Did you miss recap 1?
Long before I knew that I’d partake in SXSW festivities, I knew that I’d be going to the TECHmunch food blogger conference! It was my first food blogger conference. I was ready to soak up the info…and food!
Prior to the conference, we were invited to a wine tasting event presented by TECHmunch, Forkly, and Whole Foods. It was called Tango con Vinos Argentinos….wines from Argentina. I tried 2 Malbecs that I enjoyed and really liked chatting with Babette, the founder of Bakespace & TechMunch.
Churrasco style meats–get in my belly! Yum for the garlic pepper sausage.
My first swag bag!
TECHmunch Austin was held on Spring Forward Sunday. It was bright and early…too early! The first thing on my mind was COFFEE!!
Thank goodness for Chameleon Cold Brew Coffee!! This guy was SO nice and he got a lot of love from the food bloggers during the conference. We were in need of some caffeine! He said that he doesn’t add any creamer to his coffee since due to their brewing methods, it’s less acidic already. I usually drink my coffee black already, so I followed his suggestion. He was right on, very good!!
After I had a morning jolt, I got to know the folks that I was sitting by. Who was I sitting by? Two reps from Peanut Butter & Co! What luck!!! Why yes, I would like to become friendly with super nice & funny people that also work for a peanut butter company that I heart!
A mid-morning break to enjoy strawberry & mixed berry smoothies from Driscoll’s.
An afternoon cupcake break courtesy of KitchenAid.
There were many good speakers during TECHmunch.
Some of the highlights for me:
Natanya’s presentation on Finding Your Focus
My takeaways from her: work on your point of view. When you find your unique voice, your audience size may grow. What emotions do you want to convey in your blog? For me: laughter! Snarky, but fun!!
Serena’s presentation on Setting up an Editorial Calendar
I’d never considered an editorial calendar, but it would be a great planning, organizing tool for my blog. She suggests it to plan out posts. For example, for holidays, post about that holiday recipe about 2-3 weeks prior to the holiday. Then maybe a reminder post/link on the day of the holiday.
Stephanie’s presentation on SEO & Getting the Most Out of Your Content.
SEO still overwhelms me!! As a very part-time, sporadic blogger, I’m not ready to invest in learning SEO strategy, but still great info. She did suggest going to Google trends to get ideas for content as well. Since nowadays I enjoy blogging about pop culture more than recipes, this idea may be a great one for me! All of the Google trends now are March Madness related and I included a blurb about it in yesterday’s post.
Meghan’s presentation over Food Styling
Meghan’s presentation was my favorite! It was so fun learning insider tricks. As a food stylist, Meghan has many tools: Q-tips, makeup wedges to clean up spills…a water bottle to mist food…denture glue to hold food together! She wears white gloves to not get smudges on plates and uses tweezers to delicately reposition food.
She suggests keeping boxes of instant mashed potatoes on hand too! There may not be a whole lot of soup in that beautiful picture of soup you love! It may be filled with instant mashed potatoes on the bottom to add height and then carefully deconstructed soup added in to the bowl.
OH! And the best part of the day!!!! Guess what I won?!?!?
I’ve recovered from my first SXSW in Austin! If you’re not familiar with SXSW, it’s a 10 day interactive, film, and music festival that invades Austin every year. It’s overwhelming, but awesome! I’m going to share a few posts with you about my experiences. I didn’t buy a badge for SXSW, but there are plenty and I mean PLENTY of free events to get into!
It was a drizzly day, but that wasn’t going to stop people looking for cheap eats! After helping hand out wristbands at the Long Center, Mary Helen, Meredith & I (and our new friends) headed over to Kenichi for sushi.
I had the Maguro “Yakiniku”-Zuke (Korean style BBQ marinated tuna, avocado, crispy garlic, asian pear) and the Pork Belly Kushiyaki (sesame mizuna, teriyaki).
