Do you want to know a great way to meet new people who share your same interests, network in an industry that you love, and support local business at the same time?
You plan a meet-up!
I’ve been blogging for a long time now and I can honestly admit that one of the very best aspects of this job is meeting fantastic people who share the exact same passion and love for food, health, and life in general.
I started doing meet-up’s with other bloggers a few years ago and since then, I’ve made some of the most incredible life-long friendships because of them. Even if you don’t think that there are many local bloggers in your area, I urge you to reach out because I’m sure there are more than you think.
Last year, I initiated a PA Bloggers group and I’ve been working to grow this community ever since. I planned one meet-up last spring at The Hershey Pantry and ever since, I’ve had requests to do another one. I’m not going to lie, putting these events together takes a lot of work and planning but it’s definitely worth it.
Going into this meet-up, I knew I wanted it to be a success and I also knew I wanted to include the aspect of working within our community. There are so many great business and restaurants in your area that have no idea what you do, so show them!
After some consideration, I decided to reach out to a newish (one year) restaurant in Camp Hill that I have had the pleasure of forming a great relationship with. Fusion Fire features Asian Fusion meaning it’s a beautiful collection of authentic Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and even a little Vietnamese. They also highlight Chinese fondue and an incredible sushi bar.
The owners, Vivian and Frank and two of the nicest people I’ve met. They have such a passion for this business and also for bringing a healthy and authentic perspective to Asian cuisine.
I worked with Vivian a few weeks ahead of time to set up the menu. Rather than having everyone order from their extensive menu, I thought it would be fun to have them put together a sampling of some of their best dishes for us to try.
We’ll get to the food in a minute though.
Fusion Fire is also BYOB so everyone brought a bottle of their favorite wine.
Our table was set for 8 and around 7:30pm, the group started to arrive.
- Sara from Sarabozich.com
- Erica from 4 The Sake of Cake
- Jess from Stylish, Stealthy, and Healthy
- Danielle from It’s A Harley Life
- Karen from Health in Real Life
- Sarah and Evan from Nuts About Granola
Most everyone knew each other but we had a few people in the group who had not been introduced formally. I put a few “conversation starter” questions in the middle of the table and had everyone go around and answer some of the questions. It was a great way to open up the group and get the conversation going.
We only got through 2 questions before everyone got off on their own topics. Sometimes all you need is a little push to get the words flowing.
Okay, so let’s talk about the food.
I knew the food was going to be good but I had no idea how above and beyond Frank and Vivian would go to make this an incredible dining experience for us all.
The menu was broken down into three courses, appetizers, entrees from the sushi bar and entrees from the kitchen.
Appetizers were up first.
Summer Rolls: Non-fried spring roll wrapped in rice paper with shrimp, vermicelli, cilantro served with sesame dressing.
I always love a good summer roll, and their’s were right on! I actually think what makes or breaks a summer roll is the peanut sauce they are served with and the sauce for these was excellent!
Spicy Rock Shrimp Tempura: Lightly battered shrimp tempura tossed in a spicy cream sauce.
Quite possibly my favorite dish of the night!
Larb Chicken: Thai Style Chicken Salad with onion, scallion, lemongrass, cilantro in chilli lime dressing.
The flavors in this were outstanding! The lime and lemongrass really came through which gave this dish a noticeable Thai feel. I loved it.
Next, on to the sushi.
Tropical Roll: Shrimp tempura, mango, coconut inside topped with spicy tuna, crunchy, avocado.
I didn’t know it was possible to have so many of my favorite sushi flavors in one roll. Outstanding!
Caterpillar Roll: (Cooked) Eel, Shrimp, Egg inside with shredded crab, avocado outside topped with seaweed.
I didn’t even know what was in this roll until now but I remember really loving it. I don’t think I’ve ever had a roll with egg but it was fantastic.
Twister Roll: Spicy crab inside, salmon, mango, avocado outside topped with red caviar.
(for some reason, I don’t seem to have this photo but I remember taking a picture of it. I think my camera may have ate it)
Fusion Fire has some of the best sushi I’ve had in our area. The rolls are so unique, fresh and so filling to sustain an entire meal.
We were all pretty full at this point and probably would have been entirely content just stopping here, but our main entrees were still on deck.
After a short break, we were presented with more food!
Mango Shrimp: Fresh mango, bell pepper, onion in spicy mango sauce.
Not only was this dish beautiful, but it was delicious! I can’t speak highly enough about this spicy mango sauce.
Pad Thai Veggie and Tofu: Gluten free thai rice noodle with eggs, tofu, veggies, bean sprouts topped with crushed peanuts.
Pad Thai is the signature Thai dish and I’ve had some really good Pad Thai’s but I’ve also had some bad experiences. Usually the bad ones were derived from a over greased noodles and heavy sauce. This dish was right on. Perfectly light and seasoned and everything a Pad Thai should be.
We all ended in a food coma.
The entire event was a great success. I’ll admit, I was feeling a bit discouraged going into it after spending months planning and then having more than half of the attendees back out, but you have to expect that when coordinating any type of event.
Overall, I was so happy to meet some new faces and nurture the ones I’ve developed in the past years. It was great to connect, laugh, eat, and just celebrate our passions.
If you are thinking of planning a meet-up or have questions, please feel free to contact me. I would love to help you get started. Oh and if you are a local (South Central) PA blogger and you haven’t reached out yet, SPEAK UP and email me. I would love to include you in our group contact list.
Hope you all are having a wonderful weekend!
Have you ever been or organized a meet-up in your community? What are some things you’ve done?