An Enchanted Garden

Hi Everyone! I’m so excited to give you a glimpse of the AMAZING event I attended last week with some of our fabulous Encore sales team!! ISES, International Special Events Society, hosted a “Seed to Skin” experience at the breathtaking Beaulieu Garden, just north of Napa. I’ve attended other events hosted by ISES which provide unique opportunities for networking within the Special Event industry, however this one was by far my favorite!! Sooooo well done!

Armed with my trusty iPhone camera… I attempted to capture a few of the MANY highlights from our enchanted afternoon in the garden.

Gasp! Right? We turned left off St. Helena Hwy to drive down this picturesque road right out of a Jane Austin adventure. At this point I’m giddy. This stay-at-home-mama doesn’t travel many tree-lined roads that end with valets opening your door welcoming you to an afternoon of delight. It’s fun to feel fancy for a few hours, isnt’ it?!!

After our car was whisked away, friendly faces greeted us offering a refreshing cold towel. It was a hot day. So the towel was meant to cool us as we walked the path to the festivities. Not only did it do just that, but how often are you offered chilled towels on a hot day? Umm, NEVER! And check out that chalkboard sign at the entrance! This event placed heavy emphasis on the use of social media and this sign was an artistic and fun way to let us know how to connect with the guest speakers. The food editor for Sunset Magazine was here!!? Seriously? Still giddy!

So what else would be amazingly refreshing on a hot day? SHAVED ICE! Yes, please! And you see those gentlemen with the block of ice on the right? Yes, they are actually SHAVING the ice by hand!!  I was impressed! And the coconut was delightful.

We wind along the garden path to discover the action: food and beverage stations nestled beneath arbors of lush green offering cool shade. Clusters of excited industry professionals were chatting, laughing and savoring the delectable flavors of Paula Leduc Fine Catering. They certainly lived up to their commitment of delivering memorable experiences, believing the very best food is organic, local and sustainable. For this event Paula Leduc highlighted the bounty of this season with mouth watering “studies” in corn, peaches, tomatoes and grapes. Each study offered creative beverages, sweet treats and savory bites upon beautiful displays. It really was spectacular!

My first stop was at the study of corn. This corn-lovin’-southern girl was IN HEAVEN!! Perfectly seasoned grilled corn, piping hot corn fritters and a corn gelato sandwich? It was a party in my mouth! The picture also shows the inventive Iced Corn Tea which was much fancier than the sweet tea I grew up drinking, however it was fun and refreshing! It was great bumping into one of our favorite floral designers in the biz…the one and only Bryce Loutsch of Vanda Floral. He and our Marketing Director, Heather, took a break from tasting long enough for me to snap this pic!

Next up? Peaches! Shelly, our Cali-girl who adores all things from the south, posed near the yumminess that was the study of Peaches! I think the crowd favorite was the Cornflake Crusted Fried Chicken finished with a roasted peach barbecue sauce. Are you hungry yet?

We all took a break from stuffing our faces long enough for a cute photo opp. But here is the awesome thing:Orange Photography set up a user friendly photo booth experience that allowed me to print multiple copies of the Instagram photo I took only moments earlier. So much fun! It was details like these that made this event so enjoyable!

The Study of Tomatoes was up next. I couldn’t resist capturing the vibrant heirloom tomatoes along with the tomato lollipop. Yes, you read that correctly. And it was just that: a tomato chip imbedded in sweet spiced candy. Such an interesting combo of flavors! Overall the food was killer. Paula Leduc raised the epicurean bar in my opinion.

Everywhere I turned the setting was magnificent and photo-worthy! Don’t you just want to be lounging under one of those umbrellas right now?

We eventually meandered to the sunken gardens and listened as Daniel Capra and Mike Munz, the executive chef and beverage director of Paula Leduc Fine Catering and Nick Papadopoulos of Bloomfield Farms, share with Margo True of Sunset Magazine about what inspires them and how social media has affected their businesses. I also had the pleasure of sitting next to the local farmer who provided all of the corn for the event. This truly was a “Seed to Skin” experience for me and I’m so thankful I was there.

Inspired, we left with full tummies and a basket full of local produce featured at the event. The tree-lined road eventually disappeared and I was ushered back to reality.

Still giddy…. and very full!

more adventures to come….