I’d heard about this event from other bloggers. Christy & Elizabeth are two of my blogging friends who were also judges! There were 15 entries with creative & tasty uses of bacon. The contestants had to make ample amounts for the crowd to try too! I mean, I wasn’t there just to look & smell bacon….I need to EAT some bacon!!
Slaw P Bacon entry
An array of bacon samples that I devoured….including bacon gumbo & cabbage bacon rolls.
Drunken Crusty Pigdough….what??! Cookie dough & bacon….the judges were a fan of this entry.
Bacon Scotch Eggs…loved the look of this one and the flavor of the mustard.
My overall favorite was the Bleu Bacodilla entry. You can find pictures and recipes here.
After the Bacon Takedown, I convinced Mary Helen & Meredith to come with me to the Intercontinental Hotel bar for a drink. It’s right next to the Paramount Theatre where Paul Rudd was screening his new movie. I thought that maybe we’d eye spy a celeb in the hotel bar. No such luck…but it gave me a chance to charge up my cell phone.
SXSW tip: you MUST bring your cell phone charger with you! SXSW is tech overload and you will be on Twitter constantly checking for updates on free events, etc. So, you’ll want that charger on hand!
While on the hotel balcony, the girls saw the Jeni’s ice cream truck and flipped out! I mean, seriously, they were excited! And thanks to Twitter, we learned that they were going to the Royal Blue Grocery store that was less than a block from us.
I opted for the salty caramel!
We finally decided to make our way back to our cars. But along the way, we learned that there was free food and an open bar at the Bing lounge. Hey, might as well stop by….:) It was PACKED in there. People love free food & alcohol. We made our way up to the 3rd floor, fought through the crowd…and got a free Coolhaus ice cream sandwich! Yay for more ice cream! It was my first Coolhaus experience and it was worth making my way through drunk people! But it wasn’t worth trying to capture a photo in a crowd like that!
We devoured our ice cream sandwiches and were outta there!! So it was a solid first day of SXSW’ing—-bacon & ice cream!
More to come with my other adventures!!
In November, one of my bestest friends in the whole wide world, Sarah, came to visit. Sarah did a little research online first and asked if we could go to La Condesa for dinner her first night in town. Far be it from me to say no to tacos, guac, and beer!
I asked Sarah…..will you get up and stand in line at 9:30 am to eat BBQ with me tomorrow? Sarah said yes, of course. Yesssssssss!!
I finally got to try Franklin Barbecue!
Franklin’s is known for having some of the best brisket in the country. Just ask Anthony Bourdain. It was delicious, but I liked the ribs even better.
After devouring some meat, we headed off the duck tour of Austin. I don’t think Sarah blew her duck whistle once. But I made up for it for the both of us.
The State Capitol building
During Sarah’s visit, we also took in two concerts. We saw Snow Patrol (great concert!) at Austin Music Hall and Counting Crows at Stubb’s.
I was very nervous for Snow Patrol as I’d read bad reviews about Austin Music Hall. So maybe the reviewers were whiny….or the hall was improved…or both, but I really enjoyed the venue!! The only downfall is that since it’s near condos/apartments, they have to stop concerts at 10 pm. I wish that Snow Patrol could have played longer.
Our other adventure during Sarah’s visit was the Austin Eats Food Tour. I’d been wanting to try the downtown Austin tour for awhile and had a Groupon to boot! The tour met on a Saturday morning the Republic Park farmers’ market.
Our stops on the food tour:
1. Dai Due Butcher Shop
3. Hut’s Hamburgers
4. Haddington’s–I’d already been to Haddington’s twice before, but this was my first time trying a Moscow Mule! Loooooooove!!
5. Walton’s Fancy and Staple — The shortbread cookies are so good!
For Sarah’s last day in Austin, I suggested a Sunday Funday of brunch and bar hopping! We had brunch at Bess Bistro (otherwise known as Sandra Bullock’s restaurant–as is Walton’s). Then we headed over to Kung Fu Saloon and met up with with my friend, Brandi, and her hubs.
