#thatbakelife. (insert baker thug pose, however that looks)
[You can find Part 1 of my Cookie Con coverage here!]
The Cookie Decorating Contest: As I mentioned earlier, I took off like a shot as soon as the convention floor opened in order to walk around before the crowds arrived. I wanted to get a chance to talk to vendors, try samples, and buy cookies or baked goods at my leisure… most importantly, I wanted to take pictures before the amount of people at the con became too restrictive. While this was mostly a success, I profess that I spent more time than I thought I would at the entries for the cookie decorating contest. Here are the pictures of my favorites, in no particular order. The theme was “Love”, which was timely for Valentine’s Day!
Cookies by Cookie Couture by Sarah.
I really loved the ‘shabby chic’ style and color palette of these cookies. The sugar flowers were gorgeous!
Cookies by Sugar Dayne.
By far my favorite entry…. which mysteriously didn’t win Fan Favorite or the official contest Again, I really loved the colors… muted pastels are my thing right now. The details were stunning–from the gold-kissed roses to the tiny, perfect seashells… and the sprayed gold pattern on the icing… the blue feathers on the cookie towers even had “LA Cookie Con” and the artist’s name hand-printed on them! I think my heart would break if I ever had to watch someone eat these…
Cookies by Whisk Sweets.
This entry won the decorating contest; while I didn’t find the execution as flawless as the cookies by Sugar Dayne, I did find the story quite moving. (A better overhead picture can be found here.)
I thought the colors and the letters were very cute for this entry… and man, am I a sucker for nice handwriting…
The Non-Edible Portion of the Con: The convention floor also played host to various food-related merchandise, goods, and gadgets. I stopped by the Nomiku Immersion Circulator booth to say hello… and definitely felt a twinge of regret for being too impatient and buying the Anova instead. (WiFi-connected sous vide, so fancy!)
Happy Pantry had an adorable set-up that included aprons, necklaces, towels, artwork, and more. The coffee latte apron was so cute! But I definitely have way more aprons than any one person possibly needs, so I had to pass… sigh. They advertise themselves as a ‘kitchen-themed brand featuring kawaii (cute in Japanese) characters,’ and kawaii is the only way I can accurately describe how cute their merchandise is.
Even More Samples: After my digression into the contest entries and merchandise, it was back to doing what I do best–sampling!
Cookies by Stuffed Cookies.
[I actually bought the Oreo BDay Cake cookie shown above, but somehow lost the bag during the convention… still pretty bummed about it, because it was sinfully good!]
Cookies by Munch Bakery.
As a fellow Filipino, I was super-excited to see that Munch Bakery had ube (purple yam) and buko pandan (young coconut leaf) flavors! I probably came on a wee bit strong in my enthusiasm, but the ladies of Munch Bakery answered all of my questions with a smile.
The pound cake at Orange Clementine was one of my favorite things to try at the convention; one of my friends even bought several of the cakes to share with her family. Not only was the cake moist and flavorful, but the clementine flavor was perfect–not overwhelming nor too light to detect. The glaze on top was literally the icing on the cake; the clementine zest in the glaze cut the sweetness and balanced it well.
The press goodie bag also included two adorable citrus-themed sugar cookies that were promptly devoured later that night… pretty sure I ate my week’s worth of sugar in one day.
Now, if you’ve ever met me or my husband, you know that neither of us really subscribe to the idea of gluten-free being healthier or better for you in any way. Okay, now that that’s out of the way… I have to admit that these gluten-free Habanero Peanut Butter & Jelly cookies from Velvet Rope Bake Shop were my favorite cookies of the Con. Gasp!, you say. And gasp you should–it’s not an easy feat to make cookies without flour that are delicious. But man, were these cookies good. I suppose the flavor combination isn’t for everyone; the habanero salt paired with the strawberry preserves definitely throws your taste buds for a loop. But as a sweet/salty/savory fan, these cookies hit all the right notes for me.
Like Fish in a Barrel: As the day wore on, the crowds swelled and pushed the aisles between the booths to their limits; if I had to describe it in one word, it would be “smooshed.” It became harder to receive samples and talk to the vendors at each booth because they were overrun with other con attendees. The aisles became a little more bearable during specific programming times (we definitely saw everyone bum-rush the seats for Mr. Ben-Israel’s featured talk), but otherwise, the crowds and the lines were easily my least favorite part about the convention.
My friends and I left the show closer to 2pm after finding ourselves exhausted from the crowds on the floor. (One of my friends even ended up with a bleeding wound on her leg–man, are cookie fans vicious or what? Just kidding, we’re still not certain how she was injured.) When we walked outside, the line was still going out and around the block! We were even stopped by a few folks that asked us whether it was worth it to wait; apparently, the registration inside had come to a stand-still and the line hadn’t moved for some time.
Was it worth it? The million-dollar question (or however much you paid for your ticket, I suppose).
I think that the organizers behind Cookie Con did a great job for their first year. Like I mentioned in Part 1, I believe there are kinks that are tough to anticipate before the event itself occurs. If I were to suggest anything for next year’s con, I would definitely recommend getting the event staff and volunteers on the same page. From time to time, I would ask for directions or information and ended up with several different answers. I also believe that the VIP lounge wasn’t handled as well as it could have been; I didn’t even realize I was in the lounge until my friend pointed it out! The location of the lounge wasn’t optimal either–since it was not in a corner or in a separate room, people freely walked in without any clue that entry was restricted.
Perhaps I missed it… but I didn’t receive a map of the booths with a corresponding list of vendors, nor did I see a printed program with the events schedule on it in the bag I received when I registered. I think it would’ve enhanced my experience and certainly made it a bit less hectic if I’d had these references on hand. In the future, a short book with each bakery listed and a short blurb about each bakery would be great as well! Great advertising for the bakeries and very informative for con attendees.
The largest problem I had with the con was space, but again–completely understandable for a first annual event. In a post-event email, one of the organizers mentioned that next year’s event would span 2 days and be held at a larger venue… so it looks like this problem is already solved!
In the end, I had a wonderful time with my friends and at the con itself. The samples were amazing, the vendors were friendly, and my personal experience as press was very positive! I’d like to thank LA Cookie Con for a very fun Sunday, and I already look forward to next year’s event.
Whew! And that’s all she wrote.