. I would say, my favorite photo though is the limes, something about that green, I’m just drawn to it. Everything looks so delicious!!!

    So happy for you and your experience! 🙂

  22. OMG – Annie – you stayed at the Briar Rose! Their lemon lavender blueberry muffins are absolutely the BEST! The link should be in your mailbox on Foodbuzz because I posted on them yesterday… I’ve been trying to figure out which of their recipes to try next – any hints?

    • Kate,
      One of the items I had while there was the mango coconut bread (I’m pretty sure). I’m definitely making that soon – it was fab! Though I might sub pineapple instead. Either way, it was delicious.

  23. I love reading your blog, Annie and I would have keeled over if I had seen you at the Kitchen last week when I was out with my husband! You definitely hit the best eats in Boulder – the Med is our absolute favorite! Glad you enjoyed your visit!

  24. This sounds like a great trip and what wonderful restaurants. How on earth do you stay so slim????????

  25. The pictures are amazing! It looks so fun!

  26. Wow, that sounds amazing!! Thanks for sharing everything! I’m incredibly new to the food blogging world and have lots to learn from these folks and yourself too! : )

  27. I love all of your photos, but I gotta say, the layer cake and the sushi made me drool! ;P

  28. I live in Denver and even though I go to Boulder quite often and have eaten delicious food there as well, I have never been to most of the places you mentioned and am adding them to my to do list! Thanks for sharing!

  29. The Med is my fave restaurant in Boulder! brasserie 1010 was my favorite but they got a new chef in the last year and he’s not so good, plus he changed the menu. I haven’t been to that sushi place but I’ll have to try it out next time I’m out there. Glad you enjoyed Boulder. I honestly think the best thing about it, is all of the food!

  30. I wish I had known about this workshop because I would have loved to attend. Great photos, and some of my absolute favorite restaurants. I love Boulder. 🙂

  31. Thanks for taking the time to share about your trip and experiences. Michael doesn’t understand my obsession with food when we travel, and I’m usually too shy to whip out my big ole SLR at restaurants to shoot food but with you as inspiration, maybe I will start!

  32. what kind of camera do you use for your photos?

  33. I would love a seafood paella recipe, will you attempt one in the future?
    Beautiful pictures!

    • Robin,
      Absolutely! I wanted to at least taste one (this was my first) before trying it at home so I knew what they should be like. Now that I know, you can be assured that will be on its way!

  34. What an amazing opportunity! I’m so jealous!

  35. Ditto on your lovely pics. It just goes to show that you can never learn enough when it comes to food photos. And I love the shots of the menus – I like seeing what’s in the dishes and how much they are!

  36. I saw Your cupcake picture on food gawker, and I thought to myself, I recognize that from the Food and Light workshop. And sure enough I was correct. Great recap of the workshop, it was awesome meeting you in Boulder!

  37. I’ve been waiting for this post! 🙂 Dinner at the Med was so fun and so yummy! I’m SO glad you went back for the Happy Hour tapas and looks like you sat outside! Glad you had a great time, come back soon!!!!

  38. It was great to meet you too Annie! You are such a warm and gifted person! Keep it up! Boy, you can tell I was sicker than sick from the lack of smile in that picture with you. Sorry 🙂 I am so glad you had such a fantastic time and I hope we get to meet again!

  39. i live and go to school in boulder.. these are all of my favorite places!! i LOVE the med.. they do takeout and its awesome for a group of girls going out to celebrate or a little date night 🙂 LOVE the briar rose and the rest of the places you mentioned! ive been reading your blog for about a year now – glad you got to experience my wonderful city!

  40. What a fun adventure and such beautiful photos…you must be so inspired and excited to get back in the kitchen…

  41. One of these days, Annie, you should do a post about how you manage to be so productive! Your blog is amazing, and the fact that you do it on top of a medical residency is just awe-inspiring. You probably have at least as much to offer on the time management front as you do on the food front, and that’s saying something. How about a post on a typical day in your life? I’m guessing you get about three hours of sleep a night. 🙂

  42. Knowing that group of people, I’m sure you had the most wonderful, learning experience! Lovely photos!

  43. I just got back from Boulder and ate The Med. It was an amazing dinner and trip! I want to go back!

  44. Looks like you had a wonderful time and learned lots.

  45. I too would have been star-struck! OMG OMG … what a great experience and wish I was there!

  46. Wow! Sounds like an amazing time. I wish I had known about the workshop. I live near Boulder and would have loved to learn some new photo tips. Your blog is wonderful, btw. Will keep an eye out for updates.


  47. Aw man, now I really wish I would have gotten to go to this workshop! Hopefully they do it again soon! Looks like a fabulous time.

  48. I grew up in Boulder! You went to ALL my favorite places. I love seeing my hometown online! So exciting. Glad you liked it.

  49. I recognized your raspberry cupcake shot on Tastespotting from the workshop. It was one of my favorites! P.S: I had fun eating with you and Shannon at Brasserie 1010!

  50. So fun! I”m glad you learned so much! 🙂 Love the shot of the pea pods!

  51. I loved reading your post! I am such a fan of your blog, and it was great to see you visit Boulder. I have lived in Boulder since 2003 and absolutely love it. Boulder is a great place for foodies – we have so many great restaurants! You did manage to hit up a few of our favorites – my husband and I were at the Med on Saturday night. Yummy, as always. Brasserie is delish, and has an excellent brunch. The Kitchen has some of the best hummus I have ever tasted. I am glad to hear that you want to come back for another visit and explore Boulder more! 🙂

  52. I went to college in Boulder! Thanks for this post. Those deviled eggs look fabulous.

  53. Hi Annie,
    I follow your blog and recommend it to many. Your photos are phenomenal and I am so happy for your success! Andrew is adorable.
    Love, Mimmie

  54. I am so jealous you got to go to such a cool workshop and city! I would love to go to something like that. I am still a very amateur photographer. I bought a Canon Rebel dSLR a few months ago. I wanted to get more into food photography and be able to capture great and timeless pictures of my family and friends. It has since turned into a hobby…obsession, whatever you wanna call it. =) You were a BIG inspiration in me wanting to get more into food photography. When I started my blog, I thought my pictures were alright. Then, when I came across your blog, I was like, OMG, my pictures are horrible! Lol! Thank you for your yummy recipes, and amazing pictures!

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