To end on a killer high note, Sarah and I had dinner at Uchi. Oh Uchi….I love thee!! Uchi, you are way better than Uchiko (sorry, Paul Qui). If you’re in Austin and you love sushi, you must go to Uchi. Go early (happy hour prices), get the shag roll, get the maguro sashimi and goat cheese…thank me later!
Sarah, I hope you come again in 2013!! Maybe for a little ACL concert action!
Over Columbus Day weekend, my friend, Kelly, came to visit me from Charlotte.
(Yes, Columbus Day weekend….one of my New Year’s resolutions is to be more timely with my blogging!)
Kelly was my first friend to visit, so I was stoked! I gave her the option of day tripping to San Antonio or to Fredericksburg to go to the wineries. I was thrilled when she chose Fredericksburg!
In addition to touring wineries, we also ate at Torchy’s, shopped on South Congress, went on a tour of the city, had drinks at the Driskill, and went to the movies to see Pitch Perfect.
Cheers! Having oyster shooters at Perla’s.
Pork belly “sushi” at Uchiko. Nom nom nom!!
On our way to tour the barrel room at the Grape Creek Vineyards.
Can I climb in and take a swim?
We also visited Four Point Cellars, William Chris Vineyards, and Woodrose Winery.
Brunch at Matt’s El Rancho
Always get the Bob Armstrong dip!
Banana Pudding with Rum Sauce at 1886 Cafe & Bakery
My only regret during Kelly’s visit was wearing new shoes that ended up cutting into my ankle her last afternoon in town. I hated being a grumpy hostess for the last few hours that we hobbled around. Hopefully I will lure her back with more wine!
For Christmas this year, I stayed in Austin. My parents came down to spend the holiday with me and my aunts & uncles.
Haley loves visitors!
Family brunch at Kerbey Lane Cafe. Everyone loved it!
My aunt & uncle at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar
Every arts & crafts fair should have a live band!
Shopping at the Domain
Dad & I taking a break from shopping to sit outside & enjoy a beer.
Love this new dish towel that my aunt Ann got me!
My Dad asked if we were going to have our breakfast date at Whole Foods to get coffee and a muffin like when they visited this summer. Yes yes! A new tradition!
Brunch at Magnolia Cafe
I made Christmas Eve spaghetti & meatballs!
New owl nightlight lamp from my parents! My owl obsession is going strong!
My cousin Kristy has had a great 2012….getting fit! I’m so
jealous proud of her!
My cousin-in-law makes a great turkey!
Mom & Ann
I made fudge for the first time!
Thanks again Mom & Dad for making the long drive down to spend Christmas with me. But next year…leave the flu at home.
With this being election day and Ohio being a battleground state, it reminded me… I never blogged about my trip to Cleveland! I went to Cleveland in September for a work trip. I came to town 2 days early to meet up with friends.
There was beautiful weather when I visited! I couldn’t get enough of the sky!
The night I arrived, I met up with Anita, Amy, and Angie for dinner and drinks at Paladar. If you’re a mojito fan, you’ll enjoy Paladar.
The next day, I put on my tourist hat and hit the town with Angie and her husband, Dave. Angie had told me that we definitely had to have brunch at her favorite place, Lucky’s. Lucky’s is a great, quaint farm-to-table restaurant.
Lucky’s has a small garden on-site. Items not harvested there are from local Ohio farmers.
I couldn’t decide between a hot or cold drink. So I got both…hey, I was on vacation! I had the Hazelnut Mocha Shaker and the Ginger, Peach, and Grape smoothie. They were both fantastic!!!
Omelet with sausage, Ohio sweet corn, and white cheddar…served with strawberry coffee cake on the side. Lucky’s was so delicious! If it were in Austin, I’m sure I’d be there every weekend.
After brunch, we walked around the Tremont area to see the sights and shop.
