Dole Taste of Spain Salad Summit in Monterey, California


*Note: this trip was sponsored by Dole however any opinions expressed are my own.
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Recently Dole invited me to participate in their Taste of Spain Salad Summit in Monterey, California. Of course I jumped at the opportunity because I love Dole and I knew I would desperately need to escape the early Arizona heat for the beautiful lushness of California. The whole trip was a total dream, I mean just look at the hotel we stayed in! Carmel Valley Ranch was picture-perfect. My room was probably 1,000 square feet and had a breathtaking view. The hotel managed to perfectly blend the tranquility of nature with the feeling of indulgent pampering. I got to spend time eating amazing fresh Dole produce and food, hanging out with some lovely bloggers, and taking in the perfect scenery and weather. Unfortunately I’m already back in Arizona – I so wish I had never left!

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Where else could you see a deer so closely on your walk from your hotel room to the lobby? I’m still shocked I was able to get this picture of this beautiful deer. And it wasn’t the only one I saw while in California! Living in Phoenix it’s not often you see woodland creatures like this so it was a happy surprise.

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This was the view from my generously-sized hotel room balcony. If you want to see more pictures of my hotel room check out my Instagram picture!

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We took a bus to the Dole growing fields where we saw all the action behind getting fresh produce to your grocery store. What’s the first thing a bunch of bloggers do when they arrive to a lettuce field? Take a bunch of pictures, of course! I had the pleasure of meeting Dawn Jackson Blatner (aka DJ), who is a beautiful, funny, and successful dietician from Chicago. She is really good at posing for pictures.

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We got to hear from farmer Mark Pisoni who has an immense passion for his job. It’s such a pleasure to see all the people who work to create delicious vegetables and fruits from virtually nothing so that you can easily pick something fresh up at the grocery store. I think we should all learn at some point the amount of work and dedication that goes into our food because it makes you realize you should not take it for granted. Mark let us sample some of the lettuce from his field right then and there, plucked fresh from the ground. It was amazingly sweet and refreshing. Heidi clearly loved it. And you know what? I loved Heidi! She’s hilarious AND incredibly genuine and full of great ideas.

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Eating food that is the epitome of fresh is such a treat and it makes you realize that we often load up our vegetables with so much stuff (dressings, sauces, fats, salts, etc.) when they can taste so good on their own. We were a little entranced by the lettuce… Heidi even fed some to Ali, who is more adventurous than I ever realized! She’s also just as sweet as you’d think she is from her blog.

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Just bloggers being bloggers. We can’t put our cameras down for very long.

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We watched in awe as the field workers harvested lettuce from the ground, expertly deciding which heads of lettuce were up to Dole’s high standards before placing them in a little lettuce shower to be rinsed. I seriously could not imagine working out in the sun all day, bending over repeatedly to pick up lettuce. I applaud these men and women for their hard work and thank them for giving me the ability to simply walk into a store to buy fresh produce!

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We were treated to a lovely lunch at Paraiso Vineyards (named by John Steinbeck!) and I got to sit across from these lovely ladies. (From the left: Liz , Chung-Ah, Nikki, and Heidi). It’s always a blast to hang out with other food bloggers. We may come from all different walks of life but we have SO much in common.

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Our lunch! I just love the little flower on the plate. Although it isn’t pictured here we certainly ate plenty of salads and greens throughout this trip. We were lucky enough to have the editor-in-chief of Eating Well magazine Lisa Gosselin speak to us about food trends. I was surprised to learn that although some top internet searches for recipes include pancakes, banana bread, and lasagna, healthy recipes are becoming increasingly popular, especially salads. People are starting to come around to the idea that we should focus on what our food does contain (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc.) instead of what it doesn’t contain (low fat, low carb, no sugar, etc). Ethnic foods are also becoming increasingly popular as people tire of the same old recipes. Hence, the Dole Taste of Spain Salad Summit.

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On the last day we took a tour of 17-mile drive where we were just completely spoiled by stunning views of the ocean. This is also when we encountered another deer – in fact it almost ran right into Heidi! I kind of felt like Snow White throughout this trip.

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I could just die happy here. Some of the houses we saw along the drive were RIDICULOUS. I can’t even imagine the millions of dollars that were poured into them. They looked like cliff-side castles.

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Dawn, Nikki, Chung-Ah, Heidi, Me, Kristin, Ali, Heather, Christy, and Stacy

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I loved meeting all the other bloggers and all the people from or with Dole. Everyone has a tangible passion for what they do and were generous and kind. I will miss them.
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Thank you Dole for hosting an amazing few days!

*Note: this trip was sponsored by Dole however any opinions expressed are my own.

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  1. #
    Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious — May 17, 2013 at 4:26 am

    Awesome post! It was so great to see you (again, of course) and finally get to hang out with you. You are so sweet and I hope to see you very very soon!

  2. #
    Rachel Cooks — May 17, 2013 at 5:15 am

    So fun! I was so sad to turn down this trip–would have loved meeting you and everyone else!

  3. #
    Tieghan — May 17, 2013 at 5:26 am

    So much fun!! Loved reading this post and all your photos are awesome!!

  4. #
    Marie — May 17, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Great wrap up. So fun to meet you!!

  5. #
    jamie @ green beans @ grapefruit — May 18, 2013 at 11:05 am

    This looks like such an amazing time! I so enjoyed seeing the instagrams….gotta love California!!!

  6. #
    abiti su misura Carimate — May 21, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Hi there i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anyplace, when i read this post i thought i could also create comment due to this sensible article.

  7. #
    [email protected] — May 28, 2013 at 6:44 am

    Great to see you, Tessa, and fun recap post!


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