Well, after a mild adventure traveling to Minnesota, I arrived at the Marriott in Edina. Not surprisingly, it looks very much like Eden Prairie. To be fair, the two communities are relatively close to each other, but sadly, much of western Minneapolis looks sort of the same: green rolling hills, lakes everywhere, minivans drifting lazilly along on a freeway that ends in -94. There’s the 494, the 94, and so forth. Good thing nobody asked me to drive.
As soon as I walked into the hotel, I was greeted by a friendly concierge and by Vicky Lewko, one of our marketing representatives. She handed me a bag with – gasp!- a new pair of Hunter Wellington boots, a folder of information about Green Giant Valley, and a fatty packet containing bios of the other professional bloggers and the agenda for the 24 hour trip. WOW. This is my first real blogger event that I had to travel to, and after this and Keren Brown’s Foodportunity blogger events, I must say that I am totally hooked.
After a brief rest, I headed back to the hotel lobby, and we were whisked away to Lake Minnetonka to ride a Steamship Supper Club boat, called the Isabella, operated by Al & Alma’s. Essentially, the boat steams around the lake, and we eat and drink. Works for me. The attendants gave us two drink tickets, and then they opened a nice buffet for the guests. A few General Mills employees, including members of the marketing team and the agronomy – research scientists – joined us for dinner. I also met several of the other bloggers and had a chance to chat with them. They come from a wide variety of backgrounds, expertise, and intentions. It was pretty cool.
Tomorrow, we will have breakfast around 8am, and there is supposed to be a special guest. Then we will head off to La Seur, where the actual growing and processing of Green Giant vegetables takes place. We will get to tour a seed vault and a test plant. I’m really excited about this. My new blogger friend, Katie (lilveggiepatch) had a chance to chat with Tom R., one of the senior research scientists. He explained that there is a great deal of oversight and collaboration between Green Giant scientists and the growers producing the vegetables. He also shared some of the things that they have been working on, such as switching to more sustainable practices in use of resources. Pretty interesting! I can’t wait to see it tomorrow.
Then for dinner, we will be dining at Bar La Grassa, a super-trendy restaurant in the Warehouse district. Chef Isaac Becker is a James Beard Award winner for being a top rated chef in the Midwest, and Food & Wine gave it a shout-out as a “best new Italian eatery” where the chef can cook pasta in “every which way.” I’m looking forward to checking that out! Seattle has some pretty awesome Italian places, like Volterra and Staple and Fancy Mercantile, so I think I’ve got some palate to stand on.
I forgot to bring my camera cord to transfer pictures, so you’ll have to deal with mobile posts on the Facebook page for now. Looking forward to a great adventure! I hope my phone’s batteries last!