After walking around for awhile, we headed over to tour the A Christmas Story house!
Angie & I
P.S. I’m short.
Angie & Dave
The infamous leg lamp…..fra-gil-e—-must be French.
Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.
After leaving the A Christmas Story house, we did some more sightseeing downtown. Then we dropped Dave off so he could watch football. Angie and I headed over to Little Italy to explore.
We stopped at Presti’s Bakery for some caffeine and sugar. Yay for chocolate dipped macaroons!
My day of exploring Cleveland ended with dinner at Melt. I was told by several people to go to Melt. A restaurant devoted to grilled cheese!? Yes, please. I love the random Halloween & Easter decor. Even more than the grilled cheese, I was exposed to my first banana bread beer!! I was skeptical of ordering this beer, but SO glad I did! It’s so great. Try it if you haven’t!
I opted for the Big Popper: fresh jalapeño peppers, cheddar & herbed cream cheese, crispy battered & deep fried, mixed berry preserves
Yeah, you’ll want to change into your fat pants after eating this sandwich!! You certainly won’t be able to finish it all in one sitting.
Angie got the Falafel grilled cheese, which was a special item. Dang, I wish that I’d have gotten that one!!
I had a great time in Cleveland and Angie was an awesome tour guide!
And if I’m ever in the market to buy a leg lamp, I know where to go now.
On Saturday, I went with my Aunt Jill & Uncle Carl to Wurstfest!
Wurstfest is a 10 day festival in New Braunfels that celebrates German culture, food, drink and music. It’s held in Landa Park.
It was a great day to enjoy the weather and the Comal River.
But we were really there to eat and drink!! We did a lap around the festival grounds before deciding what to devour.
Naegelin’s Bakery is the oldest bakery in TX.
I couldn’t convince anyone to try the chocolate dipped pickles. Anyone ever had one???
Deep fried sauerkraut balls. You have to deep friend something-or-other when you’re at a festival! They were pretty good!
We each got the 5 kinds of sausage on a stick from New Braunfels Smokehouse. Oh sausage on a stick! SO GOOD!!!
So much beer, so little time
Official Wurstfest beer steins dating back to the 1960′s to current
We took a beer break to go up on the ferris wheel. I’m pretty sure I haven’t been on a ferris wheel in over 10 years!
After our carnival fun, we went under the tent to listen to music and…
..drink more beer!
We also shared some German chocolate pie. I’m not a fan of German chocolate cake, but this pie—yes!!! It’s like pecan pie filling, but no pecans, plus coconut. Yum yum yum yum!
I’m glad that I went to Wurstfest and will definitely go again!
So will my uncle.
This past weekend, I went to the Austin Craft Riot at the Palmer Events Center. It’s like a big Etsy store under one roof! Okay, it wasn’t that big, but it was free admission so no complaints!
Here’s the loot that I got.
Spot o’ Tea necklace from Poppy and Fern. It was just too adorable not to get! I told the vendor, “I’m not sure why I’m so drawn to this necklace, but it just makes me smile!”
Recipe Book Stand from Hammer It Out
It’s one of those things that I’ve wanted for a while, but never thought of when I was out & about. So handy!
I’m in love with these tea towel from Fisk & Fern. It was hard to only pick two. Funny that I went for coffee when I’m trying to wean myself off caffeine…
Triangle earrings made from vintage tins cans from Fat Cat Studio. These earrings are way cooler than I am.
Necklace (I’ve already won it and gotten compliments.) from SoCoDivka Designs. I had the hardest time deciding what necklace to get from here. It was all so great! Now I’m lusting over this owl necklace from her vintage site.
Frozen strawberry margarita! I was already well into this one…
UNO Attack! Sadly, I didn’t win any rounds.
Loved this quinoa salad and….
…this Asian slaw!
I love these little poppers things so much. The only things I love more are…
…my beloved Killer Beez!!
See ya next year, fireworks!